Three categories added to special number plate measure

Virginia’s passion for demonstrating belief in God has taken a step closer to being scored on special number plates.

Before it exited the Transport Committee the "In God We Trust" number plates bill was changed into the first special plate bill of the session, one that pays tribute to the Patriot Guard.

And before Sen. John Unger’s panel got through with it, the number plates bill added three more categories — nurses, firefighters and lawyers.

“I’m not going to fool with any more number plates bills in my committee,” Unger, D-Berkeley, said afterward.

“Once is enough. That’s it. It’s out of here. Now we need to get on to more serious things.”

That doesn’t mean the Senate has seen the last of special number plates, however, since the measure (SB78) could be amended once it arrives in the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, offered the first such proposal, one that honors the Patriot Guard, a special unit of veterans who have served as a backup to military honor guards and act as buffers between them and potential demonstrators who disrupted funerals in the early stages of the war in Iraq.

“Veterans felt this was dishonoring the dead and the families by them showing up protesting the war at their funerals,” Unger said.

Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, had his “In God We Trust” mixed in with Kessler’s bill, which took precedence since it was the first such license bill offered.

Barnes said earlier the number plates would allow West Virginians to express their religious heritage. A similar bill has been crafted in the House by Delegate Dave Perry, D-Fayette.

In other committee action, the senators approved SCR8 that calls on the Division of Highways to name bridge No. 73 on County Route 16/39 on Moran Avenue in Mullens the Charles V. Stewart Memorial Bridge.

A principal at Glen Rogers High, Mullens High and Ben Dunman School between 1926 and 1953, Stewart died at 70 of injuries suffered in a traffic accident.

He and his wife owned and co-edited The Mullens Advocate for 27 years. That resolution should be up for a vote Tuesday by the full Senate.

Just when the number plates will reach the calendar is difficult to say, since it now must pass muster with the finance committee.

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