South Bend Tribune
The new law that overhauls the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles makes a start at tackling the deeply entrenched problems at the state’s second largest agency.
House Enrolled Act 1087 will streamline the BMV’s fees for services. Among the changes: It will reduce or eliminate 163 fees and reduce the number of ways to register a vehicle from 191 to 23. The measure also consolidates vehicle-related weight classes from 21 to 8 and establishes a one-time fee for a motorcycle endorsement that never has to be renewed.
The legislation comes in the wake of an audit last year that revealed the bureau had overcharged customers more than $60 million since 2013. In its report, the accounting firm BKD called the bureau’s system for the fees and taxes it administers overly complex and ambiguous. The changes created by the bill signed into law last month by Gov. Mike Pence go into effect Jan. 1.
In a statement, Pence says he “challenged the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to ensure the back office works as well as the front office,” and HEA 1087 represents “great progress” in doing that.
In a recent interview, BMV Commissioner Kent Abernathy, appointed a year ago to clean up the bureau’s mess, called the legislation “huge” and noted the importance of building trust with the public.
That won’t come easy, given the systemic issues that have plagued the agency that handled 12.5 million transactions in 2014 and collected $460 million in fees and $490 million in excise, wheel and surtaxes.
There’s no easy fix for the troubled BMV, which has ill-served Indiana residents and in the past has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted to do the right thing on its own.
HEA 1087 is a sincere effort at tackling some of the agency’s problems. But there’s plenty of work left to be done at the BMV, and this is no time to take a foot off the gas.
This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.