Let Jayhawks Pay for Our Roads with Vanity Plates

How Missouri legislators got it wrong: Denying Kansas the opportunity to pay into Missouri's highway maintenance fund.


For some time I have been an avowed socialist when it comes to Missouri license plates. Having been a cop for 30 years, I believe license plates should be kept simple. Their purpose is to identify motor vehicles and show taxes have been paid—not to show your social status.  

Special license plates for the rich, or friends of the governor, or people who want to advertise their colleges, fraternal groups or branches of the service, just make things confusing for cops and the public who are trying to report suspicious cars.

So I think everyone should get the same style license plate. But I’m also apparently in the minority. There are 187 different specialty license plates issued in Missouri. 

However, the idea behind the specialty license plates was to produce revenue, pure and simple. The specialty plates cost more. The money goes to the Missouri highway fund.

Legislature gets involved

Just last week, two state senators added a “No Jayhawk Specialty Plate” provision on a long and boring education bill. One was state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia.)

So this all appears to be an MU-KU rivalry thing. Schaefer said it was his way of trying to keep the state universities' rivalry alive. He said if KU would schedule football and basketball games against Mizzou, he would repeal the ban on Jayhawk Alumni license plates.  

(If elected officials really wanted to keep the rivalry alive, maybe they wouldn't have let University of Missouri leave the Big-12.) 

And if my history is correct, the name Jayhawkers initially referred to Kansan abolitionists. Missourians and Jayhawkers battled at border towns in 1863.

Now we come to today's rivalry.

Here's how we win

It's a $15 additional fee for a specialty plate. A portion of the fee goes to the Missouri highway fund. So here's our chance to trick those annoying KU fans and alumni.

Instead of taking away their beloved Jayhawks license plates, we offer them up by the case. And the Jayhawks are maintaining our Missouri highways, one plate at a time. This seems like a win-win to me.

But what does the Missouri Senate do? Vote unanimously to prevent Jayhawks from contributing to our highway maintenance with their vanity license plate fees. 

I spent 16 years in Maryland. Even there you could pay extra for a Jayhawk license plate.

The Missouri Legislature allows Pittsburg State alumni to buy specialty license plates with their gorilla mascot on it. (If you haven't heard of the school, it’s near the Missouri border in southeast Kansas.) Their arch rivals are the Bearcats from Northwest Missouri State, in Maryville.

At least we let those Gorilla fans pay for part of our road system. Now let the Jayhawks.


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