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Introduced by Representatives Marcotte of Coventry, Clerkin of Hartford, Kilmartin of Newport City and Valliere of Barre City

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Motor vehicles; registration; special registration plates; religious organizations

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to authorize the issuance of special motor vehicle registration plates for federally tax-exempt fraternal organizations, including those that are religiously affiliated.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  23 V.S.A. § 304(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The authority to issue special motor vehicle number plates or receive applications or petitions for special number plates for safety organizations and service organizations shall reside with the commissioner.  Determination of compliance with the criteria contained in this subsection shall be within the discretion of the commissioner.  Series of number plates for safety and service organizations which are authorized by the commissioner shall be issued in order of approval, subject to the operating considerations in the department as determined by the commissioner.  The commissioner shall issue special number plates marked with initials, letters, or combination of numerals and letters, in the following manner:

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(2)  For the purposes of this subdivision, “safety organizations” shall include groups which have at least 100 instate members in good standing and provide police and fire protection, rescue squads, national guard, together with those organizations required to respond to public emergencies.  It shall include amateur radio operators licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.  For purposes of this subdivision, “service organization” includes any group which (i) has as a primary purpose, service to the community through specific programs for the improvement of public health, education, or environmental awareness and conservation, and are not limited to social activities; (ii) has nonprofit status under Section 501(c)(3),(8), or (10) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, as amended; (iii) is registered as a nonprofit corporation with the office of the secretary of state; and (iv) except for a military veterans group, has at least 100 instate members in good standing.  “Service organization” also includes congressionally chartered and noncongressionally chartered United States military service veterans groups.

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(C)  After consulting with representatives of the safety or service organization, the commissioner shall determine the design of the special plates, on the basis that the primary purpose of motor vehicle number plates is vehicle identification.  An organization applying for a special plate under this subsection shall present the commissioner with a name and emblem that is not obscene, offensive, or confusing to the general public and does not promote, advertise, or endorse a product, brand, or service provided for sale, or promote any specific religious belief or political party.  The organization’s name and emblem must not infringe or violate trademarks, trade names, service marks, copyrights, or other proprietary or property rights, and the organization must have the right to use the name and emblem.  The organization shall designate an officer or member to act as the principal contact and to submit a distinctive emblem for use on a special number plate, if authorized.  An organization may have only one design, regardless of the number of individual organizational units within the state that may provide the same substantially similar services.  Nothing herein shall be construed as authorizing any individual squad, department, or unit to request a unique or specially designed plate different than from the plate designed by the commissioner.

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Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont