In August, the state House of Representatives approved House Bill 3208, which requires every Oklahoma motorist to purchase new metal license plates for $5.

OKLAHOMA CITY— Oklahoma drivers are now required to renew their vehicle license plates this year at their local tag office.

Oklahoma began issuing the new-design plate on Tuesday and drivers can now pick up their new plates, which will cost an additional $5, at the time of the vehicle’s next registration or tag renewal.

In August, the state House of Representatives approved House Bill 3208, which requires every Oklahoma motorist to purchase new metal license plates for $5.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the legislation provides for a complete vehicle license plate redesign and reissue in the calendar year 2017. The state has not had a license plate design change since 2009.

The bill was written by state Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley, the chief budget negotiators for the House and Senate. The revenue it is expected to generate was used to help close a $1.3 billion hole in last year's state budget.

State officials say that revenue will go into a newly created State Public Safety Fund that will be available for the state lawmakers to spend to "support public safety" in Oklahoma.

"It does have a little bit of extra money it will bring in to go to public safety in the state of Oklahoma, especially during a time of a budget shortfall," said Governor Mary Fallin at the unveiling in August.

The new plates cost the state about $2.05 to produce, and inmates at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy are manufacturing the tags.

The new design features a white scissor-tailed flycatcher, the state bird, flying over mountains and a body of water. Written on top in black lettering reads “Explore Oklahoma” with the website “travelok.com” across the bottom in red letters.

The flycatcher design was selected by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Agency Director Dick Dutton said the other designs that were considered ranged from a Western motif, different outdoor scenes, the new Oklahoma City Boathouse District and the Golden Driller statue in Tulsa.

The new plate will replace the previous design based on Allan Houser’s “Sacred Rain Arrow” sculpture, which depicts a young Apache warrior shooting an arrow towards the sky. In 2009, the former plate won “Plate of the Year” by the American License Plate Collectors Association.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Ricky Adams said the reflective coating on the former 2009 license plates is beginning to degrade, making it more difficult for officers to read at night or in inclement weather.

“The design and finish of the new plates may make it easier for law enforcement to read in low light or bad weather,” said OHP spokesperson and Trooper Dwight Durant. “The backdrop being a lighter color, it will be easier to read the expiration and the numbers.”

Durant also mentioned how the new plates would make it easier for officials to identify expired or uninsured drivers.

“If somebody has an expired tag, if you go to get that renewed, it may mean they don’t have insurance, as well,” Durant said. “If you go and get your tag renewed, you can’t get it renewed if you don’t have insurance. It cuts down on uninsured motors in the state, which saves us all money.”

During a public poll, a majority of people said they liked the new design and were unaware that they would be issued new plates this year.

“I just noticed after I paid my tags that I received a new plate,” said Jimmy King. “I like the new plates and the background color. The ‘travelok.com’ will draw a lot of people to Oklahoma.”

A few people were on the fence about the design change.

“I think the design is pretty cool, but I do have quite a few native friends who are really upset that their culture is being removed from the tag,” Lisa Bennett said. “I do feel bad for them because they feel like they’re getting pushed out even more so. As far as I look at it, my car will still drive down the street, and I will be just fine.”

Mike Woodruff of KGLC Radio in Miami had ambivalent feelings towards the new plates.

“As a businessman, I think it’s good for tourism because it says ‘travelok.com,’” Woodruff said. “It’s good for the sheer fact that we deal with travel a lot in this state and it will help with tourism. Anything that we can do to draw more traffic to that website is a good thing. All of the events going on in Miami is on that website, and it will ultimately help benefit the entire state.

“On the design side, I could care less about the state bird,” he added. “To be honest, the Indian was way better because that’s Native America Oklahoma.”

By the same token, some residents disagreed with the new design and said it was taking away the state’s rich Native American history.

“I don’t like it because Oklahoma is not known for our mountains, we are known for our Indians,” said Lynda Thomas. “I think it’s a shame for them to take away what our state’s known for, which is the American Indian. It really irritates me. Our state capitol has Indians on the top of it. It’s ridiculous to ignore them. I mean the scissortail, give me a break. It’s a great bird but to take everything away from the Native Americans is just wrong.”

A representative from the local tag agency was unavailable for comment by press time.

Sean Murphy of The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kimberly W. Barker is a staff writer for the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at kbarker@miaminewsrecord.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiamiNews_hound.