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Crackdown on offensive license plates bill clears Utah State Legislature

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Posted at 7:33 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 23:26:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that cracks down on personalized license plates deemed "offensive" has passed the Utah State Legislature.

Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, prohibits vanity plates that disparages groups based on protected categories, passed the House unanimously on Wednesday.

The bill's House sponsor, Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Spanish Fork, said the list of groups is already in state law. He faced no debate over it. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature or veto.

Under the bill, license plates could not disparage people for things like race, religion, national origin, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status or disability.

The bill was run after the Utah Tax Commission, which oversees the Division of Motor Vehicles, faced scrutiny for allowing a personalized plate that says "DEPORTM." A spokeswoman for the tax commission told FOX 13 previously that license plate has been revoked and its owner did not appeal, so it could be seized if it is seen in public.

In 2018, FOX 13 examined the process by which Utah grants vanity license plates including legal challenges for rejected ones.