JACKSON — Jerry Latch isn’t interested in shelling out extra money to express himself with a car tag promoting a particular group or cause, but he knows plenty of people who do.
“My wife has a specialty tag of some kind, but I don’t know what it is,” Latch said Wednesday from the shoe store he owns in downtown Corinth. “You see lots of different ones. My son is a Mississippi State graduate, so he has one of those tags.”
Groups or schools that want their own state-issued specialty license plates must ask the Legislature’s permission. About three dozen asked this year, and they were all approved. Gov. Phil Bryant signed the car tag measure last week, and it becomes law July 1.
Most groups must sell at least 300 tags before a single one can be issued, so it’s possible that some of the newly authorized tags will never be manufactured. Most specialty tags cost an extra $30 a year, in a state where a license plate for a new vehicle can cost hundreds of dollars.
Included in the bill are the Sisters With A Throttle Motorcycle Club, the Mississippi Bow Hunters Association and the Mississippi Golf Association. A tag honoring the Tuskegee Airmen was authorized, as were those for the Southern Pines Animal Shelter, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Catch-A-Dream Foundation.
Several schools are also in the bill, including East Central High in Jackson County; Oxford and Lafayette high schools in Lafayette County; the Mississippi School for Math and Science in Columbus; Resurrection Catholic School in Pascagoula; St. Andrews Episcopal School in Ridgeland and Germantown High in Madison County
Latch, who served as Corinth mayor from 1994 to 2010, chuckled when he learned that all four Alcorn County high schools — Alcorn Central, Corinth, Biggersville and Kossuth — were approved for a specialty tag.
“Next thing you know, elementary schools will be wanting them,” he said.
Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, who sponsored the car tag bill this year, said he receives several calls a year from groups wanting to know how to apply for a specialty license plate. While it’s not the most complex or life-changing issue that lawmakers handle, Fillingane said the car tag bill is important to people.
Fillingane said he has a regular tag on his vehicle, not a specialty tag.
“Number One, I’m probably cheap,” Fillingane said. “Number Two, I feel like as a legislator, if I don a specific specialty tag, I’d be showing favoritism to a particular group. I don’t want to do that.”