On Wednesday, the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved two bills that could bring significant changes to vehicle license plates.
One proposal, from Republican Sen. Doug Broxson, could make digital license plates available.
A decade ago, Florida allowed the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) to start a pilot program to test alternative license plates on government vehicles. With legislation being considered this Session (SB 1178/HB 91), lawmakers hope to make FLHSMV-approved digital license plates available beginning July 1, 2023.
The pilot program would roll out first on state vehicles, Broxson explained, before the proposed launch of public sales.
Despite the digital option, those buying the plates would still have to buy a conventional license plate under this proposal, but they could just keep the regular tag at home.
Broxson’s bill has one stop before the Senate floor. The companion House bill, carried by Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran, also has one committee stop left before it’s ready for a floor hearing.
In addition to moving digital plates forward, the committee also approved a measure that would relax requirements and increase options in the state’s specialty license plate program.
A bill from Sen. Aaron Bean (SB 364) would cut the number of necessary pledges from 3,000 to 2,500 for all plates. The bill also resets the 24-month clock on how long organizations have to reach that number.
Of the 60 plates printed recently, 33 haven’t met the sales threshold, which they must meet in order to be printed.
Sen. Keith Perry, presenting the bill as a pinch hitter for Bean, did a passable Bean impersonation complete with the Senator’s characteristic vocal tics and accent, eliciting laughter in the room.
“You never know what’s going to happen. You may be driving down one of the beautiful, scenic highways in Florida. You may have a grandkid in the back, and that kid sees a specialty plate you helped pass and there’s a smile on her face and you’re looking in that rearview mirror and you’re going: ‘I remember that time in this committee when I made a difference,'” Perry said in close.
Two new plates were added by amendment: I Make Things and Gopher Tortoises.
A previous committee added other new specialty license plate possibilities: Inter Miami CF, Down Syndrome Awareness, A Safe Haven for Newborns, the Pap Corps Champions for Cancer Research, Learn to Fly, Florida Swims and Ethical Ecotourism..
Bean’s expected successor in the Senate, Jacksonville Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough, is carrying the House version of this legislation. The Commerce Committee is the bill’s final stop before the floor.
Renzo Downey of Florida Politics contributed to this report.