Governor’s E-Check veto concerns some residents

Tieran Lewis

Some Kent State students and local residents who drive cars manufactured before 1996 are having mixed feelings about Gov. Ted Strickland’s vetoing the proposal to eliminate yearly E-Checks from the state operating budget.

Eric Coleman, junior paralegal studies major, said E-Check is a good program, as long as it remains free.

“I think the legislature and the government, they have to find a way that we don’t have to keep shelling out all this money,” he said. “We have to pay fuel tax, licensing fees – I think they’re draining the consumer dry.”

In 2005, the Ohio General Assembly eliminated the $19.50 fee. The tests are now paid for by tobacco settlement funds.

“They felt that if we had to continue the program, because it is federally mandated, they didn’t want people to have to pay for it,” said Heidi Griesmer, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson. Griesmer said she believes the tests will continue to be free.

Although the fee was eliminated, Allen Driscoll of West Main Street said having to get the test is still inconvenient.

“I hate having to go from place to place to get paperwork and tests when all I want to do is drive my car,” he said. “I feel like it’s a waste of my time.”

Coleman said he found a way around the test when he drove a 1993 Plymouth Colt.

“My check engine light would come on if the car was hot, so I would park it for a while, and then drive it straight to the testing station,” he said. “They won’t even let you in the station if that light is on.”

The E-Check program tests vehicle emissions to help reduce the amount of smog-causing compounds put into the air by cars, trucks and large vehicles that don’t have on-board diagnostic systems.

Griesmer said if the proposal would have passed, it would have had a negative effect on Northeast Ohio’s environment.

“You would notice it because there would be higher ozone levels, we’d probably have more air quality alerts,” she said. “We would be required as a state to do something else, to put in additional controls in Northeast Ohio.”

Strickland has extended the program, which was set to expire this December, to December 2009, according to the Office of Budget Management Web site.

E-Check is required by federal law in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties.

Contact news correspondent Tieran Lewis at [email protected].