State Senator Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, believes the state can save more than $2.5 million per year if a state law requiring front license plates on vehicles is repealed.
As a new Missouri Legislature session got underway Jan. 9 in Jefferson City, Kraus hopes Senate Bill 104 will pick up support and gain traction for approval. The bill will remove the requirement to have a front license plate on most vehicles in Missouri, Kraus said, adding several neighboring states – including Kansas – already have a one-plate requirement.
Estimates show the state could save as much as $2.5 million per year by removing the requirement, Kraus said, and he is hopeful that he can bring the proposal to the Senate floor for a worthwhile debate.
“I see it as a cost-saving (measure),” Kraus said via telephone Jan. 9, just hours before a group of 56 freshman House members and 12 new senators were sworn in alongside incumbent veterans such as Kraus, now in his second term. “It’s something a number of citizens have called me about it and said, ‘Why do we have this? If we remove this it would save dollars for the state.’
“To me that makes sense. We’re in a situation where we are always looking for dollars at the state – and almost all levels – of government. If we can find a way to save money, then why aren’t we trying it? So, that’s why I filed it.”
Kraus said the savings would come from the cost associated with the manufacturing and printing of license plates.
“The state subsidizes the making of the license plates,” Kraus said. “When you pay for them when you go in, you don’t pay enough for them. We subsidize it.”
Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Chris Depue, a police spokesman, said the department doesn’t comment on pending legislation. While the department doesn’t have an official position on the bill on way or the other, Depue said Police Chief Joe Piccinini is a proponent of the current law. He added Piccinini has been adamant and consistent that the current license plate requirement is ideal and that the law requiring two plates is better for law enforcement.
“If a vehicle has two license plates it allows an officer to check all the things associated with a license plate from both the front and the back of a vehicle,” Depue said. “While patrolling, officers routinely check vehicles for expired license plates, improper registration, warrants associated with the license plate, stolen vehicles and vehicles matching suspect descriptions.
“If a vehicle only has a license plate on the rear of the vehicle, it reduces an officer’s ability to do the (aforementioned tasks) by 50 percent. Presently, we have difficulty obtaining license plates from witnesses and surveillance cameras during incidents. If you remove a front license plate, it makes that task even more difficult.”
Kraus said he believes law enforcement could still do their jobs with just a one-plate requirement.
“I understand where they are coming from,” Kraus said. “I look at it a little differently. If they have the plates to run plates they are still going to run them. Are they going to catch everybody? No. They are primarily looking for warrants. I applaud them for doing that. They are just going to have to look at the back of the vehicle.
“I believe it’s a cost savings. Taxpayers have asked me to look at a way we can find dollars and save dollars, and I am going to try to continue to fight to reduce spending in a sensible manner. I don’t think it hampers the police that much. Other states don’t have it and they are getting along just fine.”
Senate Bill 104 was just one of four bills filed by Kraus related to transportation and automobiles. Senate Bill 102 will add catalytic converters to language in previously passed legislation that tracks the sale of potentially stolen property.
The bill will require junk dealers to obtain identification from those selling used catalytic converters, similar to the rules for selling copper wire. In 2008, Kraus helped pass legislation to limit the theft of copper wire by requiring a record of all related sales.
Senate Bill 103 will extend a current incentive for building alternative fuel stations and add an incentive for companies to convert their fleets to natural gas and Senate Bill 108 will send all proceeds of automated traffic enforcement cameras to the local school district where the cameras are located.
“Cities are still adding red light and speed cameras and profiting millions of dollars from these machines,” Kraus said. “While they say safety is the main concern, studies are mixed on the effectiveness of these devices. This legislation makes sure the cities are really after safety, and not a backdoor revenue increase.”