Among the bills Gov. Rick Scott signed into law yesterday was House Bill 501, a measure that redefines how money made from sales of Florida’s bright yellow “Choose Life” license plates is spent.
Funds raised through the sale of the plates have traditionally gone to individual counties — the counties that sold the most plates receiving the bulk of the funds. The majority of the money was then distributed to pregnancy centers that worked to meet the physical needs of women seeking an adoption plan for their unborn child. By law, only 30 percent or less of those funds could go toward counseling services or advertising (which many argue perform no real medical purpose).
The newly signed bill undoes that 70/30 split, allowing for any amount of the funds to go toward crisis pregnancy centers, largely religious organizations that have been found to disseminate false information.
With the new legislation, funds made from the sale of the “Choose Life” plates will no longer be run through individual state counties. Instead, money will go directly to Choose Life, Inc., which is required to keep the funds in the state of Florida and continue using those funds to meet the physical needs of pregnant women. By law, though, Choose Life can now give more than 30 percent to crisis pregnancy centers.
Due to tough questions from critics, both the Senate and House versions of the bill were amended several times before making their way to Scott.