Today was a special day for me and for Ohio monarch enthusiasts. Many didn't even know it was a special day until it got here. Today was the first day that citizens with a vehicle registered in the state of Ohio could purchase a specialized license plate that will directly benefit the monarch butterfly.
Here's how it happened:
In March of last year, I saw an online news article from The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana, IL) about a specialized license plate being planned for the state of Illinois.
I wondered if Ohio had such a plate and made a search on the website of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. No such plate existed.
There was a plate benefiting Ohio's Nature Preserves, featuring a monarch butterfly nectaring on a coneflower, but the funds collected for that plate don't specifically go toward the monarch. I looked further on the site to see what needed to be done in order to have a new organizational plate created. It didn't seem too difficult, so I made a phone call to the BMV in Columbus to find out if they were aware of anyone else already working on one for the monarch. There were no efforts in progress that they were aware of.
First things first
|Rep. Tony Burkley|
It was late in the session, with only a few days left to get the bill introduced, but Representative Burkley got the job done. It was passed by the 131st General Assembly and on June 16th, Governor John Kasich signed the bill; 90 days later, on September 14th it would officially become law.
The next step was to collect at least 150 signatures on a special petition - signatures of those who had registered vehicles in the state of Ohio, who potentially could purchase the license plate. This made me a tiny bit uncomfortable, because I'm not someone who likes to be approached to sign anything myself. But it's amazing how assertive you can be when you're passionate about something, like I am about the monarch.
Though a few were not willing to give their driver's license number (a requirement), so many more were enthusiastic about helping make this a reality. I posted about it on my Facebook page and in the Facebook monarch forums and several people stepped forward and offered to help collect signatures: Sarah Roney Dalton, Don Byrne, Sandy Cobb, Kara Fritz, Janet Denning, Jamie Walters, Melinda Huseby Krick, Richard Moore, Lori Gogolin, Debbie Hartwig Tope, Ashley Tope, Roman Baumle, Brandi Eberle, Karla Erford Treece, and Melissa Downs Moser. (I hope I haven't forgotten anyone who sent me some!)
Since I wanted to be sure to have more than enough verified signatures (yes, they DO check each and every one), I submitted 250, instead of the minimum 150.
Where will the money go?
The license plate costs an extra $25, of which $15 goes to the benefiting organization and the remaining $10 to the Ohio BMV. I wanted the monies collected to remain in the state of Ohio, so I began investigating possible organizations that could make good use of it.
I chose Monarch Wings Across Ohio, which is a part of the national organization, The Pollinator Partnership. Several locations across Ohio are participants in the monarch studies being conducted, in fact, Ohio is the first state to be a part of the national program Monarch Wings Across the U.S. Included in the program are such sites as Holden Arboretum, Cleveland Metroparks, and many others.
The recipient organization had to provide an affidavit to the BMV as well as the logo that goes on the license plate.
I procured all the necessary documents and sent them off to the BMV in Columbus on September 12 by Certified Mail.
My part was now finished and it was up to the BMV to take the baton and finish the race.
I got an email on December 8th, giving me the good news that enough signatures had been verified, the license plate design had been finalized, and the plate would be available for purchase on January 11, 2017. And here we are:
|Photo by Lacinda Conley|
Current license plate fees in Ohio as listed on the BMV website are:
- New registration/standard plates & registration/plate renewal:
- Passenger vehicle: $34.50.
- Motorcycle: $28.50.
- House vehicle/moped: $24.50.
- Non-commercial trailer: Fee is based on weight.
- 1 license plate: $10.50.
- 2 license plates: $11.75.
- Decals: $4.50.
- Plate transfer: $4.50.
The extra fee for the monarch license plate is $25, with $15 of that going to Monarch Wings Across Ohio. If you do want to personalize it, that will cost another $50. Besides providing funds that will help the monarch butterfly and by proxy, other pollinators, the license plate will help create awareness for the plight the monarch faces.
Once again, thank you to all who worked together to make this possible. I've been asked by several others how to go about doing the same thing in their state and since each state is different, my suggestion would be to go to your state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles website (some states call it the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV) and find out what your state requires for the creation of a specialized or organizational license plate.
In many cases, all it takes is one ordinary citizen being willing to do what it takes to make it happen. You will be providing a means for many people to help the cause through the purchase of the plates. I encourage vehicle owners in Ohio to purchase one of these plates. Even though the sale of only 25 plates per year are required to keep the monarch plate in production, we can do better than that.
Do it for the monarchs.