Harrisburg, PA

Auction of Vanity Plates Proposed

Gregory Vellner

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HARRISBURG, PA -- Vanity license plate – they feature desirable alphanumeric combinations -- would be auctioned to the highest bidder in proposed legislation that could mean a financial windfall to the state.

Under the idea by state Rep. John A. Lawrence, R-Chester/Lancaster, the state Transportation Department (PennDOT) would sell to the highest bidder blue plates with gold characters and a border that outlines the shape of the state. Desirable alphanumeric combinations would be auctioned, he said, with proceeds going to the state’s motor license fund.

“I was surprised to learn that some plate combinations have been auctioned for $100,000,” stated Lawrence in a memo to colleagues after personally reviewing programs, he said, in the states of Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon and Texas. In 2013, he wrote, a Texas A&M plate stating “12th Man” sold for $115,000.

Vanity plates would be available to all drivers on a voluntary basis, said Lawrence.

“No one has to buy one of these license plates,” he wrote. “But evidence from other states shows that similar programs have raised millions of dollars from folks who voluntarily chose to buy one of the specialty plates.”

He said Pennsylvania’s existing specialty license program allows for special plates for members of military branches, certain causes and organizations, and personal individualized licenses. Lawrence’s memo does not indicate how, or if, the existing program would be impacted.

The fee for a vanity plate in Pennsylvania is $85, plus the standard vehicle registration fee. PennDOT also offers several special-fund plates that benefit various non-profit organizations.

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA
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