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May 11, 2011

They promote a wide range of institutions and issues -- from the New York Yankees, Garden State agriculture, square dancers, and the University of Notre Dame to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, podiatrists and the U.S. Marine Corps. Currently, 100 specialized license plates promoting causes and organizations are available from the state Motor Vehicle Commission.

The state offers 17 plates dedicated to causes that range from "Shore to Please," the USS New Jersey Battleship Museum, and "Treasure our Trees" to the Pinelands and Liberty State Park. Twelve plates promote sports teams in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. NASCAR is represented, but strangely, the New York Rangers are not. The 20 service organizations honored with a plate include Vietnam Veterans, the American Legion, West Point and the U.S. Coast Guard. Community organizations, for which there are 18 plates, include the Masons, Knights of Columbus, and the Rotary.

There are plates for volunteer firefighters, rescue squads and amateur radio operators. There are also six different professional plates, presumably to allow access to special parking, since doctors and press plates are available. But chiropractors, dentists and podiatrists have their own plates as well.

And then there are nine alumni plates, with not only Rutgers and Seton Hall but also the University of Michigan, Temple University, NJIT and Stevens Institute. There are also 14 military plates, including ones for Prisoners of War and Gold Star families.

All of these plates cost between $50 and $60, plus an annual renewal fee. For many, partial proceeds from the plates are given to the target organization. New Jersey also allows organizations with 500 members in good standing or military-service-related groups with 175 members to apply for a new license plate for a nominal fee.

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