"Choose Life" License Plates

Policy Issue 5, Faith And Freedom: "In God We Trust" License Plates

This is the fifth in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. The fourth, regarding values, can be found here. Each statement covers one of The Family Foundation’s five areas of principle

Last year, pro-life Virginians won a tremendous victory when the General Assembly passed legislation creating "Choose Life" license plates. This year, there is opportunity to create  an "In God We Trust" license plate.

Virginians have more than 200 specialty license plate motifs from which to choose when they go to the DMV to register a car — everything from supporting state universities to "Choose Life" to "Parrotheads" to wildlife. This new plate will be another option for those who wish to share the message "In God We Trust" with other drivers. No money from the new plate will be distributed to any entity. Similar plates already are available in eight states.

As with any new license plate, 350 pre-applications with the associated fee must be received before the plate can become a reality. To join this effort, click here on the "In God We Trust" license plate Web page, download the attached application and follow the instructions. There is a $10 fee for the specialty plate. Share the application with family and friends who might also be interested.

Legislation that would create this new plate has been introduced by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton) (bill number not yet posted) and Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), whose bill is SB 136.

Choose Life License Plates Pass 1,000 Threshold

Related to the previous post, as of late last week, more than 1,000 intolerant Virginians had purchased "Choose Life" license plates — meaning  that from now on, $15 of the $25 fee for the plates will go Virginia’s pregnancy resource centers! We found out, coincidnetally, only minutes after the e-mail alert promoting PRCs and the "Choose Life" plates went out on September 24. A big thanks to everyone who has been involved in this. Again, we encourage you to go to the DMV, or its Web site (here), and purchase your plate today.

Virginia News Stand: July 13, 2009

There's a lot of variety in today's News Stand, everything from the early success of the Choose Life license plates, to Governor Tim Kaine's continued problems (miss forecast budget revenues, Northrup Grumman/VITA, etc.), to Republican Attorney General candidate Senator Ken Cuccinelli's call for a special session to remedy evidence rules because of a recent Supreme Court ruling; and all from a variety of sources. We'll have more elaborate comments tomorrow. News:

'Choose Life' plates sent to motorists in Va. (Washington Times)

DMV gets nearly 600 applications for new 'Choose Life' plate (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

Governor Hopefuls Veer Off The Trail (Washington Post)

Kaine to break record with budget cuts (Washington Times)

$2.2 Billion State Computer Contract Upgraded to Election-Year Headache (Washington Post)

AG candidate demands change in evidence law (Washington Times)

Cuccinelli calls for special assembly session on court ruling (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Parties, Candidates Make The Call (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Project seeks health care stories (Roanoke Times)

New FLE Laws Take Effect Today

During the last General Assembly, thanks to your faithful help, we were very proud to see the General Assembly pass, and Governor Tim Kaine sign, two common sense laws concerning Virginia's Family Life Education curriculum. The bipartisan support for these and other bills that became law proves The Family Foundation's legislative agenda is practical, common sense and broadly supported by the public. But just as the Choose Life license plates law is less "law" than practical, problem solving tool, these FLE "laws" are more much needed education reforms — either something that went awry and needed correction, or something that never was and should have always been. 

One of the two FLE reforms that went into effect today adds the value and benefits of marriage to the FLE guidelines for Virginia's public schools. Shockingly, prior to today, there was no positive reference to marriage in these guidelines! Now, this modest change, suggested by our Marriage Commission, will allow the current and future generations to become educated in, and to take the first step toward, healthy marriages and families. Beginning this fall, local schools that teach Family Life Education should be prepared to talk about the value and benefits of marriage to students. 

The second law in this realm requires local school boards to better notify parents regarding what is being taught in Family Life Education so that parents can make a more informed decision about whether their children should participate. Schools now will be required to send parents a detailed summary of the materials that are to be taught. This not only is a much needed reform of Virginia's education system, it is a much needed restoration of parental rights.

Armed with these two recently passed Family Life Education reforms, parents should feel empowered come fall to inquire about what is being taught in FLE and ensure that the value and benefits of marriage are taught in their children's FLE classes. That means accepting the responsibility to insist they are not ignored as idle "laws on the books," but emphatically used as the much needed improvements they are.

Choose Life Plates Reported To House Floor!

Early this morning the House Committee on Transportation, on a 15-7 vote, reported to the House floor Senator Ken Cuccinelli's (R-37, Fairfax) legislation to provide an opportunity for Virginians to show their support for life by purchasing "Choose Life" license plates (see Senate floor debate here). Money earned from these plates would help fund qualifying pregnancy resource centers throughout the Commonwealth. The bill, SB 817, patroned by Senator Richard Stuart (R-28, Montross) will be voted on by the full House early next week. Because the bill was amended in a Transportation sub-committee, should it pass the House, it will have to be accepted again by the Senate.

Since the House floor vote will take place early next week, it's important to contact your delegate now (contact list here) and urge him or her to vote for SB 817. By making our voices heard we can allow Virginians to publicly show their support for life, while providing a greater source of funding for pregnancy resource centers, not to mention seeing the continued exasperated countenances of Planned Parenthood, NARAL and ACLU members.

Choose Life Plates Amendment Vote: Analysis Of The Yeas And Neas

Here's how they voted on the Cuccinelli floor amendment, which added Choose Life license plates to SB 817, the sale proceeds of which will benefit pregnancy resource centers:

YEAS — Colgan, Cuccinelli, Hanger, Hurt, Martin, McDougle, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, Puckett, Quayle, Ruff, Smith, Stolle, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins (20).

NAYS — Barker, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Northam, Petersen, Puller, Reynolds, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple (19).

NOT VOTING — Blevins (1).

That's 18 of the 19 Republicans in the affirmative, with Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), abstaining as is his want (he, apparently is not a fan of specialized plates and does not vote on any such legislation, just as he abstained in committee). Two Democrats, Senators Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) and Phillip Puckett (D-38, Tazewell), joined the 18, while the remaining 18 Dems voted en bloc against. This is a perfect illustration of exactly how difficult it is to get even modest, middle ground life legislation through the House of Lords, err, Senate.

Interestingly, here is the vote on the bill itself, in its amended form (and where Senator John Watkins (R-10 Midlothian) earned the Trifecta Award for voting every which way possible: abstained in commitee, yes on the amendment — for which we are grateful — and no on the bill):

YEAS —Barker, Colgan, Cuccinelli, Deeds, Edwards, Hanger, Herring, Houck, Hurt, Lucas, Marsh, Martin, McDougle, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Newman, Norment, Northam, Obenshain, Petersen, Puckett, Quayle, Reynolds, Ruff, Smith, Stolle, Stosch, Stuart, Ticer, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Whipple (33).

NAYS —Howell, Locke, McEachin, Puller, Watkins (5).

NOT VOTING —Blevins, Saslaw (2).

This is where we get a sense of the true extreme, abortion-at-all-costs senators: Saslaw, Howell, Locke, McEachin and Puller. Not a vote between them for the amendment, nor the bill — which included a number of special plates designed to encourage tourism in different localities. They'd rather vote against the localities that would benefit than help avert abortions. For this gang of five, anything to do with life, even such a minuscule nod to helping crisis pregnancy centers, is an abomination. 

Questions for these senators: Do you agree abortion is a problem? If yes, then do you or do you not agree pregnancy resource centers contribute to solving the problem? If not, why not?

What Happened And How: "Choose Life" License Plates Pass Senate!

Here are the details of the shocking development on the Senate floor within the last hour which is bound to have the knickers of Planned Parenthood types in a twist and assorted liberals in an extended spot of bother, especially when cars with "Choose Life" license plates zip past them along the streets and byways of their tony precincts. Background: SB 801 was a bill patroned by Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) that would have not only created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of its proceeds to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. Unfortunately, the bill died on a 6-6 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee a couple of days ago when two Republican senators, Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), abstained from voting.

Opposition: This was a simple commonsense bill. Even to people who claim abortion is a last resort and who claim to be for "choice" it should have been an innocent piece of legislation. But the pro-abortion opposition —which cannot tolerate even anything optional that promotes life —denounced the plates as political in nature, and thus not allowable by law. Further, a family practitioner attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. 

On the floor: When another license plate bill came up on the Senate floor a little while ago, SB 817, its patron, Senator Richard Stuart (R-28, Montross), asked the body to accept the bill's committee substitute (a pro forma procedure), and was so moved by the Senate. Then Senator Cuccinelli rose and offered an amendment to include the Choose Life plates.

Reaction: Immediately, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) asked the chair, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, to rule the amendment non-germane. However, the LG quickly replied that while he may have had an argument in the original bill, now that Senator Saslaw and the rest of the Senate had adopted the committee amendments — which expanded the bill to include a panoply of plates that the LG gladly rattled off — he had no case. Just like that, there was a vote on agreeing to the amendment and it squeaked by 20-19. One pro forma procedural vote later, the new bill passed 33-5.

Victory: We're still waiting for the LIS site to post the yeas and neas, but the parliamentary maneuvering here was spectacular and dramatic, not to mention the glee we had in seeing Senator Saslaw tied in knots by Senate rules! This also shows, at least as far as some legislation, the Senate GOP is more effective as a one-seat minority then they were as a majority, mostly because it forces them to stick together (at least sometimes) and they want to prove they deserve to return to majority status by flashing some conservative credentials. What would actually happen if they recaptured control is a question for another day. Right now, it's time to enjoy this and work for SB 817's passage in the House.

As Crossover Approaches, It's All To Play For

Tuesday is "crossover" day in the General Assembly, the day when work on bills from their respective chambers must be complete. The past two weeks have been long and intense, as you have been able to tell by reading this blog and by the number of e-mail alerts you've received. (If you don't receive our e-mail alerts, you should. They are informative, fun, fast and have received critical acclaim. People tell us that when they read them, they feel as if they were in the committee room. Click here to sign up.)   Several bills in The Family Foundation's bill profile were acted on recently. Here's an update:

SB 1270: Abortion Center Licensing Requirement (Support)

This legislation, introduced by Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), would have required abortion centers to become licensed, have life-saving equipment in their facilities and submit to one yearly inspection. It was drafted to make abortion centers safer for the women who visit them. In fact, the original bill had numerous regulations, many of which pro-abortion activists claim are onerous and designed put these centers out of business. Anticipating this argument, Senator Vogel stripped down the bill to the three simple requirements listed above.

The fact is that there are several types of medical facilities that are much less invassive, such as podiatry centers; and altogether different types of facilities, such as puppy mills, that have much tougher regulations. Furthermore, all medical disciplines and specialities have oversight by peer review boards, with the notable exception of abortionists.

Finally, the pro-abortion side traditionally argues that the Board of Medicine regulates Virginia's abortion clinics. Fine. Senator Vogel presented SJ 276, which the Senate passed unanimously last year, that slams the Board of Medicine, citing a 1999 JLARC report, that discovered "the Board of Medicine  took too long to resolve cases, did not adequately protect the public from substandard practice by doctors, and did not handle medical malpractice cases adequately," among other charges. When confronted with its hypocrisy and the truth, the pro-abortion side did the only thing it could do — ignore it.

So, this bill, which seemed like a logical and bipartisan issue, failed in the Senate Education and Health Committee by a party line vote of 10-5. So much for "safe, legal and rare." Instead, in Virginia, abortion centers remain an exempted class, untouchable and protected by their overlords in the Senate. Read more about this issue here and see video of the Ed and Health hearing here.

SB 801: "Choose Life" License Plates (Support)

This legislation, from Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), not only would have created "Choose Life" license plates, but would have sent part of the proceeds from the plates to pregnancy resource centers around Virginia. The bill was debated in the Senate Transportation Committee. Of course, the opposition denounced the plates, claiming they are political in nature and out of the purview for recognition.

Even more infuriating, a family practitioner unashamedly attacked crisis pregnancy centers in her testimony. The bill died in committee by a vote of 6-6 with Senators Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake) and John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) abstaining. Senator Blevins was in the room up until just before the vote and then walked out — leaving a "proxy" vote of "abstain" behind.

HB 2579: Informed Consent, Ultrasound Requirement (Support)

Delegate Kathy Bryon's (R-22, Lynchburg) bill would require abortionists to take an ultrasound and allow the woman to view it if she desires before having an abortion. The Family Foundation supports this bill not only because it would give women medically accurate information to aid their decision making, but also with hopes that more women would choose life after clearly seeing that life inside them. The House Courts of Justice Committee reported this bill 15-6. It now goes to the House floor.   

HB 2634: Providing Information on Fetal Pain

Another informed consent bill, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), would require that a woman be told that her unborn child could feel pain during the abortion process and provide her with information on anesthesia for the child. Again, the House Courts of Justice Committee passed this bill 17-5, and the House will vote on it this week. See some of the sub-committee debate here.  

HB 1624, HB 1625, HB 1726, HB 2385, SB 945, SB 1247:  Legislation on "Sexual Orientation" (Oppose)

With homosexual rights advocates feeling emboldened by recent election victories, every effort has been made this legislative season to make sure that the term "sexual orientation" finds its way into Virginia code. It has been attempted in every form from group life insurance and housing discrimination, to making sure that it becomes a protected class under Virginia's human rights laws. Any incremental step they believe they can take, they will. Thankfully, we can report that all efforts to expand the homosexual agenda have failed thus far, with the exception of SB 945 (life insurance). 

These battles are far from over and other skirmishes over other issues undoubtedly will materialize. If ever it was all to play for, this year's second half is it.