Official Florida license plates sponsored by companies like Playboy, I Love New York or the California Orange Growers could be headed to roadways and garages in the Sunshine State. That is the likelihood under legislation (SB 716/HB 473) being considered in the Florida Legislature.
According to the Florida Specialty License Plate Association, the proposal creates a new corporate license plate program that would sell Floridians?personal information, dry up money for charitable license plates, run up state costs and put taxpayers at risk for expensive lawsuits.
?his legislation sets a potentially dangerous and costly taxing precedent,?said Association Vice President Martin Boire.
The Association has established a website atwww.DontPimpMyPlate.com to highlight the problems with the proposal and mobilize Floridians to encourage lawmakers to defeat the idea.
The Association says there are various compelling reasons for lawmakers to reject the idea of for-profit corporate license plates. The proposed legislation guarantees the for-profit corporations sponsoring a plate will get the names and addresses of people who buy the plate.
On its website, Dombia, Inc. ?an Illinois-based company supporting the legislation ?says this proposal provides corporations with an opportunity to ?arvest valuable market information?from people who buy the plates. The Association is concerned this provision could draw Privacy Act claims from citizens who believe their privacy rights were violated ?with the state government as the deep pocket.
?he cost of even one such federal lawsuit would wipe out any financial benefit from the program and dig a financial hole the taxpayers would then have to fill in,?added Boire.
The legislation would also undermine the popular charitable plate system that generates tens of millions of dollars in private support for laudable efforts to promote the environment, autism services, education, the military and others in Florida.
An analysis of the Florida Senate Report shows this legislation would cause a 49.26 percent drop in sales of specialty license plates. That would lead to a $172.4 million projected loss to non-profit organizations, state environmental agencies, and colleges over 10 years.
New sales are already down over 60 percent due to the tax increase the legislature imposed on plates two years ago.
The profit-plates proposal also would draw the state into an increased number of taxpayer-funded lawsuits. Federal Court rulings say anything goes on plates once states open up license plates. Economic competitors can? be denied under the First Amendment. Because something is adult-rated does not mean it is necessarily pornographic, the Association believes legislation also increases the risk of putting distasteful material on official Florida license plates.
From advertising for the California Orange Growers to I Love New York to the Ku Klux Klan to Playboy, under this legislation, the state would be compelled to approve a range of brands and corporate logos once the for-profit corporate plate system is established. And if a message is rejected, will necessarily be drawn into expensive litigation when it tries to block offensive plates.