UTAH (ABC4) – One of the bills in Utah’s 2021 General Legislative Session is House Bill 198 – License Plate Amendments – sponsored by Stephen G. Handy, that aims to add a new standard-issue license plate called the Utah Dark Sky license plate.
“In 2018, I was approached about a Dark Skies-oriented issue regarding the growing concerns over light pollution. The resolution addressed concerns about outdoor street lighting and urged cities to provide hoods in some instances,” Rep. Handy shared with ABC4. “Sen. Evan Vickers was the Senate sponsor, and I handled the resolution in the House. It passed.”
Currently, Utah motorists have the option to choose from one of three standard license plates, In God We Trust, Delicate Arch, and Skiing and Snowboarding. “There are many other specialty plates: Clean Air, Wildlife, Autism, Veterans, Purple Heart, Universities, etc. etc. For a specialty plate, individuals pay an additional fee, usually $25 a year, that will go to support that organization,” Rep. Handy shares.
The proposed Dark Skies License Plate would be a fourth standard plate.
“The full license plate image is needed to display the exciting image. Once this gains traction and becomes available, I could see hundreds and thousands of Utah-licensed vehicles at Disneyland, for example. The Darkest Skies in America slogan would be a huge draw for added tourism to our national and state parks,” Rep. Handy says. “Utah truly has the Darkest Skies in America!”
House Bill 198 did not pass.
Rep. Handy tells ABC4 News the bill failed to pass by two votes.
He says he feels the main reason the vote didn’t pass was because of the fiscal note required of every bill.
The proposed bill had a fiscal note of $175,000 for the Department of Motor Vehicles, Rep. Handy shares. He says the legislature felt it was too expensive and that the money could be better spent in other areas.
“Doesn’t seem that much to me,” Rep. Handy says about the money. He says when you consider the $10 billion annual impact tourism has in the state, these license plates seen all around the county would pay for themselves.
Rep. Handy tells ABC4 he is taking “baby steps” trying to see what can be done to address the bill to bring it back.
Currently, he says he is looking to get the plates to become a specialty plate. There is a cost required for specialty plates. Rep. Handy says he wants to propose raising the price of the Dark Sky specialty plate and direct the funds “to get the ball rolling for a standard plate.”
ABC4 will follow the Dark Sky plates as it progresses.