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Washington looks to put its most famous volcano on a specialty license plate

Proceeds from plate sales would go to the Mount St. Helens Institute

Mount St. Helens may be featured on Washington specialty license plates if a bill passes the House. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
By Jerry Cornfield Washington State Standard

A nearly unanimous state Senate backed the creation of a specialty license plate showcasing Mount St. Helens.

Under Senate Bill 5590, proceeds from plate sales would go to the Mount St. Helens Institute, a private nonprofit organization, to support youth education, land stewardship and science at the state’s most active volcano, which is located in the southwest corner of the state.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, passed 47-2 on Tuesday, Feb. 6. It passed by the same margin last session before lapsing in the House.

Each year, about 750,000 people visit the mountain which cemented its standing as one of the state’s most iconic sites following its eruption in 1980, Wilson said.

“That eruption put Washington on the map,” she noted.

This may not be the last specialty license plate considered by either chamber this session.

A year ago, the Senate approved Senate Bill 5333 to authorize a plate recognizing pickleball, the official state sport, but it died in the House. Today, it is awaiting action in the Senate Transportation Committee.

And in the House, a proposed bill clears the way for several new specialty plates, including one for Mount St. Helens.

Others created under House Bill 2489 would put Smokey Bear on plates to boost public education programs focused on wildfire prevention, administered through the state Department of Natural Resources; recognize the LeMay classic car museum in Tacoma with a ‘throwback plate’; and support the Washington Tree Farm Program with a working forests plate.

Also proposed in the bill are the Nautical Northwest plate to celebrate Whidbey Island’s maritime communities and the Keep Washington Evergreen plate to fund deployment of electric charging stations in the state. The Department of Licensing would be directed to design this plate to have green lettering on a white background in a style similar to license plates issued in the 1970s.

The House bill, which would take effect Nov. 1, 2025, is in the Rules Committee.

Washington now offers nearly 70 different special license plates recognizing the military, sports teams, colleges, parks, firefighters, farmers, elk, orcas, lighthouses, the state flower, square dancers and wine. Fees for specialty plates vary, with the money generally going to support causes that are tied to each plate’s theme.

The Washington State Standard is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet that provides original reporting, analysis and commentary on Washington state government and politics. 

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