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Hearing for bill to create 'Choose Life' license plate proves contentious

A state Assembly committee held a public hearing on Tuesday on a bill that would create a license plate with the words "Choose Life."

Discussion during the hearing was contentious, with some committee members expressing concern about the organization that would collect funds from the license plates for the state's pregnancy care centers.

Under the bill, people interested in getting the plate would pay regular registration and a special plate fee; they would also make an annual $25 payment, which would go to Choose Life Wisconsin, a new organization.

President of the organization Julaine Appling says this is an exciting plate for them to champion: "This is a very bona fide, legitimate way of people in this state supporting organizations they chose to support."

Committee members questioned Choose Life Wisconsin about its nonprofit status, its bylaws, and its politics. Appling says they've applied for nonprofit status and have complied with other requirements.

Nora Cusack of the nonprofit Women's Medical Fund, Inc., spoke against the plates. She says the bill lacks specifics regarding the purpose and bylaws of Choose Life Wisconsin: "There is absolutely no accountability specified in [the bill]."

Other organizations support the legislation, including Wisconsin Right to Life and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference. More than 60 people didn't speak, but registered against the bill.