Florida Senate passes bill handing license plate money over to national anti-abortion rights group
State Sen. Mike Fasano’s Senate Bill 196, which would redistribute funds made off of Florida’s “Choose Life” license plates, passed a Senate vote today. The bill will next be voted on by the House before it moves to the governor’s office.
Current law states that funds made off of the brightly colored plates must go to the individual counties in which the plates where purchased, and then to agencies that help pregnant women making adoption plans for their children. The majority of the funds (70 percent) must go to meeting women’s physical needs (diapers, housing, etc.), and the remainder can go to counseling services.
Fasano’s bill redirects funds into the hands of Choose Life, Inc., the agency responsible for putting the plates on automobiles around the country. According to S.B. 196, Choose Life must then distribute those funds to agencies that serve the physical needs of women making adoption plans. Though the bill specifies that any physical need of a woman may be funded by the plate’s sales, the 70/30 split will no longer be written into law — a change some say could lead to further funding of controversial crisis pregnancy centers. The child may also reap the benefit of the funds, as he or she waits for adoptive parents.
The bill stipulates that money made in Florida must stay in Florida, and cannot be used to fund another Choose Life entity. Russ Amerling, head of Choose Life Florida, often helps groups in other states create similar plates. The stipulation in Fasano’s bill would mean that funds made in, say, Tallahassee, wouldn’t wind up in Alaska, where a group is actively pursuing its own version of the plate.
The bill still aims for money to stay in the respective counties where the plate was purchased, but makes exceptions for small counties that may not have a qualified agency.
“If there is no qualfied agency in a 100-mile radius, other agencies can apply,” says Greg Giordano, Fasano’s chief legislative aide. “If no agencies apply, Choose Life will hold on to the funds until a qualified agency does apply.”
The language from the Senate version of the Choose Life bill has been amended onto the House version, which will be voted on before making its way to Gov. Scott’s office.