Should the state of Tennessee regulate official looking license plates issued to legislators? Some say yes and pictures emailed to Nashville's News 2 earlier this week could be part of the reason why.
During a recent trip to a pharmacy in Wilson County, Linda Moore spotted an Audi pull into a handicap parking spot and two people get out and walk into the store.
Angry, Moore told Nashville's News 2 she looked in the car and saw no visible handicap placard.
She looked on the front of the car and saw a vanity plate with the State of Tennessee seal and the word "Senate."
Believing the vehicle belonged to a Tennessee state legislator Moore took pictures and sent them to Nashville's News 2.
"It was a total blatant disrespect for the handicap," she said, adding, "I'm thinking it is a Tennessee senator and I am really mad."
Using the car's license plate number shown in the photos, Nashville's News 2 discovered the car does not belong to a Tennessee legislator despite the official-looking plate.
In Tennessee, front license plates are not required and according to the state Department of Revenue, "Senate" license plates are perfectly legal whether the vehicle's owner is a senator or not.
However, the revenue department says the plates are only available to state lawmakers.
State Rep. Mike Turner says he has seldom given out the placard, and has not heard of many abuses concerning it.
He told Nashville's News 2 "[the] only place you can get [the license plates] is from your representative or your senator."
"There is concern about it, but those tags are passed out to people as kind of an honorary type thing," Rep. Turner continued. "Someone who would park in a handicap spot is not a very honorable person."
When asked if the plate might look too official, Turner replied, "Maybe so."
"Maybe we should take a look at it, but like I said, there are a lot of people who have had these things over the years and haven't abused them," he reiterated.
According to Connie Ridley, head of Legislative Administration, the state of Tennessee will only sell the plates to members of the General Assembly. They cost $3 each and members can do what they want with them.
Ridley says the money for the plates is charged against the legislator's postage and printing account, which taxpayers pay for. This year each legislator's account totaled $2,016
According to Ridley, the joint legislative services committee of the House and Senate set the guidelines on how the account is used and specific limits on what items can be sold.
Once the account is depleted, it can no longer be used to mail out materials, print business cards or do other business.
Political "swag" such as key chains, flags and bumper stickers are often procured through the account in addition to the vanity plates.