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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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New Oklahoma laws on the plate for '09
by MICHAEL MCNUTT - The Oklahoman
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Most Oklahoma vehicles will be getting a dash of color this year at no added cost to many owners.

New tags for cars and pickups will be available Friday at all tag agencies, said Paula Ross, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission. New tags already have been issued to motorists whose tags expire this month.

"We do have some on the road already,” she said. "After this month, people will really start to notice them.”

The colorful tags are replacing existing ones that have been in circulation 20 years, she said.

The tags are the result of legislation passed last year, House Bill 3326, which takes effect today. The design is from the late Oklahoma artist Allan Houser’s "Sacred Rain Arrow” sculpture at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. It depicts an American Indian, framed against a sky, preparing to shoot an arrow.

The tags will be issued to Oklahomans who apply for an original vehicle registration or who renew their registration. Personalized and specialty tags will remain the same, Ross said.

The regular tags are free unless vehicle owners want to keep their current tag number. Keeping the old number costs $17 — $15 for the plate and $2 for mailing fees. Applications for the Tax Commission’s License Plate Retention Program may be found on the commission’s Web site,

Vehicle owners originally had to decide by November whether to keep their tag number, but the Tax Commission has scrapped that provision.

Ross said motorists can decide up until the time they renew their registration during 2009 whether they want to keep their tag number, she said.

The fee to keep the same tag number is expected to bring in more than $2 million; the money is earmarked for the Public Safety Department to keep its testing sites open for at least the next year.

About 1,600 new tags already have been mailed to Oklahoma motorists who paid the extra fee to keep their numbers, Ross said. Also, 2,400 are in the process of being sent out.

The green and white colors and raised lettering on the old plates are being replaced by digitally printed, maroon tag numbers on a pearl background.

The new tags feature the name "Oklahoma” at the top, with each of the letters bordered in gold. The bottom of the plate has a narrow blue band running its length, with the words "Native America” printed in pearl white. At the lower right-hand corner is a white Osage Nation shield, which was displayed in the middle of the old tags.

The new tags should help police and troopers. Many Oklahoma vehicle tags are difficult for law officers to read because the numbers are faded.

Vehicles for local governments, schools and state vehicles also will be getting the new tags, replacing the white-background, black-lettered tags. Farm and commercial trucks also will be getting the new tags.

The new tags are made of aluminum instead of galvanized steel.

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