New Jersey may add to its list of dedicated license plates.

A Senate committee has approved a measure that would get the ball rolling on a new type of license plate that New Jersey motorists could purchase.

If the bill were to become law, the plate wouldn't become a reality until there's proven demand for it.

The legislation, S585, authorizes the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to create and issue special "Mental Health Awareness" license plates. The design of the plate would occur in consultation with the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

"By raising awareness of this important issue that affects thousands of New Jerseyans, and publicizing it through awareness campaigns, we can help destigmatize mental illness and encourage more individuals to seek professional help in dealing with their mental health," said Sen. Jon Bramnick, R-Union, the primary sponsor of the measure.

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Anyone who'd want a plate would have to put out a $50 application fee, as well as an annual renewal fee of $10, according to the legislation. Proceeds would go to the Department of Human Services for mental health research, and to provide and support mental health programs and services throughout the Garden State.

The bill, which was advanced on Monday by the Senate Transportation Committee, directs agencies to use non-public money in order to design, produce, and publicize the mental-health plates. But that wouldn't happen, according to the bill, until the state has 500 completed applications for the plates.

Also, the bill notes that if the average cost per special plate exceeds $50 in two consecutive years, the MVC has the right to discontinue the program.

New Jersey already has close to 20 "special interest" plates on the books.

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