Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 4, 2013

Specialty license plates prompt debate

Bill seeks to streamline application system.

(Continued)

Indianapolis —

Indiana has been issuing specialty license plates since 1992 as a vehicle to raise money for non-profits. About half-million Hoosiers bought state-issued specialty license plates last year, paying an extra fee of $40 beyond what it cost to license their vehicles.

They had more than 90 plates from which to choose, benefiting organizations ranging from the Indiana Bicycle Coalition to the National Rifle Association.

Purdue University and Indiana University were among the top organizations to benefit from the plates; nearly 100,000 motorists bought specialty plates bearing either the IU or Purdue logo.

Under Soliday’s bill, any state university or college with a specialty plate would have to direct the dollars made off the plates into a scholarship fund for Indiana residents only.

Soliday wants to cap the number of organizations that could qualify for the plates, at 150. He said police organizations support the idea, “because the roads are so crowded with so many different plates. There’s a limit on how many plates they can identify.”

He also wants to eliminate some of the organizations that currently have plates, if their plate sales fall to less than 500 plates a year.  That could pose a problem for an organization like the Indiana Chiefs of Police Foundation, which saw only 101 plates sold last year.

His legislation would also require more financial disclosures from the organizations applying for the plates, and require those organizations to have an outside board of directors.

The bill hit a temporary roadblock earlier last week. Soliday delayed committee action on the bill after another lawmaker proposed amending the legislation to permanently prohibit any group that had their license plate revoked from ever applying for a new plate. That would have included the Indiana Youth Group.

Soliday said the amendment precluded any appeals process. “It would have meant that once you’ve been rejected, you can never have another plate. That’s not the way we work in America.”

Soliday’s bill is expected to be heard in the House roads and transportation committee next week.

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