Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why does Ohio need so many special license plates?

I noticed a recent piece of legislation, H.B. 339, that creates seven new license plate designs for Ohio. It was passed unanimously by the Ohio House and is currently in committee in the Senate.

The bill creates the following plates:

* Ohio Legislative Black Caucus license plates include a logo and words selected by the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. Money will be used to fund scholarships to students who attend Central State University or Wilberforce University.

* Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club license plates are inscribed with words selected by the club and will support the football team of Washington High School of the Massillon City School District.

* Power Squadron license plates are designed by the Mansfield Power Squadron and will help fund educational boating programs.

* Military Sacrifice license plates are inscribed with a distinctive emblem and the words “Military Sacrifice.” It is available only to immediate family members of a person who died in combat and no contribution is required.

* Birthplace of Superman license plates are inscribed with a phrase and logo. Only the BMV fee applies.

* Nationwide Children’s Hospital license plates are designed by the hospital and contributions will help fund the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation.

* Combat Action Ribbon license plates are inscribed with the words “combat action ribbon” and bear a reproduction of the ribbon. They may only be obtained by those who have been awarded the combat action ribbon.

It got me thinking - how many special designs do we actually have and how much does it cost us?

Turns out, we've got a lot of them.

According to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles website, we have:

* 27 college plates
* 9 gratis plates (which include public plates, turnpike plates and certain military plates like Congressional Medal of Honor, Disabled Veteran and Former Prisoner of War)
* 35 Military plates
* 6 professional sports plates
* 82 special interest plates ranging from sororities and fraternities to wildlife

The Legislative Service Commission reports that the cost of producing each plate is $6.37 and the BMV fee for the plate is usually $10, covering the cost of production. But some plates, like the military and public ones, do not have an additional fee.

Others, like the new Congressional Black Caucus, the college plates or wildlife plates, have an additional charge that is transmitted to a sponsoring organization for scholarships or other financial support.

Unlike the standard Ohio license plate, the additional fee is charged every year upon renewal, not just when first receiving the plate.

So there is no additional cost to the taxpayer, other than the recording-keeping and oversight of the specialty plate program, but do we really need 159 different license plates in our state?

And why is the government in the role of collecting funds for everything from Ducks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? If you wanted to make a donation to those organizations, wouldn't sending them a check be much easier that the state legislature creating a law?

Inquiring minds....


Kadim said...

Actually I love the variety of license plates. It appeals to the designer in me.

This one time I suggested to a bunch of senior BMV staff that the future would be that the state wouldn't make plates, and instead we would get them from third party outfits like we get checks. I think they enjoyed playing with that idea for a bit.

I also believe that we could reverse the special license plate idea and have advertising plates. My preference is that the advertising fees go to the car owner as a way of reducing their yearly registration fees. I think of it as a way of helping the poor live a little easier in Ohio.

In any event, other states don't require the legislature to pass a bill everytime a plate is proposed. Ohio should just setup a blanket system for special plate issuance.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kadim - I LOVE these ideas!!!

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