AB 84 passes Senate Appropriations, heads for floor vote

Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Sacramento, California —

A bill that creates a new state program for specialty license plates, AB 84 (Leslie/Laird), passed the Senate Appropriations Committee late Monday afternoon, and is now heading for a Senate floor vote likely sometime next week. This bill would allow the issuance and sale of new specialty license plates similar to the “whale tale” plate that helps support the California Coastal Conservancy.

The Sierra Fund has sponsored this bill in order to allow the creation and sale of license plates that would benefit the newly established Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The bill was introduced in January 2005 by Assemblymembers Tim Leslie (R – Tahoe City) and John Laird (D – Santa Cruz) to create a new program inside of the Department of Motor Vehicles for “specialty license plates.” The old system for deciding which organizations or agencies were eligible for license plates, used by the Coastal Conservancy, the Tahoe Conservancy and other groups, was found unconstitutional in 2004 by the US District Court.

“License plate revenue is important to both the Tahoe and the Coastal Conservancies,” notes Elizabeth Martin, CEO of The Sierra Fund. “This bill re-establishes sale of license plates as a potential source of funding for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. AB 84 allows only state agencies to apply for specialty license plates.”

The California Council of Land Trusts and the Trust for Public Land both testified on behalf of the bill before the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate Committee voted 7 – 6 to approve the measure, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting the bill. The Committee did slightly amend the bill to clarify how the money will be appropriated annually.

The bill moves to the Senate floor sometime the week of August 14. Call or write your Senator immediately to ask for their support for this important measure. To find your Senator's contact information, visit the
website: www.senate.ca.gov. A sample letter of support follows. Letters of support must be faxed or sent by mail. Email is not accepted for letters of support.

Sample Letter of Support for AB 84

Dear Senator,

Our organization_______________ is writing in to ask your vote in support of AB 84 (Leslie/Laird), which will be on the floor of the Senate in the next week. This bill creates a new “specialty license plate program” that would allow only state agencies to apply for specialty license plates. The new Sierra Nevada Conservancy would be eligible for one of these new plates.

This bill has enjoyed bi-partisan support in every committee and on the Asembly floor, and was co-authored by the same members that led the fight for the new Sierra Nevada Conservancy. A US District Court decision in 2004 shut down the state's ability to issue specialty license plates, with the order that the state create a new program that is more constitutionally sound. This bill meets that test, and helps to open back up this important potential funding sources for state agencies such as the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

Passing this bill is a top priority for our organization. (Give one short sentence about your organization's mission.) Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this bill.


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