A novel idea whose time has come

February 14, 2014 

State Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, has come up with an absolutely brilliant idea. Following a Georgia Senate effort to force the state to use the $1 per tire disposal fee to help clean up landfills, Epps is attempting the same thing when it comes to special wildlife car tags. People pay the extra fees in a number of different areas such as colleges and universities and branches of the military because they want other drivers to know what they support. And they believe, mistakenly, that the extra money for the tag goes to support those causes. including wildlife conservation.

There is a dirty little secret that’s not so secret anymore. When a driver plops down his or her $80 ($35 fee, $20 registration fee and a one-time $25 manufacturing fee) to purchase the wildlife conservation -- trout or bobwhite quail -- prestige tags most of the money hits the state’s treasury, not conservation efforts. Epps bill, HB 730, would lower the $35 annual fee to $25 and send $20 of that amount to land acquisition and other land management and habitat programs. That still sends $25 annually ($5 plus the $20 registration fee) to the general fund.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? The state rakes in $2 million from this bait-and-switch scheme and even more from other fees targeted to go for stated purposes but end up in the general fund.

The state should follow its own Department of Consumer Affairs when it comes to truth in advertising and stop this tax-disguised-as-a-fee charade.

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