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Utah State Senate cracks down on offensive license plates

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Posted at 3:17 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 19:09:37-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Senate voted to approve a bill that cracks down on offensive vanity plates.

Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Sen. Luz Escamilla, would ban personalized license plates that disparage people based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status or disability. Those are categories featured in Utah's non-discrimination law.

Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, proposed to take it further by banning personalized plates entirely, but that was voted down.

The bill is being run in response to a controversy surrounding a plate that reads "DEPORTM." The Utah Division of Motor Vehicles granted the plate, then sought to take it back. On Wednesday, agency spokeswoman Tammy Kikuchi told FOX 13 the appeal process time had lapsed and the owner of the plate had not appealed it. So if the plate is not surrendered, the agency could confiscate the license plate if it is seen in public.

The Utah State Tax Commission, which oversees the DMV, has faced some criticism over how vanity plates are granted. In 2018, FOX 13 requested a list of the rejected vanity plates which ranged from hate speech to sexual innuendo.

The bill passed out of the Senate on a 20-7 vote on Wednesday. It now goes to the House for consideration.