About four years after a law was passed that ended the creation of new individual specialty license plates in Illinois, the state plans to issue its first universal specialty license plates sometime this spring or early summer.
The universal plates were approved by lawmakers in 2015 to cut down on the abundance of specialty plates that promote charities and organizations such as cancer awareness, violence prevention, the environment and sports teams.
The 2015 law made it so instead of adding more plates with individual designs, all new specialty plates will have the same design with a standard-sized decal used to promote the different causes.
The additional cost for a decal will be $25. A percentage of the proceeds will go to the cause the motorist is supporting.
Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, said the first decal to be issued will be for the monarch butterfly.
To get a decal for universal specialty plates, a cause needs to get signatures from 2,000 people showing an interest in it. No group was able to get the 2,000 needed until now.
Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said the National Resources Defense Council has been working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Secretary of State’s Office to put together the monarch butterfly decal. She said the design should be ready in the next couple of months.
“This is a really visible way for people to support monarch butterflies,” she said. “The populations are decreasing, I think people are really interested in this issue, and it’s a really good symbol for all the endangered and threatened species that are in Illinois.”
Funds from the decals will go to the Monarch Roadside Habitat fund, which would plant milkweed along roadsides to help the butterfly population.
Once the decal is designed and approved, people will be able to get it at any facility that sells license plates.
“(The universal plates) are set aside,” Druker said. “We have them. When the monarch butterfly people have their decal, we will make them available.”.
Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, was the sponsor of the original legislation that adopted the universal plates in 2015. He’s glad they’re going to be issued soon.
“Let’s face it — we put this in place because (with multiple specialty plates) there was a lot of confusion out there,” he said. “This is going to curtail it.”
D’Amico said having so many specialty plates on the roads created an issue for law enforcement, as well as when going through toll booths.
“That’s why law enforcement came to me. We talked about it, wanted to see how we could work this out and still be able to support all these worthwhile causes,” D’Amico said.
Decals for causes need to be approved by the legislature.
Some proposed decals being considered in the General Assembly right now include ones for post-traumatic stress disorder awareness and prostate cancer.
Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, has proposed legislation to get “In God We Trust” decals that would benefit the Illinois Veterans’ Homes Fund.
He said he wanted to have the motto on a decal because it’s on money and other states have done it.
“People reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to have the opportunity to purchase license plates that have “In God We Trust” on it,'” Severin said.
While he hasn’t worked on getting the 2,000 signatures needed for the decal, he does not think it’s going to be a problem.
Though Druker said other states have more, Illinois is one of the states with the most specialty plates on the road right now.
Currently, there are over 100, he said.
Drivers who already have a specialty plate for one of the existing causes or organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, the University of Illinois or the Chicago Cubs, can continue to keep their individually designed plate. The universal design with decals only applies to new causes and groups wanting a plate.
Contact Cassie Buchman: 782-3095, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/cjbuchman.
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March 2, 2019 at 05:21PM