Michigan Senate Panel Approves Choose Life License Plates

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 25, 2012   |   2:56PM   |   Lansing, MI

Yesterday, the Michigan’s Senate Transportation Committee unanimously approved pro-life legislation which would allow the state to offer drivers the ability to purchase specialty license plates with the phrase “Choose Life” on them.

S.B. 600 was reported out of the Senate Transportation Committee with a unanimous vote of 7-0. The bill now moves to the Senate floor and the sponsoring group, Right to Life of Michigan, expects a strong show of support when the full Senate votes on this measure in the coming weeks.

S.B. 600 was introduced on September 7, 2011. On January 17, 2012, the Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing on the bill for testimony only. RLM and Michigan Family Forum spoke in support of the bill, and Planned Parenthood spoke in opposition. H.B. 4824 was introduced on June 28, 2011 and referred to the House Committee on Transportation.

These bills authorize the Secretary of State to issue a “Choose Life” fund-raising license plate. Michigan citizens would be able to purchase this specialty plate to support the prolife cause.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Township, introduced the bill for the license plates.

“Michigan residents have long supported policies that encourage alternatives to abortion and our Choose Life license plate program echoes that sentiment,” Colbeck said in a press release. “It will provide drivers a way to promote abortion alternatives and protect the lives of the most helpless members of our society.”

Right to Life of Michigan Legislative Director Ed Rivet said it was unclear how much money the plates could raise for Right to Life of Michigan but he said the pro-life organization has a mailing list of “hundreds of thousands” of homes in Michigan. Once the money is collected annually, an operating committee will decide which affiliated pregnancy centers and abortion alternatives agencies will receive funding from the proceeds raised from the sale of the plates.

Funds generated by the sale of “Choose Life” plates in Michigan will be directed to the Choose Life Michigan fund. The board of the nonprofit prolife committee, Choose Life Michigan, will then disperse the money to organizations that submit grant proposals for specific abortion prevention projects. The bill stipulates that the funds will be used to promote alternatives to abortion, including adoption, provide practical support to pregnant women, and conduct outreach to at-risk populations regarding positive pregnancy options.

Currently, 25 states have successful “Choose Life” specialty license plate programs, with proceeds going to pregnancy resource centers and abortion alternatives such as adoption agencies. Nationwide, choose life plates have raised almost $15 million.

Various forms of this legislation have been introduced in the past. In the 2009-2010 session, Rep. Paul Scott introduced H.B. 5135 to create a “Choose Life” plate. The bill died in the Transportation Committee.