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Kraus renews effort to end front license plate

Will the third time be the charm for state Sen. Will Kraus’ efforts to remove the front license plate from Missouri vehicles?

“It would save the state about $1.5 million,” Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, told the Senate’s Transportation Committee Wednesday morning. “The thing that’s important since I filed this bill is, the cost of the license plates have gone up — 20 cents last year, to $1.63 (per plate), a 14 percent increase.”

Kraus noted that 19 other U.S. states don’t require license plates on the front and back of each vehicle.

“Five are neighboring states — Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky,” he explained. “I know law enforcement is opposed to this.

“The simple fact is, with 19 states that only require the rear license plate, we have seen no evidence that really hampers their ability” to enforce laws.

But Kraus was the only voice supporting the idea.

Florida also is a rear-plate-only state, said Wentzville Police Chief Lisa Harrison, who came to Missouri from Florida.

“It’s far easier to do law enforcement in the state of Missouri with that front license plate,” she said.

“That license plate is caught on cameras — not necessarily cameras put up by the state, but ATMs, at banks, convenience stores.”

Because Florida court rulings kept officers, and neighbors, from going on someone’s property just to look at a license plate, Harrison said, “criminals would back into their driveways” so their license plate numbers couldn’t be checked.

“It’s very easy to hide one tag as opposed to two,” she added.

Michael Halford of the Missouri State Troopers Association told the committee: “The front license plate sometimes is used to develop probable cause” for a traffic stop.

“Most likely, it is going to be used to help solve crime, identify subjects — removal of that front license plate will cut in half the opportunity for witnesses, victims and officers to identify the proper vehicle.”

Halford also said in hit-and-run collisions, it is the front license plate that gets left behind.

Sheldon Lineback, Missouri Police Chiefs Association director, reminded the committee “31 states still do have the two-plate license system.”

He said having two plates especially is helpful for things like Amber Alerts, and it is easier to identify stolen vehicles.

“All these reasons, we feel, outweigh the concept of the savings,” Lineback said, also questioning the predicted savings because “the citizens are still going to pay the same amount they now pay for two plates, for one plate.”

The committee took no action Wednesday on Kraus’ bill.

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