Senate committee passes specialty license plate bill

By Samm Quinn
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – A Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday that will require nonprofit organizations to sell 500 specialty license plates per year or lose the plate all together.

These are a few of the more than 100 license plates that Hoosier drives can purchase to benefit non-profit organizations and causes. The full list is available at www.in.gov/bmv/2351.htm.

These are a few of the more than 100 license plates that Hoosier drives can purchase to benefit non-profit organizations and causes. The full list is available at www.in.gov/bmv/2351.htm.

House Bill 1279, authored by Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, is meant to address a sometimes controversial specialty license plate system in which the state essentially serves as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations. Supporters of the groups buy their license plates and the state passes the profits on to the group.

But some groups sell far more plates than others and lawmakers raised questions last year about whether the state should be in the business of nonprofit fundraising.

HB 1279 would also create a committee of eight people – half Republicans and the other half Democrats – to meet twice a year and recommend up to five new plates annually.

Soliday said creating the bipartisan committee ensures the minority always has a say.

“We have eight members for a reason,” he said.

The Senate Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs committee stripped part of the bill that would set up a trust fund for the Vietnam veterans trust license plate.

Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, and the committee’s chair proposed the committee take that part of the bill out because it doesn’t include all veterans.

“We spent legislative time last year trying to come up with this, trying to be fair to everybody on every issue, on every reason,” he said. “I think we need to stay in the parameters of what we agreed to last year.”

The committee passed the bill 7-0. It moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Samm Quinn is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. 

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