JEFFERSON CITY - A Virginia company hired to overhaul the computer system for Missouri's driver's license and motor vehicle records has filed a lawsuit challenging a new state law capping fees for buying those records.
The suit filed by BearingPoint Inc. is another round in the wrangling that has followed the Missouri Department of Revenue's decision to begin charging $7 per driver's license or motor vehicle record. Previously, it cost a fraction of a cent per record for bulk purchases.
Businesses regularly buy the records to track vehicle histories and traffic violations and in turn sell that information to used car dealers, consumers, insurance companies and other entities.
Since the record fee was increased May 1, a state trial judge blocked the higher fees for bulk record purchases after four companies sued, and lawmakers have responded by establishing a one-half of a cent price limit per record for bulk purchases.
The legislative price cap was added earlier this year to property tax legislation and has already been signed by the governor. It takes effect Aug. 28.
But BearingPoint, in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Capitol's home of Cole County, contends that the price limit is unconstitutional because it wrongly mixes multiple subjects within the same bill. The lawsuit asks the court to toss out that provision.
BearingPoint has a contract worth up to $50 million through the Missouri Department of Revenue to develop the computer system, with the company keeping $1 from every record sale.
The company's lawsuit argues that the title of the legislation with the records price cap only mentions property taxes, and that lawmakers changed the bill's purpose when they added the price cap. Missouri's constitution requires that a bill's title explain the topics in the legislation, and it bars lawmakers from adding amendments that alter a measure's underlying purpose.
The lawsuit specifically asks that the court sequester the records price cap from the rest of the bill, which seeks to limit local property tax increases. By doing that, it's possible to toss out the cost limit provisions without invalidating the entire bill.
Revenue Department spokesman David Griffith said Friday that BearingPoint has not yet begun work on the new computer system. Griffith said that the department charges $7 per record for individual purchases but has now reverted to its old pricing scheme for bulk buys.