The head of a gay rights group for young people says they are unfairly being singled out as a state senator says he wants to have the group‘s specialty license plate contract voided. Republican State Senator David Long says the Indiana Youth Group violated its contract with the state‘s Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Long says a clause in the contract prohibits groups from remarketing the license plates for value, and he says the Indiana Youth Group did so on its website. Every group that receives a specialty license plate are allowed to give low-numbered plates, usually numbered 1 through 100, to donors as gifts.
Mary Byrne, executive director of the Indiana Youth Group, says the contract only says groups are not allowed to sell or auction those low-numbered plates.
“We are not doing either of those things,” she says.
Some conservatives have been searching for ways to end production of the plate for the gay rights group, which has outsold all other specialty plates that were first issued this year, though they say they only want to stop the proliferation of the plates.
A bill to limit such plates had passed the house, but its sponsor, Representative Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) killed it last week, saying the issue had become too political. Lawmakers had considered adding an amendment similar to a transportation bill in the state Senate, but that apparently will not happen since Friday is the final day of the legislative session.
Now, Long says he will ask the BMV to cancel the group‘s contract based on what he interprets as a violated contract.
“That request hasn‘t officially been made to BMV, as far as I know,” said BMV spokesman Graig Lubsen.
Byrne admits her group gave away a handful of the specialty plates, as “thank-you gifts” for donations but says they are not selling or auctioning them. Other groups, such as the Greenways Foundation, also mention on their websites that you can receive a low-numbered plate as a gift in exchange for a donation.
She says if it was not obvious that some lawmakers were singling out Indiana Youth Group rather than trying to limit the overall number of plates, it should be now.
“Well, it‘s really clear this time around that the solution the Senator has mentioned is just for us,” Byrne says. “But I don‘t think this solution is going to work.”
Other non-profit groups who could have lost their specialty plates under the now-discarded legislation are showing support for Indiana Youth Group.
“They worked hard, too. They had to go through the same procedures we did to get the license plates approved,” says Pam Boas, mother of racing star Tony Stewart and treasurer of the Tony Stewart Foundation. “At this point, I think it‘s too late to rip it away from them.”