Giannoulias Announces Long-Awaited Launch of State’s Monarch Butterfly Plate
Funds support charity to foster habitats for the state’s endangered species
After more than seven years, Illinois residents who placed deposits for the state’s Monarch Butterfly Specialty License Plate can finally redeem it, Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced today.

The Monarch Butterfly License Plate is the first Universal Specialty Plate issued by the State of Illinois – even though the General Assembly approved it in 2016.

“This is an important issue, not just because it will positively impact the environment and preserve the Monarch’s cultural significance, but also because it finally makes good on a long-awaited promise,” Giannoulias said. “Government needs to work more efficiently and deliver for its residents, which means people shouldn’t have to wait seven years to get what they paid for.”

“The creation of this special license plate is just one of many ways Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is committed to Monarch conservation,” said IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie, whose agency administers the fund where proceeds from the plate sales are allocated. “Our staff is engaged with other organizations, state agencies, and the general public to build capacity for putting milkweed and other native plants on the landscape to assist not only monarchs, but all of our native pollinators.”

In 2016, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation to create a “universal” license plate to limit the number of specialty license plates – all designed differently and deemed problematic for law enforcement. At the time, there were 109 different specialty plates.

The legislation stated that any new charitable organization would need at least 2,000 Illinoisans to place deposits that benefitted an organization or charity before any new specialty plate could get issued. Furthermore, the new specialty plates would have a universal, standardized design, but include a decal on the left side depicting the cause or charity it supports.

The Monarch plate reached the necessary 2,000 deposits in 2018, yet it was never produced despite residents having already paid the necessary $10 to pre-order the plate. The money raised from Illinoisans’ deposits goes toward protecting the Monarch from extinction.

On the campaign trail, Giannoulias heard from residents inquiring about the status of the plate, and he committed to ensuring that those who supported the Monarch’s charity get the opportunity to obtain the plate.

“The Monarch Butterfly is meaningful to our state and symbolizes hope and transformation,” said State Representative and Deputy Majority Leader Lisa Hernandez (2nd District-Cicero), who sponsored the Monarch plate legislation in 2016. “This plate allows Illinoisans to support a meaningful cause and advocate for an endangered species. After years of waiting, Illinoisans can finally show their support for saving the Monarchs.”

“The Monarch Butterfly’s habitats need to be preserved, and raising awareness about the importance of this mission is imperative to helping them survive extinction,” said State Senator and Assistant Majority Leader Laura Murphy (28th District-Des Plaines), who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “The state is finally delivering on its promise to supporters of this important cause. As an important part of Illinois wildlife, raising awareness about efforts to save them for future generations is essential.”

“Native pollinators, like the iconic Illinois State Insect, the Monarch Butterfly, play a critical role in preserving the biodiversity of our local ecosystems. The Illinois Environmental Council is proud to have played a role in recruiting over 2,000 Illinois Monarch protectors to sign up for the new license plate decal seven years ago, funding the state’s Monarch Habitat Fund,” said IEC Executive Director Jennifer Walling. “Today, we couldn’t be more appreciative of Secretary of State Giannoulias, his office and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for finally getting this project across the finish line and into the hands of Illinois’ many pollinator protectors.”

“The Monarch’s amazing migration journey from Mexico through Illinois has been endangered by climate change, pesticides and habitat loss,” said Sierra Club Chapter Director Jack Darin. “Illinois is a crucial link in saving this part of our natural heritage, and we applaud Secretary Giannoulias for his leadership in cutting through years of red tape to finally give Illinois drivers this option to help with the conservation and recovery of this beautiful species.”

The $10 deposits are allocated to the Roadside Monarch Habitat Fund, which is part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. If renewed, $23 of the universal special license plate renewal fee will benefit the fund. The Monarch Butterfly, Illinois’ state insect, is considered endangered.

The fund helps foster habitats to support the butterflies during their twice-yearly migratory journey from Mexico to Chicago with a goal to add 150 million new milkweed stems and other nectar resources to the Illinois landscape in the next 15 years.