Delegates voted on 12 pieces of legislation in the House yesterday, including one that creates a centralized state vehicle inventory system. The bill was the result of both an interim study and a request from Gov. Jim Justice.
One of the first bills presented to lawmakers on behalf of Governor Justice was to create and maintain a vehicle inventory system for state cars.
That bill was introduced and sent to the House Committee on Government Organization, but the committee decided instead to push their own version of that bill; House Bill 2004, which was up for a vote in the chamber Monday.
The bill’s goal is to figure out exactly how many cars the state owns. According to the Legislative Auditor's Office, that’s a difficult question to answer and the number depends on who you ask. The Auditor’s Office estimates West Virginia owns anywhere between 7,600 to 12,600 vehicles.
The bill keeps in code many of the same measures that are in law today, but essentially starts the inventory from scratch. It says all the data about state vehicles would be housed at the Fleet Management Office. The inventory system would still distinguish state, county and city vehicles with different color plates.
House Government Organization Chair Delegate Gary Howell is the lead sponsor of House Bill 2004.
“What this bill will do will begin to get a handle on it," Howell explained, "We’re changing the color of the license plates on it; to get the old green ones out of the system, because we know that some of those tags have disappeared and may be on private cars and stuff like that.”
Howell says new state vehicle license plates will be gold with blue letters. The plates on county and city owned vehicles would remain the same – red with white letters for counties and blue with white lettering for municipalities.
Howell says by creating the new inventory, the state will be able to track spending more closely.
“We know where our personal vehicles are, we know how much we have in them, we know what our maintenance costs are, we know how much we’re buying on fuel, and when times are tough, we track that," Howell said, "We decide, is this trip needed? And stuff like that. The state should be doing the same thing, and when you don’t know what you have, you can’t do that.”
The bill passed 99 to 0 in the House and now heads to the Senate for consideration.