Last Modified: Saturday, June 22, 2013 10:05 PM
More than 100,000 prestige plates have been issued in Louisiana, supporting a range of causes, including disabled veterans to state colleges. And more could show up after lawmakers approved several new plates during this year’s legislative session.
Louisiana has 202 prestige plates that were approved by the Legislature, according to Jill Jarreau with the state Office of Motor Vehicles.
About 146,571 specialty plates have been sold, according to Becky Davis, OMV motor vehicle manager. The three most popular prestige plates: Louisiana State University, disabled veterans and antique plates.
Several prestige plates were approved during this year’s legislative session and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. One, pushed by Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles, is the Free and Accepted Mason plate.
According to the legislation, the plate’s color and design will be chosen by the “Free and Accepted Mason Ionic Lodge Number 26 of Lake Charles.” Each applicant has to show a Free and Accepted Mason Ionic Lodge membership card to the OMV.
Another recently approved measure includes the “I’m Cajun” and “I’m Creole...and proud” prestige plates by Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge. The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana will decide the plate’s color and design. Both plates will feature an image showing the Cajun culture. The annual $15 royalty fee will go to a scholarship program for the council.
The other newly approved plates are a March of Dimes plate supported by Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, and a Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation plate, supported by Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro.
House Bill 372, by Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma, stalled during the session. The legislation intended to create prestige plates for the Republican and Democratic parties of Louisiana. Money from the plates would have gone to the parties, a stipulation that some lawmakers opposed.
Lawmakers did approve House Concurrent Study Request 2, by Landry. It calls for lawmakers and several state agencies to study standardizing all prestige plates in an effort to make them easier for police to identify. Results from the study will be reported to lawmakers before next year’s session begins.
While most prestige plates have been produced, Jarreau said about 55 plates need more orders before they can be produced.
According to state law, prestige plates approved after July 1, 2002, require at least 1,000 orders before they can be produced. Each plate that is purchased includes a $3.50 handling charge.
But Jarreau said the order threshold can be bypassed if $3,500 in handling charges is prepaid, or the OMV receives a list of 1,000 signatures from people wanting to buy a particular prestige plate.
Some plates that have not been produced include NASCAR, Relay for Life, Boy Scouts of America and Civil Air Patrol.
Legislation must be filed for each prestige license plate, Davis said. It must include the details an organization wants for the plate.
Once approved and signed by the governor, the organization must submit a $3,500 prepayment or get 1,000 orders. After that, the OMV sends a contract to the organization that outlines the use of the design and provides details for the fund.
The OMV then establishes a prefix for the plate, including the plate numbers. The organization must submit a plate design to the state. A sample design is then sent to the organization for approval. Once it’s approved, the OMV can take the first plate order.