The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 31, 2013

Legislature declines to add more special license plates

— Legislative resistance to adding to the already long list of special vehicle license plates  has trumped impassioned pleas by Janesville residents seeking a new license plate supporting breast cancer victims.

Several Janesville residents, led by John and Dawn Jesse, testified before the Minnesota House Transportation Policy Committee in February about how breast cancer has impacted multiple women in the Waseca County town of about 1,600. And they asked the committee to support legislation to create a new license  plate displaying the pink breast cancer ribbon and the words “Minnesota Cares.”

“These plates, when women see them — the ones who are going through this horrible disease — they can look and say, ‘Wow, you know what? People care about me. They care about what’s happening to us women,’” said John Jesse, whose mother, sister and wife have all recovered from breast cancer.

His wife Dawn Jesse described the discovery of a lump in November of 2005 when she was 37 years old. She found it early, but it was growing fast.

“It doubled in size in 13 days,” Dawn Jesse said. “I was looking at a death sentence hadn’t it been found.”

For Dawn Jesse, the license plates — along with providing emotional support to cancer victims — would be a great opportunity to remind women to regularly check for lumps and be screened for cancer.

The legislation, which also would generate money for cancer research by applying a $20 surcharge on people who request the plates, is sponsored by Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Lake Hanska.

But Minnesota already has scores of license plate variations, ranging from plates highlighting state universities to plates honoring soldiers to plates promoting environmental causes. The plates typically carry a separate added charge but sometimes generate little demand and may be a money loser for the state.

Some law enforcement groups have also complained that the myriad plates make it difficult for them to quickly spot a plate number related to a crime report.

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