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Would You Support Corporate Sponsorship of State License Plates?

A Nike swoosh or the Golden Arches might one day call to consumers from the back of your car.

The legislation that could allow some companies to stamp their corporate logo on Florida license plates as a way to bring in some cash for the state – and save drivers some money - is likely to get a vote in a Senate committee next week.

The vote is likely this coming week after the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee adds the language to a shell bill that will be before the committee, said its chairman, Sen. Mike Fasano, who floated the idea a few weeks ago.

Fasano said a couple of companies actually have expressed interest in the idea and that he thinks it's a good one. The money that the company would put up would allow the state to discount the cost of the tag.

“It would reduce the cost of someone's auto tag siginificantly,” said Fasano, R-New Port Richie.

There's an obvious question that arises immediately: what type of companies would be able to advertise on tags? Would the state be able to discriminate against certain companies in accepting the logos?

“We’re going to have to approve them,” likely on a case-by-case basis, Fasano said. “We certainly don't want the Pussycat Lounge on somebody's tag.

“Well, maybe some people do,” he acknowledged.

No would-be advertisers have actually come forward as interested – although a company that billed itself as being able to go out and find corporations that might want to advertise on tags approached the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles about the idea, said agency spokesman Dave Westberry.

Fasano is trying to balance a state transportation budget without dipping into the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for road building. The House is planning to siphon off some of that trust fund money for other needs. “We do not,” Fasano said. “We protect the trust fund.”

That means scraping around for money elsewhere, particularly since Fasano also wants to reduce a bit the driver license fees that went up last year as part of legislative efforts to balance the budget. Fasano's committee is proposing this year to lower those fees by about $6.

Westberry said if the legislation passes and the program begins, Florida might be the only state with advertising on license plates.

“As far as we know, there are not any other states in the union that are currently using this program,” Westberry said.

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