Last week, Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas revealed a new license plate design for the state’s motor vehicles. But after nearly a week of bipartisan criticism from constituents and politicians alike, she has yielded to dissent.
Ms. Kelly, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday that the new design, which was black, gold and midnight blue, would be pulled and that the state’s voters would help choose the next design.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Ms. Kelly’s announcement was met largely with relief, as words of gratitude poured in.
The state’s tourism and revenue departments put together the proposed license plate, with input from a design firm and law enforcement, said a spokeswoman for Ms. Kelly, who had given feedback on and approved the final design. It included a wheat-yellow background with text in black and midnight blue with the phrase “to the stars” — the English translation of part of the state’s Latin motto — across the bottom.
The design was meant to remedy an issue with the current plates: They are embossed and lose about 50 percent of their reflectivity over five years, making them difficult to read, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue.
But despite the practicality of the change, politicians from both parties and other Kansans were quick to express their disapproval.
“Absolutely not,” State Representative Brandon Woodard, a Democrat, wrote on X.
“I didn’t like the old ones. Now I miss them already,” another user wrote in response to the governor’s original announcement.
Some Republican politicians pointed to the design’s similarity to New York’s “Empire Gold” license plate and used the moment to suggest Ms. Kelly’s favoritism toward her home state. (Ms. Kelly, who was elected governor in 2018, is originally from New York.)
In a letter, State Representative Nick Hoheisel, a Republican, called for the governor to choose a design “distinct from the New York-style license plate proposed.”
The new plates were to have been rolled out in March, with motorists required to buy them for 50 cents when renewing their vehicle’s registrations. Earlier this year, the state approved up to nearly $10 million to produce new plates, using leftover pandemic relief funds to cover some of the costs, according to The Associated Press.
In her announcement on Tuesday, Ms. Kelly said that Kansans would have the opportunity to vote on new designs that comply with guidelines issued by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Details on the options and the voting process will soon be made available, according to the governor’s office.
“I promised to be a bipartisan governor, and I think we can all admit — I succeeded at bringing Kansans across the political aisle together in disliking this new license plate,” Ms. Kelly said.
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