NEW DEVELOPMENTS: The Ohio Senate Transportation Committee scrapped a provision in the state transportation budget to allow Ohio drivers to only need one license plate on a vehicle.
The issue now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
The Ohio House voted earlier this month to require only one license plate on vehicles in Ohio.
It is possible the provision could return next week as both houses iron out differences in the state transportation budget before sending it to Gov. Mike DeWine.
The budget has to be approved by March 31.
EARLIER STORY FROM MARCH 8, 2019: Eliminating the requirement that motorists have a front vehicle plate could save Ohio roughly $1.4 million a year, according to analysis from the Legislative Service Commission.
The Ohio House voted this week in favor of the $7.9 billion two-year transportation budget bill that includes a provision to eliminate the front plate mandate.
Joe Cannon, lobbyist for the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, told state representatives and senators that in addition to saving money, eliminating the plate would further safety.
Technology such as parking guides, adaptive cruise control and cameras is integrated into front bumpers, he said. “It is becoming more difficult to install front plates without impairing the safety features on these vehicles,” Cannon said in written testimony.
Likewise, many front bumper designs make installing a plate difficult, he said.
While the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles would save $1.4 million a year, local governments could lose between $120,000 and $240,000 a year in foregone revenue from tickets issued for failure to have a front plate, the LSC analysis said.
Ohio plates have been manufactured by inmates at Lebanon Correctional Institution since 1964.
Ohio has required a front plate since 1908, except 1944-46 when Ohio wanted to conserve steel for the war effort. Owners of specialty cars have lobbied for dropping the front plate for several years.
Lawmakers and specialty car owners have failed to do away with the front plate requirement for several years, including in 2017.
When the issue was in front of lawmakers before, it was opposed by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.
Ohio is one of 36 states that require a front license plate. None of the states that border Ohio have a front license plate requirement.
The bill must be adopted by March 31 to take effect July 1 when the state fiscal year begins.