Proposed legislation to eliminate inspection stickers advances

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that would eliminate the state’s annual vehicle inspection sticker requirement in 59 parishes.

Rep. Larry Bagley’s House Bill 344 passed through the House Transportation Committee on a 6-5 vote.

Bryan Fontenot, Jacob Braud, Tehmi Chaisson, Phillip Tarver, Joy Walters, and Jeffrey Wiley were the representatives who voted yes. Chad Boyer, Kellee Hennessy Dickerson, Travis Johnson, Pat Moore, and Tammy Phelps voted against the bill.

The bill would exclude vehicles registered in the five-parish Baton Rouge ozone non-attainment area, which includes Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston and West Baton Rouge parishes.

In those areas, gasoline-fueled passenger cars and light and heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds and model years 1980 and newer are subject to emission testing.

Eleven states, none of which neighbor Louisiana, require inspection stickers, according to Bagley. He said the stickers don’t play a part in keeping people safe.

“I’m 75 years old, and I get my car inspected,” Bagley said. “I have never had an inspection other than let me see your driver’s license, let me see your insurance. Scrape one off, put one on; that’s all I’ve ever had. In fact, I went for several years without one at all.”

Inspection stations are tasked with conducting safety inspections on tires, cracked windshields that could inhibit vision, headlights and more.

The fine for expired inspection stickers can reach $250.

Lawmakers who support Bagley’s bill say nothing will stop police from stopping vehicles with visible safety problems, whether they have updated inspection stickers or not.

“I hate to say this, but they see how fast they can scratch that other one off and put a new one on,” Rep. Rodney Schamerhorn, R-Hornbeck, said. “That’s not the purpose of the inspection stickers. An inspection sticker is abused in that manner, in my opinion.”

Other members of the transportation committee offer an additional level of safety.

“This concerns me,” said Democratic Vidalia Rep. Johnson. “I have to drive on the road. My son will be driving soon. Some folks will push it to the end. If you’re driving and that tire pops, then you lose control and put others at risk. It’s a very dangerous thing.”

The bill will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee because eliminating the stickers would result in a combined $14 million in lost revenue for the Louisiana State Police and Office of Motor Vehicles.

Bagley broke down the cost of the $10 inspection stickers. He explained that $4.75 goes to the operator, $4 goes to the state police, and $1.25 goes to the OMV. He said a book of 25 inspection stickers costs operators $262.50.

Captain Bryan Lee of the Louisiana State Police said that if the bill passes, the state police would lose over $10 million.

“This is going to be a little bit over $10 million a year,” Lee said. “I know the $4 that we get from each inspection sticker doesn’t seem that much, but that equates to $10 million annually.”

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