Tag Archives: Cathy Giessel

Bill gives private businesses a 15 percent raise paid for with state funds

A bill introduced by Anchorage Republican Sen. Cathy Giessel would give private businesses which expedite Department of Motor Vehicle services a pay raise of 15 percent from state revenues. If it passes, SB 127 would cost the state at least $1.2 million a year.

The companies say they need the extra money to process credit cards and to expand their businesses. Critics say that the state would be giving additional money to businesses for doing work that’s already profitable. The state DMV is neutral on the bill. Currently, there are eleven businesses that contract with the state for this service in Alaska, not all of whom appear to have valid Alaska business licenses.

Since 2000, the state has allowed private companies to provide titles, transfer of titles, and commercial services historically done through DMV. They set up offices away from DMVs and the lines are much shorter. The companies provide the paper work, but DMV still does the processing.

Such services provide convenience for consumers. In exchange, the companies have been allowed to charge whatever the market will bear for the convenience, above and beyond the standard DMV fees. They’re also allowed to charge for things, like handicap license plates, that the state doesn’t charge for.

In fiscal year 2013, they collected more than $11.4 million in fees from 193,697 transactions.

Fees charged to the consumers can vary dramatically depending on the business and the service. One of the largest of such businesses, Alaska Tags & Titles, processed 341,000 transactions from 2004 until 2013. According to legislative testimony, the company charges consumers $20 for a registration renewal, $2 for a transfer of title, and $30 for commercial fees.

This is a service fee above and beyond what the state charges.

If the bill is passed, in addition to those service fees, companies will get an additional $2 for a duplicate registration, $5 for a duplicate tag or plate, and $115 for a registration for transfer of title from the state, according to Melissa Cucullu, the general manager of Alaska Title and Transfer.

That money will come from the general fund.

Giessel said that it would encourage more private sector involvement and would save the state money, though she has not offered any documentation for the latter claim.

The bill passed out of State Affairs Committee and was referred to Finance.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Crawford throws his hat in the race to run against Giessel

Harry Crawford, a former Alaska state legislator and contender for the U.S. Congress, said on Thursday that he’s going to challenge Republican Alaska state Sen. Cathy Giessel in 2014. “Unless something drastic happens, that’s how I’m going to spend 2014,” Crawford said.

Crawford was in the House from 2001 to 2011 when he stepped down to run against U.S. Rep. Don Young, to whom he lost by a large margin. He also ran for the state Senate primary in another district in 2012 against fellow Democrat Bettye Davis. Davis lost to Sen. Anna Fairclough in the general.

District boundaries have since changed, and some say that the new district lines, which includes the upper Hillside area and Girdwood, are more favorable to a Democrat generally, and specifically to Crawford.

Crawford is a pro-resource development Democrat, an increasingly rare breed in Alaska. Although he wants to repeal the tax breaks made to the oil industry last session, he voted against ACES in 2007, believing that we should tax more on the low end and less on the upper end.

But he’s highly supportive of “getting Alaska back to work” and of big projects: the gas line, damns and mines, to name a few. Or, as he puts it: “Getting the projects out of the ground and the iron in the air.”

Crawford came to Alaska in the 1970s to work on the trans-Alaska pipeline, and was an iron worker for 37 years. He’s from Louisiana and although he said he’s worked in every state west of the Mississippi, he hasn’t lost his home state’s accent.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com