Backing For Personalised Number Plates – Indiana

A fight over the specialty plates erupted after the Indiana Youth Group, a support group for gay and lesbian youths, won a personalised number plate after it filed a lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit was dismissed after the group and the state reached an agreement giving the group a five-year contract to issue a plate.

Legislators also are challenging that contract. Long argued that the youth group had violated its contract by giving some personalised number plates to donors.

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The group has said it simply followed a practice of using low-digit personalised number plates as thank-you gifts to donors and staff, and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles said that practice is allowed. The BMV said no decision has been made on whether the youth group’s actions constituted a violation of the contract.

No legislation was filed this year about specialty plates. But late in the session, Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, added a provision to a Senate bill that dramatically changed the license plate process. It would have stripped plates from those groups who had been awarded them this year, including the Indiana Youth Group, and from a dozen or so groups that failed to sell at least 1,000 plates annually.

Soliday said his goal was to cut down on the proliferation of plates, which now number more than 100 in Indiana; to require more transparency in how the groups use the money raised from the plates; and to put the legislature in charge of deciding who gets them.

He dropped the bill, saying it had become too “political.” But there was a flurry of activity to resuscitate the issue in the waning days of this session.

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