Specialty license plates. Ugh. Arizona has too many.
Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I have been against specialty license plates since my first term in the Arizona House in 2017.￼ Specialty license plates are a way for legislators to funnel money into pet projects or favorite charities. The gift clause prohibits us from doing this, but these license plates pass routinely on bipartisan votes with a wink and a nod. I have heard legislators shout out on the floor, “This is for XYZ charity please vote yes!￼”
Up until today all of these specialty license plates have passed, even though many of us on both sides of the aisle are fed up with them. Bipartisan votes have given Arizona more than 60 specialty license plates. Many years ago, specialty plates were a lame way to fund state departments. For full disclosure, one of our cars has the Arizona Highways plate, one of the originals. Several different plates fund different veterans services. All of the universities and colleges (public and private) have plates. Nonprofit foundations affiliated with for-profit corporations have plates. Cathi Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy has a specialty plate. Is this any way to run a government? Should goverment fees go to pet causes?
The Arizona Department of Transportation warned the Legislature a few years ago that they would have to reprogram their license plate database if the Legislature went over 60 plates, and, of course, we cavalierly did. During debate a few years ago, Rep. T.J. Shope said 60 plates was nothing compared to Maryland and Texas who have around 400 specialty plates each. That’s crazy– not to mention the difficulties for law enforcement or the questions about where the money is going. (For the record, Arizona’s goal should not be to be as crazy as Texas.)