Specialty license plates considered

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard testimony Feb. 5 on several bills proposing changes to regular and specialty license plates.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist44' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Dan Hughes'>Sen. Dan Hughes</a>
Sen. Dan Hughes

Under LB128, introduced by Venango Sen. Dan Hughes, wildlife conservation license plates would be available in alphanumeric or personalized versions with designs supportive of Nebraska wildlife, including sandhill cranes, bighorn sheep and cutthroat trout.

Hughes said that since the creation of mountain lion license plates in 2016, the state Game and Parks Commission has received over $225,000 to fund youth educational programs.

“This is another way for the public, through voluntary choice, to help and provide those expanded educational efforts,” he said.

The fee for the alphanumeric plates would be $5, credited to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Educational Fund. Personalized plates would cost $40, with $10 credited to the state Department of Motor Vehicles Cash Fund and $30 credited to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Educational Fund.

Timothy McCoy, deputy director of the state Game and Parks Commission, spoke in support of the bill. He said the commission leverages the funds received from specialty license plates to administer extensive youth education programs throughout the state.

“We continue to expand this programming and it’s amazing to see the general public’s interest in it,” McCoy said. “It’s important [for students] to learn about the wildlife in their backyard so that they value these resources.”

Jim Johnson, representing the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, also supported the bill. The general concept of the bill is good, Johnson said, but he suggested that the fees instead go to the commission’s Wildlife Conservation Fund.

“It offers a chance for Nebraska to dedicate funding to the program that’s most concerned with preserving Nebraska’s ecological diversity,” Johnson said.

No one testified in opposition to LB128.

Other measures considered by the committee include:
• LB38, introduced by Omaha Sen. Robert Hilkemann, which would provide for one license plate and in-transit decal per vehicle;
• LB138, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood, which would provide for additional military honor plates and support our troops plates;
• LB215, introduced by Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, which would provide for prostate cancer awareness plates;
• LB356, introduced by Norfolk Sen. Jim Scheer, which would change fee distribution for certain specialty license plates;
• LB546, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, which would create spay and neuter awareness license plates and a low-income spay and neuter grant program; and
• LB691, introduced by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, which would provide for ornate box turtle conservation license plates.

Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman introduced three proposals, including:
• LB696, which would change provisions relating to military honor plates;
• LB697, which would eliminate a fee for issuance of military related license plates; and
• LB699, which would change provisions relating to transporter plates.

The committee took no immediate action on the bills.

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