CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joe Miller believes West Virginia has an opportunity to attract commercial vehicle fleets if only the state would treat fleet owners more efficiently.
Owners currently must deal with the state Public Service Commission, Tax Department, Division of Highways and Division of Motor Vehicles to get the licenses and permits they need and pay the taxes they owe.
Truckers have a state trade association but "the motor carrier industry doesn't have a centralized advocate in state government to demand the changes that would enhance the industry," Miller said.
"Each department does a good job," he said. "That's not the point. The point is there isn't a central office where a trucker from Martinsburg can come get everything done."
Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana and New Mexico have created one-stop shops and have vibrant motor carrier industries operating within their borders, Miller said.
"I happen to think the motor carrier industry is one of the opportunities that we have for improvement," he said. "It is undeveloped in West Virginia. If I had a company in Ohio I knew was looking to locate in another state, I could not go to that company now and say, 'Come to West Virginia, it's a great state to do business in.' If we had a one-stop shop with a friendly tax and registration process, I would be able to go to that company.
"Because of the Marcellus Shale natural gas development, we had a company with about 400 vehicles that was interested in registering those vehicles in West Virginia," Miller said. "Once they found out how we were structured, they backed off.
"There's a huge opportunity there if we would bite the bullet and say we'll have a one-stop shop."
DMV Deputy Commissioner Steve Dale said the federal government also is interested in streamlining the way commercial fleets are handled. "They're interested in making it as efficient as possible to monitor and register commercial vehicles, so costs are as low as possible," he said. Also, "They're interested in the safety aspect -- keeping records and making safety checks efficient."
Dale noted that the DMV already is the lead state agency for the disbursement of federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration funding, which the DMV distributes to other agencies as appropriate.
Miller said the Legislature passed a one-stop shop resolution four years ago "but we needed legislation that mandated it. Last year we put in legislation to have the DMV conduct an independent study. We had the Rahall Institute do the study. They made a report to us that was presented to a legislative committee in December. It recommended a one-stop shop be created and put within the DMV. That started a turf war.
"The PSC has some objections and we at the DMV have some objections," Miller said.
A final report on the recommendations is due Jan. 15.
A one-stop shop bill passed the Senate when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was Senate president. This time around, "Only one person in the state can put this together," Miller said. "That would be the Governor."Reach George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.