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Lawmaker seeks limit on Indiana specialty plates

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A Republican state lawmaker is reviving the debate over specialty license plates one year after the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles suspended a gay youth group's plates.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said he wants to create an eight-member panel to review applications for specialty plates and limit the number of groups participating to 150. He cited other states, such as Maryland, where more than 700 groups get special recognition on license plates.

"What we want to do is have a fair system that holds the not-for-profit accountable," he said, adding that he wants to ensure the money raised by various groups through the program is spent properly.

Soliday, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, led an effort last year to limit the state's number of specialty plates. But it was overshadowed by a successful push by social conservatives to suspend the plates for the Indiana Youth Group, which counsels gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children.

The BMV last March suspended the group's plates, along with those for the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the Indiana Greenways Foundation, at the request of Senate Republicans. The 4-H Foundation and the Indiana Youth Group appealed their suspensions, but no decision has been made yet.

Indiana had approved plates for 88 groups as of the end of last year, and sold 481,092, said BMV Spokesman Dennis Rosebrough. From an administrative standpoint, it's not hard to make the plates, he said. The state no longer relies on the cumbersome metal stamping process that required BMV license branches to keep stockpiles of plates on hand.

"Now you walk in (to a branch office) and you say you want a Wabash college plate, that night the order goes in, and the next day your college plate is printed and the next day it goes in the mail and you got it," Rosebrough said.

Despite the battle over the gay youth group's plates, specialty plates are a popular item in the Legislature this year. Bills have been filed to make plates promoting the Indiana Dairy Association, fallen firefighters and recipients of the military's medal of valor.

Soliday said, however, there would be only one specialty plate bill to move this year: his.

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  • waste of time
    How about a license plate promoting cursive writing? Anything else they can waste their time on?
  • fairness
    Is this really a priority? As long as 1) the plates are going to a valid non-profit group and 2) the state is not losing money printing them, what is the issue? Is it fair to shut the door now on new applications? If one form of cancer or disease gets a plate, they all should be able to, as long as the charity is valid.
  • Supply & Demand
    Historically the approval of specially plates has been by the BMV, with plates not selling above a certain number removed from the program.
  • his style of fairness
    Love how Soliday says he is looking for fairness in one breath then turns and says his bill will be the only one heard. If they cant look at this w/o their social conservative slant then get rid of all the plates.
  • Hmmm
    Sounds like the technology exists to make as many types of plates as there are ideas. Plates could have an area for information needed by the police (plate number) and an area for images and/or messages. Folks could send in an electronic image of their dog or favorite slogan or whatever else they want on their plate. A panel of bureaucrats (oh boy) would evaluate each submission for legality and some level of appropriateness. Those approved get printed. Maybe we could toss those revenues into the yawning abyss of state pension obligations.

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