JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE TRANSFER OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR WEIGH STATIONS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ELECTRONIC RENEWAL NOTICES AND THE ELIMINATION OF VISION SCREENING TESTS FOR MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATORS.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
Transfering responsibility for weigh stations to the Department of Motor Vehicles, using electronic renewal notices, and eliminating the vision screening test for motor vehicle operators will provide cost savings.
An amendment was passed on this bill reflecting the start of negotiations between the Governor's Office, OPM, and the State Police Union regarding staffing of weigh stations
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Benjamin Barnes, Secretary, Office of Policy and Management –
This bill implements several operational and organizational changes within the DMV in order to improve service and increase efficiency. The shift of responsibility for the weigh stations addresses an inefficiency in the use of state resources because there are extra costs associated with having troopers working at the weigh stations with inspectors. The hours would remain the same.
Regarding the electronic renewal notices, this would eliminate the statutory mandate on DMV to send renewal notices to customers by mail. This will enable the commissioner to notify customers by electronic means, should they sign up for such a service. This would provide over $200,000 in savings by eliminating materials, postage and other costs associated with mailing hard copy notifications.
Regarding the Vision Screening Program, this program has been delayed since it was proposed in 1991. Screening the vision of every motor vehicle operator avoids costs of over $2 million over the next two fiscal years.
In addition, this bill proposes eliminating the toll-free customer service number for DMV. All information calls would be directed to the DMV's Hartford exchange number. A portion of customers requiring information from the DMV would be required to make a toll call to the DMV, however the increase of cell phone use would reduce the impact of the elimination of the toll-free number.
Regarding the elimination of the handicapped driver program, CT is the only state that uses DMV staff to train handicapped individuals who are seeking driver licenses. With this proposal, DMV would only test those individuals when they present themselves for the driver test, as is the case with all other driver candidates. This proposal would save $131,000 by eliminating the positions within DMV.
Department of Motor Vehicles –
The Department supports the Governor's initiatives to find efficiencies and savings while streamlining state government for an improved customer experience. DMV realizes that the weigh station operations transfer is a big change and will work with DPS in determining how best to address the many issues associated with the transfer.
Regarding the elimination of renewal notices for licenses and identification cards and the establishment of electronic renewal notices, the Department is reviewing how Massachusetts has successfully implemented a similar program.
Regarding the elimination of the vision screening tests, the vision screening program has been delayed for many years due to concerns about cost and effectiveness. Rather than continue delaying, the Department supports eliminating it.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Andrew Matthews, President, CT State Police Union –
The Union is concerned about removing the expertise of the 19 members of the “Truck Squad” from the weigh stations and portable scale operations. State Police officers have full arrest powers, unlike DMV Inspectors. There would be a 40% reduction in CT's dedicated commercial vehicle enforcement capabilities, which could have deadly consequences. Also, having the officers positioned at the borders at the weigh stations is strategic to the State's safety.
Reported by: C. J. Strand
Date: April 1, 2011