Specialty Tags Interest Declines in Florida

Advocates say that reducing an auto registration fee implemented in 2009 could save the specialty license plates.

Over the years, less and less people have been willing to pay for specialty license plates in Florida, forcing the state to reconsider its strategy.

Advocates now say that reducing an auto registration fee implemented in 2009, could save the specialty license plates, which include support for universities, sports or animals, the Miami Herald reported.

Lobbyist Susan Goldstein says that 2009 fee increase could be to blame for the recent decline in people wanting to get the tags.

"Before the fee increases we were raising about $40 million, after the increase it fell 17 percent to about $33 million," Goldstein told members of the House Transportation & Highway Safety Subcommittee, according to the newspaper.

Specialty tags currently generate about $30 million in revenue, according to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Of that, about $8.6 million goes to the state and is divided among the sponsor organizations.

But the SB 156 proposal from Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, hopes to eliminate the 2009 increases, an average $12 in savings in vehicle registrations, according to the newspaper. The proposal does not include a change to specialty tag fees.

"We should do everything we can to foster those continued donations that people want to give to the state of Florida," Goldstein said.

In front of a House subcommittee, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Deputy Director Stephen Fielder said the specialty plates have become saturated.

The number of specialty tags is on decline and some tags have shown to have very little sales, the newspaper reported.

"The market base is not growing," Fielder said.

"When I had 30 plates, I had 30 organizations competing for 1 million (motorists)," Fielder continued. "I now have 120 plates competing for 1 million customers."

Many plates have lost popularity and new specialty plate proposals have struggled to get the required 1,000 pre-sales in order to go into production.

The top specialty tags sales include the University of Florida, Florida State University, Helping Sea Turtles Survive, and Protect Wild Dolphins.

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