Without clarity, legislators running out of options on Measure 4 license plate legislation

Image Source: Unsplash / MGN
By  | 

BISMARCK, N.D. - Was the intent of Measure 4 to cover the cost of just the personalized plates or the vehicle registration, too? That’s what a group of representatives and senators are trying to answer as they work on a bill trying to reflect the intent of Measure 4, which was passed in November.

The measure requires the North Dakota Department of Transportation to issue specialized plates to volunteer first responders, without any initial or annual cost.

So far, NDDOT has issued more than 2,000 special license plates to volunteer first responders since the Nov. 6 election.

DOT officials say they haven't charged for the specialty license plates because they're part of the registration costs. So far, that's cost North Dakota $250,000 and the fiscal note attached to the bill says it could lead to a loss nearly $3 million every two years just on registration costs.

Some legislators aren't sure how much they can change the measure. Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, says they’ve got flexibility

“I think it's OK. It's more of using an interpretation issue. I don't think it's a constitutional issue at all,” said Ruby.

If the registration and personal plate fee is covered, the cost every two years goes up to $3.3 million for about 11,000 eligible volunteers.

Lawmakers also wondered about getting an attorney general opinion on the interpretation of the measure, but say that wouldn’t be available until after session.