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Specialty plate reduction bill draws flurry of amendments adding plates

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Lawmakers are filing a flurry of amendments to a bill aimed at reducing the number of specialty license plates on Florida roadways. Legislators filed at least 16 amendments to Jeff Brandesomnibus new plate bill adding at least one specialty plate each.

However, adding plates in the proposal doesn’t necessarily defeat the purpose. Currently, groups wishing to sell specialty license plates have to presell 1,000 plates before they can be manufactured. If that group didn’t maintain at least 1,000 plates for 12 consecutive months, the plate would be discontinued.

Under Brandes’ bill, that threshold would be increased to 4,000. The bill aims at appeasing law enforcement officers who complain the vast number of unique license plates in the state makes it difficult to identify vehicles.

Adding new plates to the allowable list seems to run counter to that plan. However, under the provisions of the bill, those plates not meeting the increased standards would get canceled anyway.

And according to Brandes’ office, they believe that’s the reason they’re open to any plate proposal.

In 2013 nonprofit organizations shared nearly $34 million in revenue from 1.2 million renewed specialty tags and another 137,000 new tags. Owners pay an additional $15 to $25 for special plates, which range from things like Save the Seat Turtles to pro-life. The plates support a wide variety of groups like cancer research, breast cancer, autism and child abuse prevention.

The state is currently home to 124 such unique license plates despite a 2008 moratorium created to stop new plates from being created. That law is consistently ignored. For example, in 2014 plates for Kaiser University, Fallen Law Enforcement Officers and Moffitt Cancer Center were approved for plates.

While Florida’s roads are chock full of charitable plates, there’s nowhere near as many here as in Texas. As of 2014, the Lone Star state was home to 363 specialty plates supporting organizational or military license plates.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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