UPDATE: After yet another filibuster carried out by Senator Ernie Chambers, the Legislature voted today (March 6th, 2017) to advance the second piece of the “Choose Life” license plate bill: an appropriation in the amount of $9,631 as a one-time, up-front cost for creating the plates.
The motion to “invoke cloture” (i.e., to “break” the filibuster) prevailed 39-1-8 (Yes-No-Not Voting, respectively). To see how your senator voted, click here. The vote to advance the bill came out 36-1-11. Click here to see your senator’s vote.
In closing, several misconceptions arose during the filibuster and are worth addressing:
- LB 46 is not a Pro-Life bill. This is plainly false. LB 46 would authorize the DMV to create license plates saying “Choose Life”, in express recognition of the humanity of the unborn child and as a note of consolation and encouragement for those who are contemplating abortion. Women around the country report having a change-of-heart after seeing “Choose Life” license plates on the road. Additionally, most of the fees collected to fund the plates will be distributed to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in recognition of the dignity of both the unborn and the born – from conception to natural death.
- LB 46 is not necessary. This is argued because of the fact that current law allows for a private organization to petition the DMV to create a specialty license plate for a certain cause. However, this process requires 250 applications at a cost of $70 each, and any license plate created for such cause will cost drivers an additional $70 a year, on top of whatever registration fees they already owe. What’s more, such fees will be distributed only to the DMV and the Highway Trust Fund – not to needy families. Under LB 46, on the other hand, “Choose Life” license plates will cost just $5 extra per year, or $40 extra if you desire a personalized message, and most of the funds will be distributed to needy families.
- LB 46 might be unconstitutional. Again, this is plainly false. Less than two short years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court itself explicitly upheld “Choose Life” license plates in North Carolina (see ACLU v. Berger (U.S. 2015)) against a challenge under the First Amendment. The Free Speech Clause clearly allows government to encourage all people of good will to “Choose Life.”
“Choose Life” – LB 46
“Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” – St. Gregory Nazianzen
They may seem small, but “Choose Life” license plates have given a message of hope to those in need throughout the country. From Memphis to Jacksonville to Tampa, women seeking abortion report experiencing a change of heart upon seeing a “Choose Life” license plate on the road.
On February 28th, the Legislature broke a vehement filibuster by Senator Ernie Chambers and advanced LB 46 to the second round of debate. The bill will require the Nebraska DMV to design “Choose Life” license plates and bring our state up to speed with 29 other states that already authorize such plates. Standard “Choose Life” plates will cost an extra $5 fee, all of which will be transferred to Nebraska’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF). Message plates will cost a fee of $40, 75% of which will be transferred to TANF.
Please thank your senator if they voted for “Choose Life” license plates in the Legislature. You can see how your senator voted on the motion to break the filibuster here. For the subsequent vote on the bill itself, click here.
The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly upheld the validity of “Choose Life” license plates in another state. In June 2015, the Supreme Court reversed a decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (ACLU v. Berger) that had erroneously invalidated “Choose Life” plates in North Carolina simply because the state did not simultaneously issue pro-abortion license plates.
The Supreme Court applied a recent landmark decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (U.S. 2015), which held that, under the First Amendment, each state has the right to authorize certain viewpoints on license plates without simultaneously authorizing opposing viewpoints. Still, pro-abortion proponents maintain the freedom to petition the Nebraska DMV or pass their own bill to authorize license plates with an opposing viewpoint.
The Legislature still needs to advance the “Appropriations bill” to authorize the requisite funding to create “Choose Life” plates. The one-time cost is less than $10,000. Senator Ernie Chambers is threatening yet another filibuster.
Check back soon for updates.
Posted on Wed, March 1, 2017
by Tom Venzor