ANNAPOLIS – At least University of Maryland fans are winning in the political arena these days.
The Senate Friday approved a “Fear the Turtle” license plate tag to benefit scholarships. It would be the third special-interest tag in Maryland if the bill passes the House.
Friday’s approval could give Terrapins — anxious at the men’s basketball team’s turbulent season — more of a reason to celebrate during the imminent “March Madness” national championship tournament.
“I’m overjoyed,” said the bill’s main sponsor, and Maryland alumnus, Senate President Thomas V. Michael Miller Jr., D-Calvert.
Last session, a similar bill started in the House and did not make it past the House Environmental Matters Committee because the panel was overwhelmed with other bills for special-interest tags.
Miller said he does not know if the bill will pass that committee this session, but he is hoping for a different outcome.
“We hope they will keep an open mind,” Miller said.
The tags would cost an extra $20 for registration at the Motor Vehicle Administration, with half going into the scholarship fund. Renewing the tag every two years would cost an extra $10 and generate another $5 for scholarships.
Special-interest tags are colorful pictorial background plates with the profits devoted to a state-designated project. The “Fear the Turtle” tag has Maryland’s mascot — Testudo the turtle — in the background.
The other two special-interest tags in the state are the Chesapeake Bay tag for the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the farmland tag for the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation.
Sen. John Giannetti Jr., D-Prince George’s, was the main sponsor in the Senate last session. He said he is grateful Miller became the main sponsor this session to give the bill an extra boost. Passing the House will be a bit tougher, Giannetti said.
“I think there is every reason to pass this bill,” he said.
The House Environmental Matters Committee will also consider special-interest license tags this session for African American History and Culture, non-profit organizations promoting Maryland and a tag supporting primary and secondary education.