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House wants 10-year plates for vehicles

PIERRE -- South Dakota license plates for motor vehicles would change designs every 10 years under legislation the state House of Representatives approved Monday.

PIERRE - South Dakota license plates for motor vehicles would change designs every 10 years under legislation the state House of Representatives approved Monday.

They currently are supposed to switch designs every five years. Rep. Julie Frye-Mueller, R-Rapid City, said the difference is about $6.2 million.

She wants the savings put in the road and bridge fund for counties.

House members voted 41-27 for her change. HB 1190 now goes to the Senate, where lead sponsor is Sen. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs.

The current design changed in 2016. However, the Legislature made the previous round last 10 years.

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"I do not think 10 years is unreasonable," Frye-Mueller said Monday.

Lobbyists representing 3M and South Dakota Auto Dealers Association tried to stop the change becoming permanent during a hearing Thursday in the House Transportation Committee.

3M has the state government contract for the reflective sheeting that adheres to the aluminum plates.

Rep. Michael Clark, R-Hartford, tried to kill the bill in the committee but lost 9-4.

Clark tried again Monday, asking to amend 10 years to seven. Frye-Mueller shook her head no as he spoke.

What he described as "a reasonable compromise" failed on a voice vote that wasn't close.

"If you've got a bad license plate, you need to change it," Frye-Mueller said.

Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, and Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, called for the bill's passage Monday.

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Rhoden said opponents wanting time to fix the bill could take ideas to the Senate.

"This is common sense," Rhoden said about the proposed change.

Rep. Tim Reed, R-Brookings, said the current plates were designed to last five years. He said specs could be changed to 10 years for the next round.

Rep. Mary Duvall, R-Pierre, said 10 years is a long time. Duvall asked for the chance to research the topic and bring a bill in 2019 "with the right number in it."

Frye-Mueller wanted none of that. She said state law requires motorists replace license plates if they don't last until the next design.

"You can't babysit everybody," Frye-Mueller said.

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