Sunday, March 18, 2012

Arizona / News: Specialty plates still safe for now

Arizona Centennial license plate, now over 3000 issued.
A concerted effort by one Arizona state representative to abolish the state's popular specialty license plate program has been stymied.

Rep. Steve Farley (D-Tucson) has been sponsoring a bill (HB 2313) in Arizona's House that, if passed, would abolish the creation and production of any future specialty plates, while allowing the current array of 60 designs to remain in production for five years and in use on vehicles indefinitely. The five-year limit would also apply to these plates' charity fundraising mission - after the time limit passes in 2017, any extra revenues from the remaining specialty plates on the road would go solely to the state's general fund.

Farley's reasoning is that the debate over whether to approve the design and mission of each new specialty plate takes valuable time and resources away from Arizona's legislature to work on other matters during each session. He also cites concerns from law enforcement that the vast number of different plates on the road make it difficult to decipher license numbers. However, it should be noted that Arizona has been among the most diligent states in regards to plate legibility, having redesigned a number of their specialty issues to improve contrast and even going so far as to ban the use of license plate frames that block the state name.

The bill's progress was halted by Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale), who blocked further action on the bill after support for it began to falter outside of committee. Ugenti is herself the sponsor of a bill that would create a specialty plate for "fallen heroes" in honor of Pat Tillman. Farley has vowed to continue his efforts, having discussed the possibility of attaching his measure to another bill currently making its way through Arizona's Senate.

Arizona's most recent additions to the specialty plate ranks include their Centennial issue (celebrating Arizona's 100 years as a state), the "One Plate at a Time" issue benefiting hunger relief, a plate supporting Boy Scouts of America, a "Friend of 8" plate sponsoring Arizona's PBS network, and an In God We Trust plate that "promotes the national motto" according to the state's description.

Sources: Tucson Citizen Feb. 24 article, Arizona MVD specialty plate listing, Arizona data.

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