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License Revoked

A new bill could call a halt to the state's specialty plates.

That's why his bill, which was passed by the House on January 31, would also require that a group wanting a new specialty plate would have to prove that at least 2,000 people -- up from the current 250 -- are interested in the design. Groups that already have plates would be grandfathered in but would still have to show that a certain number of new people are asking for the plate every year. (The exact number will be decided if and when the Senate, which received the bill last week, approves it.) If demand doesn't reach the correct level, the state will stop making the plates -- although those that have already been issued will not be taken away.

That's not good enough for Zoe Hubbard, who designed the pioneer plate and runs a Longmont business that researches family histories. Although her plate wouldn't be affected by the new rules -- there are already 20,000 pioneer plates on the road -- she thinks the bill is in violation with contracts that she and the rest of the plate designers signed with the Motor Vehicle Division. "They are throwing things into the bill intentionally to make it difficult for us," she says. "A contract is a contract, and I expect the state to stand up and honor that."

Hubbard, Reshetniak, Todd and other plate proponents have all hired lawyers to evaluate whether the proposed law violates their contracts with the state. They're also planning to hire a lobbyist to convince lawmakers and the governor, if necessary, that the bill is inappropriate in its current form.

"There is a simple solution," Hubbard says. "If the bill would say that continuing programs will operate under their existing contracts, that would be fine. Otherwise, we may spend years in court."

The Raptor Education Fund has already signed up 300 people who are now waiting for their "Respects Wildlife" plates. But if the bill passes and Reshetniak's group can't meet the minimum requirement next year, those 300 plates may be the only ones that hit the road.

"This has the prospect of really hurting us," he says. "It's very frustrating for a small nonprofit like us. Something isn't working at the DMV. You just have to wonder who is running what."

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