Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, says Canyon County has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn and seeks to cap at $200 per year the amount an owner must invest in repairs to comply with the state air-quality testing law in place in Ada and Canyon counties.
McKenzie said some constituents want to repeal the law altogether, which was very unpopular in Canyon County when the Legislature approved a state motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program in 2008. Lawmakers passed the law because they feared the Treasure Valley might fail to meet federal air quality standards and risk losing federal funds as a result.
Rather than seek repeal, McKenzie said he wants to accommodate motorists who can't afford a new vehicle. His bill would allow a one-year waivers for non-compliant vehicles, but require that owners spend at least $200 each year on emission repairs to keep them on the road.
"The effect is going to be de minimis," McKenzie said, adding that he expects non-compliant vehicles will mostly be retired. "Nobody wants to spend $200 a year forever and not fix the problem."
The testing law applies to vehicles built in 1981 or later. Vehicles less than five years old are exempt.
Senate Bill 1231 was sent to the full Senate for amendment Thursday by the Transportation Committee. McKenzie will offer two amendments to his original bill. The first is lowering the cap from the $250 in the current bill to $200, the figure currently in a Department of Environmental Quality rule that offers a similar exemption. Also, McKenzie wants to remove a provision in current law that gives the director of the Department of Environmental Quality authority to continue, modify or terminate the program after five years. McKenzie wants that power in the hands of lawmakers, not the executive branch.
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