The first bill filed for consideration in the 1999 legislative session will slash car tag fees and excise taxes, delivering significant savings to Oklahoma motorists, according to the measure's author, Senator Lewis Long.
"Oklahomans deserve a break on their car tags and that's what I plan to give them. There's no question that they're paying too much now, but if I get my way, the state will put a lot of money back in their pockets," said Senator Long.
Senate Bill 1 is already drafted and will be formally introduced when the filing period opens Monday morning.
The legislation will reduce tag renewal or "registration" fees, in addition to cutting the excise tax on new and used car purchases. The proposed changes in the state's tag and tax formula will also provide additional savings for Oklahoma senior citizens.
Under the new formula, the savings on tag and excise fees would vary from vehicle to vehicle, depending on its value and other factors. Ultimately, costs to Oklahoma motorists would be cut by at least one-third in some cases and as much as one-half in others. For example:
"We're talking about a pretty big chunk of savings for Oklahoma taxpayers, especially senior citizens. This will make rates more reasonable and put Oklahoma more in line with what other states are charging. The state won't be gouging folks on car tags anymore," said Senator Long.
The Glenpool legislator is hoping the reduced rates will encourage Oklahomans who had been skirting state tag laws to come back into compliance. Those who continue to buy out-of-state tags illegally could face stiffer fines under the legislation, ranging from $350 to $500.
"Everybody should have to play by the rules. I think once we get tag costs down to a reasonable level with my bill, people will want to buy their tags in Oklahoma because the costs will be competitive with other states," said Senator Long.
This isn't the first time the lawmaker has attempted to tackle the tag issue. Long was drafting similar legislation to address the question last session, but ran out of time when the Legislature adjourned in May.
"Time ran out on us last year. That's why we're going to hit the ground running as soon as we convene in February. Given all the talk we heard about car tags this election season, there should be widespread support for my bill. It looks like the timing is finally right," said Senator Long.