When the 200th anniversary of Missouri's becoming a state arrives Aug. 10, 2021, all cars with regular license plates should be showing the state's new "bicentennial plate."

People with specialized plates — such as those identifying sports teams, colleges or charitable organizations — won't be affected by the change.

Revenue Director Joel Walters told a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the Capitol: "After countless hours and days and months of planning, programming and production, the brand new Missouri bicentennial license plate has been launched."

A 2016 law required the Revenue Department to develop a new design for the bicentennial and to begin issuing the new plates no later than Jan. 1, 2019.

"This was a neat project, from start-to-finish," state Rep. Glenn Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa — who sponsored the 2016 bill in the House — explained Tuesday.

The final bill created a task force involving the Highway Patrol superintendent, the State Historical Society's executive director, the chairs of the House and Senate Transportation committees, and the directors of the state's Revenue, Corrections and Transportation departments.



Jackie Bemboom, the Revenue Department's Motor Vehicle and Driver License Division director, said getting the plate ready for this week's release was a complicated task requiring a lot of communications.

"The Department of Revenue had over 20 employees working on this project since the beginning of 2017 — in addition to their regular work," Bemboom said. "In 1911, there were only 16,387 plates issued.

The department also had to plan for distributing the new plates to 177 different license offices throughout Missouri's 114 counties, and the City of St. Louis.

Making the new plates required 2,602,785 pounds of aluminum, Bemboom said, and 5,856,267 square feet of sheeting for the plates' top layers.

The preparation work "also included making programming modifications to over 10 different (computer) systems," she explained.

But — as was done in 2008 when the current, Missouri Bluebird design was released — the state is charging a one-time re-issuance fee for the new plates, as required by state law, to "pay the cost of the plates required by this (law)."

That fee is in addition to the registration fees already set by another law, that are based on the kind of vehicle being licensed.

For the new plates being issued beginning this week, the fee is $1.68 per plate, or $3.36 for the pair, of embossed plates — an 8 percent increase over 2008.

The "flat" plates, which include the personalized license plates, is $3.77 per plate, or $7.54 for the pair — a nearly 6 percent increase over 2008.

The fee is intended to cover the $17 million cost for making the new plates, spread out among all people getting the new plates.

In thanking his department's staff for their work, Walters said Revenue employees "have done so expertly, such a great job on a project which has just been massive to deliver. They made it look easy — and we know it was not easy, at all."

The plate uses a mostly white background, with Missouri's "Great Seal" in the middle, underneath the plate's numbers and letters.

Kolkmeyer noted the first task force originally approved a dark blue plate using white letters, but when the Highway Patrol tested that design, "they came back and said, 'We don't like it it. It doesn't work" because it was too hard to read.

The committee then unanimously approved the design now being distributed to people who renew their licenses or get new ones.

The state has developed a 30-second video that will be used to promote the new design, which includes a set of wavy red lines across the top, and a similar set of wavy blue lines across the bottom, representing Missouri's rivers, symbolizing Missouri's rivers — especially the Osage, Missouri and Mississippi.

"What a huge asset that has been to us, from our very founding all the way through current history, right now," Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe said.

Last week, he noted, Kehoe presented a proclamation from Gov. Mike Parson to the State Historical Society, creating a Bicentennial Task Force to plan events for the state's 200th birthday.

"It's an important time in our state, to look at the history that we've been through — the history this license plate reflects," Kehoe said. "(As) these plates begin distribution (and) for several years after (the bicentennial), Missourians will be able to see at every street corner, a reflection of what our history is about, and remember how deep and rich our history is."

Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia — is a member of the Capitol Commission, which is charged with maintaining the century-old building and preserving its many artworks.

"There are a lot of things that happen and go on that will, really, set the framework and set a structure for years and years and years to come," Rowden said, "and this (license plate) is one of those things.

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"This (Bicentennial) is something that is monumental in importance to history and to the future of our state."

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