Choose Life Not Chosen
Special Report - June 18, 2010
Despite repeated claims that the North Carolina Legislature will not consider the “Choose Life” specialty license plate because there is a halt on all new license plates, the House Transportation Committee gave initial approval to six new specialty license plates on June 16. Bills to introduce special plates for the Carolina Raptor Center (HB 1902), the Fisheries Industry and the Red Cross (HB 1926), the Outer Banks Preservation Association (HB 1946), Silver Star and Disabled Veterans (HB 1972), and Recipients of the Legion of Merit Award (HB 1990) were all approved unanimously and sent to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.
HB 1926Special Plate for the Fisheries Industry, sponsored by Rep. Timothy Spear (DWashington) was amended by committee member Rep. Lorene Coates (DRowan) to also authorize the sale of a Red Cross plate, which would state “Saving Lives.” Several members of the committee inquired of the committee chair, Rep. Becky Carney (DMecklenburg), why they were being asked to consider specialty license plates after they were told no new plates would be approved. Carney responded by saying that the Finance Committee is doing an “historical perspective on where we are with license plate bills,” and so it is Finance that is holding up the process, not Transportation. She went on to explain that it is the job of the Transportation Committee to consider whether license plate bills meet the “policy criteria,” and that she intends to hear any license plate bills that come to the Transportation Committee. HB 168“Choose Life” Special Plate is currently referred to the House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Owens (DPasquotank) before also having to be considered by Transportation and Finance before full consideration on the House floor.
Rep. Mark Hilton (RCatawba) stated during debate on HB 1972Special Plate-Silver Star/Disabled Veteran that, “There’s a lot of pregnancy resource centers across this state that could utilize the money that a [“Choose Life”] plate would bring to them.” He went on to urge the members of the committee and the chair to “talk to the leadership about knocking that one loose” of its Rules Committee assignment, so that the Transportation Committee can consider it. Rep. Carney responded, “Okay, but discussion today is on HB1972 and the bills on the calendar today.”
This is the eighth year that a bill has been filed to authorize a “Choose Life” specialty license plate that would generate funds for the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship (CPCF). The CPCF is a statewide network of pregnancy resource centers, which meet the bill’s requirement of being “nongovernmental, not-for-profit agencies that provide pregnancy services that are limited to counseling and/or meeting the physical needs of pregnant women.” See our article for more information on the history of this legislation.
“Clearly a decision has been made by the House leadership not to include the ‘Choose Life’ plate in the current legislative mix,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Refusing to hear this bill underscores the obvious discrimination and disdain of those who control the legislative process to offer North Carolinians the choice of supporting more than 80 of these life-changing and life-saving pregnancy resource centers across the state by purchasing a special license plate. Supporters of raptors, fish, turtles, shag dancing, and NASCAR rank higher on the list of worthy causes for whom North Carolina motorists may exercise their First Amendment right to free speech than do the pro-life majority.”
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