PHOENIX - Arizona drivers can choose from more than 30 special license plates promoting the state’s three universities, cancer awareness, spaying and neutering pets, child abuse prevention and more.
Lawmakers are looking to expand that list this session, offering bills to create license plates supporting the military and Arizona Highways magazine and recognizing the families of war dead.
Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, an Army Reserve officer who has served in Iraq, introduced HB 2023, which would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to offer a “Support Our Troops” plate. Proceeds from the plate would go to an organization that works with the families of deployed military members.
“There are a lot of issues that happen to those who are in a combat area back home,” Paton said. “And I can tell you from personal experience it’s very difficult to deal with those issues while you’re otherwise engaged in your mission.”
Paton’s bill received a warm reception Thursday from the House Transportation Committee, which endorsed it unanimously and referred it to the Rules Committee.
Even Rep. Nancy McLain, R-Bullhead City, who routinely votes against special plates, was on board.
“We are a nation at war,” McLain said. “I think anything we can do to support our troops and to promote others to support our troops, we should do.”
Paton worked with Support Our Troops Inc., a national nonprofit organization. Of the plate’s $25 cost, $17 would go to Support Our Troops.
“I felt that this organization is nonpolitical,” Paton said. “It doesn’t have any other agenda other than to support the troops and their families.”
Rep. Marian McClure, R-Tucson, introduced HB 2046, which would create a special plate promoting Arizona Highways, a magazine published by a unit of the state Department of Transportation. The bill would send $17 of the $25 cost to help fund the magazine.
McClure’s bill also won an endorsement Thursday from the House Transportation Committee, but this time with McLain and Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, voting against it and seven members in favor.
Supporters said plate would help promote Arizona.
“Anything that promotes Arizona is a good idea,” McClure said.
McLain said she thinks there are too many special plates already and that the regular Arizona license plate promotes the state well enough.
“I think it’s nice for a state to have a license plate that is easily identified as that state’s plate,” she said.
Sens. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, and Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, are sponsoring SB 1083, which would create a special plate for so-called “Gold Star Families,” those who have lost immediate family members in war. Rep. Lena S. Saradnik, D-Tucson, who recently resigned after suffering a stroke, also is listed as a sponsor.
Proceeds from the plates would go to ADOT’s Arizona Veterans Donation Fund, which uses money from special plates honoring veterans to fund veterans’ health care, education and the cemeteries and the State Veteran Home.
Gould, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said it’s important to recognize the sacrifice of these families.
“I think it’s a way for people to honor people who died in battle defending their country and allow the family members of these soldiers to honor them,” Gould said.
Here are bills that would create special license plates:
- HB 2023 would create a “Support Our Troops” plate. Of the $25 cost, $17 would go to the national nonprofit group Support Our Troops Inc., which assists families of deployed military members. Sponsor: Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson.
- HB 2046 would create a plate honoring Arizona Highways magazine, which is produced by a unit of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Of the $25 cost, $17 would go to the Arizona Highways Magazine Fund. Sponsor: Rep. Marian McClure, R-Tucson.
- SB 1083 would create a “Gold Star Families” plate that would be issued to immediate families of war dead. Of the $25 cost, $17 would go to ADOT’s Arizona Veterans Donation Fund, which uses money from special plates honoring veterans to fund veterans’ health care, education and the cemeteries and the State Veteran Home.