By WV Metronews Staff
Annual vehicle inspections could change to ever two years under a bill the Senate sent to the House on Friday.
SB 254 changes the annual inspection to biannual and raises the sticker price from $3 to $6 to reflect that.
The total price, including the sticker, would go from $14 to $19. Sen. Mike Stuart, R-Kanawha, said the extra $2 for the inspection station simply accounts for inflation. It would take effect in 2024.
A 2020 House bill to change inspections to every two years passed through two committees but died on the House floor in a 48-51 vote.
Stuart said Friday that West Virginia is one of only 19 states to require an annual inspection of any kind; five others do it every two years. Some other states require other kinds of inspections, such as emissions. And 10 states require no inspections at all.
Minority Leader Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, opposed the bill and engaged in a back-and forth with Stuart. He asked if Stuart knew what a “one-eyed Popeye” is. The answer, a big truck with a headlight out that drivers mistake for a motorcycle.
Woelfel said border county residents have to deal with states with no inspections, such as Ohio. “People have their vehicles tied to together with bailing wire and twine.”
Stuart answered that West Virginia is one of only four states that require the a purely safety check. Moving to biannual is an entirely reasonable alternative to eliminating the inspection entirely. It still provides money for the State Police while providing more convenience for residents.
Woelfel asked if the bill would make people more safe and Stuart answered that the proper question is will it make people less safe.
Woelfel continued, “I don’t think this is a Big Brother government situation where were going to free oppressed people from the burden of big government.” Older folks come in for the inspection and don’t know brakes are shot.
“I don’t see the net gain other than to say ‘freedom.’” he said. “We’re a leader in this. We want our people to be safe.”
The vote was 23-5, with six senators absent. Joining Woelfel against it were Democrats Mike Caputo, Marion, and Robert Plymale, Wayne, and Republicans Mike Oliverio, Monongalia, and Rupie Phillips, Logan.