License plate refunds not in law

Gov. set to sign bill Wednesday

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Renewing your license plate after Sept. 1 will cost you less than last year. Small-car fees will go down by $5, midsize by $8 and large vehicles by $11.50.

Since Sept. 1 of last year, nearly 600,000 people have purchased a two-year sticker, pushing their renewal into 2015 and some into 2016. Legislation ordering the lower rates specifically says there will be no refunds.

"I call it a shame, a dirty shame," said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa. "I'm happy that the tax is being reduced, but I think that we need to take a look at those folks that bought a two-year tag that were offered by us."

Even the original Republican sponsor is raising his eyebrows, saying those people deserve a refund.

"Oh, I would think so," said Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola. "I'm just glad we can at least press on, press forward with getting it done. But you're right, that is an issue with those who have paid for two years. What about them?"

Giving everyone a refund who has at least a year left on their license plate when rates go down in September will cost the state about $15 million.

Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, voted for the hike at the height of the recession in 2009. She said a refund is worth studying, but "some of the people had renewed their license for the two-year period, therefore they paid the lower fee for two years at the time other people paid the increase. And now it's just going back the opposite way."

Gov. Rick Scott has scheduled a bill signing for Wednesday.

Prior to the fee hike in 2009, license plate fees had not been raised since 1986. The 2009 hike was based on the rate of inflation since the previous hike in tag fees.

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