News & Features

Montana Senator Requests Specialty License Plate Extension

Democratic Sen. Jill Cohenour made the extension request to the Montana Department of Justice’s Motor Vehicles Division Wednesday

MISSOULA — A Montana state senator has requested a three-month extension for nonprofit groups to appeal to more vehicle owners to purchase specialty license plates supporting their organizations.

Democratic Sen. Jill Cohenour made the extension request to the Montana Department of Justice’s Motor Vehicles Division Wednesday, The Missoulian reported.

Cohenour sponsored the legislation that allowed the state to revoke specialty plates in cases where less than 400 people had purchased a group’s plate within three years of its release.

The state notified 85 nonprofit groups in January that their specialty plates were being revoked.

The provision was already part of the law, but Cohenour said her legislation provided the state with an enforcement mechanism.

Cohenour asked for the extension to give nonprofits the opportunity to meet the 400-plate minimum. She also requested that the department develop a way for organizations to track the number of purchased plates.

The plates can be an important source of funding that is difficult to replace, officials said.

The Humane Association fell short by 23 plates. The revocation of its specialty plate would mean an estimated $7,000 revenue cut for the organization that is dependent on private fundraising and grants, an official said.

The Motor Vehicles Division sent a letter to nonprofit groups participating in the program in September explaining the change in the law.

Some nonprofit groups told Cohenour they were confused by the information in the letter, which included several dates, or believed they had until their certification date to meet the minimum plate requirement.

The Montana Department of Justice and the Motor Vehicle Division did not immediately respond to requests for comment.