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.