The governor says if legislators don't like the fee, they should come back into session and change the law

Millions of New Yorkers will soon be forced to buy new license plates.  A few weeks ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a contest to choose the new New York State license plate. That contest veiled a change that will force many drivers to pay $25 to upgrade their plates to the newer version. 

New York drivers with the current blue and yellow plates that are less than 10 years old can keep those plates without having to pay the fee, but those with the white and blue version will be forced to upgrade next year.  

The voting on the new version of the plate closed Monday at 11:59 p.m.,  but what wasn’t in the headline of the contest was that fact that many folks will have to pay a $25 license plate replacement fee in addition to the cost of renewing their registration. If you want to keep your old license plate number, that’s another $20. 

“It doesn't look good if we have 4 million new plates coming out at $25 bucks a plate, that's $100 million, so I know a lot of people think it's a cash grab,” said Assemblyman Mark Johns, a Republican who represents portions of Monroe County. 

Assemblyman Harry Bronson, a Democrat who represents portions of Monroe County, noted the state law that allows the DMV to charge $25 for new plates was put in place a long time ago.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles has been charging $25 for plates for the past decade, but the law does not mandate it be that price. 

“It says you can charge up to $25, so it could be $5 or $10.  Or [it could be] $15 or $20,” said Johns. 

Cuomo said last week, if the legislature doesn’t like the fee, it should call itself into special session and change the law.

Lawmakers say this isn’t something that needs to be decided by them.

“A special session costs money, you're going to have to pay everybody's per-diems to come back for a couple of days, mileage back and forth — it can be regulated at the executive level,” Johns said.

State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, is sponsoring a bill that would block the fee. The matter would be taken up during the next legislative session and state budget to be voted on by April 1, 2020. Local lawmakers — including Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua — and Ontario County Clerk Matt Hoose joined Ortt in announcing the legislation last week in Canandaigua.

Even those who don’t believe the new plates are a money grab still think the Governor should consider making a change.

“If there's a way we can pick up the costs at the state level, I certainly would be supportive of that,” Bronson said.