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Utah House moves to bring back DMV registration postcard reminders

House Speaker Brad Wilson gets laughs for admitting he, too, forgot to renew his registration without the postcards

Hundreds of cars wait in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles drive-thru window in Draper on Friday, April 3, 2020. Some waited in line for hours.
Hundreds of cars wait in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles drive-thru window in Draper on Friday, April 3, 2020. Some waited in line for hours.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t until House Speaker Brad Wilson noticed Rep. Scott Chew’s bill that he realized he, too, had forgotten something that has slipped the minds of so many other Utahns amid the chaos of the past year.

His truck’s registration had expired. Or at least he thought so.

“I dispatched my intern, and low and behold my truck registration had expired in November, and I didn’t even know about it,” Wilson, R-Kaysville, told reporters recently when discussing Chew’s bill seeking to back DMV registration renewal postcard reminders after troves of upset Utahns have noticed an absence of the handy mailer reminders.

The postcards were discontinued in September after the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles was directed to make budget cuts when state leaders tightened the budget last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s something that is kind of hard to admit, but occasionally we make a mistake and we have to eat some crow,” Wilson told reporters, calling the cutting of the DMV postcard reminders a “mistake.”

Chew, R-Jensen, jokingly shamed the House speaker on Thursday when he handed out a picture of Wilson’s expired license plate to his fellow colleagues on the House floor, drawing chuckles.

Chew, poking fun at Wilson, urged the House to support his bill, HB170, explaining that many Utahns — especially the elderly — have forgotten to renew their license plate registration in the absence of the postcards. He said it’s likely costing the state millions in registration fees and headaches for Utahns.

A previous version of the bill included a provision to allow the DMV to charge vehicle owners an additional fee to pay for postage, but Chew’s colleagues on the House floor moved to strike that line of the bill, arguing it’s worth the cost to the state to reinstate the mailer program in full.

“We should be a customer-focused organization of government,” Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said. “This is a very small cost to pay for the millions — tens if not hundreds of millions — we collect in vehicle registrations every year.”

Reinstatement of the mailers is estimated to cost the state about $103,400 one time in 2021 and $340,600 ongoing in 2022 in postage costs, as well as about $23,900 one-time in 2021 and $78,600 ongoing in 2022 to print the mailers, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

The House voted to approve HB170 with a vote of 72-1. Only Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-West Jordan, voted against. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“Rep. Chew,” Wilson said after the vote, smiling. “I would like to thank you for showing everyone my license plate with expired registration.”

The speaker, to laughs from the House floor, made sure to note that his tags are now up to date.