Conservative Index Add

Monday, May 27th, 2019Last Update: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 11:03:32 AM

New License Plates Create Revenue Windfall

By: Constitution Staff

On August 22, Gov. Mary Fallin led an interagency coalition in unveiling the design for Oklahoma’s new state license plate, titled “Explore Oklahoma.” The new plate depicts Oklahoma’s state bird, a scissor-tailed flycatcher, soaring over lakes, mountains and mesas. The new plates will prominently display the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation’s website,, and feature two distinct, more visible boxes for registration decals (displaying month and year separately). They will be printed on prismatic sheeting, enhancing their visibility at night. Drivers will receive their new license plates beginning in January 2017.

The new design will replace the one in use for the past seven years which features the “Sacred Rain Arrow” from the sculpture by Oklahoma artist Allan Houser and the “Native America” slogan. “The new design will act as a traveling billboard for those looking to experience and explore our beautiful state,” said Fallin. “Just as important, the new plates are more clearly visible at night and will aid our law enforcement officers as they work to keep us safe.”

It was claimed that Oklahoma’s previous plates – which have been used since 2009 – are beginning to deteriorate, dulling the reflective sheeting on them and making them more difficult to see at night. The Oklahoma Safety Council and the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police had spoken out during the last legislative session about the importance of more visible license plates, which are used by law enforcement officers to locate suspected felons and respond to Amber and Silver Alerts. They noted that many states issue new license plates every five years for those reasons. “When a state trooper pulls someone over, the first thing that trooper does is run the license plate,” said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Ricky Adams. “That’s how we alert our dispatchers that we are on a stop and get our first clue of a potentially dangerous situation. The ability to quickly see and easily read a tag number in bad weather or low light conditions is of paramount importance to law enforcement.”

The new plates are also sufficiently different that police will quickly figure out who’s paid their annual registration fee, which requires proof of liability insurance. All drivers must acquire a new plate by the end of 2017 and show proof of both insurance and vehicle registration. “Oklahoma has the unfortunate distinction of being a national leader in uninsured motorists,” said Insurance Commissioner John Doak. “That phenomenon makes our roads less safe and is unfair to the majority of Oklahomans who comply with the law and drive responsibly. A license plate reissue is a responsible and reliable way of increasing the number of drivers with insurance.”

Oklahoma Tax Commissioner Dawn Cash said the state would also gain from increasing registration compliance. “The Tax Commission estimates that the state is owed approximately $4 million from thousands of Oklahomans who are out of compliance and failed to pay their registration fees last year,” Cash said. “Not only is that unfair to the Oklahomans who are following the law and registering their vehicles, it also significantly diminishes revenue going to public schools, local governments and other priority needs. New license plates will help us reduce non-compliance and enforce the rules of the road.”

Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation Executive Director Dick Dutton said the new plates will help spur Oklahoma’s tourism industry. “Tourism in Oklahoma is an $8.9 billion industry that supports approximately 95,400 jobs and generates $2 billion in payroll,” said Dutton. “Our new plates will help increase traffic at and act as another great marketing tool for the state.”

The new design features a white portrait of the state bird gliding over a lake. Behind the bird are outlines of mesas. There has been criticism of the departure from the state’s Native American heritage. While it features the state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, many say the white silhouette over a blue background is hard to recognize. Some also charge that it is reminiscent of the Twitter bird logo or the “Mockingjay” of the “Hunger Games” series.

The new plates were authorized by House Bill 3208, authored by Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) and Sen. Clark Jolley (R-Edmond). Since the new plates come at the time of a state budget shortfall, the bill tacks on an extra five dollars to the fee for new registrations and renewals, ostensibly to cover the cost for the new plates. It is estimated that 3.7 million new plates will be issued as a result of the legislation, which will generate $18.5 million in additional revenue. It is expected that another $4 million will be generated by people who are not currently registering their vehicles, but will do so since it will be difficult to get by with out of date plates. So, the new plates are expected to reap $22.5 million for the state.

The state’s Oklahoma Corrections Industries (OCI), which uses inmate labor, will produce the plates at a cost of about $2.00 per plate, or $7.4 million for the estimated 3.7 million required new plates. So, by charging vehicle owners more than the plates cost to make, the state will realize a $15 million windfall in new revenue. The excess revenue will be dedicated to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

The new plate production will also benefit the 3M Company which provides the machines and the materials to manufacture the plates. According to Terri Watkins, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the state will pay 3M $1 million for the first million plates. So, depending on the rate for the remaining plates, 3M could receive close to $4 million from the state if 3.7 million are produced. Reportedly 3M had several lobbyists working the halls of the Oklahoma Legislature to support passage of the bill

Oklahoman’s registering a vehicle are already being charged the additional fee even though the new plates will not be available until January. However, the fee will be dropped on June 30 of next year. This is because the state “Fiscal Year” begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. So, those who pay the extra fee this year will get their new plates next year.

Other Stories From Fall 2016 Issue

The Federal Page for Fall 2016

Theodore King
Ratings, Ratings, RatingsFreedomWorks is an organization that promotes limited government and ra...

Repeal of Blaine Amendment is a Band-Aid Approach

Steve Byas
Quote: No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used,...

Giving Away Absolute Power For One Year

Jason Murphey
Many taxpayers believe the Legislature operates as described in American Government class. They...

Open the Governments Closed Doors

John Michener
Our Government has been stolen. You and I do not have representation at the Oklahoma Capitol, only...

Solving School Funding and Overcrowding Problems

Charlie Meadows
Solving School Funding and Overcrowding Problems...

Oklahomans (still) Support Parental Choice in Education

Brandon Dutcher
An honest reading of the public-opinion survey data over the past couple of years shows that...

Reconsidering the Elephants Cage

Andrew K. Boyle
Its election season, which in this writers experience means the worst of us is front page news. In...

Fall 2016 Letters to Editor

Constitution Staff
Too Much AnonymousOne of the things that serves to get my goat is the tendency of so many...

Fall 2016

Constitution Staff
State Auditor Being EvictedState Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones says his office was informe...

Governor Decides Against Special Legislative Session

Constitution Staff
Gov. Mary Fallin announced on September 1that she had decided not to call a special legislative...

Oklahoma Legislative Races

Constitution Staff
A large number of legislators were not able to run for reelection this year due to term-limits....

Statewide Races and Congressional Seats on Ballot

Constitution Staff
Oklahoma voters in presidential election years see what is known as the short ballot. In the...

Voters to Consider State Questions

Constitution Staff
Voters will find seven state questions on the November ballot. Three of the measures SQ 779, 780...

Pruitt Fails to Stop Internet Surrender

Constitution Staff
Federal Judge George Hanks of Galveston, Texas, an Obama appointee, denied a September 30 request by...

In The News

Constitution Staff

Medicaid Initiative Petition Filed
A filing was made at the Oklahoma Secretary of State office on April 19 for proposed State Question...

Constitution Staff

State Election Board Conducts Voter List Maintenance
The State Election Board completed its statutorily-mandated, biennial voter list maintenance on...

Constitution Staff

Bills Make Their Way Through Oklahoma Legislature
With the close of the legislative session approaching at the end of May, various bills are being...

Constitution Staff

Gov. Stitt Establishes Cabinet
On January 24, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued his first executive order since becoming governor. The...

Constitution Staff

Oklahoma Republicans Elect Leaders and Adopt Platform
On April 6, nearly 1,000 delegates attended the Oklahoma Republican State Convention held at the...

Constitution Columnists

Richard Engle

No More Mr. GOP
Many years ago when I was still young enough to be a Young Republican, I served as State Chair of...

John Michener

The Duty to Abolish Abortion: We are Without Excuse
The movement to abolish abortion has finally reached critical mass. Enough concerned and educated...

Tim Bakamjian

Stitts Strong Start
In his January 14th inaugural address, Governor Kevin Stitt outlined a clear set of goals for his...

© 2001 - 2009 The Oklahoma Constitution, all rights reserved.
Contact the Oklahoma Constitution by calling 405-366-1125 or emailing
Content Management System (CMS) provided by WebTeks CMS.