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New Virginia license plate honoring Dr. King?

Jeremy Lazarus | 1/4/2019, 6 a.m.
Can Delegate Dawn M. Adams find 450 Virginians willing to pay $25 to $35 for a specialty license plate honoring ...

Can Delegate Dawn M. Adams find 450 Virginians willing to pay $25 to $35 for a specialty license plate honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Monday, Jan. 7?

That’s the challenge the Richmond Democrat is facing as her first step to securing General Assembly approval for a new plate honoring the civil rights icon whose birthday will be celebrated as a national holiday on Monday, Jan. 21.

A legislative rule requires a sponsor to show a minimum of 450 purchasers of a specialty plate in order to have a bill to authorize the plate to be considered.

Monday is the deadline for members to file their bills, but Delegate Adams reports on her website that she has only 61 purchasers for the plates so far.

“We’re trying to get the word out and make that deadline so we don’t have to wait until next year,” said Maureen Hains, Delegate Adams’ legislative assistant. A first-term House member, Delegate Adams submitted legislation to create the unique plate last year, only to run into the 450-purchaser rule.

The license plate includes Dr. King’s likeness surrounded by nine stars, a tribute to the nine African-American Greek fraternities and sororities known as the “Divine Nine,” on a blue background. The plate, which can be personalized, includes the words “I Have A Dream” at the bottom, a reference to Dr. King’s most famous speech.

Interested people can go to Delegate Adams’ website, www.DelegateAdams.com, to download an application for the license plate or apply online. People also can call Ms. Hains at (804) 698-1068 or (804) 839-5934 for additional information.

Cost: $25 for a standard DMV plate and $35 for a personalized plate.

If she succeeds, Delegate Adams plans to provide the money generated from the sale of the plates to the state Department of Motor Vehicles to cover the agency’s cost to provide people with IDs to vote, apply for jobs and take care of other business.

That would make allow DMV to offer the IDs without charge until the money from the plate sales ran out.

Currently, voter registrars across the state issue free photo IDs, but their offices are not always conveniently located and the IDs can only be used for voting, Ms. Hains said.

DMV, which requires certain documents like a birth certificate to obtain a photo ID, also requires a $10 minimum payment for a photo ID good for five years, or $16 for an ID good for eight years.

Delegate Adams chose to partner with DMV because its offices “would provide additional locations to secure a free photo ID,” Ms. Hains said.