There are 85 specialty state license plates that have been revoked by the Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) for not meeting the minimum number of plates sold as set by state law.
According to MVD, that means 17,775 current license plates will need to be replaced.
“Customers need to know that they can keep that license plate on their vehicle until that renewal cycle comes due,” explained Vehicle Services Bureau Chief Joann Loehr.
Once that cycle comes due, people will need to choose another plate for their vehicle. Those vehicle owners will also have to pay the fee for the production of the new set of plates.
The 2019 Legislature updated the rules around specialty plates.
It was previously up to the department’s discretion to revoke a plate's status if it had fewer than 400 sets of a sponsor's generic specialty license plates that have been sold or renewed. The updated law now reads “The department shall revoke its previous approval of a sponsor's generic specialty license plate sponsorship,” if they do not meet the requirements.
It costs an organization around $4,000 to start a specialty plate. They then need to reach 400 sets with a current registration after 3 years to remain in the program. Each specialty plate is then reviewed yearly.
The motor vehicle division sent a letter to all organizations with a specialty plate in September explaining the changes to the law, and letting them know a snapshot of numbers of license plates registered would be taken in January.
Affected groups MTN spoke with said they believe they could have made the 400 minimum had they been given more than four months to raise awareness with their supporters.
“It’s important supplemental income and poor implementation of the change by the Department of Justice,” said Prickly Pear Land Trust (PPLT) Executive Director Mary Hallow. “The letter was unclear and there was not a lot of time to act.”
PPLT was less than 20 plates short of reaching the 400 minimum.
Hollow said they tried to find out how close they were to reaching 400 before January, but were not able to get that information from the agency.
“We were so close,” said Hollow. “Between our staff and our board of directors, we could have easily reached that number… There is absolutely something DOJ can do about this, and we urge them to do it.”
Lewis and Clark Humane Society (LCHS) Executive Director Kelsee Dalton Watts also expressed her frustration over the situation.
“The thing that was the most frustrating and disappointing was that we were given four months to get the additional 75 license plates that were needed and it was just unreasonable,” said Dalton. “Registrations happen all year round. Had we been given a full year I think the story would have been completely different.”
LCHS say the funding lost is equivalent to a year of heating their building.
The organizations that failed to meet the minimum requirements can reapply for a specialty plate in four years, and would then have another three years to reach 400 plate sets registered.
Dalton said they probably won’t apply for a specialty plate in the future since the Legislature could just raise the minimum requirement or change the rules to make then not qualify.
“We appreciate everyone that has sported out plates,” said Dalton. “It’s so cool to be out in the community and see support all of these organizations in our community. It’s a walking advertisement for us and great to feel that love.”
Dalton strongly encourages people who had a specialty plate that is now revoked to donate to that organization to help offset funding lost.
MVD said all unused revoked plated will be recycled.
The full list of revoked specialty plates are:
Prickly Pear Land Trust
Lewis & Clark Humane Society
Bike Walk Montana
Benefis Mercy Flight
Missoula Freestyle Team
Richland Youth Hockey
Stafford Animal Shelter
International Christian Cycling Club Montana Spoke
St Jude Thaddeus Catholic School
CMR Partner Inc
Bitterroot Humane Association
Missoula Art Museum
Montana Library Association
Disability Rights of Montana
Capital High School Booster Club
Rotary District 5390 Foundation
Montana Area Agencies on Aging Association
Beaver Booster Club IncRuby Habitat Foundation
Magic City Soccer Club
American Diabetes Association
Whitefish Legacy Partners
Flathead Valley Skiing Foundation
Anaconda Community Foundation
PSIA-NRM Educational Foundation, Inc
Montana Utility Coordinating Council/Montana 811
Missoula Youth Football Inc
Sidney Soccer Association
March of Dimes
Planned Parenthood of Montana
Friends of the Beartooth All American Road Inc.
Central Ed Foundation of Silver Bow
MSU Billings Foundation
Montana CASA Gal Association
Missoula Area Youth Hockey Association
Glacier High School Booster Club
Carroll College Saints Athletic Association
Friends of Beaver Creek Park
CAN AM Lifeline Search and Rescue
Richland County Ambulance Service/Sidney Health Center
Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter
Montana Swimming Inc
Montana Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation
Flathead High School Booster Club 2014
Montana Masonic FoundationMontana Watershed Coordination Council
Montana Heritage Commission
City of Bozeman
Libby School District Number 4
City of Lewistown
Butte School District
The Tribal Council of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes
City of Shelby
Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Crow Tribe Executive Branch
Humane Society of Western Montana
Northwest Healthcare Foundation
Boy Scouts of America, Montana Council
Gallatin Hockey Inc DBA Bozeman Amateur Association
Swan Valley Connections
Algeria Shrine Temple
Alzheimer's Association Montana Chapter
Big Sky Economic Development
Whitefish Historical Society
MT Cutting Horse Association
Department of Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars
Friends of the Wild Swan
Havre Wrestling Club
Friends of Makoshika
Big Sky Education Foundation
Manhattan Christian School
Browning Public School District Number 9
Great Falls High School
Eureka Public Schools 2018
Billings Catholic Schools
Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes