Michigan drivers might soon be able to drive around with "Choose Life" license plates.
The Republican-led House passed legislation Thursday that would allow drivers the option to purchase a "Choose Life" license plate for $35. Some of the proceeds would go into the Choose Life Michigan Fund and could be given to anti-abortion nonprofit groups such as crisis pregnancy centers or homes for pregnant mothers. Other donations may go to campaigns or projects that support life-affirming choices.
The bill's lead sponsor, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, said no one is forcing people to buy the license plate and that it only provides a choice. A few Democrats also supported the legislation like state Rep. Robert Kosowski from Westland.
"And if you don't want to buy this plate, you don't have to, and that's why I will be supporting it," Kosowski said before a vote on the bill.
Many Democrats, like state Rep. Robert Wittenberg of Oak Park, opposed the bill. He said it forces the state to take a side on a politically-charged position.
"I rise today in opposition to Senate Bill 163, which uses state dollars to further a religious and politically-charged viewpoint," Wittenberg said. "If our aim is to promote motherhood, better parenting, improved neonatal health care or infant health, we can do that without blurring a line between religion or government, or without favoring one political view over another."
Ed Rivet, legislative director for the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan, said it is the seventh consecutive legislative session to try and get the bill passed.
"I think it started around the first or second session of Gov. Granholm's (tenure), so I think we are really looking at all eight years of hers and probably the six-plus years now of Gov. Snyder," he said.
Colbeck said he believes the House has strong leadership this year to get the bill passed and a "good group" in the House Transportation Committee, which is chaired by Republican state Rep. Triston Cole of Mancelona. He said the legislation was modified this year to address suicide prevention because he believes it is a part of the "Choose Life" message and not just for mothers who face an unplanned pregnancy.
The state's other fundraiser plates include those supporting Michigan universities and specialty causes such as breast cancer awareness or Michigan veterans.
The bill is expected to go to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk soon, but he said he won't indicate if he supports the legislation until after he has reviewed it.