A bill that would allow Wyoming drivers to get Yellowstone license plates has cleared committee in the Wyoming House of Representatives.
We previously reported a bill, favored by Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, would be heading to the Legislature in January 2017. The bill arose out of a pitch made by Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos in September 2016.
According to the Wyoming Tribune, the House Transportation Committee voted 5-4 in favor of the bill. Reps. Stan Blake (D-Green River), Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne), Scott Court (R-Cody), Tom Crank (R-Kemmerer) and John Eklund (R-Cheyenne) voted in favor. Reps. Jim Blackburn (R-Cheyenne), Roy Edwards (R-Gillette), Bunky Loucks (R-Casper) and Garry Piiparinen (R-Evanston) voted against.
If passed, Wyoming residents would be able to buy a Yellowstone license plate for $150—$120 application fee plus $30 specialty plate fee—and would pay $30 annually as a renewal fee. The original bill earmarked $50 of the application fee for Wyoming’s wildlife and natural resource trust account. Per the Tribune, that $50 would now go toward maintaining transportation facilities like rest stops. From the Wyoming Tribune:
In general, the Legislature has been shy about authorizing new specialty plates. Wyoming has one of the lowest numbers of available specialty plates among the states, and most are restricted to military veterans or emergency responders, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle previously reported.
“I do believe it’ll be an uphill battle to get any license plate,” Eklund said Thursday.
The bill still needs to make it through the full House of Representatives and then the Senate.
The new license plate is part of an effort to draw more of a connection between Yellowstone and the state of Wyoming. The effort is supported by Gov. Matt Mead.
State officials have said in recent months that they feel Wyoming is not drawing as much of a connection between the state and the park as Montana and Idaho, despite the vast majority of the park – and nearly all of its famous features – being located within Wyoming’s borders.
“Montana, Idaho do a very, very good job of aligning themselves with Yellowstone National Park,” said Taylor Rossetti, WYDOT’s Support Services administrator.
Montana even offers two Yellowstone-themed license plates – one sponsored by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and another sponsored by the Yellowstone Park Foundation.
Panos also pointed out to the Tribune that while Yellowstone’s concessionaire, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, bases most of its Yellowstone facilities in Wyoming, all its vehicles are registered in Montana.
If passed, Wyoming residents could obtain a Yellowstone license plate beginning in January 2018. At least 1,000 vehicles would need to register by 2023, or the plate would be discontinued.