CHARLOTTE – N.C. House District 105 has more offices of Fortune 500 companies and headquarters for publicly traded companies than any of the other 119 house districts across the state.
Residents, however, of the fast-growing district in south Charlotte don’t have a convenient place to do business with the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. District 105 Rep. Scott Stone is looking to change that.
Stone, a Republican seeking a second full term in the General Assembly next month, recently sent a letter to DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup saying the DMV needs to open more offices in fast-growing areas like south Charlotte. The state has been plagued with long lines at DMV offices across the area in recent months.
“Typically, the closest ones are near Arrowwood Road or out in Monroe is where a lot of folks go,” Stone said. “When I took my kids to get their licenses or permits, it was either out there or even Wadesboro where they had their driver’s test because there was less of a line.
“What has happened with government-run services, the locations that were built 50 years ago were built to be geographically centered to be near a lot of people and they haven’t kept up with the population growth. We have seen hundreds of thousands of people move into south Charlotte in the last couple of decades. We have to see some support on some of the basic government functions like the DMV. It makes common sense that we are going to need locations where the people are.”
In addition to opening new offices, Stone said the DMV needs to upgrade its technology and modernize older offices to help lessen wait times.
“Some of those are so antiquated,” Stone said. “They look like they have been there forever. They are not only not keeping up with growth but they are not modernizing their facilities. It is definitely something they need to pay attention to and it is not a huge cost because the DMV is probably a cash-positive operation because of the licensing fees and the registration fees. We still use very antiquated technology across the state, including at the DMV.”
Stone is also requesting Jessup and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson allow high school driver’s education teachers to administer written tests for learner’s permits and road tests for provisional driver’s licenses. Stone said that could eliminate up to 10 percent of the trips to DMV offices across the state.
Stone said driver education teachers know the students they are teaching to drive and that they have spent more time training them as compared to a DMV official who observes a student driving for a short period of time during a test.
“In many cases, they are state employees because they are teachers,” Stone said. “Some of them like in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are contracted out to an outside company but they are funded by both fees from the students and more than $27 million is appropriated by the state to fund driver education programs all across the state. If we are entrusting these instructors to teach our kids the rules of the road and the state laws, give them guidance on how to be better drivers, we should certainly entrust them to give students a test. They are probably doing similar tests as part of their class. They know when these kids are ready because they have been with them for multiple driving sessions.”
If Stone’s proposal is put in place, teachers who are given authority to administer tests would be granted access to the state DMV computer system. Businesses that do state inspection of vehicles currently have that type of access.
“People that are doing state inspections are able to log into the state DMV system,” Stone said. “They can update the fact that a car has passed inspection and you have to have that in place before you can renew your registration. You could have a similar type of program for driver’s education teachers. You could probably even set it up where the driver’s education teachers could even do the photo.”
Republicans currently hold only four of the 12 House seats in Mecklenburg County and Stone said that District 105 benefits by having him aligned with the Republican majority. Republicans currently have super majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. Democratic Party nominee Wesley Harris is Stone’s opponent in the Nov. 6 General Election.
“It’s important to make sure we have a strong voice for our district within the Republican majority,” Stone said. “We probably generate more state tax revenue in our district than any other district in the state. I think people appreciate that our economy is booming and the tax rate is low. People were pleasantly surprised last week when we were able to appropriate $850 million in hurricane relief. We were able to do it without a single tax increase, without a cut in any governmental spending. We were able to do that because we have $2 billion in the rainy-day fund. We have been managing the state budget in a very responsible way.”