After Administration Fails to Plan MVC Reopening, Legislature Sends Solutions to Governor
Senator Anthony M. Bucco called on Governor Phil Murphy to quickly sign a pair of bills into law that would help more drivers to avoid the long lines that have persisted at New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agencies since their July reopening.
A constituent shared these pictures with Sen. Tony Bucco of long lines at the Randolph MVC agency before 8 a.m on Friday, September 4, 2020. (SenateNJ.com)
“The Murphy Administration failed to come up with an effective reopening plan for the MVC, which has led to ridiculously long lines at agencies and justified frustration for drivers,” said Bucco. “With little help coming from the governor, the Legislature has stepped in with fixes that could help many drivers to skip the trip to the MVC. We put legislative solutions to some of the MVC’s problems on Governor Murphy’s desk, now he needs to sign the bills into law without delay.”
Bucco asked the MVC for the opportunity to review its strategic reopening plan in early May, warning that chaos would ensue once agencies opened their doors after months of being closed. No plan was produced despite repeated requests.
“Even before COVID-19, a visit to the MVC was a dreaded experience for most people,” said Bucco. “You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that MVC agencies would be overwhelmed by people who had waited months to get a driver’s license, register a car, or transfer a title. We urged the Murphy Administration to prepare and offered suggestions to help, but they just didn’t listen. Hopefully the governor listens this time and signs our bipartisan solutions into law.”
In response to the long lines at reopened MVC agencies, legislators from both sides of the aisle in the Senate and General Assembly worked together to quickly adopt a pair of bills that could offer substantial relief.
Bucco sponsored S-2747, which authorizes the MVC to extend the time that a stored driver’s license or identification card photo can be used from 8 years to 12 years. The legislation also allows stored photos to be used indefinitely for those over the age of 65, and allows for agencies to reserve certain times to provide appointments to senior citizens or those with certain medical conditions during the pandemic.
“I’ve heard from a lot of drivers who were blocked from renewing their licenses on the MVC website because their picture was too old,” said Bucco. “Instead of quickly renewing online, they were forced get up before dawn to wait on line for hours at the MVC to get a new picture taken. That’s an incredible and unnecessary waste of time. Allowing the pictures the MVC already has stored to be used for another 4-year renewal as we have proposed is an incredibly easy way to save people time and cut lines at agencies. The bill would also save seniors and those with special needs from waiting for hours at the MVC. Governor Murphy needs to sign this immediately.”
The second bill, A-4520, allows people who move to New Jersey from other states during the pandemic up to 120 days to obtain a New Jersey driver’s license and to register their vehicle. In regular times, new residents are required to obtain a New Jersey license and registration within 60 days.
Bucco also sponsors a package of MVC bills that would offer drivers additional relief. He also offered a series of proposed solutions to the governor in early July that could have been enacted.
The senator warned that many people whose license expirations were extended to the end of September need immediate help.
“When reopened agencies were overwhelmed in early July, the governor asked drivers not to rush to the MVC saying they had plenty of time,” said Bucco. “Months later, the lines are still there and people are facing the imminent threat of their licenses expiring on September 30th. Parents who have school starting and jobs to juggle don’t have the time to waste at the MVC. What are they supposed to do? Governor Murphy needs to do something to help. He can start by signing the bills we sent him into law.”
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