The Patrick administration today ordered the Registry of Motor Vehicles to abandon a $5 counter fee the state agency had started collecting on Monday.
ďAt the governorís direction, the RMV is rescinding the $5 counter fee that went into effect yesterday (March 1),'' according to a statement by Registrar Rachel Kaprielian. "The proposed fee was meant in part to encourage more people to visit the RMVís website to complete transactions rather than visiting a branch.''
Legislative leaders, rank-and-file members from both parties and the state Republican leadership criticized the fee after it took effect Monday. They said it was punitive and could harm poor or elderly customers who lacked Internet access or technical savvy. Senate President Therese Murray suggested she would support legislation to repeal it as early as Tuesday.
In a statement, Massachusetts Republican party chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said the change by the administration shows that it is politically adrift.
"The Legislature would have certainly killed this $5 RMV fee and further embarrassed the embattled and flailing Patrick-Murray administration,'' she said.
The fee was imposed on people who handled their RMV business in person at a branch office instead of using the agency's Internet site.
Patrick said in an interview with the Associated Press he supports the Registry's effort to push more of its routine transactions to the Internet as a means of reducing branch waiting times, but he doesn't want to add to financial hardships during the recession.
"We're certainly not trying to jam people up," said Patrick. "We're just dealing with the other thing that people say and are concerned about, which are long wait times at the Registry."
On Monday, Kaprelian also offered another reason: generating revenue for the cash-strapped state.
"We're in a fiscal crisis and fees are realigning to reflect that crisis, and this is an added twist to get people to use the Internet," she said then.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)
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