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Friday, May 9, 2008


Until recently insurance companies and other businesses authorized to access Missourians’ driver and vehicle license records had to pay just $2,035 for the complete database of 4 million records. The Missouri Department of Revenue’s new asking price for the database: $28 million. Businesses that use the records say the massive fee hike will either put them out of business or result in significantly higher car insurance rates for Missouri motorists as insurers pass on the cost of obtaining the records. Some lawmakers question the legality of the move and are threatening to overturn it.

The revenue department recently raised the fee to $7 per record. The old fee was $1.25 for a single record with significant discounts for bulk purchases that lowered the cost for the entire database to just a fraction of a penny per record. Under the new fee structure, the department provides no bulk discount.

Called before the Joint Committee on Tax Policy on May 6 to explain the hike, Department of Revenue Director Omar Davis said it was necessary to pay for a $50 million modernization of its 30-year-old database. Davis said the department didn’t ask the General Assembly for a budget appropriation for that purpose because “we knew the answer would be no,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. State Rep. Shannon Cooper, R-Clinton, said he will seek to attach an amendment nullifying the fee hike to another bill during the final days of the legislative session.

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