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8 organizations make specialty license plate cut, July 1 deadline approaching

8 organizations make specialty license plate cut, July 1 deadline approaching

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A man renews his vehicle registration

A man renews his vehicle registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles in the Helena City-County Building in this February 2020 file photo.

Eight organizations out of 85 that were given a grace period until July 1 to sell enough specialty license plates to meet the state's minimum threshold or face revocation have reached the requirement.

Another 23 are within shooting distance as the deadline approaches.

For almost two decades the state Department of Justice has been able to pull specialty plates, which many nonprofit organizations use to raise money, if those organizations did not sell more than 400. A law passed in the 2019 Legislature said the state had to revoke plates that went below the 400 mark after three years of their initial creation.

The state set up a grace period from Jan. 1 to July 1. The plates are sold at county treasurer motor vehicle offices.

The eight organizations that topped the threshold as of June 16 are Benefis Mercy Flight, Missoula Freestyle Team, Stafford Animal Shelter, Bitter Root Humane Association, Blackfeet Tribe, Prickly Pear Land Trust, Richland Youth Hockey and Big Sky Ski Education Foundation.

Several others are very close, such as the Lewis and Clark Humane Society with 390 plates and the Montana Cutting Horse Association with 386 as of June 16.

The Department of Justice has been updating a website monthly with tallies for organizations to track. It lists 119 organizations with fewer than 400 plates, though some are within the three-year window.

There are more than 250 specialty plates sold statewide as Montana approaches the end of the grace period. The most popular is the black Milestown Community Improvement Inc. plate, with 12,226 sold as of June 16.

Organizations make money when people donate an additional fee above their yearly vehicle registration to the group for the specialty plate.

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