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Easing of vision rule on driver's relicensing is opposed

Cattaraugus County legislators went on record Wednesday as opposing the state's recent change that will make it no longer necessary to take a vision test to renew a driver's license.

The change, which took effect Wednesday, allows drivers to "self-certify" online that they have 2 0/2 0 vision or better when they renew their license. Previously, a vision test had been required for renewal.

The legislators said the change would allow anyone to renew a license, even if they have vision problems such as cataracts, and could pose serious risks to others on the highway, as well as pedestrians.

County Clerk James K. Griffith told legislators that although his first concern is for the safety of others on the highway, the change will mean a loss of about $60,000 in county revenue.

Until now, the county had retained $8.19 of the $64.50 fee paid by a driver for each vision test performed at a local Department of Motor Vehicles office. The remainder goes to the state.

Legislators are sending their message of opposition to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, other elected state officials and the DMV.

As part of a brief agenda, legislators scheduled a public hearing for 3 p.m. Oct. 12 on a local law to revise its weighted voting system by adjusting the weight of the legislators' votes based on the 2010 census.

The measure amends a 2003 law giving 11 legislators a vote of more than one and the other 10 less than a full vote.

Earlier this year, legislators, on a party-line vote, supported a Republican-backed plan for redistricting, effective 2015. The plan reduces the Legislature from 21 members to 17 and will be on the ballot for voters to consider Nov. 8.

Democrats offered a board reduction to 15 members and are urging voters to reject the proposal for a 17-member Legislature. They were advised by the county attorney that two proposals could not be placed before voters.

Republicans currently control 14 of the 21 seats. All seats are up for election in November for four-year terms.

The 2010 census showed the county's population as 80,317.