- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Every Oklahoma motorist will pay an additional $5 beginning later this month for a new license plate unveiled on Monday that features the outline of the state bird - a scissortail flycatcher - on a light blue background.

Gov. Mary Fallin unveiled the new license plate during a press conference with state officials on Monday. The new plates cost the state about $2.05 to produce. The state is expected to net about $11 million from the issuance of the new tags, as well as an additional $4 million from increased compliance from motorists who have failed to renew their tags over the last year, state tax officials estimate.

The cost for renewing registration for most vehicles ranges from $21 a year for cars and trucks 17 years and older to $91 annually for cars up to four years old.

Most of the additional revenue generated from the new plates will go into a newly created State Public Safety Fund that will be available for the Legislature to spend to “support public safety” in the state.

The bill authorizing the new plates was written by state Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley, the chief budget negotiators for the House and Senate, and the revenue it is expected to generate was used to help close a $1.3 billion hole in this year’s state budget.



“It does have a little bit of extra money it will bring in to go to public safety in the state of Oklahoma, especially during a time of a budget shortfall,” Fallin said.

The tags will be manufactured by inmates at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy.

The reflective coating on the current license plates, which feature a Native American warrior shooting an arrow into the sky and were first issued in 2009, is beginning to degrade, making it more difficult for officers to read at night or in inclement weather, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Ricky Adams.

Still, the bill approving the new tags narrowly passed the House and Senate amid bipartisan opposition from lawmakers concerned about imposing an additional financial burden on state residents.

“I saw it as an unnecessary government cash grab,” said Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, one of several lawmakers who opposed the bill. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the current license plates at all.”

The new design was selected by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Other designs that were considered included some with a Western motif, different outdoor scenes, the new Oklahoma City Boathouse District and the Golden Driller statue in Tulsa, said agency Director Dick Dutton.

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Online:

House Bill 3208: https://bit.ly/2bBfgBk

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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