INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has ended talks
with three organizations whose specialty license plates were suspended last
year, surprising the groups that believed a resolution was near.
The BMV stopped negotiations with the Indiana Greenways Foundation, the
Indiana 4-H Foundation and the Indiana Youth Group, a support group for gay
teenagers. The agency cited the passage of a new state law that creates a
legislative commission to recommend specialty plates, The Indianapolis Start
The BMV issued a statement saying it had “been in various levels of
conversations with the groups about ending the suspensions. With the passage
of the new law ... the legislature has stated its intent regarding the
specialty group plates.”
The groups can go back through the appeals process or take the matter to a
fledgling legislative panel that will make recommendations for specialty
plates to the BMV, the agency said.
The groups lost their plates a year ago when conservative lawmakers first
tried to pass a bill eliminating the Youth Group’s plate and then convinced
the BMV to withdraw its plates because the group violated terms by offering
low-digit plates to donors and volunteers. The 4-H and Greenways foundations
also rewarded supporters with low-digit plates.
Leaders of the three organizations said they had hoped to reach an agreement
with the BMV limiting the length of the suspensions.
"We’d been working with them since December, so it was like a complete
surprise,” said Mary Byrne, executive director of the Indianapolis-based
Youth Group. “We were pretty sure we were going to get (the plate) back; it
was just a matter of agreeing on the suspension period, how many months that
Karen Bohn, head of the Greenways Foundation, said a BMV attorney had
contacted her in February and told her “we’re working on getting a contract
ready. You should be able to be selling plates in May.”
She said she believed the real target was the gay youth group.
“I think we were just collateral damage,” she said. “Unfortunately it
doesn’t seem very fair.”
Liz Ellis, executive director of the 4-H Foundation, said “we were hopeful
and we did believe we were going to be able to negotiate a settlement.” She
said 4-H is the largest youth organization in the state, with 200,000
“We have people in all 92 counties asking us when they are going to be able
to purchase license plates,” she said. “We sell thousands of license plates
- or we did sell thousands of license plates each year. It certainly hurts
our income and it hurts our programming.”
Groups with specialty plates generally receive $25 from each plate sold.