House committee continues work on Alabama driver’s license issues

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Although the state of Alabama’s 2017 Legislative session is still more than a month away, some Alabama lawmakers have been working hard during their down-time to solve the state’s many issues surrounding drivers licenses.

Formed after 31 rural Drivers License offices were shuttered in 2015 due to funding problems, the House Interim Committee on Driver’s License Review is endeavoring to reduce wait times and find new methods for making driver’s license offices more accessible to all Alabamians.

Since it was established by a House Resolution co-sponsored by 56 Republican members, the committee has held meetings across the state.

The importance of the committee’s work was underscored by a Wednesday announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which concluded proposed closures and service reductions at certain driver’s license offices in the state would underserve the African-American community and violate the Civil Rights Act.

The DOT and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) have thus reached an agreement to ensure all Alabamians have access to driver’s licensing programs. The committee will continue to work to further improve the driver’s licensing process.

“Our focus is to find ways to increase customer service for Alabama taxpayers trying to get a driver license,” said Committee Chair Fairview-Republican, state Rep. Randall Shedd. “It is unacceptable that individuals are having to take time off of work, stand in line for hours, and in some cases still not receive service. We are serious about solving this problem.”

Additionally, the committee has discussed changing requirements to allow probate judge offices to take on clerical activities such as adding veterans, vessels, and other routine classification changes to driver’s licenses instead of driver’s license offices. This adjustment would free up the time spent by license office employees on these minor adjustments and could also eliminate individuals having to wait all day for a routine change.

Rural Alabama is well represented with two officers of the House Rural Caucus serving on the committee, Hayden-Republican, state Rep. David Standridge chairs the Rural Caucus and Shedd serves as Treasurer.

“The Rural Caucus recognized this as a problem from the beginning. People in rural Alabama should have access to state services without regard to their income level or where they live,” Standridge expalined. “As a member of this committee, I support Chairman Shedd in his efforts to make our driver’s license offices more accessible and efficient.”

The House Interim Committee on Driver’s License Review is scheduled to meet again next week on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 410 of the Alabama Statehouse.

The committee is required to report its findings and submit suggestions to the House of Representatives no later than the tenth legislative day of the 2017 regular session.

The following individuals serve on the committee:

  • Bessemer-Democrat, state Rep. Louise Alexander
  • Newville-Democrat, state Rep. Dexter Grimsley 
  • Killen-Republican, state Rep. Phillip Pettus
  • Hayden-Republican, state Rep. David Standridge
  • Mobile-Republican, state Rep. Margie Wilcox
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