Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation to create a specialty license plate to generate funds for the Florida State Parks Foundation.
The foundation works on preservation, education and volunteer initiatives to help sustain the 175 state parks throughout Florida. The organization began in 1993 as Friends of Florida State Parks. Volunteers donate more than a million hours each year helping the group.
Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley introduced the Senate version of the license plate bill (SB 676). Democratic Rep. Allison Tant is carrying the House version (HB 249), making the bill a bipartisan effort.
“Florida’s state parks are a treasure that need to be protected for future generations, but this will require significant and ongoing funding.” Baxley said Wednesday.
“I am delighted to support a specialty Florida State Parks license plate, which would provide some of this much needed funding.”
The plate will display “Florida” at the top and “Explore Our State Parks” at the bottom. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will approve a design for the background.
Up to 10% of money generated from the plates can go to marketing for the plate. The rest will go to the foundation itself.
“Although our state parks are the only four-time National Gold Medal winners for excellence, there is much that needs to be done to ensure they continue to be recognized as world leaders,” Tant said. “Funds from a specialty license plate will help us achieve this.”
Up to $1 billion is needed “to reinvest in aging infrastructure and provide needed facilities in parks yet to be developed,” according to the foundation.
“We are delighted that bills have been filed in both the Senate and the House which if passed, will authorize a specialty license plate to provide significant and ongoing funding to enable us to protect and preserve Florida’s state parks,” said Gil Ziffer, the foundation’s president.
“As 2020 clearly demonstrated, Florida’s state parks play an important role in providing open spaces where people can recreate and exercise in a safe, socially distanced environment. The demand for these open spaces will continue to increase as Florida’s population is expected to top 23 million by 2025 and tourism numbers grow,” said Ziffer.