Auburn specialty plate legislation back in play for 2020 Legislative Session
Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, listens during Florida House of Representatives floor debate at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida.

Final Days of the 2017 Florida Legislature
This could be the year Auburn University gets a Florida specialty license plate.

This could be the year Alabama’s Auburn University gets a Florida specialty license plate.

This has been a multi-year push by State Rep. James Grant, a Tampa Republican and Auburn alum, who is sponsoring legislation (HB 1135) to revamp how the state creates specialty license plates. 

Grant’s bill would cap the number of specialty tags at 125 and it allows new tags replace the lowest performing ones in the program. He said 125 is a consensus number and having tags more than that can make it difficult for law enforcement to scan that many specialty license plate tags.

A recent Florida Politics story by Noah Pransky reported on the Florida Department of Transportation’s SunPass auto-recognition system struggling to read the state’s various kinds of tags. Pransky found that Toll-By-Plate transactions that have to be manually reviewed can cost the state millions.

Grant said he’d be concerned if the state can’t read 125 images, but it should be a simple fix.

“I’m not sure why we’re having that problem,” he said.

The legislation also creates specialty plates for three out-of-state schools: Auburn University, the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama. The proceeds from sales from those plates would go to Florida students attending those colleges. Students would have to be eligible for the Florida Bright Futures Program.

Grant said it’s not only him who wants an Auburn tag, there’s alumni throughout the state who are also pushing for this.

“At the end of the day, I don’t see how it’s a real difficult thing to allow tax-paying Floridians to electively spend their money how they’d like to,” he said.

Grant says Florida specialty tags also raise money for homelessness programs, pediatric cancer treatments and military families. He hopes to get his legislation through this year. 

Past efforts to get specialty plates for Auburn and other out-of-state universities have made it as far as the House floor, but have struggled to gain traction in the Senate.

According to data compiled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), specialty plates have been growing in popularity. The state currently offers 120 specialty plates which are showcased on a combined 1.6 million cars, up from 1.36 million in 2014.

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected].


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