Specialty license plates proposed

Members of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard testimony Feb. 23 on two bills that would create new specialty license plates.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist09' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Cavanaugh'>Sen. John Cavanaugh</a>
Sen. John Cavanaugh

Under LB317, sponsored by Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, Nebraska History licenses plates would be available in alphanumeric or personalized versions beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The plate would be designed in consultation with History Nebraska — formerly the Nebraska State Historical Society — and reflect the importance of preserving the state’s shared history.

The specialty license plate commemorating Nebraska’s sesquicentennial has generated over $250,000 in revenue, Cavanaugh said, showing a clear demand for license plates that celebrate state history.

“The Nebraska 150 plate expires in 2022, leaving a void in specialized plates for citizens who want to celebrate and remember Nebraska’s history and removing a small, but reliable revenue stream for History Nebraska,” he said. “All funds generated from the sale of History Nebraska plates will be directed toward enhancing and increasing access to Nebraska’s history through vital means and supporting history education for children.”

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

Speaking in support of LB317 was Trevor Jones, director of History Nebraska. Funds generated from the license plate would continue to fund education efforts at the historical society, he said, with a particular focus on digital education.

“History Nebraska has been working for years to improve digital offerings but the demand has skyrocketed during the pandemic and will only continue to grow,” Jones said.

The committee also heard testimony on LB166, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Suzanne Geist, which would authorize Josh the Otter-Be Safe Around Water license plates, available as of Jan. 1, 2022.

Blake and Kathy Collingsworth of Lincoln created the Josh the Otter-Be Safe Around Water Memorial Fund after their son, Josh, succumbed to his injuries following an accidental drowning. Geist said she introduced the bill on their behalf because they have turned a tragedy into a positive force in the community.

“This grant program would hopefully help to lower the number of childhood drownings in Nebraska,” She said

The fee for the alphanumeric plates would be $5, credited to the Josh the Otter-Be Safe Around Water Cash Fund. Personalized plates would cost $40, with $10 credited to the state Department of Motor Vehicles Cash Fund and $30 credited to the Josh the Otter-Be Safe Around Water Cash Fund.

Blake Collingsworth spoke in support of LB166. He said that among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged one to four.

“I truly believe it’s a question of awareness, a question of educating children, caregivers, parents and grandparents that drowning is a serious issue,” Collingsworth said. “We created the Josh the Otter program to introduce it to children and parents in a fun, not scary way.”

No one testified in opposition to either bill and the committee took no immediate action on them.

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