By Huiyi Zhou
LANSING – Want to see Sleeping Bear Dunes on your license plates? Or Girl Scouts? How about the Michigan Humane Society? And are you willing to pay extra?
Legislation to authorize specialty fundraising plates for those and other pet causes are gathering dust in Senate and House committees.
Michigan already has 52 kinds of specialty plates, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
“It’s always different organizations coming to us and requesting us to propose for them,” said Rep. Joan Bauer D-Lansing. She is the primary sponsor proposing a plate for the Girl Scouts of America.
“There is already a Boy Scouts’ plate — why can’t girls get one?” Bauer said. “I have been a Girl Scout and I was the president of a local Girl Scouts’ association in the early 1990s. Most of my women supporters in the House used to be Girl Scouts.”
Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D–Taylor, sponsor of the plate for Sleeping Bear Dunes, proposed it to promote the “Most Beautiful Place in America” named by Good Morning America.
“My family always went to Sleeping Bear Dunes to spend holidays and it left me many beautiful childhood memories. One day, a resident in my area came to me with a designed plate for the dunes and then I decided let’s do it!” Hopgood said.
Though her bill is still waiting to be passed, Bauer said she is is quite optimistic about its prospects for approval. “Even though it may not get done in this session, there will be someone else to follow and keep proposing it,” she said.
Specialty plates help organizations in two ways. “It is a public relations method to promote themselves, and also to raise additional funds,” Bauer said.
Hopgood added, “Besides promoting the place to other parts of America, I hope the funds going to the local group attached to Sleeping Bear Dunes can also help protect the environment and natural resources.”
“It is famous and everyone knows its beauty, so hopefully it would get passed this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Legislature is moving to change the state’s standard blue bar plate with one touting Pure Michigan.
The new standard plate features a rolling blue wave and the Pure Michigan logo at the top, replacing the block letter MICHIGAN on current plates.
“The Pure Michigan campaign brings millions of new visitors to our state, which translates into support for Michigan
businesses, the creation of thousands of jobs statewide and millions of dollars in generated revenue,” said Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart.
According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the state tourism agency Travel Michigan, last year’s Pure Michigan summer promotion generated 3.2 million trips to the state, and visitors spent $1 billion at businesses, paying $70 million in taxes.
“My bill would help strengthen the nation’s most successful state marketing plan by putting the Pure Michigan logo on our state license plates,” Hansen said. “These license plates would provide drivers with a point of pride, as the Pure Michigan campaign depicts the beauty of our state.”
The Mackinac Bridge plate, and the standard one, which would also have the Pure Michigan brand, would gradually replace the state’s Spectacular Peninsulas plate.
The Mackinac Bridge opened 55 years ago and is the third-largest suspension bridge in the world. “We figured there could not be a better place than the bridge to help promote Michigan’s tourism by putting it on the plate,” said Fred Woodhams, a press officer in the Secretary of State office.
Residents are expected to be able to order the Pure Michigan standard plate beginning in late winter and the Department of State would begin issuing the new Mackinac Bridge plates after that.