'Choose life' plate clears committee

Lisa DemerAlaska Dispatch News

JUNEAU -- Alaskans against abortion might get a chance to display that message on their license plates.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, to create state "Choose life" license plates cleared its first committee Thursday with not a word of dissent.

As proposed, the plate would be yellow and include images of children's faces and the words "Choose life" in red.

All five members of the House State Affairs Committee present Thursday morning -- including two co-sponsors, Reps. Bob Lynn and Wes Keller, R-Wasilla -- recommended House Bill 111 pass.

Lynn, an Anchorage Republican who has been a leader in Alaska Right to Life, is the committee chair. Also recommending the bill pass were Reps. Pete Petersen, D-Anchorage, Paul Seaton, R-Homer, and Kyle Johansen, R-Ketchikan.

Millett told the committee that 26 states allow their motor vehicles office to issue such plates and 15 more are considering them. She said it would cost a driver $30, which is in line with other speciality plates.

Russ Amerling, with the Florida-based group Choose Life Inc., told the committee that Florida was the first state to offer the plates in 2000, and now more than 625,000 plates have been sold or renewed around the country, Amerling said.

There were challenges to the plates in early years but all failed and no lawsuits have been brought against a state for "Choose Life" license plates since 2005, Amerling said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska sent the committee a letter noting possible constitutional issues. For instance, if a "choose life" message is allowed, a pro-choice message might have to be as well. No one from the ACLU testified against House Bill 111.

The measure now heads to the House Finance Committee.

Contact Lisa Demer at LDemer@adn.com or on