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Clerks, Niagara County Legislature against license plate exchange

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Mon, Aug 26th 2019 10:15 am
Pictured from left: Lockport DMV Deputy Clerk James M. Pulito, Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski and Niagara County Legislator Rebecca Wydysh.
Pictured from left: Lockport DMV Deputy Clerk James M. Pulito, Niagara County Clerk Joseph Jastrzemski and Niagara County Legislator Rebecca Wydysh.

Niagara County Clerk Joseph A. Jastrzemski and Republican members of the Niagara County Legislature are decrying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new license plate initiative that imposes a mandatory license plate replacement beginning in 2020 along with a mandatory replacement fee.

Jastrzemski and members of the County Legislature have introduced a petition urging the governor to waive the $25 fee. According to Jastrzemski, residents will be able to sign the petition at any of the three DMV office locations. In addition, residents will be able to access the petition via the Niagara County clerk website by the end of this week.

“The mandatory license plate exchange, which has been imposed on New York state residents, is nothing more than a state money grab,” Jastrzemski said Friday. “Gov. Cuomo recently defended his plan by suggesting that E-ZPass scanning devices are unable to read current license plates – an issue I have yet to hear anyone speak of.”

The new license plates will be printed in April 2020 and replace the current “Empire Gold” plates, which themselves were issued 10 years ago. Drivers renewing their registrations in April 2020 will have a $25 plate replacement fee added to the cost of the renewal, or they can pay $20 fee in order to keep their current plates. There are over 14 million registered vehicles in New York using the low-end cost of $25 per replacement. With those figures, the revenue generated would be upward of $350 million.

Also on Friday, New York State Sen. Rob Ortt announced he is bringing forth a bill opposing the state-mandated license plate replacement and calling for the fee to be waived.

One of the members of the County Legislature joining the opposition include Legislator Rebecca Wydysh, R-Lewiston, who chairs the community services committee.

“The Niagara County Legislature fully supports Sen. Ortt’s decision to oppose this shortsighted action of Gov. Cuomo’s administration,” she said. “I will also bring forth a resolution urging that the fee be waived so that our residents do not have to bear the weight of an unnecessary financial burden.”

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns also opposes this new fee.

He ran a poll wherein the vast majority of people did not support the measure.

“I urge all Erie County residents that have peeling license plates to surrender them to their local Erie County auto bureau, where we will replace them for no fee before April of next year,” he said.

Kearns’ camp said 1,072 people participated in a poll that asked, “Do you oppose the mandated license plate reissuance?” Eighty-seven percent of people voted “yes,” while 13% voted “no.”

Additionally, Kearns sent a letter to DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder to express his opposition to the new mandate.

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