DENVER (CBS4)– New Mexico gets green light for chile license plates first. Colorado’s bill still has to be read and possibly signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The hot competition to be the first state to approve license plates celebrating the state’s chile heritage is over with New Mexico as the winner over Colorado.
Not only did the Colorado’s neighbor to the south pass the bill first, but New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the original version, which required an extra fee for specialty plates. She ordered the DMV to charge the same for the chile plates as for regular license plates, saying the extra $35 fee was too high.
Colorado’s bill recently passed the state Senate and is on its way to Hickenlooper’s desk. Those license plates will cost drivers $50. There is typically a fee for specialty plates in Colorado.
Sponsors of Colorado’s legislation say the plate is an effort to support Colorado agriculture and local farmers, most notably in this case, the Pueblo Chile Growers Association.
Sen. Leroy Garcia, a Democrat representing Pueblo, says “growing up in Southern Colorado, Pueblo Chile has always been a staple in our community. I think it is important for Coloradans to reflect on this heritage, especially since our chile has started to gain more popularity outside of Colorado. A special license plate commemorating the Pueblo chile is something everyone can get behind, and I’m pleased the plate is one step closer to a reality.”
Colorado’s plates read “Pueblo Chile” while New Mexico’s proudly proclaim “Chile Capital of the World.”
The sponsor of the initial bill in New Mexico wanted the extra license plate fees to benefit the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.
New Mexico state Rep. Cathrynn Brown was okay with the governor’s veto of the fee.
“I understand her reasoning. In the end, we get a chile plate,” she told Albuquerque CBS affiliate KRQE.
By Douglas Hoffacker