By Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Counties will be allowed to increase vehicle registration fees to pay for fingerprint identification programs under a bill that advanced to the governor’s desk Monday.

The Assembly passed AB2393 on a 41-30 vote, the minimum needed. Republicans criticized the process, saying the bill is a tax-increase that needs the support of a supermajority of legislators and voters.

A law passed in 1997 created the Cal-ID program, allowing counties to charge $1 surcharges on vehicle registration fees to fund programs to identify people under arrest and human remains with fingerprints. Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, says his bill will help the programs keep up with advancements in technology.

“It empowers our counties to decide locally how to set these fees,” Levine said. “This empowers local law enforcement to keep our communities safer.”

AB2393 authorizes counties to double fees to $2 for personal vehicles and to $4 for commercial vehicles. Those fees come on top of a $46 base charge, a $24 surcharge for the California Highway Patrol and other fees counties can add.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, blasted the proposal as a back-door tax increase that hits the poor the hardest.

“This right here is something that will make it more difficult to get back to work at a critical time,” he said.

Another Republican, Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, says there is no connection between fingerprint programs and vehicle fees to justify the increase.

A bill analysis said the measure is not subject to voter-approved limits on state tax increases because county officials still have the discretion whether or not to increase fees.

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