Specialty license plates proliferate
DENVER — Each year, one state legislator or another introduces a bill to create a new special Colorado license plate.
This year three such bills are working their way through the 2013 legislative session.
One would honor the Colorado Civil Air Patrol, another acknowledges Navy seals and still another is designed to save our rivers.
The state already offers 114 special plates on top of the normal license plates that are available.
The three new plates served as a reminder to some members of the Transportation Legislation Review Committee that enough may be enough when it comes to new license plates.
Oftentimes, such plates are brought by well-meaning constituent groups that are trying to raise money for good causes.
“How do you say no to a bunch of Girl Scouts,” asked Rep. Ray Scott, who introduced a bill earlier this session to cap how many plates the state can issue. “The problem is, law enforcement say while it’s no real big deal, it can be a problem. Some of them said that if they’re doing 100 mph coming up on somebody, they have to get close enough to see his plate because they’re not sure it’s a Colorado plate.”
Of all those plates, 13 name a college or university, 32 highlight some special cause or group such as breast cancer or the Girl Scouts, 34 honor military service such as Purple Heart recipients or World War II veterans, and 35 fall in the “other” category, which range from farm vehicles to members of the Colorado Legislature.
Most of the special plates come with a one-time fee of $50 to cover the cost, but others require additional donations to special causes or civic groups, such as the Boy Scouts or Bronco charities.
Most of the military plates require proof that the motorist was awarded a special honor, such as the Bronze Star, or served in a specific war, such as Iraq.
This year, Western Slope Reps. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, and Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, want to create a special “Save Our Rivers” license plate.
In addition to raising money for roads and bridges, as proceeds from most of the plates do, that measure also is designed to raise money for Colorado Trout Unlimited.
In January, Scott attempted to get the House Transportation and Energy Committee to approve a bill to limit the number of specialty license plates the state would offer, but that measure was killed.
Scott said the bill, which came from the transportation review committee of which he is a member, still is a good idea, and he intends to try again next year to get it passed.
Coincidentally, Scott said he’s working with Colorado Mesa University to see if there’s anything he can do about its license plate dilemma.
When the school changed its name from Mesa State College, there was no provision for updating the alumni license plate.
The university has not yet decided whether it will pay to replace what MSC plates the Division of Motor Vehicles still has in its inventory, or pay to recall existing plates and pay for new ones.