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BMV passes buck in license flap

– The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has ended talks with three organizations whose specialty license plates were suspended last year, surprising the groups that believed a resolution was near.

The BMV stopped negotiations with the Indiana Greenways Foundation, the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the Indiana Youth Group, a support group for gay teenagers. The agency cited a new state law that creates a legislative commission to recommend specialty plates, The Indianapolis Start reported Tuesday.

The BMV issued a statement saying it had “been in various levels of conversations with the groups about ending the suspensions. With the passage of the new law ... the legislature has stated its intent regarding the specialty group plates.”

The groups can go back through the appeals process or take the matter to a panel that will make recommendations, the agency said.

The groups lost their plates a year ago when conservative lawmakers tried to pass a bill eliminating the Youth Group’s plate, then convinced the BMV to withdraw its plates because the group violated terms by offering low-digit plates to donors and volunteers. The 4-H and Greenways foundations also rewarded supporters with low-digit plates.

Leaders of the organizations said they had hoped to reach an agreement with the BMV.

“We’d been working with them since December, so it was like a complete surprise,” said Mary Byrne, executive director of the Indianapolis-based Youth Group.

Karen Bohn, head of the Greenways Foundation, said a BMV attorney had contacted her in February and told her “we’re working on getting a contract ready.”

She said she believed the real target was the gay youth group.

“I think we were just collateral damage,” she said.

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