LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation on Friday to require Michigan to create and sell an anti-abortion fundraising license plate, saying the bill is too politically contentious and would have divided residents.
The measure approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature would have required the "Choose Life" plate to be issued by next June.
"The 'Choose Life' license plate is a political message that has the potential to bitterly divide millions of Michiganders and that, in my view, is not appropriate for a state-issued license plate," Snyder said in a letter to lawmakers.
Michigan currently has fundraising plates for public universities and 14 special causes such as breast cancer awareness that cost drivers $35 initially and $10 each time they are renewed.
The money would have gone to a fund whose board is controlled by Right to Life of Michigan, which has long lobbied for the license plate. The board, which would have covered state costs to develop the new plate, would have dispersed grants to nonprofits including crisis pregnancy centers and those promoting "life-affirming programs and projects."
Snyder, who has signed some anti-abortion legislation but has also shown little overall enthusiasm for the hot-button issue, said "these are noble causes but having a private fund making funding decisions is a concern."
The legislation was sponsored by Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck of Wayne County's Canton Township, who is running for governor in 2018 when Snyder will be term-limited. He called the veto "disgraceful" and "sad," and said the bill would have helped to prevent abortions by providing support to women who worry about not having resources to raise a child.
The money also would have funded suicide-prevention programs, he said.
"That would buy a lot of diapers, a lot of gas for transportation and a lot of shelter for women facing some tough decisions," said Colbeck, who criticized Snyder for expanding Medicaid for people who cannot afford health insurance but not giving abortion foes the option to buy the license plate. Twenty-eight other states have "Choose Life" plates, he said.
Many Democrats opposed the bill and commended Snyder for vetoing it.
"A woman's right to choose remains a divisive topic, and it would be absolutely inappropriate for our state to weigh in on one side of the debate by issuing a license plate that favors one side of the issue over the other," said Rep. Erika Geiss of Taylor.
In 2012, Snyder vetoed legislation requiring residents who want health insurance coverage for abortions to buy an extra policy, citing concerns about government overreach and no exceptions for rape, incest or the woman's health. GOP legislators later bypassed Snyder and enacted a similar law through a Right to Life-backed citizens' initiative.
Senate Bill 163: http://bit.ly/2qYvVY6
Veto letter: http://bit.ly/2sabh3R
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