INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The fight over specialized license plates is heating up.
The BMV removed three organizations from the program late Friday afternoon; one is a group catering to gay youth.
The BMV received a letter signed by 20 state senators dated March 9 that states the Indiana Youth Group sold low-digit specialty plates for an additional fee, violating the rules of the specialty plate program. It asks them to eliminate the group's plate immediately.
The BMV said it reviewed websites for all participants in the program before determining that the Greenways Foundation and Indiana 4-H Foundation also violated state law and their agreement with BMV. The BMV said it will no longer issue new plates for these agencies but will continue to renew specialty plates until the Legislature either clarifies or changes the law allowing specialty plates.
Mary Byrne, executive director of the IYG, told 24-Hour News 8 the news is "devastating," especially after the group survived a legislative attempt to take away its plates.
"We are not selling or auctioning them off," she said of the license plates. "We are using them as thank you gifts for donations."
But the BMV stood by its assertion that that is a violation of the group's contract with the state.
"They were saying there will be special contributions made for specific license plates, and that is a prohibited activity. Regardless of who the organization was, then they were equally suspended from the program," said Dennis Rosebrough, Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles deputy commissioner.
Byrne said such actions are not new.
"People have been doing this for years," she said. "It's finally the time when the gay kids have got a plate, and they just couldn't stand that."
Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, said it's not about this specific group, though. It's about specialty plates in general, he said.
"We're looking at a lot of change, and these three plates, this is just the start of the change for the specialty plate program," Merritt said.
Byrne said her fight isn't over. The group will consider the options and challenge the ruling, she said.
The House created a summer study committee to make potential modifications to the whole specialty plate program.
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