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California to delay sending DMV registration bills

California drivers who are scheduled to register their cars in July are getting a reprieve –- as the state won’t be sending them their annual registration bill just yet and is waiving any late fees for at least a month.

But the move is hardly a gift from the cash-strapped state. It is part of an effort by lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown to buy time to negotiate a budget package that includes hiking vehicle registration fees.

Under current law, the annual vehicle license fee that drivers must pay is set to drop from 1.15% of a car’s value to .65% on July 1. But Brown wants to keep the fee at 1.15% -- the difference amounts to $5 for every $1,000 a car is worth -- and he signed a new law, SB 94, Wednesday to delay sending registration notices.

The governor doesn’t want drivers to get a smaller bill this month and, should he succeed at extending the rate hike, a second bill asking them to make up the difference later.

"It is going to eliminate some potential confusion and duplication," said Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer.

Roughly 2.4 million vehicles are registered in California each month, said Mike Marando, a spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers with July registration dates will not receive their renewal notices the usual 60 days in advance and they will not have to pay late fees for 30 days, he said. In addition, highway patrol officers will be instructed to ignore late registrations in the month of July.

“We’re holding the notices pending legislative budget action,” Marando said.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

 
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