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Politics & Government

Driver fee forgiveness hits a roadblock

Driver responsibility fees were adopted more than a decade ago to balance the state budget. Now they're unpopular, but the state still relies on the money they bring in.

Bills that would forgive driver responsibility fees owed by more than 300,000 Michigan residents were approved today by a state House committee. But they’ve stalled now because they’re opposed by the state Treasury.

The problem is the fees generate about $80 million a year. The fees were approved in 2003 to help keep the state budget balanced during the recession.

State Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, says that shouldn’t matter. He says drivers who commit moving violations already pay plenty in fines.

“These bills never should have been passed in the first place," he said. "It’s an unfair fee. It was a money grab by state government, and we’re making it right now.”

A state Treasury spokesman says the department is working to reach a deal that would forgive fees that are owed while keeping the budget balanced.

“We’re working with the Michigan Legislature to find a solution that addresses the underlying issue while keeping the budget balanced.” said Ron Liex with the Michigan Treasury.