SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s lawmakers approved a special license plate to raise forest fire safety awareness, and New Mexico’s governor was on board. Now, however, a misunderstanding on how the plates should get manufactured has killed the idea.
The idea was to make a special plate with an image of the beloved Smokey Bear. Fees to get the special plate would go towards fire prevention. On Friday, April 7, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed the bill with an explanation.
“I am a proud fan of our fellow native New Mexican, Smokey Bear. As someone who grew up in a state with a high risk of wildfires, I understand the importance of his message of fire prevention and the need to spread it,” she said in a letter to legislators. “Unfortunately, a Senate floor amendment requiring that all standardized special registration plates be made with a blank space for an authorized decal logo effectively set mine, and Smokey’s, dreams up in smoke.”
Essentially, lawmakers seemed to have assumed that the state could simply retrofit an existing stock of special license plates in order to create not only the Smokey Bear plates but also all future special plates. However, the governor said there is no warehouse full of existing special plates that the state needs to get rid of, and she said that retrofitting (rather than manufacturing from scratch) would not save any money.
So, the governor said the requirement to standardize all special plates as laid out in the bill is “inefficient and unnecessary.” As such, she vetoed the bill.
The governor did approve several other special license plates, such as a “Concerns of Police Survivors or C.O.P.S” plate, a plate to support driver safety awareness, and a special plate commemorating New Mexico miners.