SALT LAKE CITY — Specialty license plates bearing the motto “In God We Trust” and an American flag won preliminary approval Monday, picking up overwhelming support from lawmakers in the Utah House.
Republican Rep. Val Peterson, of Orem, sponsored the bill, saying the plates give citizens a chance to express themselves.
The Utah House of Representatives approved the measure on a 64-9 vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration.
Republican Rep. Johnny Anderson, of Taylorsville, opposed the bill, saying he doesn’t believe the state’s license plate system should be used for fundraising.
Drivers would pay $25 a year to display the design, and proceeds would support the Provo-based America’s Freedom Festival.
Utah requires at least 500 people to purchase a plate before it goes into production. So far, 200 orders have been placed, said Paul Warner, executive director of the Freedom Festival. Warner doesn’t expect any problems reaching the requisite number.
The Freedom Festival describes itself as a nonpolitical foundation that organizes events to promote the American values of family, freedom, God and country. The group runs two major events each year around the Fourth of July; “Stadium of Fire” at Brigham Young University’s LaVell Edwards Stadium and the Grand Parade in Provo.
“This fits right in with what we are trying to accomplish with a statement that God is the foundation of our country,” Warner said. “It ties right in with Utah where there are a good percentage of people that have that in their belief system.”
The project was the brainchild 11-year-old Tate Christensen, who collects motorcycle license plates and recently bought an “In God We Trust” plate from Indiana. He worked with his uncle, Gov. Gary Herbert’s Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Mower, to start the process.
Florida, South Carolina and Alaska are among other states offering plates featuring the motto.