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Front license plate debate revived in Iowa legislature

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has approved a bill that would remove the requirement that license plates be attached to the front bumpers of some vehicles.

Front plates would still be required on commercial vehicles, like semis and delivery trucks, but antique vehicles and newer, luxury vehicles that require gluing or drilling into the bumper to mount a plate would be exempt.

“The rest of the cars, the vast majority of cars, are still going to have a plate,” said Dan Zumbach of Ryan, one of 29 senators who voted for the bill.

Seventeen senators opposed the move. Senator Kevin Kinney of Oxford, a retired Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy, said a front license plate is a tool for law enforcement.

“I can think of at least three investigations which were serious investigations in which we were able to apprehend the suspect because of the front license plate,” Kinney said.

He said one was a convenience store robbery and the other two were bank robberies where the front license plates were recorded on security footage the crime scene. Another senator said the bill would be a financial hit for a company in Marion that makes license plate frames for front bumper plates.

If the bill becomes law, police would not be able to make traffic stops solely on the basis of a missing front license plate.

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