Ummn…how much longer must we endure this “short” legislative session?
And why are Indiana lawmakers so spooked by gay people?
This week alone, we’ve heard how the Girl Scouts are “really” in the business of producing commie feminist lesbians. Yesterday (while even Brian Bosma was roaming the Statehouse halls passing out Girl Scout cookies and trying to distance himself from that particular bit of crazy), the Roads and Transportation Committee acted to save Indiana motorists from the calamities that would undoubtedly follow should the Bureau of Motor Vehicles allow the Indiana Youth Group to–gasp!–have a specialty license plate. (IYG supports gay youth. Oh, the shame…)
Now, in all fairness, the issuance of specialty license plates has proliferated, and there undoubtedly need to be some standards and controls. But everyone present understood the real target of the measure that would disqualify groups that “advocate for violation of federal or state law, violation of generally accepted ethical standards or societal behavioral standards or fund individual political candidates.” Furthermore, our moral stewards–er, legislators–will henceforth decide whether groups violate those rules. Can’t leave such pressing issues to the bureaucrats at the BMV.
In an effort to cloak the new rule with a veneer of impartiality, the measure requires–as a condition of approval–a burdensome amount of financial information from the petitioning nonprofits, 500 signatures of Indiana residents, and evidence of a “statewide public benefit from the use of the money the group would receive from the sale of license plates.” And each plate would have to be sponsored by a lawmaker and individually approved.
Because our elected officials don’t have anything more important to do than ensure the moral purity and “public benefit” of messages on Indiana’s license plates.
As this morning’s Star noted, “The changes come in the wake of controversy over the granting of a license plate to the Indiana Youth Group, which supports gay youths. That issue, though, was never discussed Wednesday by the House Roads and Transportation Committee.”
In order to prevent the predictable calamity that would occur if license plates bearing the legend “Indiana Youth Group” were allowed to roam freely over Indiana highways, the committee eliminated plates for the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, IU Health, Indiana Soccer, the Zoo, the Marine Foundation and Ducks Unlimited. (Just as well. You can’t ever tell what those ducks might be up to…)
Bottom line to all this foolishness–the legislature wants to pick and choose which organizations’ messages the state will “endorse” by allowing them to sell specialty license plates. The Free Speech clause of that pesky First Amendment says that is exactly what government cannot do. It’s called “content neutrality”–meaning that government can’t allow some messages and disallow others.
If the legislature doesn’t want let IYG operate under the same rules as everybody else, there’s no need for this sort of elaborate kabuki theater.
Just get rid of the whole damn specialty license plate program.