Jim Beam column: Vehicle inspection bill alive

Published 6:22 am Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The future of Louisiana vehicle inspections is still up in the air. The author of a third attempt to do away with the inspections is trying to find funds to replace those that State Police would lose if the inspections are eliminated.

Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, first tried to end vehicle inspections at the Legislature’s 2019 and 2020 sessions. The 2019 bill got an 8-6 House Transportation Committee vote but died on the House calendar. The 2020 bill never got out of committee.

This year, he filed House Bill 344 that got out of the House Transportation Committee with a close 6-5-1 vote. The legislation was then forwarded to the House Appropriations Committee because it affects the State Police budget. Bagley voluntarily deferred it on April 8, which means it could come up again.

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The Louisiana Radio Network reported that Bagley “pulled his immensely popular bill at the request of Louisiana State Police.”

A fiscal note on the bill says the $10 annual inspection fee is divided three ways — $4 for State Police, $1.25 to the state Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV), and the remaining $4.75 stays with the motor vehicle inspection station.

The legislation reduces the State Police budget by $7.9 million and the OMV budget by $3.2 million, or a total reduction of $11.1 million annually.

Motor vehicle inspection stations would also be major losers. Joyce Cooper, a spokesperson for those stations, testified against Bagley’s 2019 bill that died on the House floor. Those businesses that just do vehicle inspections would be forced to close.

If eliminated, inspections would still be required for commercial vehicles and student transportation vehicles. Emissions inspections required by the Environmental Protection Agency would still be required for vehicles in East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, and Iberville parishes.

A proposed House committee amendment increases the fee of emissions inspections from $8 to $18. Of the $10 increase, State Police would get $9 and OMV would get $1.

It has been suggested that eliminating the vehicle inspections and requiring an annual $10 vehicle registration fee instead could raise the State Police funds needed. Rep. Troy Romero, R-Jennings, told Bagley at the Appropriations Committee meeting he wouldn’t mind paying that $10 if he didn’t have to get an inspection.

Elimination of the permit fee required to carry a concealed weapon and vape money State Police were supposed to get would cost them additional money.

Bagley said, “They (State Police) just asked me to please don’t take any more money. The concealed carry has taken a good bit from them. The vape money that is now currently in court that they were supposed to get has not come about.”

State Police have been asked to do more, Bagley said, like fighting crime with a special force in New Orleans.

“And we’re asking them to do more; we had a special session to ask them to do more. And I told them when we originally did this that I’m not going to cost them any more money and I’m not going to do that,” Bagley said.

The radio network said Bagley said he was “pretty safe to say that they (State Police) are in support once we can get everything straightened.”

KHOU-TV in Houston reported last June that a bill signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would eliminate the annual car inspection requirement for most vehicles in Texas in 2025. The inspection fee will be replaced by an annual fee of $7.50.

Haynes, which describes itself as “the trusted source for automotive maintenance,” had some interesting comments about vehicle inspections in all 50 states, including neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi.

About Arkansas, it said, “You can drive whatever you want here, no one at the DMV will care.”

About Mississippi, it said, “No inspection of any sort in this state either.”

Haynes reported that in addition to Louisiana there are vehicle inspections in 12 other states. Some of those are every two  years.

The 12 states are Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

We may not get the final verdict on this vehicle inspection bill until the state budget is adopted late in the session.


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