Friday, September 7, 2012

Nonprofits Testify In Favor Of Specialty Plates

Leaders from nonprofit groups testified before Indiana lawmakers Wednesday, urging them not to stop the sale of specialty license plates, which they say account for much of their fundraising.

According to a report from CBS News, a legislative study committee heard about an hour of testimony on the subject from representatives from local nonprofits such as the Indianapolis Zoo. The issue of specialty plates first arose last year when conservative lawmakers attempted to kill the sale of plates for the Indiana Youth Group (IYG), an organization for gay youth. That effort failed but the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) eventually took away plate privileges from IYG and two other nonprofits, accusing the organizations of trading low-digit plates for contributions.

IYG maintains they did nothing wrong.

Nonprofit leaders who testified Wednesday said that plate programs are a legitimate public-private partnership that help organizations provide services for which the state would usually pay. Individuals pay $40 for the specialty plates, with $25 going to the organization and $15 going to the BMV. There are currently 459,000 of these plates on cars in Indiana.

"From the tax revenue standpoint, the specialty plate program is a win-win-win for the State of Indiana," said Charles Hyde, director of membership for the Indianapolis Zoo.

Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary) questioned the wisdom of the Legislature approving which groups would receive plates, saying that politics could enter the equation. Meanwhile, former state legislator and treasurer Joyce Brinkman testified that lawmakers should only issue plates to organizations whose activities help state services. She also recommended a regulatory system be put in place, something to which nonprofit organizers said they would be receptive.

Committee Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) said that Wednesday's hearing would be the only one on specialty plates before the panel reports to the Legislature, which is expected to take up the issue in January.

You can read the full story on CBS News' website.

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