Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen, distributed a photo that truly grabbed the attention of fellow lawmakers as he pushed for the state to restore its old practice of sending postcards to remind vehicle owners when their registration is due.
It pictured a truck with expired stickers that is familiar to most House members since it belongs to House Speaker Brad Wilson. Chew snapped the photo a few weeks ago in the Capitol garage.
“Thank you for showing everyone my expired vehicle registration,” Wilson said to laughter.
The speaker told reporters that as he read a story a few weeks ago about how many people had failed to register on time when the state halted the postcards to save money, and it got him to thinking.
“I thought to myself, ‘I think the truck registration in my truck downstairs expired in November,’” he said. “I did what any good lawmaker does. I dispatched my intern down there to see — and lo and behold, my truck registration had expired in November and I didn’t even know about it.”
He has since re-registered.
Wilson was far from an outlier.
As The Salt Lake Tribune earlier reported, state data it obtained showed that one of every four car owners failed to register vehicles on time after the state stopped mailing reminder postcards in September.
So, the speaker joined a chorus of lawmakers who said the State Tax Commission made a mistake in stopping the postcards. While it had aimed to save about $500,000 a year in postage, Wilson was among those who said it likely cost the state money because of missed registrations.
The House advanced Chew’s HB170 to restart the reminder postcards on a 72-1 vote Thursday, with only Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan, in opposition. It now goes to the Senate.
Not only did House members want it passed nearly unanimously, they want it to take effect as soon as possible. They amended the bill so it would take effect immediately upon signature by the governor, instead of what Chew said would have been an effective date of July 1.
Also, lawmakers changed something that Chew thought initially might help pass the bill — a provision to pass the cost of the postcards onto those who choose to receive them instead of opting for email reminders. The House removed it.
“We’re stepping over dollars to save dimes here,” said Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, who made the motion to restore the postcards without an extra charge for those who receive them. “This program is costing us money” in missed registrations.
Chew added that he’s heard from people from every corner of the state complaining about the lack of postcards. “Let’s send a message back to the people of Utah that we’ve heard them,” he said.