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New DMV proposals elicit praise and pushback

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HARTFORD--State lawmakers are considering drastic changes when it comes to shortening lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A very long list of people were slated to speak at a public hearing before the Transportation Committee and DMV Commissioner Dennis Murphy.

One of the speakers, Brandon Dufour, owner of the Watertown-based driving school The Next Street, said, “I don't think there's anybody that thinks, 'I have to go to the DMV and it's going to be a good experience.' We think we can create that.”

Dufour is referring to part of Gov. Dan Malloy's proposed legislation that would allow outside agencies like AAA to register vehicles in order to reduce wait times at the DMV.

Dufour said, “I don't necessarily think one company should take over all the roles of the DMV, but I think all of those roles and services could be done by private businesses better than the state is currently doing them.”

This type of change seems to be popular with the general public and legislators. But another change has a lot of people demanding answers.

Scott Ferguson, president of the Connecticut Tax Collectors Association, asks, “Why should someone who doesn't pay their property taxes be allowed to register their car?”

The governor's legislation includes a proposal to end the practice of barring those who haven't paid up from registering their cars. But the proposal is connected to the plan to reduce wait times.

Malloy and the DMV commissioner believe a contributing factor to long lines at the DMV stem from people who are turned away because they didn't pay their car taxes or parking tickets. Then they have to make multiple trips back.

But Ferguson feels the change in legislation would mean less people paying their taxes, putting cities and towns in a bad position. Ferguson said, “With about 120-some-odd towns we would lose, we estimate conservatively $33 million in one year worth of taxes.”

State Rep. Tony Guerrera agrees.

Guerrera asked, “Do towns have the capability to go after those individuals who owe back taxes on their cars?  Especially, if they rent apartments or condominiums.”

Guerrera tells FOX 61 he likes an idea of putting kiosks at the DMV that would alert people if they didn't pay their taxes. Then they can’t even step foot in line at the DMV until they pay up at their city or town hall.

Guerrera said, “We're gonna have to look at this and really re-evaluate it.”