The Christian Action League, a Raleigh-based anti-LGBT, anti-choice advocacy organization, is continuing their push to get “Choose Life” specialty license plates approved by the legislature.
They’ve had an uphill battle for the past 8 years. This session, however, they’ve taken a different approach:
Introduced last session by Rep. Mitch Gillespie (R-McDowell) along with fellow House Republicans Tim Moore (Cleveland), Pat McElraft (Carteret) and Carolyn Justice (New Hanover), Bill 168 was referred to the Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations as well as the Transportation and Finance committees.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would set the plate fee at $25 with $10 to go to the Special Registration Plate Account and $15 to the Collegiate and Cultural Attraction Plate Account for the CPCF, which would then distribute proceeds to nongovernmental, not-for-profit agencies that provide pregnancy services free of charge. Three hundred or more applications for a Choose Life plate would be required before the plate would be developed.
The bill has 33 sponsors in the House and 18 in the Senate.
The potential new plate has been held up by a general rule prohibiting political viewpoints on specialty plates. Without surprise, conservative and progressive House members are at odds over whether the “Choose Life” message is, at its heart, a political statement.
But for years, the bill has been tied up in the House because of a general guideline that customized license plates have no political viewpoints.
“The way it’s laid out here, you don’t see any controversial plates, any political plates anywhere in the state,” Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, said. “You see the Great Smoky Mountains, First in Flight. You see sea turtles – causes without controversy.”
But those advocating for the license plate disagree.
“We’re not going to unveil a tag that’s going to be offensive to anybody,” Gillespie said Tuesday.
“It’s very hard to understand why, when we have (more than) 130 specialized license plates, the leadership of the Legislature won’t allow us to have a ‘Choose Life’ plate,” said Eva Ritchey, president of the North Carolina Pro-Life Democrats.
House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, said he believes it is a freedom of speech issue. If a vote is not allowed, the issue should become a legal one.
“If the state doesn’t do this voluntarily, the state will get an opportunity to do this and spend hundreds of thousands in legal fees and lose,” Stam said.