ON MONDAY, I introduced Bills 479-31 and 480-31.
These bills will help alleviate the lines at the DMV for vehicle registration renewals. While these bills are not the complete solution to missed lunch hours or leave-taking, they provide practical solutions to simplify and expedite an essential government function.
It seems, however, that recent actions have us moving backwards rather than making progress. Electronic commerce has been the basis for our economy since the start of the new millennium. Just recently, however, we took a major step backwards when we stopped accepting online payments for vehicle registration and business license renewals.
In May of 2007, a prior legislature increased fees. Officials argued the fees had not been adjusted for over 20 years and because of increased personnel costs and greater use of bankcards for payments, the fees needed an adjustment. The Legislature was told that the new fees will bring in $9 million in revenues, an increase of about $6 million. Over the last two years, our government accountants have said we are spending more than $3 million annually on bankcard fees. I find it unlikely that the $3 million in bank fees is related solely to transactions involving licenses and registrations.
This fiscal year, the revenue projection for licenses, permits and fees was estimated to be just under $5 million, much less than the $9 million previously projected in prior fiscal years. The average bankcard surcharges range from 2 to 3 percent of the transaction amount. Based on these projections, and assuming that everyone paid with a bankcard, the maximum amount of surcharge costs will range from $150,000 to $270,000. A few months ago, I saw a Department of Administration cash report that showed bounced check receivables at over $500,000! Simple mathematics shows that GovGuam should restore online renewals of business licenses and registrations and not charge bankcard service fees for payments of fees, licenses and permits. Most states require a surcharge for payments of taxes by way of bankcards. I have not found any that assess these surcharges for vehicle registration and license renewals. GovGuam can adopt similar policies!
I want to make it a policy that requires companies that provide merchant services that allow GovGuam to receive bankcard payments must also be able to service Internet-based payments, direct bank payments and third party payments such as Paypal.
I'd also like to see online renewal of driver’s licenses. The DMV requires visual acuity testing with each renewal. Adopting more practical standards such as testing every eight to 12 years and allowing physicians to provide certification from annual physicals will allow the DMV to renew driver’s licenses online.