2013 Indiana General Assembly

Soliday's license plate reforms face first test

2013-01-28T00:00:00Z 2014-01-04T18:03:16Z Soliday's license plate reforms face first testDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
January 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, will find out this week if his year of work toward bringing order to Indiana's special group license plates program is going to pay off.

On Wednesday, the House Roads and Transportation Committee is scheduled to review House Bill 1279, Soliday's plan to limit the overall number of group plates and require greater disclosure of how money raised by the plates is spent.

"I think we've got something viable," Soliday said. There are currently about 85 group license plates.

The legislation establishes an eight-member Special Group Recognition License Plate Committee made up of two Republicans and two Democrats from both the House and Senate.

The committee would review applications for group plates and advise the Bureau of Motor Vehicles on whether to issue a new plate. While the BMV would not be required to follow the committee's recommendation, it would be barred from issuing a new plate until the committee weighed in.

Applicants for group plates would be required to show that at least 500 Hoosier motorists intend to buy the plate. Groups also would have to submit their organizing documents, three years of financial records and proof the $25 the group receives for each plate sold benefits a general societal need.

The total number of group plates would be capped at 150 and no more than five new plates could be issued each year.

"A number of us would like less than 150, but this is a business where we like to get everybody's ideas into the bill," Soliday said.

The four-term representative led a legislative study committee over the summer to review the state's group license plate program.

He said many lawmakers think there needs to be greater oversight because there is an implied state endorsement of groups with plates.

Approximately 459,000 Indiana vehicles have a group license plate. Such plates feature the logos of universities, military branches and community organizations.

For $40 in additional fees, a motorist can cruise around Northwest Indiana showing his or her support for the National Rifle Association, the arts, Valparaiso University, autism awareness, Special Olympics and dozens of other groups, universities and causes.

This is Soliday's second attempt to reform Indiana's group license plates.

In 2012, his legislation was used by House conservatives seeking to eliminate a plate supporting the Indiana Youth Group, an Indianapolis-based gay rights organization.

That plate was eventually revoked by the BMV on administrative grounds, along with the plate supporting Indiana 4-H Clubs.

A Legislature-imposed moratorium on new group plates is set to expire in July.

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