R.I. House approves Sox, Patriots number plates

Rhode Island sports fans may soon be able to show their team colors on the front and rear bumpers of their cars. The House on Thursday passed and sent the Senate bills authorising Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots team number plates.

Motorists could purchase the number plates for $41.50 above the normal registration fee through the Division of Motor Vehicles. About half of that money would go to the state and the remaining proceeds would go to charity: Red Sox tags would benefit The Jimmy Fund, a fundraising arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, while the Patriots editions would help The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation ó specifically that organizationís youth education efforts in the Ocean State.

DMV Assistant Administrator Chuck Hollis said the specialty number plates, if approved, would join those already on the road benefiting The Rhode Island Community Food Bank, The Audubon Society, Save The Bay and, soon, WaterFire.

Like all specialty number plates, the sports editions would be offered in bulk, so 900 drivers must sign up for each before they can be ordered.

In House debate Thursday, several lawmakers questioned whether the state should be in the business of supporting charities.

But as others noted, Massachusetts has dozens of charity edition number plates and issues thousands of them each year. So far Red Sox tags have raised $3.5 million in that state and the Patriots editions have raised more than $1 million.

Design plans for the Rhode Island editions have not yet been finalized.

The House on Thursday also approved a plan to create number plates to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. That bill also was sent to the Senate.

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