LANISNG, Mich. (WLNS) -Many motorists in Michigan are driving without an updated license or license plates, and they’re forced to wait months for an appointment at the Secretary of State’s office to renew them.
However, secretary of state Jocelyn Benson says all the negative headlines are not true.
“A lot tried to say that instead of waiting in offices for hours, residents now have to wait for months to schedule a branch office visit. That may make for a great headline or a great sound bite, but it’s actually not true.”
The Secretary concedes indeed there is a backlog in part because years ago, lawmakers forced the then Secretary of State to cut off his staff close offices. While at the same time more cars were on the roads.
Secretary Benson believes the appointment only system will eventually eliminate the log jam, but lawmakers are urging her now to re-institute walk-ins at every office.
“You have this backlog. And you want to try these new ideas? How about until we get those new ideas implemented? We bring in the walk-in option until we get there,” said State Representative Steve Johnson, a Republican on the oversight committee.
“Yeah. Again, I appreciate that. As a, suggested path forward, the data I’ve seen shows that that wouldn’t work. All it would create is a reduction of appointments available,” replied Benson.
While Republicans hold her accountable on eliminating this backlog, the Secretary turns the tables on them, asserting that they need to act too.
“I don’t have the ability on my own to increase the capacity of our service, uh, by hiring more people and increasing more hours. I’d love to do it, but it takes investment, and so that’s an immediate thing you can do to enable us to serve more people,” said Benson.
Some motorists are being ticketed for not having a valid license plate while they continue to wait for their renewals.
Benson says she has asked law enforcement to ease off, and she also tells the committee that her office is still looking at other ways to slice into this backlog, but returning to the old walk-in system, not very high on her list here.