March 28, 2023

The Nerve

Where Government Gets Exposed



They’re making license plates again. You know, like cons do.

If you still haven’t gotten that gift for someone who’s difficult to shop for, here’s an idea: a “Beach Music” South Carolina license plate.

What if they don’t like Beach Music? Well, what about NASCAR, or coon hunting, or pets, or sports?

You still could find a license plate for them. Because our state legislature loves to create new plates.

In the pre-filed bills released last week, four would make new ones. One allows any NFL team to request that a South Carolina license plate be issued for it.

Is this really the best use of the legislature’s time?

In a 2010 veto letter, Governor Sanford bemoaned that the Department of Motor Vehicles issues 385 classifications of license plates, thanks to lawmakers’ addiction to these types of bills. The bill he was vetoing (a veto that was overridden) would have brought that number to over 750 different plates. By comparison at that time, North Carolina issued 176 different plates, Georgia 136 and Florida 114.

In 2006, a bill passed that allows non-profits to apply to the DMV for a special license plate. The process seems simple: 400 prepaid applicants for a new license plate or $4,000 from the group that’s requesting the plate and approval of the design from the DMV.

That’s it. No need to have subcommittee or committee hearings, no need to debate it on the floor of the House and Senate. Yet the legislature feels the need to take up valuable time to pass these bills every year.

So this year, when it’s running out of time to fix our debt-ridden pension system or decrepit roads, comfort yourself with the thought that should one of these license bills be enacted — and they almost always are — every NFL team will still be able to get its logo on a South Carolina plate.



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The Nerve