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Michigan to allow two-year vehicle registration

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Drivers would have to pay the full cost upfront in order to register vehicles for two years, but the option may help clear a backlog at Secretary of State branches caused by the pandemic.(Shutterstock)

LANSING — Beginning next fall, Michigan drivers can renew their vehicle registration every two years — instead of annually — under a new law signed this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

In signing the Republican-sponsored bill, the Democratic governor said the policy change will save drivers a trip to the Secretary of State's Office or Post Office, "making life easier for Michiganders."

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The new law, which takes effect in October 2022, won’t lower vehicle registration fees, a “birthday tax” that is used to fund road repairs and other transportation projects around the state. But it will give all Michigan vehicle owners the option to register their vehicle for two years by paying the full cost up front. 

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It's a "common-sense idea," according to sponsoring Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, whose legislation passed the Michigan House in a 101-2 vote before winning unanimous approval in the state Senate.

Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson also praised the new law, saying it "will add yet another convenient service to our catalog.”

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Whitmer signed a related GOP bill earlier this year that will double the cost of a Recreation Passport sticker for motorists who choose the two-year registration option, raising the fee from $10 to $20.

Another law the governor signed this week aims to allow certain agricultural and wood harvesting operations to renew vehicle registrations at no additional cost by mail or online.

Benson said that law is “not implementable”  as written but will be if lawmakers require insurance companies to provide the state with electronic access to policy data for the agricultural vehicles, which is a prerequisite for registration.

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