The sticking point

If you privatize a government function, you should not be surprised if the private sector responds to an effort to retrieve it:

Oklahoma tag agents are flexing their political muscle to delay the state Tax Commission from implementing an online program that would allow vehicle owners to renew their tags on the commission’s Web site.

The online service was set to start this week, but House Speaker Chris Benge confirmed Tuesday legislative leaders asked the Tax Commission to postpone activating the service. It was the second delay this month.

The state has about 300 tag agents, scattered hither and yon. And they mean business:

Clayton Taylor, a lobbyist for the Oklahoma Tag Agent Coalition, said talks are under way to have a link to tag agents on the Tax Commission’s Web site instead of vehicle owners renewing registrations directly with the state.

“We want to work this so whatever business comes to that state site comes to the tag agents,” he said.

Indeed.

I’m not too put out by this; my local tag agent is decently efficient and is only a couple of miles away. However, the agencies are not exactly evenly distributed: if I lived out in West Boondoxia, I might crave some Web action instead of having to high-tail it down to the county seat. (The official list starts here.) And there’s always the hint, sometimes more than the hint, of political patronage, since the agents are appointed by state senators.





3 comments

  1. fillyjonk »

    27 January 2010 · 6:50 pm

    Or, if like mine, they allowed smoking in the place until the state absolutely forced them to stop that (while all the while having a sign up on the door imploring people not to bring their dogs in because “people have allergies”) so that the place reeked of old tobacco, you’d rather renew by web. (I wish I could. But then again, I also wish I could grocery-shop by web.)

    Honestly, I did not know they were private facilities. I’ve had enough problems, red tape, and bureaucracy at mine that I just figured it was a government office.

  2. Brian J. »

    28 January 2010 · 6:22 am

    Solution: a convenience charge, like what you pay Ticketmaster, with the convenience charge redistributed to the tag agents.

    What’s to stop it? Principles of the government not taking from citizens to give to individuals or businesses?

  3. McGehee »

    28 January 2010 · 8:32 am

    In Georgia I pay a convenience charge for online tag renewal, and our tag system is 100% government-operated.

    I think the fee helps pay for the system, which is relatively new, and because it’s undoubtedly being used a lot.

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