SINGLETON, RICE BILL TO AUTHORIZE PHI BETA SIGMA LICENSE PLATES ADVANCES

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Ronald L. Rice that would authorize a Phi Beta Sigma fraternity license plate and allow application fee proceeds to be used to support the organization’s mission and programs advanced today from the Senate Transportation Committee.

In addition to all fees otherwise required by law for the registration of a motor vehicle, the bill would provide for an application fee of $50 and an annual renewal fee of $10 for the Phi Beta Sigma plates.  After deducting the cost of designing, producing, issuing, renewing, publicizing and implementing the license plate program, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would deposit remaining proceeds into a special non-lapsing fund known as the “Phi Beta Sigma License Plate Fund.”

“As a fraternity that has service to the community as one of its founding principles, Phi Beta Sigma would utilize this fund to support its programmatic mission, which includes developing academic scholarships, promoting social action programs, and health care initiatives,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington).  “By providing these special license plates, Phi Beta Sigma would be added to the state list of distinguished national service organizations that residents can represent with a specialty license plate.  Its members, who live and work in New Jersey, would be afforded another way to demonstrate their enormous pride in the organization and its long-esteemed history.”

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. The Founders, Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Honorable Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would truly exemplify the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service.

From its inception, the Founders conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, they held a deep conviction that they should return their newly acquired skills to the communities from which they had come. This deep conviction is mirrored in the Fraternity’s motto, “Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”.

“The ‘Men of Sigma’ are a source of pride in colleges, businesses, communities and vital organizations throughout the country and beyond, and an investment in their fraternity through these license plates is an investment in a culture of leadership steeped in service,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex).  “I would be proud to drive with a license plate that represents men who last year mentored 1,500 elementary and high school students, who provided 123,000 hours of community service and contributed $2.5 million in student scholarships – and that’s just a sampling of what they’ve accomplished.  It is an honor to recognize honorable men.”

The bill, S-2390, would provide that no State or other public funds could be used by MVC for the initial production or publicity costs and that Phi Beta Sigma, or a designated representative would contribute monies in an amount to be determined by the chief administrator of the MVC, not to exceed a total of $25,000, to be used to offset the startup costs.  Once the fraternity submits those monies, along with a minimum of 500 completed applications for the plates, their design would be chosen by MVC chief administrator in consultation with the International President of Phi Beta Sigma.

The chief administrator would be required to annually certify the average cost per license plate in producing, issuing, renewing, and publicizing the Phi Beta Sigma license plates.  If the average cost exceeds $50 for two consecutive fiscal years, the chief administrator could discontinue the license plate program.

Today’s 5-0 vote moves the bill to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.