Specialty plate legislation passes the Senate with changes

Posted by: Kelly Sweeney  | Wednesday, March 13, 2013 8:00 am

STATEHOUSE – Legislation making changes to Indiana’s specialty plate system unanimously passed the Senate yesterday, but a compromise on the legislation will be needed to reach the governor’s desk. House Bill (HB) 1279, authored by State Representative Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso), with Senate sponsors Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) and Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne), will now go to conference committee, comprised of members from both chambers, for further consideration.

Passing previously out of the House with a 94 to 4 vote, the bill creates an eight member bipartisan legislative advisory committee to review, recommend and approve specialty plates to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The committee will meet twice annually with the ability to adopt five plates per year. Currently, there are 103 specialty plates in the state; HB 1279 limits the total amount of plates to 150.

Additionally, the legislation establishes criteria for groups applying for a specialty plate. Under this law, groups will have to clearly blueprint where funds will go once collected – instituting a layer of accountability and transparency on the matter. They must now provide a minimum 500 signatures of those pledging to purchase their plate, and if accepted, the group would have to sell 500 plates in their first two years. After those years, the group must then sell 500 plates annually. If a group fails to meet the requirements by the allotted time, they will be placed on probation and evaluated by the BMV.

“What we tried to do was institute a layer of transparency and accountability to supplement the BMV’s current specialty plate standards,” said Rep. Soliday. “By creating an eight member legislative panel and limiting the number of plates to 150, this bill will increase fairness and manageability on this issue.”

Lastly, the bill establishes a National Guard License Plate which would allow soldiers – drilling in other states but living in Indiana – the option to purchase one. Some National Guardsmen reside in Indiana but report to units outside of the state due to their military occupational specialty. Those soldiers are then considered guardsmen of the state they report to which might not have a National Guard specialty plate.

If enacted, the bill will go into effect on July 1, 2013.

Visit www.in.gov/legislative for more information about HB 1279.