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Lawmaker to snowbirds: Pay fee to show love for Arizona

Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale)

Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale)

On one hand, Rep. Jay Lawrence wants to take away the Department of Transportation’s authority to set a fee charged when Arizonans renew their vehicle registration.

But the Scottsdale Republican also wants to leave it up to ADOT Director John Halikowski to set a different registration fee for snowbirds.

Lawrence wants part-time residents, those who claim residency elsewhere but spend more than 30 consecutive days in Arizona, to voluntarily register their vehicles with the transportation department. ADOT would be responsible for developing a part-time residency sticker that would be displayed on such vehicles.

And Lawrence leaves it to Halikowski to determine the fee’s cost, just as lawmakers did when approving a new public safety fee in 2018.

Lawrence voted for that bill, which created the fee to fully fund the state’s Highway Patrol. But he, like some Republicans, complains that lawmakers were misled on the true cost of the fee. Legislative budget analysts estimated the fee would cost $18 per vehicle, and lawmakers cast votes based on that analysis. ADOT later announced in December it’d cost $32 per vehicle.

Lawrence has since sponsored legislation to repeal the fee for the Highway Patrol. So why give the ADOT director the same authority, but for a different fee?

“In this case, I trust the director to do the right thing,” Lawrence said.

While it’s mandatory for Arizona residents to register their vehicles with the state, Lawrence’s proposed fee for snowbirds has no teeth, he acknowledged. There’s nothing requiring part-time Arizonans to register. There’s no enforcement mechanism for ADOT to ensure that winter visitors follow the law.

Why snowbirds would volunteer to pay the fee, “I don’t know,” Lawrence said. “This is just to encourage them to say, ‘I’m a part-time resident of Arizona and I can prove it.’”

The registration fee for snowbirds could generate revenue for infrastructure needs, Lawrence said. And he’s relying on good-willed, part-time Arizonans to recognize that they, too, “take advantage of our roads, our facilities, and pay nothing.”

“In that they love the community, they spend so much time here, this is an opportunity to say, ‘I love Arizona,’” Lawrence said.

5 comments

  1. This Fee is as ridiculous as the original $32 fee to all Arizonans. Because all residents, temporary ones included, need to buy gas now and then, increase the gas tax by $.03. This would be a tax equally paid by all and generate Million$$ for roads, Police and infrastructure. Much more than a silly tax on tourists.

  2. I agree that increasing the gas tax is a better approach. However, the gas tax would need to be increased by more than $0.03 per gallon; more like $0.12 per gallon to generate equivalent revenue.

  3. It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Jay Lawrence is… how shall I put this?

    Dim. He’s a very, very dim bulb.

  4. ‘voluntary tax,’ this is a non-starter. Snowbirds will, of course, disdain any effort to have them pay, and IF this is implimented, and they are stopped, they will claim ignorance of the law.
    Perhaps, an effort should be made to have Arizona Residents Register their vehicles in ARIZONA, not low fee Montana. If you do not believe this to be an issue observe the outsized number of vehicles sporting
    Montana Plates. Frankly, I don’t believe that all those drivers had such a love for our fair State.

  5. Unbelievable Rep. Lawrence!!!! The top priority in Arizona is education. FUNDING our schools should be the focus! Is this really how you are starting off 2019? Our kids cannot wait – Arizona cannot wait!

    Do something or let someone that will represent our future! #timeforaTeacher #EricKurland

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