Sierra Nevada license plate plan stalled in Assembly; bill will likely return in January | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sierra Nevada license plate plan stalled in Assembly; bill will likely return in January

David Bunker

The effort to create specialized Sierra Nevada license plates and send the money from registration to the fledgling Sierra Nevada Conservancy may not be passed until next year, officials say.

The bill that could add up to $2 million to the conservancy’s annual budget does not look like it will be decided before the lawmakers’ recess, after it stalled in a legislative committee last week.

The Sierra Nevada license plate bill is a bipartisan effort sponsored by the authors of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy legislation – Assemblymen Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, and John Laird, D-Santa Cruz. The license plate legislation was passed by the state assembly, but stalled in a 14-member housing and transportation committee, when not enough committee members voted on the bill to send it to the senate, said Leslie’s chief of staff, Kevin O’Neill.

“We are going to have to put it on hold for now and come back with the bill in January,” O’Neill said.

But the bill’s backers are not worried about the delay, since the additional time will actually allow them to sign up more people for the license plate. For the bill to go into effect, 7,500 people must sign up for a specialized license plate.

“Frankly the extra time would be helpful,” said Sierra Fund Communication Director Shawn Garvey, whose organization has signed up more than 1,200 people for the plate – they are reportedly seeing 10 to 20 more people sign up each day.

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Once the bill is passed, Garvey said reaching the goal of signing up 7,500 should not be a problem.

“One of the problems we are having is we are signing up people to a hypothetical thing,” said Garvey.

After the legislative process and the sign-up effort, the bill’s backers expect the funding to be available for the conservancy by 2007.

O’Neill said that the license plate bill should easily pass the committee and senate, once it is rescheduled. The bill passed the assembly 73-4.

“I think that once we get back in January we should have the votes,” O’Neill said.

There is still a slim chance that the bill could be rescheduled in the transportation committee, pass the senate and receive a concurrence vote by the assembly before the lawmakers’ session ends, O’Neill said.

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