Senators are coming together over specialty license plates – quite literally.
In a Tuesday committee meeting, lawmakers voted to package all specialty license plate legislation this Session into one bill.
Sen. Dennis Baxley presented his bill (SB 676) to create a specialty plate to support Florida State Parks to Transportation Committee Chair, Sen. Gayle Harrell, who rocks her own specialty plate supporting the Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
Harrell proposed an amendment to Baxley’s bill to combine the license plate legislation, which all committee members supported.
“We’re more than happy to be a vehicle for your other passengers,” Baxley quipped.
The other 12 plates now riding on the specialty parks plate bill include: “Support Health Care Heroes” to honor health care workers in light of the pandemic, a disease prevention and early detection license plate, a plate for the Inter Miami soccer team, one for Orlando United, a plate to recognize Toastmasters, a plate for the threatened Florida-native gopher tortoise, a Margaritaville plate benefitting a singing charity, a plate promoting eco-tourism, a Biscayne Bay plate, an Honor Flight plate and a marine wildlife license plate to benefit wild dolphins.
Annual use fees from each plate are designated to a non-profit, which must use the fees in the state of Florida.
“I think it’s a very important thing for the citizens to be able to make these donations to various charities, and license plates are a wonderful way to do it,” Harell said.
A few other amendments dealing with changes to existing specialty plates were also rolled in to the park’s plate bill.
Benefitting organizations submit designs to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for approval.
If successful, each specialty plate would still require buy-in from the public.
Within 24 months after pre-sale vouchers become available, at least 3,000 vouchers must be sold before the plate is manufactured. If a specialty plate does not reach the presale threshold it will not be manufactured.
These latest specialty plates would join a brimming queue. Currently, there are 120 specialty license plates available for purchase, and another 33 up for pre-sale vouchers. The state puts a cap on 150 specialty license plates. However, if a license plate is discontinued after 12 consecutive months of poor sales, another specialty plate can take its place.
The bill also adds a special plate not subject to the same pre-voucher requirements, the Army of Occupation Veterans. The special plate, a separate category from a specialty plate, is only available to service members honored with the award. The Army of Occupation medal is awarded to service members for 30 days of consecutive service while assigned to select foreign countries as part of an occupying force.
The state parks license plate House companion bill (HB 29) sponsored by Rep. Allison Tant is in its final of three committee stops. Next up is the House Commerce committee. So far it has not become a vehicle for other license plate legislation.