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New North Idaho rep’s first bill: NRA license plate

New Idaho Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, with a mockup of his proposed new "Friends of the NRA" specialty license plate (Betsy Russell)
New Idaho Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, with a mockup of his proposed new "Friends of the NRA" specialty license plate (Betsy Russell)
BOISE – New North Idaho Rep. Sage Dixon introduced his first bill in the Legislature on Tuesday – to create a new specialty license plate to benefit the Friends of the NRA. Dixon, who let his NRA membership lapse about three years ago and isn’t a member of the friends group, said House Transportation Chairman Joe Palmer steered the group to him to let the freshman lawmaker carry the measure, which won unanimous support for introduction from the panel on Tuesday. “I know there are a lot of people that are tired of new license plates coming out, but it seems something that was easy enough, to get my feet wet,” Dixon said after the vote. “The NRA did support me during the general election, so I thought it was a good start.” The National Rifle Association actually already was the beneficiary of an Idaho specialty license plate, which state lawmakers approved in 2006, and which became available in September of 2007. But specialty license plates must sell at least 1,000 plates a year after their third year to continue being offered. Only 334 Idahoans bought the NRA plates in 2011, and just 219 in 2012, so it was discontinued. “This one will hopefully get more interest from the folks involved,” Dixon said. The Friends of the NRA is a non-profit arm of the gun-rights group, which raises funds for causes including gun safety training and shooting range improvements. Dixon said he’s attended a couple of the group’s fundraising banquets in North Idaho, where guns were raffled off as fundraisers. Idaho currently has 38 specialty license plates, benefiting everything from 4H to the Idaho Forest Products Commission. Twelve specialty plates have been cut for lack of sales, including the NRA one. The first ones eliminated were a Boy Scouts of America plate and a motorcycle skills plate, both cut in 2009. Dixon, who ran as a tea party candidate and defeated longtime Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover in the primary, said he didn’t expect to be pushing a license plate bill. But, he said, “It is a nice way to understand the process a little better.” Just over a week into his first legislative session, he’s finding it “overwhelming,” he said. “It’s been hard to get up to speed, especially on the education rules, because they are pretty complex.” Though he home-schooled all of his six children, he requested to be on the House Education Committee, turning down an assignment to the Revenue and Taxation Committee to get it. “I am concerned about education,” he said. “I would like the public system to improve.” “I am a home-schooling father, so I bring a different perspective,” he said. “There’s another representative that home-schooled that’s on the committee.” Dixon also is serving on the House Transportation and Business committees.
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