The Sierra Fund urges “yes” on AB 610 (Solario) Specialty License Plates
On Monday, April 4 The Sierra Fund’s CEO Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin testified in support of Assemblymember Solorio’s AB 610 to reform the Specialty License Plate program in California. The Sierra Fund was joined by Trust for Public Land and a number of animal welfare advocates including the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association in supporting the bill. The bill was passed unanimously and now heads for Assembly Appropriations.
California’s current special interest license plate program allows California state agencies to request the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue license plates with special designs or messages. The plates are sold to the public at higher prices than ordinary license plates, bringing additional revenue to the DMV, while providing a funding source and generating exposure for the state-agency sponsoring the plate.
Since 2006, when changes made to California Vehicle Code law set an extreme threshold for pre-orders and limited the graphics for the creation of a new, special-interest license plate program, no new plates have been issued, despite numerous efforts. Currently, the DMV issues special-interest license plates only after the collection of 7,500 individual paid license plate pre-orders is complete. This obstacle severely inhibits the specialty icense-plate program thereby depriving the state of much needed revenue.
The Sierra Fund was sponsor of the legislation that created the current program in 2006. The Sierra Fund and partners at the Sierra Nevada Alliance, Sierra Business Council, Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council, Northern Sierra Partnership and the Trust for Public Land worked under the then-newly created specialty license plate program to create a plate to support the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. This effort failed to receive the needed reservations due in large part to the barriers that exist in this program including the large number of plates needed to qualify and the long time delay between buying the plate and receiving it.
AB 610 would reduce specialty license plate pre-orders to 2,500 and would allow sponsoring State agencies to receive donations to expedite establishing their program. This bill was amended in the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 4 to remove the “full plate graphic” originally proposed in the bill. The bill was also amended to clarify that the program would be “revenue neutral” in that the state agency would be required to pay DMV for any costs incurred in establishing the program – and that these costs could be paid directly to the DMV from non-government sources such as from donations by private individuals or foundations.
The Sierra Fund supports this effort to bring reform to the Specialty License Plate program of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Letters of support for the bill (sample letter follows) may be sent to your Assembly member (find your member’s contact information at LegInfo.com) and/or faxed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (916) 319-2181.
This bill as amended passed Assembly Transportation Committee unanimously with 14 aye votes and no abstentions. It will be heard in Appropriations Committee in the next few weeks. For more information, contact Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin, CEO: (530) 265-8454×11.
Sample letter in support of AB 610
Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes
Assembly Appropriations Committee
via fax transmission
Dear Assemblymember Fuentes,
I [or my organization] am writing to urge your support for AB 610 (Solorio) to reform the Specialty License Plate program of the Department of Motor Vehicles. This reform bill make viable this program, which provides California motor vehicle owners the opportunity to purchase specialty plates that provide urgently needed income to government agencies.
Since 2006, when changes made to California Vehicle Code law set a threshold of 7,500 for pre-orders, no new plates have been issued, despite numerous efforts. Currently, the DMV issues special-interest license plates only after the collection of 7,500 individual paid license plate pre-orders is complete. This obstacle severely inhibits the specialty license plate program thereby depriving the state of much needed revenue.
AB 610 seeks a more reachable goal requiring 2,500 plates to be pre-ordered, and allows that costs incurred by the DMV to provide these plates to be reimbursed through non-profit and philanthropic sources of funds. AB 610 will provide an important new tool for helping to fund crucially needed government services. Please support this bill.