Senate passes Hawkins bill creating Washington apple license plate

A bill sponsored by 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins that would create a Washington apple license plate has received Senate approval.

The Senate today voted 46-1 to approve Senate Bill 6032. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“This bill will allow vehicle owners to show their pride in Washington’s iconic apples, bring more awareness to our important apple industry and help raise money for local scholarships,” said Hawkins. “The Washington Apple Commission and Washington Apple Education Foundation do great work, so I am excited to partner with them on this legislation. I’m pleased that so many of my Senate colleagues have supported this bill either by co-sponsoring it or voting for it today. I look forward to working with the House in hopes this bill will be approved there as well.”

Officials with the Washington Apple Commission and Washington Apple Education Foundation who testified in support of SB 6032 at its Jan. 22 public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee are pleased that the proposal has cleared a major hurdle.

“The recognition of the Washington apple industry through this specialty plate, combined with the sponsorship support to the Washington Apple Education Foundation, is a win-win for our apple growers and young aspiring students pursuing higher education. I can think of no worthier cause than to support purchasing a Washington apple license plate,” said Washington Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover.

“We are excited for the opportunities the Washington apple specialty license plate may create for central Washington college-bound students,” said Jennifer Witherbee, executive director of the Washington Apple Education Foundation. “For 25 years the tree fruit industry has demonstrated its commitment to industry families through support of the Washington Apple Education Foundation. If passed, this is one more route industry members and supporters can pursue to proudly share their allegiance to the apple industry and their desire to make a difference through education.”

A $40 fee would be charged for an initial Washington apple special license plate, and $30 for an annual renewal.

As part of the process for creating a specialty license plate, the Washington Apple Commission will contribute $6,300 in start-up costs. Additionally, the Department of Licensing requires a collection of signatures indicating demand for at least 3,500 apple license plates. The Washington Apple Commission has developed this online site for that purpose and to provide more information.

Hawkins’ proposal, which has strong bipartisan support – and is sponsored by two-thirds of the 49-member Senate – could bring more recognition to the state’s most famous and best-selling fruit, especially with the recent release of the new Cosmic Crisp apples. The proposal is also timely because this year is the 25th anniversary of the Washington Apple Education Foundation.