Bill to prohibit disparaging license plate messages advances

(KCPW News) Utah lawmakers have advanced a bill that would make it more difficult for residents to get a license plate with disparaging words or phrases on them. The bill was in part a response to a public outcry after images of one license plate were shared widely on social media.

“You might recall the license plate that got a lot of media attention ‘DEPORTM’ that somehow slipped through, was taken back, and was withdrawn, this is in an effort to help avoid those type of situations,” said Lehi Republican Sen. Jacob Anderegg, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. Anderegg was  speaking in favor of Salt Lake Democratic Rep. Luz Escamilla’s SB97.

On Thursday, Sen. Escamilla told the committee that her bill would offer clarity to the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles, allowing them to reject plates seen to disparage a member of a protected class.

“Age is a protective class,” Escamilla said. “So if on my license plate I said ‘ok boomer’ maybe my teenage kids may like that [but] I think that’s offensive.”

Escamilla said her bill would better define what DMV employees could and could not reject when reviewing vanity license plate requests.

Other protected classes in Utah include race, color, national origin, religion, gender, citizenship status and physical and mental disability.

Escamilla’s SB 97 cleared the Senate Transportation committee with a favorable recommendation on a 6-1 vote and will now be forwarded to the full Senate for consideration there.

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