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Legislature Passes Bill to Allow DMV to Issue Experimental Vehicle Plates

Juneau – The Legislature has passed legislation to allow the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue license plates for experimental vehicles that may be brought to Alaska for cold weather testing or for other types of testing.   Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Senator Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, will allow DMV to issue the plates for up to 12 months, with up to two renewals for a maximum of 36 months.

“Up ‘til now, the DMV has been unable to issue such plates, because the vehicles being tested are not qualified to be titled and registered,” said Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks. “A problem arose when cold weather test vehicles had to be brought back for a second season of extended testing due to stricter emissions regulations.  Due to an ‘informal’ arrangement, DMV could not extend the one-year license without statutory authority.  We worked with DMV and private companies to craft this legislation.”

Bishop said the use of the highways and infrastructure of the Fairbanks area and the Interior, particularly for extreme cold weather testing, has generated quite a bit of economic activity. The Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, in a letter supporting passage of SB 85, estimated that the total economic contribution of companies cold-weather-testing their products contributes more than $500 million into the Fairbanks economy.

“This bill fixes a hiccup in the vehicle registration law, which could have jeopardized a significant contributor to the Fairbanks economy,” said Bishop. “So, I am very grateful to the members of the House and Senate for their support.”

A companion bill (HB 176) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks. After passage of SB 85, Thompson said, “Cold weather vehicle testing is a great economic driver for the Interior.  Vehicles are flown into the Fairbanks International Airport, warehouse facilities are leased, hundreds of hotel rooms are booked, local companies are hired to provide services, and many local citizens are employed over the course of the season.”

Next stop for SB 85 is Governor Sean Parnell’s desk for his signature.

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