Get back to work! NJ lawmakers call for all Motor Vehicle offices to reopen
Lawmakers are trying to force the Motor Vehicle Commission to fully reopen.
State Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, said the reason for her proposed legislation is out of frustration on her part and on the part of her constituents.
She said there is no excuse for the government not to be open and not to be providing a full range of services two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
"You can go to the mall, you can go to a restaurant, you can shop at any store up and down the entire state of New Jersey, you can go to a football game, you can go to a concert, but you can't go to Motor Vehicles in a timely fashion to get all your services done and you certainly can't go to the Department of Labor to get your unemployment resolved," Corrado said.
She said an 81-year-old woman who recently lost her husband needed to transfer the title on the car so she could sell it. Corrado said the woman could not do it at the MVC in her hometown and was forced to drive an extra 45 minutes to a different MVC facility to conduct the title transfer.
Corrado tried to reach out to the MVC to help the woman.
"When I asked when are you going to open up back to pre-pandemic services, providing full services you used to provide, I got a one-word answer: Never."
An MVC spokesman disputed that claim and said the policy decisions are made by MVC leaders, not low-level MVC employees.
The MVC does not comment on proposed legislation, according to MVC spokesperson William Connolly.
MVC has been busy through pandemic
He said MVC agencies have been open to the public and servicing customers in-person since July 7, 2020. The division of agencies into Licensing and Vehicle Centers, as is done in many other states, has made operations more efficient, giving MVC greater capacity to serve the public, he said.
Most transactions don’t require an in-person visit anymore. The few that do are almost exclusively one-time-only visits such as a first license, driver's test or registering a privately purchased vehicle, Connolly said.
MVC processed a record number of transactions last year, nearly 12.3 million, and remains focused on delivering motor vehicle services to New Jerseyans with safety, security, efficiency, and convenience foremost in mind.
Decisions on services provided are made by senior MVC leadership, not MVC agency employees. Any comments on future MVC plans that do not come from Chief Administrator Fulton or authorized personnel should not be considered valid, he said.
But Corrado said it's not just problems at the MVC. There are countless issues with the state Department of Labor and with people trying to get professional licenses such as a plumbing or barber license.
"We hear the complaints daily. We hear the frustrations in people's voices and we're frustrated because we can't get answers and can't help them," she said.
Corrado's bill would require the MVC to do what they did two years ago before the pandemic when residents could physically go to the facility and be offered a variety of services.
Going online to make an MVC in-person appointment for a service such as a driver's test for a license or a permit, has also been frustrating, she said. When scrolling through the list of agencies there are no appointments. Corrado said the earliest one she found was the end of April.
The MVC did put several services online and Corrado said that's great because it made things a lot more efficient during the pandemic. She feels these online services should remain in place. However, for those transactions that must be done in person, there have to be employees there to service the transactions and there are not.
"Government serves the people. We pay their salaries. There is simply no excuse for them not to be back at work in-person full services throughout the state. As the governor likes to say, period full stop," Corrado said.
State Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, said that what made sense when agencies reopened in July 2020, doesn't make much sense today. Bucco said it's time for Gov. Phil Murphy to restore all state government services and staffing to pre-pandemic levels.
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