2023 Leg Session, Politics, Uncategorized

Priecko: How Colorado got an In God We Trust license plate

This effort started in July 2019 with a visit to Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicle Department in Lone Tree. I was looking for an In God We Trust license plate like we had in Virginia. To my dismay, no such plate existed out of the 200+ license plates Colorado offers. I remember thinking, someone should do something about that.

Two years later, I attended a leadership workshop in Denver. There, I connected with a member of then Representative Mark Baisley’s staff who passed on my vision to now Senator Baisley (R) who quickly decided this was an initiative well worth the time and work to pursue. So, the lengthy and at times challenging attempts to gain legislative approval for a Colorado “In God We Trust” license plate began.

Senator Baisley tried in 2022 with House Bill 1048. That bill was approved by the House Finance Committee, but died in the House Appropriations Committee, where the Chairperson adamantly and publicly opposed the bill. She outwardly did not approve of the notion of God, or anyone, or any organization having anything to do with God.

In January 2023, Senator Baisley tried again, introducing Senate Bill 025, creating an “In God We Trust” Special License Plate. The bill quickly passed the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee and Finance Committee; and once again stopped in an Appropriations Committee, this time in the Senate. It languished there for 2 months.

However, thanks to individually addressed “personal for” correspondence on behalf of the bill to every one of the 35 state senators and the sustained efforts of Senator Baisley the bill was finally approved by the Appropriations Committee. It Then passed the Senate floor vote and moved to the House of Representatives with just over a month to go in the 120-day 2023 legislative session. The crunch was on.

Colorado’s new In God We Trust license plate.

The bill was quickly approved by the House Finance Committee and moved to the Appropriations Committee. There, thanks to Representative Shannon Bird (D), the bill’s sponsor in the House, it passed in four days. It then moved to a House floor vote and passed on May 2, just two days before the 2023 Legislative Session ended. A great deal had to happen quickly for SB-025 to get through the House. Thankfully it did.

In the end, there was a total of 143 votes tallied for SB-025. Seventy-three percent of those were in favor of it.  Overall, 61 Democrats voted for the Bill and 32 against. Forty-four Republicans voted for the Bill and 1 Against. There were 6 excused Legislators, 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans. The bottom line is the result was bipartisan. The reality is it would not have passed without the much-appreciated significant support from Democrats.

As a show of Colorado resident support, we created an online petition for the bill. We sought 3,500 signatures. We thought that would be a simple task. It wasn’t. Surprisingly churches, Christian groups and other religious organizations were consistently unwilling to support SB-025 or even spread the word about it.

We sent 18 “personal for“ letters individually addressed to Senior Pastors at churches in Greeley, in and around Denver, in Castle Rock, and Colorado Springs. Sadly, not one responded. So, from day one, this has been a very grassroots adventure.

This license plate, now one of 25 in the country, is the only one with the In God We Trust trademarked branding centered on it. The plate honors our National Motto as approved by a bipartisan vote of the United States Congress in 1956. The four words are echoed on our paper money, coinage, and in, and on buildings across America.

We see this as much more than a 6” x 12” piece of metal with an inscription on it. There is no doubt, it’s an outreach and ministry tool that can and will make a difference. Simply put, it matters. Since we started this, I find myself checking out license plates. Where are they from? What do they say? Does the cause mean anything to me? Perhaps, if you aren’t already doing the same thing, you will now.

Senator Baisley asked for a bill signing ceremony with Governor Polis. That did not happen; but SB-025 was signed into Law by Polis on June 2. For some, it’s a small meaningless win; but, for others a very significant victory.

So now, separate steps are ongoing involving the Colorado Department of Revenue, Department of Corrections, and the TAG Colorado Correctional Industries Plant in Canon City within the Colorado Territorial Correction Facility.  It’s another process that will result in this plate being available beginning in January 2024. Colorado residents will then have a new and unique license plate to own and display.

Lessons Learned

On a personal note, for me and others, this has been a frustrating, interesting, and rewarding undertaking. Here are three takeaways.

–  Actions based on faith and prayer are a winning combination.

–  One person with a passion energizes others to do likewise.

–  Never giving up in the pursuit of a worthy cause pays dividends.

Notes: To purchase this plate, along with resident’s regular taxes and plate registration fee, there will be an additional one-time issuance fee of $25. Residents may request and pay a required additional fee to personalize the plate.

John Priecko, a retired United States Air Force Colonel, is the In God We Trust Special License Plate Program Director. 


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