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Missourians will soon have bluebird license plates

New license plates will feature a bluebird and an outline of the state of Missouri.
New license plates will feature a bluebird and an outline of the state of Missouri.


Jefferson City, MO – Missouri motorists soon be will looking at a lot of bluebirds.

State officials on Wednesday released a new vehicle license plate design that features a bluebird sitting on a small hawthorn branch. The new standard plates could start appearing on cars and trucks by summer 2008.

The bluebird (official state bird) and the hawthorn (official state floral emblem) captured 56% of an Internet vote that concluded Monday. The design easily defeated the two other finalists one with a wavy blue line through "Missouri"; the other with an orange sun in place of Missouri's "o."

Missouri's current license plates, on vehicles since 1997, feature a squiggly blue line under "Missouri" that's intended to represent the state's many waterways. The background colors fade from white on top to a light blue in the middle and green on the bottom.

The new license plates use a similar color scheme, fading from white on top to blue on bottom and retaining the darker blue letters and numbers. In the background will be blue outline of the shape of Missouri. And because the perching bluebird will be on the bottom, the phrase "Show Me State" will switch from the bottom to the right side of the license plate.

A new license plate design was mandated by a 2004 law.

The bill's sponsor, former Sen. Jon Dolan, R-Lake St. Louis, believed the new plates could generate millions of dollars for governments by enticing people to pay overdue property taxes a requirement to get vehicle license plates.

The new license plates originally were to be in place by this year. But the law's target date was extended to Jan. 1, 2009.

The Department of Revenue, which oversees vehicle licensing, now hopes to have the new plates ready for distribution by summer or fall of 2008, said spokeswoman Maura Browning.

Missourians will have to pay a fee on top of the annual licensing cost that ranges from $18-$51 to get the new license plate. Browning said the fee was $2.50 when the license plates were last redesigned. The cost this time will depend partly on the bids for its materials, she said. License plates are manufactured by state prisoners.

The new design for Missouri's license plates was developed by a committee consisting of the Revenue Department director, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the House and Senate transportation committee chairmen and the head of the Department of Correction's Missouri Vocational Enterprises.

The present model, unveiled in April 1996, had been selected by a seven-person committee. It marked a stark contrast to the maroon background with white letters and numbers that had been used on Missouri license plates since 1979.


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