Friends of Coal number plate bill moving forward

The good folks at Friends of Coal didnít seem to be having much luck moving a bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates to create special vanity number plates.

So, the industry front group has shifted its attention to the state Senate. As Gazette statehouse correspondent Phil Gabler reported this morning, Sen. Truman Jones slipped the Friends of Coal language into another number plate bill that passed out of the Senate Finance Committee.

The original version of this bill, SB 78, was intended to provide special state number plates for members of the Patriot Guard, a group that describes themselves as:

It was amended once previous, and that version added several other number plates, including one with the words, "In God We Trust" as well as special number plates for nurses, firefighters, and members of the West Virginia Bar Association.

As Phil explained, Jones thinks the Friends of Coal plate could be a money-maker for the state "judging by the numbers of cars and trucks with "Friends of Coal" bumper stickers".

"Thereís a lot of people who would want those number plates," he said.

The DMV charges an extra $10 application fee, and an additional $15 annual renewal fee for specialty number plates. The revenue goes into the state Road Fund.

Approval of this Friends of Coal number plates would be a first for West Virginia. When I look at the DMVís current list of specialty number plates, I donít see any others for special-interest political groups, let alone industry front organizations. (Of course, I also wonder about the new language for a fire-fighter plate, because it looks like we already have one. Maybe the distinction is that the new one is for volunteer firefighters. Or maybe lawmakers donít really read the laws that theyíre trying to amend).

I have to wonder why lawmakers in this instance donít create a more general "coal miner" number plates, rather than one that is so identified with the industry lobby efforts, as opposed to the hard-working folks who keep our lights working.

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