Kansans selected a new license plate design with one option garnering 53% of the vote in a five-way race.
The one most resembling the original design, which Gov. Laura Kelly rescinded after public backlash to allow a vote, got the fewest votes at just 5%. Regardless of the new standard plate, drivers are allowed to choose more than 50 different license plates across Kansas
Dozens of options charge an additional fee to display designs featuring nonprofits, colleges and the military. In 2022, the most popular options were the Gadsden Flag plate that benefits the Kansas Rifle Association, the In God We Trust plate and the one available only for firefighters.
Old plates can be cycled out if they receive too little interest. A 2021 law discontinues license plate designs that fail to get 125 orders over a period of two years.
New plate designs can also be approved any legislative session. The process typically includes a legislator advocating for a specific design for a constituent or nonprofit, and once a bill is passed at least 250 individuals must seek out the plate for it to enter production.
Cumulatively the plates raised $2.5 million in 2022, ranging from $550 to Ottawa State University to $590,150 for the Kansas State Alumni Association.
New alternative license plates are typically an uncontroversial affair, but occasionally they incur some public backlash. Some legislators spoke against the popular Gadsden Flag plate being added to the list of alternative plates due to its namesake, Christopher Gadsden, owning slaves.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle have questioned whether the number of license plates available to Kansans is getting out of hand.
“I’m just of the opinion that license tags are to identify vehicles,” Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, told the Capital-Journal earlier this year. “If you want to make a political statement, then buy a bumper sticker — you’ve got a complete right to do that.
“But just as a general proposition, I don’t think that the state of Kansas should be in the business of selling license plates for the purpose of allowing people to express their political or social views.”
As reported in the Topeka Capital Journal