Lawmakers were told Monday that Gov. Jim Gibbons' opposition to higher fees is driving a plan to spend at least $500,000 in Nevada highway funds to help cover costs of new security measures for motorist licenses.
Ginny Lewis, head of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said implementing central processing of license applications would cost an extra 50 cents per applicant, or $500,000 over two years if the money comes from the state highway fund.
Current law says the DMV must make customers pay for the production of a license. AB582, discussing during an Assembly Ways and Means Committee hearing, would change that to allow the department to seek money from other sources.
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, asked whether license-production funding had ever come from a source other than drivers. Lewis responded she wasn't aware of any such instance.
"So this is just as a result of the governor's new no-fee-increase policy that we are contemplating this?" Leslie asked. Lewis said that's correct.
Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, took issue with the proposed policy change.
"I'm just wondering from a policy point of view, with our problems with transportation, with our problems with gridlock, is it the right time to raid the highway fund instead of keeping the previously imposed policy of requiring it to be self-supporting?" Buckley said.
The plan is to print drivers licenses in one place, rather than implement at each of the DMV's 21 field offices the stricter security measures required by the federal Real ID act, Lewis said.
Lewis said a DMV office was broken into 11Ú2 years ago, so she decided to separate this request from the other Real ID measures.
"The production of driver licenses in our offices is clearly at risk. What central issuance also does for us is it remove that risk and it puts the production into a centralized facility that's manned by the vendor," Lewis said.
John Madole of the Nevada chapter of Associated General Contractors of America called the bill "terrible." He said later the group is opposed to tapping the highway fund because of the state's $3.8 billion projected shortfall for funding highway projects.