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Minnesota Creates 4 New Specialty License Plates

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesotans can soon indulge their love affair with specialty license plates even more deeply.

State legislators this past week introduced four more to the 200-plus already available.

Many raise money for pet causes. That’s the case for two of the new offerings. One will benefit the Minnesota parks and trails system, the other the Minnesota chapter of the Professional Golfers Association.

Other plates celebrate a driver’s identity. The other two new plates are for female veterans and retired firefighters.

Each license plate costs $3.50 to produce, said Bruce Gordon, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Safety, the agency that oversees the state’s driver and vehicle services. That price is fixed by contract, so it doesn’t go down no matter how many people want, Gordon said.

A total of 500 would be made for the parks and trails and PGA Foundation, he said. The others would be produced upon request and certification.

Whether the cost is worth it depends on how many people ultimately buy the plates, said Luke Skinner, deputy director for the Division of Parks and Trails at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Sales can start pretty slow and then build up a little bit,” Skinner said of the $50 plate. Having one gains the driver free admission to state parks, he said. “We could see a net of $250,000 to $500,000 annually.”

That money likely would go toward the operations budget, Skinner said, which is $17 million for parks alone.

When the plate becomes available Jan. 1, 2016, it will mark the first time the division has a plate devoted exclusively to raise money for the system, Skinner said.

The Minnesota Section PGA Foundation plate is a way to raise money for youth golf programs such as The First Tee based in St. Augustine, Florida, said Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, who sponsored the proposal in the House.

“Having it go to youth golf is a good cause,” said Pelowski, who worked for decades as a golf pro. “With the Tiger Woods explosion — everyone wanted to be Tiger — more young people are coming into golf than ever.”

The plates would cost $10 a set and include a minimum annual contribution of $30 to the golf foundation. They’ll become available next year on Jan. 1, and coincide with the run-up to the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

None of the four plates have been designed yet, Gordon said.

The women’s veterans plate becomes available on Jan. 1, 2015, and the inscription would read “WOMAN VETERAN.” The language of the law does not include a cost.

Retired firefighters who served at least 10 years and left their departments in good standing would be able to obtain a plate to celebrate their careers beginning Aug. 1. Those would cost $10.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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