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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bike registration law not enforced for 31 years
Steep hikes in bicycle, moped registration fees eyed

For some 31 years, the CNMI has not enforced its bicycle registration law nor collected any bicycle registration fee. That could soon change as Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan) proposes to increase by anywhere between 16.6 percent and 400 percent the registration fees for two-wheeled vehicles.

But because of another law, Public Law 16-2, Section 8, these proposed fee increases will be increased by another 100 percent.

Leon Guerrero, along with at least seven other House members, introduced a bill that would increase the registration fee for bicycles from $1.50 to $7.50, a 400-percent increase.

The proposed registration fee for mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles up to 100cc is $12.50, from $10, or a 25-percent increase.

The proposed registration fee for motorcycles and motor scooters over 100cc is $17.50, up from $15 or a 16.6-percent increase.

Under House Bill 18-147, half of the fees collected from these vehicles are to be placed in a special account for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles with the Department of Public Safety commissioner in consultation with the BMV director as the expenditure authority.

Leon Guerrero, a former police officer and now chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations, said bicycle fees and laws have been in place since the signing of Public Law 3-11.

The original fee to register a bicycle, set in 1982, was $1.50, he said.

When Public Law 16-2 Section was signed, it imposed a surcharge of 100 percent, increasing the total fee to $3, Leon Guerrero said in his bill.

But Leon Guerrero said DPS has yet to enforce laws pertaining to bicycles “that have been in the books for over 30 years.”

“The Legislature finds that over the last 30 years, the Commonwealth did not collect any fees due to the fact that bicycles were not being registered with the Department of Public Safety and that the Department of Public Safety hasn’t been enforcing such a law,” he said.

Leon Guerrero said the number of cyclists in the CNMI has grown over the years as the sport gained popularity among residents. Many sporting events have also been held in the CNMI such as the annual XTERRA, Tagaman, Rota Blue Triathlons, Hell of the Marianas, and the Pika Festival Fun Bike Ride.

He said with the recent signing of Public Law 18-24 pertaining to the safety of cyclists on CNMI roads, “many cyclists have taken advantage of the public law but in some situations impede traffic flow.”

Leon Guerrero said cyclists that hamper traffic are impeding motorists that are lawfully on the road with proper registration and insurance documents, unlike the cyclists occupying the road.

“In these tough economic times, it is imperative that the Commonwealth government enforce revenue-generating laws and start collecting fees that have never been collected since becoming law, he said.

The fees in HB 18-147 “will be increased by 100 percent pursuant to section 8 of Public Law 16-2.”

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