The governor’s office has reversed course on mandating the replacement of New York State license plates that are more than 10 years old after widespread criticism.
The state launched an online poll for the license plate to replace the empire gold and blue plate that has been in service for the past decade, with many delaminating and becoming difficult to read.
Voters selected a new plate, but politicians disagreed with the fee for the replacement plates.
“As the DMV commissioner said weeks ago, this proposal isn’t going forward as we have committed to working with the Legislature to create a plan that ensures plates are readable by law enforcement and cashless tolling system,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Senior Adviser Richard Azzopardi.
He went on to say the state needs to create a process where plates older than 10 years are inspected and, if still readable, can be kept.
Cuomo announced in August the plan to replace aging license plates. He began a contest, showing five plate designs that residents could vote on to choose the design for the new plates.
The state received a lot of backlash on the plan, especially the fact that each new plate was going to cost taxpayers $25. Many legislators, including state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, and Assemblymen Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, and Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, were against the move. Some called it a “money grab” and that Cuomo was using the new licenses as a ploy to bring more money into state coffers.
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder said “the fee for new license plates has been $25 for over 10 years -- it was set by a law passed by the legislature and that law has been in place pre-dating this administration. Some legislators have now expressed an interest in lowering the fee.”
In August, Schroeder said Cuomo wants to lower the fee and told legislators to come back to Albany for a special session to work on the issue.
Voters in the contest chose “Plate 5” as the winner of its license plate design survey. That plate was the only one to show Upstate New York scenes, with images of Niagara Falls and mountains along with the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. The plate won with won the online poll with 49.7 percent of votes. Plates with the new design, which will replace the aging empire blue and white plates and empire gold plates, were to be available in April 2020.
The runner-up was the “Plate 1” design, which featured a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty, with 16 percent of the vote, followed by the “Plate 4” design, which features only the torch, with 14.9 percent, according to the department. The “Plate 2” design, which featured a zoomed out view of the statue, and the “Plate 3” design, which spotlights the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, previously known as the Tappan Zee Bridge, tied for the lowest percentage of votes with 9.7 percent. The survey, which launched in August, attracted 325,000 participants.