- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cowboys fans need not apply.

D.C. officials are paving the way for license plates that promote the Washington Redskins and eight other home teams, a quick-and-easy proposal intended to satisfy sports fans without sliding into a slew of offerings that have roiled political waters in various states.

A bill before the D.C. Council would allow city residents to opt for specialty tags that display a local team’s logo to the left of the plate numbers and retain the distinctive “Taxation Without Representation” message along the bottom.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has no objection to the sports plates but needs six months to implement the initiative once it passes into law, Director Lucinda Babers, told the Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation on Tuesday

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown and council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, said they introduced the bill in January because people were asking for team plates, specifically, and not the variety of partisan mottos and themes that have caused rifts in other jurisdictions.

Some states have considered, and hotly debated, “pro life” license plates, while Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, Texas governor, recently opposed a plan to offer Confederate plates in his state.

“I don’t think we want it to get out of hand,” Mr. Brown said.

Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said the sports plan seems reasonable - it won’t be a financial drain or obscure the plates - and she felt compelled to give the bill a proper vetting before her committee on Tuesday.

“I’m not at all interested in opening the door to all kinds of messages,” she added.

Under the bill, D.C. residents can place a logo for the Redskins, Nationals, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United, Mystics, Kastles tennis team, Bayhawks lacrosse team or the Divas women’s football team on their plates.

The demand for the specialty tags is unclear, making it hard for city officials to estimate how much revenue the initiative could bring in. It costs $7.85 to make each tag, and motorists must pay a one-time fee of $25 and a $20 renewal fee every other year, according to the bill.

The bill dedicates the balance of fees to the city’s general fund, although Mr. Brown said Tuesday he would like to see the money dedicated to school athletics programs or a similar cause.

If approved, the sports package will broaden the small pool of specialty tags available to D.C. drivers. While Virginia offers more than 200 options, the District has three - to commemorate the Anacostia River and to honor veterans and disabled veterans, according to Ms. Babers.

Ms. Babers advised Ms. Cheh’s committee to eliminate the Washington Freedom from the bill - the women’s soccer team recently moved to Boca Raton, Fla. - and to note the Annapolis-based Bayhawks, a lacrosse team, changed its name from the “Washington Bayhawks” to the “Chesapeake Bayhawks” last year.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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