INDIANAPOLIS – A Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill to tighten the specialty group license plate program currently run by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Ironically, the bill also included the creation of a new license plate for Vietnam veterans.
But Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, chairman of the committee, offered an amendment to remove the plate, noting the state already has a veterans plate that collects money for the military relief fund.
This is exactly what we said last year we didnt want to do, he said. Weve got a plate honoring veterans. Ill take the heat on this one.
In the past, lawmakers have superseded the administrative process by putting several plates into law using legislation.
House Bill 1279 is the result of a dustup in the 2012 legislative session, and a summer study committee, over the more than 100 specialty group plates the BMV offers to Hoosiers. An administrative fee goes to the state; nonprofits use the rest of the money to buttress their finances.
But legislators last year were upset over the issuance of a plate to a gay youth group – triggering a battle over the plates. Eventually that group lost its plate because of an administrative violation.
Now the bill has been streamlined away from conservative social issues. It sets up an eight-person bipartisan panel of legislators to review plate requests. With four members from each political party on the panel, it requires five votes in support to receive approval.
Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said the bill outlines specific criteria for groups, including the requirement to provide financial data, have an ethics policy and sell at least 500 license plates a year.
Groups must also state clearly how the money raised will be used.
And entities must fit into one of several categories to apply – direct health care or medical research; fraternal or service organizations; government; military and veterans affairs; public and transportation safety; universities using money for scholarships; agriculture, animals and environment.
The legislative committee may only recommend five plates a year, and the BMV still has authority whether to grant the plate.
No one testified for or against the bill, which now moves to the full Senate.