Two influential members of the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday sided with critics of a proposed revamping of the state system of issuing driver licenses from a county-by-county over-the-counter system to a centralized issuance system by mail that's used in most states.
Under the current system, drivers get their licenses immediately. Under a revamped system, they could wait up to two weeks to get them in the mail.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, reacting to a Times/Herald report on the proposal, said the county tax collectors who currently issue licenses and license tags are doing a good job, and both voiced skepticism about change.
"These local players have been the delivery channel," Atwater said. "All of us want to go put it to bed immediately. My wife says, 'My license expired. I want it solved today.' So the local players, the tax collectors, did the right thing by saying, 'Time out.'"
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"It's an idea worth exploring, but only in coordination with our tax collectors," Putnam said. The agriculture commissioner works closely with tax collectors, who also can issue concealed weapons licenses in Florida.
Both Cabinet members strongly support state highway safety chief Terry Rhodes, whose agency is considering the proposal. Rhodes appeared briefly before Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet at a meeting in St. Augustine Tuesday but she was not asked about it.
Rhodes has emphasized she would not push the so-called central issuance concept without tax collectors' support. She dispatched her top driver license expert, Carl Ford, to a tax collectors' conference in Orlando Tuesday.
Brevard Tax Collector Lisa Cullen, president of a statewide tax collectors' group, has urged a go-slow approach by the state, and has warned that it could be a "disaster" if everyday Floridians aren't sold on the idea.