JEFFERSON CITY — An estimated 1.1 million more vehicles will be able to traverse Missouri roads without a state-mandated safety inspection after Gov. Mike Parson moved Wednesday to loosen requirements.
Parson, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 89, a wide-ranging transportation measure that includes the less-stringent requirements for Missouri motorists who drive aging vehicles.
Current law requires every-other-year inspections for vehicles more than 5 years old. The new law will require inspections for vehicles more than 10 years old, or with at least 150,000 miles.
The new law takes effect Aug. 28, Parson's office said.
The new rules will mean an estimated 1.1 million vehicles in Missouri that are 5 to 10 years old will no longer need an inspection. That's more than one-fifth of the roughly 5.1 million vehicles registered in the state, according to a nonpartisan fiscal analysis of the proposal.
Licensed inspectors are allowed to charge $12 for vehicle inspections and $10 for motorcycle inspections. The inspector gives the car owner a sticker to certify the vehicle passed inspection.
The state charges inspectors $1.50 for each sticker: $1 goes to the state's Highway Fund, while the other 50 cents is deposited into the Highway Patrol Inspection Fund.
The analysis said fewer inspections will result in less money deposited into state coffers — an estimated $575,028 decrease annually to the state's highway fund, and an estimated $287,514 decrease annually to the state's highway inspection fund.
"This loss of revenue would directly impact the funding of Highway Patrol operations," the analysis, conducted by the Committee on Legislative Research and Oversight Division, said.
In fiscal year 2018, the analysis said, $2.6 million from the vehicle inspection program was deposited into the Highway Fund while $1.3 million from the inspection program was deposited into the Highway Patrol Inspection Fund.
Earlier this year, lawmakers debated eliminating the vehicle inspections, then settled on the watered-down measure that eliminates the requirements for vehicles less than a decade old.
"It's much better than eliminating the entire program," said Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, who opposed both proposals.
Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, who sponsored the legislation, said the inspection requirement presents a “significant burden” to Missourians. He said in addition to the inspection fee, motorists have to take time off work to get their vehicles inspected.
Rep. Becky Ruth, R-Festus, chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, criticized elimination of the program during debate on the House floor.
“I’m concerned about the safety aspect of this,” she said.
A bid to do away with the emissions testing in the St. Louis area failed this year. The tests have been taking place for decades in the city of St. Louis, and St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties.
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, wanted to end the testing because air quality has improved in the region and newer cars emit less pollution.
But lawmakers refused to scrap the program in the last hours of this year's legislative session because doing so could potentially cost the state millions of dollars in federal funding.