Groups Defend Specialty License Plates Before Wary Lawmakers

Committee members heard two hours of testimony on the issue Wednesday.

Members of non-profit groups voiced their opinions at the meeting about whether the state should continue providing specialty plates and if so, what regulation is needed.

Photo: Kyle Stokes/Indiana Public Media News

Members of non-profit groups voiced their opinions at the meeting about whether the state should continue providing specialty plates and if so, what regulation is needed.

Representatives of non-profit groups told state lawmakers Wednesday they want to continue to have specialty plates as an option for raising awareness and funds for their causes.

Members of a legislative study committee expressed concerns about where the money raised through the sale of the plates is going. One legislator floated the idea that organizations that spend more than half their donations on administrative costs shouldn’t be allowed plates.

Bicycle Indiana executive director Nancy Tibbett says that shouldn’t be the state’s role.

“I think that the people who give money to get those plates already believe in that organization and are not necessarily asking for the spot check,” she says.

Patriot Guard Rider state captain Ron Coleman says his group welcomes greater accountability from the state.

“If we had to provide an extra ten dollars towards a committee or the BMV to maybe put more stringent regulations to control 501-c-3s, we’re all for it.  Our members would be 100 percent behind it,” he says.

Members of a legislative study committee say they will not be making any recommendations this summer on specialty license plates or the regulation of them. Committee member heard two hours of testimony on the issue Wednesday.

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles provided legislators with information on how specialty plates are awarded, denied and revoked. Members of non-profit groups voiced their opinions as to whether the state should continue providing specialty plates and if so, what regulation is needed.

But collecting that testimony is as far as the study committee will go. Valparaiso Republican Representative Ed Soliday, the committee chair, says there will likely be legislation next session on the issue.

“But I don’t know that we’re going to reach any consensus,” he says. “As you can tell, the range is from ‘anybody gets a plate’ to ‘nobody gets a plate’ and so we’ll use the normal legislative hearing process to move forward with something.”

Soliday says the committee’s only responsibility was to allow the public to testify on the issue. That testimony will go in a report to the legislature without a recommendation for action from the committee.

While the committee will not recommend any action to the General Assembly, the committee chair expects legislation on the issue next session.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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