INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) A proposal that would provide additional oversight over Indiana’s embattled Bureau of Motor Vehicles took another step forward at the Statehouse Monday.
The changes come inside House Bill 1393, a massive spending measure known as an omnibus bill that was passed by the House Roads and Transportation Committee last week.
The proposal would require the agency to create an internal audit group that would deliver an annual report to the Auditor of State. The required report would include quality control measures and error reduction data, and would be filed independently as an addition to the agency’s annual audit by the State Board of Accounts.
The proposed oversight additions follow dozens of I-Team 8 investigations that found the agency has overcharged drivers over the last decade by at least $65 million in fees. The latest overcharges were announced by Gov. Mike Pence at a hastily assembled news conference earlier this month where Pence also announced the replacement of BMV Commissioner Don Snemis by former Indiana Department of Environmental Management Chief of Staff Kent Abernathy.
An outside audit on the agency’s financial structure is now underway. That audit is now directed to be completed by May 1, Pence announced earlier this month.
But, some lawmakers feel the additional proposed oversight doesn’t go far enough. Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) introduced an amendment to the bill to require a third audit on the BMV to be performed by an independent outside accounting firm every three years, saying the current proposal is too lax.
“In its current form, HB 1393 does provide for yearly audits, but those are to be handled internally, which is certainly asking the foxes to guard the hen-house,” Forestal said in a written statement Monday. “My proposal would have required the internal audits to be reviewed by the State Board of Accounts and for the BMV to be audited independently every three years.”
The amendment also called for the BMV to eliminate the charging of convenience fees at off-site license branch services such as air quality monitoring sites in Northwest Indiana. Forestal said he believes most drivers are likely unaware the fees are being charged.
The BMV rebuts that claim.
A verbal disclosure is required to be given to motorists about the fees, and they are only charged at off site locations, not full service license branches, a BMV spokesman testified before the Roads and Transportation Committee last week.
The amendment failed 68-26 along party lines in a late vote before session adjourned Monday night.
Forestal told I-Team 8 he initially intended to file the measures in a standalone bill, but felt they would never have been called for a committee hearing.
The bill now moves to a third reading in the House this week. If it passes, it will move on to the Senate for consideration.