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Oklahoma governor vetoes bill allowing purchase of special KU Jayhawk license plate

By: - May 24, 2023 11:55 am
A small fan dressed up as a Jayhawk meets big J, the University of Kansas mascot, during a pep rally to celebrate the men's basketball teams win over the University of North Carolina. (Eric Thomas for Kansas Reflector)

Fans celebrate the NCAA Tournament championship victory of the University of Kansas Jayhawks over the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in April 2022. (Eric Thomas for Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed a routine bill adding to the state’s list of distinctive license plates because it would have allowed celebration of the University of Kansas.

Stitt said he didn’t have a problem honoring U.S. Army Rangers, the 45th Infantry Brigade combat team, or Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, Ally’s House and the Clinton Red Tornadoes with specialty plates. However, he couldn’t abide by the tribute for KU.

He said he didn’t have statutory authority to line-item veto the KU plate provision, which left him no alternative than to veto the whole bill.

“If I did, I would have signed this bill and struck only the language authorizing the design and issuance of an official plate supporting another state’s public university,” said Stitt, an accounting graduate of Oklahoma State University. “No offense to our sister state to the north, but the state of Oklahoma doesn’t need to be in the PR business for the University of Kansas.”

While vetoing House Bill 2255, he recommended Oklahoma residents interested in supporting an out-of-state college or university could find an alternative way to express that loyalty.

Oklahoma law allows distinctive plates for University of Oklahoma, OSU, Oral Roberts University, University of Tulsa as well as Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Bradley University in Illinois and a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation at Indiana University, offered a rebuttal to Stitt.

“It’s no secret that University of Kansas grads love to show off their school spirit,” Kelly said. “To all the Jayhawks living in Oklahoma and elsewhere, just know you’re always welcome back in the Sunflower State. Rock Chalk.”

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International.