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Kansas will redo its new license plate design because a lot of people hate it

A proposed Kansas license plate redesign shows a dark blue letters on a yellow background.
Governor Laura Kelly's Office
The proposed redesign of Kansas license plates drew opposition from residents and lawmakers for its color choices that resemble the New York license plate and the University of Missouri.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said the state will listen to residents and lawmakers opposing the new design and try again.

Kansas will try again on revamping its standard license plate after public outcry over the recently announced design.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said on Tuesday that the state will pause production on the new plate and give Kansans a chance to vote on the final design.

“I’ve heard you loud and clear,” Kelly said in a news release. “Elected officials should be responsive to their constituents, which is why we are adjusting the process so Kansans can provide direct input on our state’s next license plate.”

Kelly originally announced last week that the state had created a new plate design that featured a yellow background to represent Kansas wheat and used black and midnight blue text. It also included the phrase “to the stars” in reference to the state motto.

But the design did not sit well with many Kansans. Some argued the colors too closely matched New York license plates or were the colors of the University of Missouri.

Democratic Rep. Brandon Woodard of Lenexa also criticized it.

The outcry led to Republican Rep. Nick Hoheisel of Wichita calling on the state to reverse course. He said in an open letter that the state must create a design that resonates with Kansans. He also criticized the state for not allowing the public to weigh in before the design was announced.

“As a representative of the people,” Hoheisel said in the letter, “it is imperative that we consider the sentiments and concerns of Kansans, particularly when it involves something as prominent as the license plates that will adorn their vehicles for the next decade or more.”

The purpose of the original redesign was to begin phasing out the state’s current embossed plates to address safety concerns.

Kelly said the new plate design must follow guidelines to ensure it is safe to use. The guidelines include:

  • Using seven digits for the license plate number.
  • Using a light colored background behind the plate number.
  • Placing any phrase, motto or slogan at the bottom of the license plate.
  • Placing any graphic on the right or left side of the license plate number.
  • Ensuring graphics and the background design do not resemble letters or numbers that interfere with the ability to read the license plate number.

Kelly did not say when the new plates will be available for Kansas vehicles. She said the state will announce details about new designs and a public vote at a later time.

Dylan Lysen reports on social services and criminal justice for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Threads @DylanLysen or email him at dlysen (at) kcur (dot) org.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the Kansas social services and criminal justice reporter, I want to inform our audience about how the state government wants to help its residents and keep their communities safe. Sometimes that means I follow developments in the Legislature and explain how lawmakers alter laws and services of the state government. Other times, it means questioning the effectiveness of state programs and law enforcement methods. And most importantly, it includes making sure the voices of everyday Kansans are heard. You can reach me at dlysen@kcur.org, 816-235-8027 or on Threads, @DylanLysen.
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