PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota won’t be switching to single license plates any time soon.
State lawmakers on the Senate Transportation Committee rejected a proposal to change South Dakota from front and rear license plates Wednesday.
Senator Jim Bolin, R-Canton, said SB 191 resulted from some of his constituents in Union County seeking the change to a rear-only plate for their passenger cars, vans and pickup trucks. Thomas Frisch from North Sioux City, testifying remotely, was the one witness favoring the change.
Frisch said newer vehicles are more aerodynamic with rounded fronts that have fewer places for mounting license plates. He said manufacturers often provide only rear mounts for plates. Twenty states have rear-only laws. There would be a savings for South Dakota motorists, too, he said: “I’m not sure how much that would be.”
Five opponents spoke against going to one plate. The first was Jason Husby, assistant superintendent for the South Dakota Highway Patrol. He sent a system-wide message to SDHP troopers asking for examples of front-plate identifications. “I received so many responses I had to stop,” Husby said.
Husby said rear plates often become covered by dust or snow. Reading a rear plate in the rear-view mirror at 80 mph on the interstate is “almost impossible” for a trooper, he said.
Other opponents included lobbyists for convenience stores (drive-offs), police chiefs and insurers (hit and runs), as well as 3M, the company that sells the reflective material for license plates that inmates make at the State Penitentiary.
Senator Larry Zikmund, R-Sioux Falls, was the only committee member to speak in favor. “This is not a new issue,” Zikmund said.
3M lobbyist Kyle Kovar said he didn’t have information with him to answer Zikmund’s question about how much state government pays for the reflective material.
“The point is,” Zikmund said, “the state could save quite a bit of money.”
The committee voted 5-1 to kill the bill. Senator Casey Crabtree, R-Madison, said public safety concerns “far outweigh” any benefit from it.
South Dakota last issued a new general-plate design in 2016.