‘Choose Life’ license plate hits bump on road to Snyder
Lansing — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday sent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder a bill that would create a “Choose Life” license plate to raise funds for causes selected by a prominent anti-abortion group, but the GOP supermajority failed to secure enough votes for the measure to take effect immediately.
The procedural hiccup means the bill could not become active law until 90 days after the Legislature adjourns for the final time this year, likely meaning March 2018.
That timeline may not delay development of the plate, which the Secretary of State would have to complete by June 2018. But Tuesday’s decision to move forward without immediate effect suggests senate leadership is not convinced Snyder will sign the controversial measure into law.
“We should be fine,” said sponsoring Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a Canton Township Republican competing in the 2018 governor’s race. “It shouldn’t be an issue. We’ll just go off and implement it. It’s just a slight, that’s all.”
Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said the governor does not have a position on the legislation but “will review the final version when it reaches his desk.”
The proposed license plates would cost $35, including the standard $10 fee for a new plate, and raise funds for “life-affirming programs and projects” endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan.
Supporters say the fundraising plate would benefit women who have babies through unplanned pregnancies, but opponents argue the proposal amounts to state sponsorship for an organization with a political agenda to stop legal abortion.
Snyder describes himself as “pro-life” but vetoed a controversial abortion insurance bill in late 2012, prompting Right to Life to launch a successful petition drive that effectively bypassed him.
Senate Republicans have 27 members in the upper chamber and needed 26 votes to give the license plate bill immediate effect. Sen. Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights, sat out the procedural vote and Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, was absent.
While Green may have voted for immediate effect at a later date, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said he was content sending the bill to the governor’s desk as is for consideration.
Colbeck was visibly frustrated by Rocca, who was also the only Republican to vote against the underlying bill in April. Senate Republicans typically vote en masse for immediate effect regardless of how they voted on the bill itself.
“Normally that results in loss of chairmanships, but we’ll see what happens,” Colbeck said.
Rocca, who chairs the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, did not immediately return a request for comment left with his office.
Meekhof spokeswoman Amber McCann said the majority leader has no plans to sanction Rocca for sitting out the immediate effect vote.
“Sen. Rocca does from time to time choose to not vote with procedural items,” McCann said. “He has done it in the past. We appreciate the effort he puts into joining his caucus when it is necessary, but he felt strongly about that, and we’re not going to challenge him on that.”
All Senate Democrats voted against the bill in April after failing to win an amendment that would have directed license plate proceeds toward programs that reduce infant mortality.