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State keeps adding specialty auto tags

By Associated Press
Published May 25, 2003

TALLAHASSEE - Choose a plate, any plate.

Whether you golf, fish, teach or cheer for Florida State, Florida, Miami or the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs, there's a tag for you right down the street at your local tax collector's office.

Florida motorists soon will be able to choose from up to 88 specialty license tags if they want something other than the standard plate, which portrays an orange over a pale green outline of the state.

The 2003 Legislature approved 11 new plates, including five military tags. Among them is one that can be purchased only by former paratroopers. Other branches of the military are picking up on the Marine tag approved in 1999. Motorcyclists also get their own tag, while others were created to raise money for child abuse and hospice needs.

One legislator jokes that it won't be too long before every Floridian can order a plate for whatever cause he or she might admire.

"It really is reaching a ridiculous point," said Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, who thinks the Legislature needs to tighten the standards for the plates to ensure authorities can easily identify the state, the original reason for the license tag.

But legislators can't seem to help themselves when it comes to addressing the proliferation of plates.

Rep. Nancy Detert, who has questioned such plates in the past, apologetically offered a bill in the House Transportation Committee this year providing for a "Protect Our Reefs" plate. Detert, R-Venice, said she felt "humbled" at offering a license-tag bill to raise money for coral reef research.

Other proposed tags did not get passed this year, including a few espousing family values, one for firefighters and another sought by a British-American group.

A specialty plate costs $15 to $25 more than a standard tag. The price of a regular plate is determined by the vehicle's weight and any additional fees assessed by the county tax collector.

[Last modified May 25, 2003, 01:30:37]

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