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Bill would allow more specialty license plates in Ohio

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(The Center Square) – The number of specialty license plates throughout Ohio could grow significantly, including community groups and organizations.

At the same time, State Rep. Kevin Miller, R-Newark, believes more options could lead to millions of dollars for the state.

Miller wants the state to contract with a private vendor to develop and create more license plate options. He modeled the legislation after a Texas program that started 13 years ago.

Currently, the only way a new specialty license plate can be created in the state is through the Legislature.

Miller told the House Homeland Security Committee the private-vendor program costs the state nothing and all services – such as marketing, advertising, website design, hosting, implementation and customer service – would all be done by the vendor.

It would create no new fees or taxes for someone not participating.

“Texas launched a similar program, and the state has generated more than $120 million through personalized plate sales,” said Miller. “The private vendor does all the work; consumers and the state reap the benefits. The vendor designs and advertises the new specialty plate designs while creating a robust source of revenue for the state.”

The bill, which now heads to the Senate, would:

• Require the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to contract with a private vendor through a competitive bidding process for the right to design and market specialty license plates.

• Permit the private vendor to enter into agreements with organizations wishing to sponsor specialty license plates.

• Allow the vendor to design specialty plates but requires the plates to meet all the state’s specifications and standards. The registrar may reject a plate design and the registrar may consult with the Highway Patrol on safety, reflectivity, and readability.

The bill would also mandate part of the fees collected go into the state’s drug law enforcement fund, which gives grants to drug task forces throughout the state.

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