Video: After a Lengthy Debate ND House Votes Down Bill Requiring Just One Auto License Plate

Rep. Mark Owens, a Republican from Grand Forks, argues in favor of his legislation to require just one license plate on North Dakota vehicles.

The North Dakota House of Representatives today took up HB1084, sponsored by Rep. Mark Owens of Grand Forks. The legislation, had it passed, would have ended the requirement for two license plates on North Dakota vehicles instead requiring just one.

Unfortunately, despite a lengthy debate, it didn’t pass. You can watch video of the entire floor debate below.

Judging from the floor debate, there were three prime areas of opposition to the legislation:

  • Law enforcement
  • Fuel retailers
  • License plates suppliers

Rep. Owens described this opposition as “a case of the tail wagging the dog.”

“They do not want to give up anything that can provide them information,” he said of law enforcement.

“Suppliers of license plate materials – I won’t name names – want to protect their bottom line in North Dakota,” he continued.

The opposition from fuel retailers has to do with people who drive off without paying for their fill up. The argument is that these drive-offs will be harder to identify without a front plate, and that positioning cameras to catch the front plate would be expense.

Owens dismissed this pointing out that high definition, internet-connected cameras are “relatively inexpensive” in today’s digital world.

Rep. Craig Headland of Montpelier claimed that law enforcement isn’t exactly cracking down on people driving with just one plate. “People are doing it,” he said adding that “law enforcement doesn’t seem to care.”

But Rep. Jim Kasper of Fargo said a front plate could be critical in some situations such as an Amber Alert. “We don’t know if a license plate…might save one child’s life,” he said.

“Are we passing laws here so people can be vain?” asked Rep. David Monson of Onsabrock. “So they can save the look of their sports car?”

The bill failed on a 34-57 vote.

Here’s the video:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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