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Bill seeks specialty license plates for every school district, private school in Ohio

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New legislation in the Ohio House would open the door for every school district and private school in the state to seek its own specialty license plate. The proceeds would help fund student mental-health initiatives, as well as tuition assistance in the case of private schools. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)

By Jeremy Pelzer, Northeast Ohio Media Group
on September 03, 2015 at 11:10 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — New Ohio House legislation would allow the state to issue specialty license plates for every school district and private school in Ohio to raise money for student mental-health programs and tuition assistance.

Under House Bill 323, introduced Wednesday, specialty plates for each of Ohio’s 610 school districts and 728 private schools could be ordered for an additional $40 fee.

Specialty plates likely wouldn’t be issued for every school district and private school, as Ohio law requires at least 150 people to commit to order a specific plate before it can be issued. But the bipartisan bill could significantly increase the number of specialty plates Ohio makes beyond the roughly 230 designs it offers now.

For each $40 raised, $10 would go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and the other $30 would go to the school for initiatives that help “the mental and emotional well-being of the students,” such as suicide prevention, drug abuse, and anti-bullying programs.

For private schools, half the money they receive from the plates would have to be spent on tuition assistance for students.

Rep. Marlene Anielski, a Walton Hills Republican who has championed suicide prevention efforts, said she brought the bill after thinking what she could do to help children’s mental health.

“When you start helping them earlier on suicide prevention or any other type of emotional issue, that’s just going to help them later in life,” she said.

Anielski said only one Ohio high school currently has a specialty plate — Massillon’s Washington High School, which uses the proceeds to benefit the school football team.

Anielski said she hasn’t heard any concerns so far that her bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland, would create too many specialty plates in Ohio.

As people have to get license plates anyway, and if schools can gather the 150 signatures they need, “Why should they be denied that?” she asked.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety hasn’t yet taken a position on the bill, according to department spokesman Dustyn Fox.

Fox said department officials are currently reviewing how they would create so many new specialty license plates should the legislation pass.

 

 

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