Texas Senate Approves Choose Life License Plate, State House Sitting on Bill
by Steven Ertelt
April 29, 2009
Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — The Texas state Senate has given preliminary approval to SB 1098, a bill that would allow motorists to purchase a Choose Life license plate that would help support pregnancy centers. However, the Texas House appears to be sitting on the bill and refusing to allow a hearing.
The Senate voted 22-9 on second reading for the Choose Life plate bill and a final vote to approve the measure is expected on Friday.
The Choose Life license plate bill has also been endorsed by Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, as well as more than 40 grassroots organizations. Nearly 15,000 Texas citizens have signed a "Petition for Choose Life license plates," pledging to purchase the plate when it is made available.
In the Texas House, 82 representatives have signed on to the companion bill, HB 109, including 36 chairs and vice chairs and 13 Democrats.
The House Transportation Subcommittee on License Plates held a hearing earlier this month on the House version of the measure, HB 109, but did not take a vote following the discussion. Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) has refused to allow a committee vote on the bill, officials with Texas Alliance for Life told LifeNews.com.
"We commend Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and the members of the Senate who support this bill," TAL executive director Joe Pojman said. "We hope that Representative Joe Pickett and House Speaker Joe Straus will now allow this bill to move quickly in the House."
"The list of legislators and organizations supporting this bill is long. The list opposing it is short. It includes only the most hard-core abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas," Pojman added.
Rep. Larry Phillips, a Republican, is the sponsor of the House bill.
"This bill, although it has a message of ‘Choose Life,’ the funds are going to go to promote adoption, because that is obviously a great opportunity to give an alternative," he told the panel during the hearing.
Jonathan Saenz, the legislative director of the Free Market Foundation, also supports the plates.
The people of Texas have a free speech right to proudly show their support for life and to encourage expectant mothers to choose life instead of abortion," he told LifeNews.com. "Adoption is one of the loving alternatives to abortion and this specialty plate will help raise money to support such efforts. We anticipate full support by this committee."
Abortion advocates strongly objected to allowing motorists the chance to purchase license plates supporting adoption and helping pregnant women.
"What we are discussing is neither adoption nor abortion it is about free speech and this bill’s potential to stifle that right," Dotty Griffith of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas claimed, according to a Houston Chronicle report.
NARAL also opposed the bill with erroneous claims that pregnancy centers provide women with inaccurate information on how abortion yields mental health and medical risks.
They are also complaining because the bill stipulates that none of the funds can go to abortion centers.
The Choose Life license plate would join the 130-plus available specialty plates currently in Texas.
Some 22 other states have Choose Life License plates on the road and they have raised more than $10 million for adoption and pregnancy centers. Virginia became the latest state when its governor signed a bill allowing them.
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