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La. license increase reversed

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Posted: Jun 18, 2010 10:32 PM by Associated Press
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Topics: State Police, Governor Jindal, state legislature, driver's license, fee increase

The cost of a Louisiana driver's license will drop by $15, after Gov. Bobby Jindal agreed Friday to repeal the recent increase enacted by his administration and overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers.

Jindal signed the repeal bill by Sen. Joe McPherson into law. The move returns the price of a new or renewed basic license to $21.50 and ends complaints from lawmakers who said the hike was inappropriate by a governor who repeatedly talks of opposing tax increases.

The governor had wanted $13.6 million annually to be raised by the higher fee to help cover costs for state police. Senators reworked a budget bill Friday to fill the gap caused by removing the increase, and then Jindal signed the repeal.

McPherson's bill strips the authority used to raise the price and requires payment of a refund to anyone who has paid the increase since it began March 8.

Lawmakers were surprised when the Jindal administration ordered the increase, and many said they should have to approve any price hike. After McPherson introduced his repeal proposal, the administration unsuccessfully tried to kill the bill as it wound through the Legislature.

If he vetoed the repeal, Jindal would have been taking ownership of the price increase despite his talk that the state needs to "do more with less."

McPherson, D-Woodworth, argued the Department of Public Safety raised the cost of a license through a legal loophole, basing it on a 21-year-old statute passed with no discussion of a price increase for a basic driver's license.

The attorney general's office said the price hike followed the law.

Col. Mike Edmonson, head of the public safety department, had said the cost increase would pay for a federal mandate requiring the state to participate in a national driver's license registry.

Supporters of McPherson's bill, however, said participation in the registry costs $295,000 a year - far less than the money raised by the license price boost.

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