JEFFERSON CITY — Car dealers would be able to charge higher administrative fees under a proposal being sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The measure, approved late Monday by a vote of 27-6, raises the fee limit from under $200 to under $500.
Proponents argued the lower cap put Missouri dealers at a competitive disadvantage. Missouri vehicles can initially appear more expensive than out-of-state vehicles because dealers in other states are allowed to hide more of their price in administrative fees, they said.
A small group of Missouri senators objected to the legislation because it also required that 10% of the administrative fees go to the state to pay for updating its vehicle database.
Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, argued that 10% amounted to an additional tax on people buying cars.
“Any new cost that we put into the system is going to be passed on to consumers,” he said. “We have a record amount of money in the bank. Why are we asking the taxpayer to foot a new cost?”
The proposal’s sponsor, Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, said car dealerships offered to pay the 10% fee to the Department of Revenue. Hough said he appreciates when a group “voluntarily” agrees to pay for something.
“As a guy who sits on the appropriations committee, I make that deal every day of the week,” he said.
The modernized vehicle database would streamline the process for titling vehicles and issuing and renewing registrations and driver’s licenses.
In response to Eigel’s argument that the fee isn’t truly voluntary, Hough said the dealership could charge an extremely low fee, or none at all.
Eigel said he did not object to raising the fee limit, or even removing it. He also said he supported the bill the administrative fee proposal was attached to.
The proposal had been added to Hough’s legislation, nicknamed the “tiny robot bill,” which would set rules for “personal delivery devices” that would be allowed to travel on sidewalks while transporting food or other products to consumers.
“This is the future I dreamed of,” Eigel said.
The proposal is Senate Bill 176.