By QUINCY HODGES
Capital News Service
LANSING – Sports fans may have a new way to pledge their allegiance by having specialty license plates of the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons, Lions and Tigers.
The four professional teams would have to submit a design to the Secretary of State. All the money raised from the plates would be donated to the team’s chosen charities.
“Generating money for the state and resources for students involved in sports will benefit from this project,” said Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit.
A lot of youth programs can use help with funding including Pop-Warner football, junior basketball, hockey and baseball, he said.
The legislation is a great opportunity to raise money for the state without creating new taxes, Johnson said.
There would be a $15,000 start-up fee for each specialty plate to cover for the cost of creating, producing, and it.
The Secretary of State already offers specialty plates for the 15 public universities and other special causes, such as agricultural heritage, Children’s Trust Fund, lighthouse preservation, veterans’ memorial, water quality and wildlife habitat.
Residents who have been called to active duty during the Afghanistan conflict and their spouses are eligible for an Afghanistan veteran plate, as are military veterans of other conflicts.
Earlier this year, Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, introduced a bill that would establish a fundraising plate recognizing the bicentennial of the War of 1812. On July 17 of that year, the war began with the capture of Mackinac Island by British forces.
“In 2012 we will be observing the bicentennial of this important conflict. Michigan, being one of the battlegrounds of the war, will feature prominently in its remembrance and the cultural tourism that will result,” said George, who chairs the Senate Appropriations History, Arts and Libraries Subcommittee. He is past president and current board member of the Historical Society of Michigan.
“A special license plate is a good way to draw attention to Michigan’s role in this conflict, while at the same time raising funds to support our historic sites,” said George.
Specialty plates, especially the college plates, are popular, said communication officer Ken Silfven of the Secretary of State’s office.
The agency doesn’t take a position on individual causes but it will support an organization that is willing to meet the requirements.
Silfven said in the first year of a specialty plate, there needs to be a minimum of 2,000 sold and 500 each following year. If not, the plate will be discontinued.
There is a $35 fundraising fee along with other registration fees, he said.
Johnson said he thinks a lot of fans will line up to buy the sports team plates and hopes the proposal will be passed by the end of the year.
© 2009, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.