Texas House Gives Initial Approval to Choose Life License Plate After Senate OK
by Steven Ertelt
May 6, 2009
Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — Following Senate passage of a bill approving Choose Life license plates, the Texas state House yesterday gave preliminary approval to them. Lawmakers approved an amendment to HB 3097, a related transportation bill that is pending final approval.
State Rep. Larry Phillips, a Republican from Sherman who is the author of HB 109, the Choose Life license plate bill that is stuck in a committee, sponsored the amendment. The House approved it on a voice vote.
Texas Alliance for Life told LifeNews.com the language of the amendment is nearly identical to SB 1098, which the Senate approved last week.
In the Texas House, 82 representatives have signed on to HB 109, including 36 chairs and vice chairs and 13 Democrats. Because Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett, an El Paso Democrat, refused to allow a committee vote on the bill, Phillips sought to amend it to HB 3097.
"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.
Phillips successfully defended his amendment on the House floor against two hostile amendments that would have changed the intent of the license plate, TAL noted.
An amendment from Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Houston Democrat, would have changed the message on the plate to "Choose Adoption" instead of "Choose Life." Later Phillips agreed to another amendment by Farrar that creates a separate Choose Adoption plate along with the Choose Life plate.
A second amendment would have taken the funds raised from sales of the plate from agencies that assist pregnant women considering adoption and given them to the Department of Family and Protective Services.
"We commend Representative Phillips and the members of the House who support this bill," Texas Alliance for Life director Joe Pojman told LifeNews.com. "The Phillips amendment stays true to the goal of increasing infant adoptions and decreasing abortions. The experience of other states is that either the Farrar or Pickett amendments would have killed the sales of the plates."
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.
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."
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.
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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