Legislator wants specialty license plate honoring Tea Party

CARSON CITY -- Nevada has special license plates honoring wild horses, Hoover Dam and 23 other causes.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, figures now is the time to honor the newest cause, the Tea Party.

Goedhart, one of Nevada's most conservative legislators, announced Friday that he will sponsor legislation to have the Department of Motor Vehicles manufacture a special plate honoring the Tea Party, the group that wants to end national health care reform, cut federal spending and strictly follow the U.S. Constitution.

But he emphasized the new plate would not include the words "Tea Party."

Instead the plate would show the image of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag from the Revolutionary War period that features a rattlesnake and yellow background. The flag has become the unofficial symbol of the Tea Party.

"The Tea Party movement isn't so much a political party movement as it is a revitalization of our nation's founding spirit regarding the limited role government should play in our lives and the embrace of state sovereignty and individual freedom," Goedhart said. "It is as American as apple pie."

But both houses of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats. The national Tea Party Express is most known in Nevada for its support of unsuccessful Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle.

Goedhart acknowledged that by law money for special plates can go only to nonprofit organizations or charitable causes. But he said he can meet that requirement since he wants funds raised by the special plate to be used to purchase and distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution.

"Senator Harry Reid had a copy of the Constitution with him during his debate with Sharron Angle," Goedhart said. "This doesn't have to be a partisan issue.

People pay extra for the special plates, with $30 generally going to the cause the first year of manufacture and $20 in subsequent years.

DMV spokesman Tom Jacobs said Tea Party fans might have to wait a while before they can start buying the special plates if Goedhart's proposal receives approval.

Under current law, the DMV can manufacture no more than 25 special plates at any time. There also must be a minimum of 1,000 special plates on vehicles for the DMV to keep manufacturing them. If the number falls below that total, then they no longer are manufactured.

Once one is dropped, then plates are manufactured for the next cause that meets all the requirements. Next in line is the Air Force Thunderbirds, followed by the March of Dimes.

At present, Jacobs said there are 15 causes that have met all requirements. The Tea Party would go to the bottom of the list.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.