SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah lawmakers want to know how a sign with the phrase "DEPORTM" was passed, despite state rules against the expression of contempt for any race, religion or political opinion on vanity plates.
While people have a right to freedom of expression, the messages that appear on the signs are different because they need to be approved by the state, said Republican Senator Daniel Thatcher.
"If someone put a sticker on the car, I'd shake my head and keep walking," he said. "The state approved it, so it's a state approved message and it's totally inappropriate."
Lawmakers are expected to question the director of the Motor Vehicle Division and his boss, the director of the state tax commission, at a hearing on Wednesday.
It comes after a photo of the dish gained online attention last week. Salt Lake City English teacher Matt Pacenza saw him on his trip, took a quick photo and posted it on Twitter and Facebook.
“He jumped at me. I was surprised by that, ”he said. So he did a quick search online. "What you find out right away is that they reject all kinds of dishes."
The state receives about 450 requests per month for toilet plates and also prohibits messages that are vulgar, reference drugs or sexual acts or suggest anything dangerous. He denied messages ranging from "STRIPPN" to "REDWINE" to "JEWELZZ", according to a list provided by The Associated Press.
It is not clear how "DEPORTM" went. It was approved in 2015, when the department was under different leadership, said Tammy Kikuchi, a spokeswoman for the tax commission.
But three other people told the Salt Lake Tribune that they complained about the dish a few weeks ago. Kikuchi declined to comment directly on the case, saying it is now under review.
A sign that breaks state rules can be recovered, but the owner can appeal the agency's decision. The owner of the "deportation" sign was not identified.