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Say goodbye to some specialty license plates

Nothing lasts forever.

Dr. Pepper, the National Wild Turkey Foundation and the Fort Worth Zoo are among 56 groups that will no longer grace the bumpers of Texas cars and trucks unless sales pick up.

Under new rules set between the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and My Plates, the company that sells specialty license plates for the state, any designs that do not record sales of at least 200 by mid-December will be permanently removed from circulation as part of an effort to make more money and sell more license plates.

“We have seen a proliferation of plates in the system. Currently, we’re at 160,” said Steve Farrar, president of My Plates, which has held an exclusive contract since 2009. “It is good to do a cleanse from time to time according to what is selling. And this time, it comes as a requirement in the extension of our contract.”

The company’s new contract, which runs through 2019, includes four deadlines over the course of the year. In order to prevent removal, all plates must have 50 pairs sold and in use by March 15. That threshold jumps to 100 in June, 150 in September, and 200 by mid-December, 2015.

Any plate failing to meet sales targets will be permanently removed from the state list, though people who already have those plates could use them until they expire.

Here’s the list of plates that do not currently make the cut; there are 56 in all that are in the danger zone. Rockets and Dynamo fans, you have till the December deadline to express your automotive love for your team. My fellow Trinity alums, we have our work cut out for us. Basically, if you’ve been thinking about getting one of these plates – the website is here – check that list and see if you have the luxury of continued procrastination.

MyPlates doing well

Good for them.

Specialty license plates sales have generated $10.5 million for the state’s general revenue fund so far, and the program will likely exceed the $25 million five-year-contract guarantee from My Plates, a marketing company that provides Texans more custom license plate choices.

My Plates has sold more than 98,000 new plates and renewals halfway through the contract. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles estimates My Plates will surpass it’s obligation if new orders and renewals stay on track.

“The Department is committed to the success of the My Plates program, authorized by the Legislature to raise badly needed revenue for the State’s general fund. I am pleased that My Plates is on track to meet or exceed their $25 million commitment to the State,” Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board Chairman Victor Vandergriff said.

The specialty license plate project “allows Texans to express themselves in a fun way, while also providing additional funding for the state, which benefits us all,” says Randy Elliston, director of the department’s Vehicle Titles and Registration.

The My Plates specialty license program started in November 2009 following legislative action. Lawmakers deserve credit for approving the program, My Plates’ board member Nina Vaca said: “Rather than mandate a new tax or fee to address the State’s debt burden, lawmakers got creative,” she said. “They saw a way that more choices in plates could mean more funding for services to all Texans—without costing taxpayers a dime.”

That’s nice and all, but let’s keep a little perspective amid the rah-rah stuff. That’s ten million bucks over a two year period. The state budget for a biennium is close to $80 billion, which makes the MyPlates revenue a bit more than 0.01% of the total. I’m glad to have it, but it’s not like we’ve uncovered a secret way to avoid taxes or deficits. It’s a tiny drop in a large bucket.