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Panel delays hearing on specialty plates

Updated: March 2, 2013 11:35AM



INDIANAPOLIS — House Transportation Chairman Ed Soliday delayed action on his proposal to limit the number of specialty license plates on the road after receiving an amendment Wednesday that he said would unfairly bar numerous groups from the program.

Soliday’s proposal would create an eight-member bipartisan panel to review requests from nonprofit groups and universities for specialty plates. The Valparaiso Republican says state roads are crowded with so many different plates that it’s difficult for police to identify vehicles.

But he pushed back a hearing indefinitely after a lawmaker, whom Soliday would not identify, sought to bar groups that engage in political activities or were previously rejected by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from qualifying for specialty plates.

“It said once you were rejected you could never have another plate. And that’s not the way we work in America,” he said.

Soliday led an effort last year to limit specialty plates, but the effort was derailed amid a push from social conservatives to revoke plates issued by the Indiana Youth Group. The group, which counsels gay youths, became a lightning rod for social conservatives who accused it of promoting underage sex. The group has vehemently denied those accusations.

The BMV determined the group broke its contract with the state by auctioning low-numbered plates, following a request from a number of Senate Republicans last session.

Soliday did not believe the latest amendment was targeted at the youth group, and said the measure was not available publicly because it had not been formally submitted. He said he did not remember who authored the amendment.

Soliday plans to bring up his proposal for consideration by the committee once the full panel is in agreement on how it should look. He did not say how soon he expected that to happen.



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