UPDATE: J.P. Patches license plate bill has bipartisan support, but supporters still concerned

UPDATE: J.P. Patches license plate bill has bipartisan support, but supporters still concerned
A sample of what the J.P. Patches license plate may look like. A House Bill in Olympia could lead to the license plate in 2020. (jppatches.com)

UPDATE: A license plate honoring J.P. Patches and Gertrude, hosts of the nation’s longest-running children’s show that aired on KIRO 7 from 1958 to 1981, is now in the State Senate with bipartisan support.

Erik Madsen, the Patches Pal who has been trying for years to create the license plate benefiting Seattle Children’s, said the concern is that the bill could die before the end of the session, as it did last year. Madsen said he hopes supporters will now email Sen. Steve Hobbs and the Senate Transportation Committee to help pass the bill.

“I had the opportunity to watch J.P. Patches with my children, and actually when I was a State Trooper I would go to parades and enjoy the time that he spent,” said Rep. John Lovick (D), who spoke in support of the bill on February 12. “He did a lot of great work.”

Content Continues Below

Rep. Andrew Barkis (R) also spoke in support of the bill Wednesday in the house floor debate.

The proceeds of the J.P. plate are expected to go towards cancer immunotherapy research.

ORIGINAL TEXT: A bill to create a specialized license plate that honors J.P. Patches and Gertrude – the beloved KIRO 7 children’s show characters – is working its way through the Washington State Legislature.

Last year, House Bill 1255 passed the State House with an 88-4 vote. It advanced to a third reading in the House Rules Committee, but didn’t make it out of that committee.

The bill was reintroduced January 13. Two days later, the House Transportation Committee approved the bill with a change of effective date from 2019 to Oct. 1, 2020. It now moves to the Senate Transportation Committee for a vote. Supporters are hoping people email legislators.

The J.P Patches show was the best-known Northwest children’s program, running on KIRO 7 from 1958 to 1981. Tens of thousands of kids who grew up in Seattle were Patches Pals, including Bill Gates, Paul Allen, former city mayors and state leaders.

“The legislative bill has failed to pass for two years, even with strong community support, and the 2020 legislative session may be our last opportunity,” volunteer chair Erik Madsen said in an email. The Everett Herald also wrote an editorial supporting the effort last year.

In 2017, Patches Pals behind J.P.'s website, which is not affiliated with KIRO 7, started a crowd funding to make J.P. and his girlfriend Gertrude part of a special vanity plate.

That fall, the group announced they raised the $7,427 – and a little extra money for unexpected costs -- required to start the application process and to cover the costs of entering the new plates into the state system. Efforts to back the license plate included getting 3,500 signatures supporting the idea.

All proceeds from the Patches Pal license plate benefits Seattle Children’s Hospital and their Strong Against Cancer initiative. J.P Patches and Gertrude – played by Chris Wedes and Bob Newman – regularly visited kids at Children’s Hospital over the decades.

J.P. and Gertrude have a statue downhill from the Troll in Fremont, which was dedicated in August 2011. Until the statue in the 700 block of North 34th Street was vandalized, it also included a collection box for Children’s Hospital.

Wedes died in summer 2012 at age 84 after a years-long battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Newman, 87, is one of two living people with a statue in Seattle. (The other is Ken Griffey Jr. outside T-Mobile Park.)

The J.P. Patches Show was the first locally produced program to air on KIRO 7 when it went on the air in February 1958.

The primary sponsor of the bill is Rep. John Lovick (D). It’s also sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall (D), Rep. Mike Sells (D), Rep. Derek Stanford (D), Rep. Jeremie Dufault (R), and Rep. Morgan Irwin (R).

You can watch archive footage of the J.P. Patches show below.

More news from KIRO 7