Should Northwest lawmakers consider putting ads on license plates to generate revenue?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Mickey Mouse license plate courtesy of Walt Disney World? How about a tag emblazoned with McDonald's golden arches, Nike's swoosh or, maybe, a Coke or Pepsi logo?
That's the latest moneymaking idea being floated in the Florida Legislature in these hard economic times.
Mike Fasano, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, said Friday that he's asked his staff to develop a piece of legislation that would let corporations put their logos on Florida license plates for a price.
"Unique concept, isn't it?" Fasano said. "People could choose from an array of logos from Disney World to Pepsi to IBM, the list goes on. ... People might want to have a choice of saying, 'Hey, that sounds like a lot of fun.'"
It also could save them money.
Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said it would not only be a way to generate cash for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, but some of the proceeds could be used to give discounts to motorists on their annual registration fees if they opt for the corporate tags.
"My understanding is they could save up to $30 or $35 on their annual license tag fee," Fasano said. "We don't know how much that would generate because it's just an idea that has come to our attention."
Similar legislation has been filed in at least one other state. Illinois state Rep. Joe Lyons, D-Chicago, has filed a bill that would create tags with the name, likeness or logo of corporations from Illinois.
Fasano said putting what amounts to advertising on the tags isn't far removed from some other state practices.
"The state of Florida already does it pretty much," he said. "If you go down the highways you see the advertisements on the off ramps where businesses, whether it be IHOP or Cracker Barrel or Holiday Inn, they advertise."
Besides the signs on interstate rights of way, Road Ranger trucks patrolling many of Florida's highways to assist stranded motorists are sponsored by State Farm Insurance and sport the company's logo. Many cities have buses that double as moving billboards.
Even the notion of putting business logos on tags is not entirely new. Florida already offers nine specialty tags featuring professional sports teams.
Motorists, though, don't get any discounts for their Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Jacksonville Jaguars tags. In fact, they must pay $25 extra.
The teams don't get that money, but they do get free advertising and potentially some indirect benefit. Fifty-five percent of the proceeds are used by the state to attract major sports events such as the Super Bowl and all-star games. The rest goes to the Florida Sports Foundation for purposes that include economic development of the sports industry.