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‘Choose Life’ license plate gets Fla. governor’s veto

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)–A proposed “Choose Life” license plate, which would have raised funds to aid adoption, was vetoed by Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles May 20.
In an official statement, Chiles wrote that the Choose Life license plate would further polarize Floridians on the “controversial and difficult subject” of reproductive rights and that an official license plate was not the “proper forum for a debate on this or any other political issue.”
Randy Harris, president of Choose Life Inc. and Marion County commissioner, said in a prepared statement the group is prepared to encourage a veto override or, if necessary, reapply next year.
Chiles stated, “The creation of an official license plate with a clearly political message establishes a precedent that was not intended by the development of specialty license plates bearing the name and sanction of the State of Florida.”
In contrast, Chiles noted, the 39 specialty plates currently authorized by the state “reflect the general interests and symbols of the State of Florida” and “demonstrate citizen support for Florida’s public universities, professional sports teams and other subjects such as the arts, education and the environment.”
Noting that the legislature voted down an amendment that would have substituted the phrase “Adopt a Child” for “Choose Life,” Chiles contended that the bill would limit women’s choices.
“The bill specifically denies funding from revenues derived from the official state Florida ‘Choose Life’ license plate to any organization that offers women counseling or information on the full legal range of their reproductive choices, including termination of pregnancy,” he wrote.
Chiles stated he is “a strong supporter of the adoption alternative” and listed a number of ways the state is seeking to support adoption, such as a Maintenance Adoption Subsidy, an advertising partnership, an adoption hotline and an Internet site.
“Our efforts to favor and support adoption are not only succeeding, but they have built consensus among our citizens and our elected officials,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the ‘Choose Life’ message on our official Florida license plate would not build consensus, but instead would further divide Floridians.”
Harris of Choose Life Inc. said, “Retreat is not an option. Whatever it takes we will do. The women of Florida deserve no less. If a woman with an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy would prefer to carry her child to term and place him/her with an adoptive family, she should not be pressured to do otherwise because of financial uncertainties.
“The funds generated by the sales of the Choose Life tag would help eliminate the financial needs of such women,” Harris emphasized.
Russ Amerling, a Choose Life Inc.spokesman, said the group will first focus its efforts on encouraging a veto override, since filing an application next year would involve tougher requirements for specialty license plate applications. Under a new law, the application fee was doubled to $60,000 and the number of signatures required raised from 10,000 to 15,000.
Choose Life Inc. has raised about $47,000 to date — $30,000 for the application fee and $17,000 for an advertising campaign required as part of a specialty plate agreement. The $17,000 will be directed back into efforts to make the Choose Life license plate a reality, Amerling said.

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  • Kristi Hodge