Nebraska lawmakers flooded with requests for special plates

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska drivers may soon have more options for specialty license plates to support causes they are passionate about.

Members of a legislative committee heard pitches Tuesday for nearly a dozen new specialty plates.

According to the Associated Press, the number of new plates surged after the surprising success of Nebraska's mountain lion conservation plates, which have generated $225,000 for youth wildlife education programs since they were created in 2016.

Some new proposals would create special plates for animals such as sandhill cranes, while others would honor veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Vietnam. Money generated would help causes related to each plate.

"These are plates that have true meaning. They really do change people's lives. Thirty-percent of the vets we have in Nebraska are Vietnam vets," Sen. Carol Blood said.

While lots of senators pitched new designs, another senator brought up a decades-old debate.

"I think we need a common sense debate about the two-plate requirement that remains for the rest of us," Sen. Robert Hilkemann said.

Doc Coulter got pulled over not once, but twice for driving with just one plate.

"It's not a great use of State Patrol time. Not my time," Coulter said at the discussion.

Others threw their ideas into the debate as well.

"All the testimony I've heard is aesthetics. This is really about identifying a vehicle's ownership by law enforcement," lobbyist Mick Mines said.

Most of the profits for the plates used to go to the Highway Trust Fund, minus the cost to make it.

Those who already own the pediatric cancer plate offered a different idea.

"I'm a proud owner of this license plate. i don't know if you can see it, but it's pretty fabulous," Marilyn Mecham said. "I was so fortunate to be a part of Gigi's life."

The idea was that 85-percent of the money that comes in to buy the plates should go to research instead of the trust fund.

"I'm here because my son is 11. He was diagnosed with leukemia October first of last year," Case Maranville of Lincoln said.

In the case of the pediatric cancer plate, $22,000 would go to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to find a cure.

"This is a small amount of money that would help towards research. Awareness is the direction we all need to move in," Maranville said.

Maranville's son, River is currently in remission.