Kansas Senate Passes Bill Allowing Drivers to Purchase Choose Life License Plates

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 28, 2018   |   4:15PM   |   Topeka, KS

Kansas state Senators approved a bill Monday that would create life-affirming license plates for state drivers who want them.

The legislation would make Kansas one of more than 30 states that offer “Choose Life” license plates.

The Capital-Journal reports state House Bill 2599 creates a series of specialty license plates in Kansas, including the “Choose Life” plates, as well as ones for the Special Olympics, City of Wichita and veterans of recent wars.

As has happened in other states, some Democrat lawmakers complained about the “Choose Life” plates.

According to the report:

Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said he was concerned the Choose Life plate was inappropriate for the state government to establish as it appears to be an anti-abortion statement.

“I’m only concerned,” Haley said, “about opening the door in this particular case to one (license plate) in particular — that was the Choose Life option. … That is state sanctioned political speech.”

Sen. Mike Peterson, R-Wichita, said these plates have been used by other states and don’t necessarily implicate abortion issues. They also could be considered general endorsement of protecting life as a whole, he said.

The specialty plates have been widely accepted across the country. Nebraska became the 30th state to offer “Choose Life” plates in 2017.

And North Carolina won a long court battle involving its “Choose Life” license plates in 2016. In the case, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the life-affirming license plates are constitutional.

The North Carolina case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, LifeNews reported. The high court ordered the 4th Circuit Court, which previously struck down the law, to reconsider the case in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in another license plate case, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

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Revenue from the Kansas license plate sales would go into the state Highway Fund, according to the report. Some states give the revenue from their “Choose Life” plates to organizations that help pregnant and parenting mothers.

According to Choose Life America, which encourages states to approve the plates, proceeds from the sales have raised about $24 million to help pregnant and parenting families and adoptions. In the Midwest, Indiana raised $650,000, and Ohio raised more than $500,000. Both states have more than 25,000 vehicles with “Choose Life” plates, according to the organization.