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Trump v. California

California attempt to create symbolic “pro-choice” license plates falters

A bill that would have allowed Californians to buy “pro-choice” license plates—designed as a small but symbolic rebuke to President Trump and congressional Republicans—has died in an Assembly fiscal committee.

The bill had sailed through the state Senate and an Assembly policy committee, but it was among dozens of bills the Assembly Appropriations Committee blocked as the Legislature heads into its final days of the session.

Senate Bill 309’s author, Democratic Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, said she was disappointed. “I hope to continue pursuing this effort,” she said in a statement, “because I think it is an important statement and opportunity for Californians to express their strong support for women’s reproductive healthcare.”

Her legislation would have directed the California Department of Motor Vehicles to offer a “California Trusts Women” specialty license plate if 7,500 orders were placed.

Proposed pro-choice license plate

One proposed pro-choice license plate, featuring an image by Mimi Pond

Jackson wrote the bill so that the money raised would help fund the state’s Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program, which helps pay for services for $1.8 million low-income Californians. But bill came with a price tag: An analysis by the Assembly Appropriations Committee estimated it would cost the up to $590,000 to create the specialized license plate, including computer programming changes, new forms and administrative costs. The state would have been reimbursed by the fees Californians would have paid to get the plate.

Earlier this year, Trump and Congressional Republicans had targeted abortion providers in their unsuccessful rewrites of the Affordable Care Act, seeking to gut federal funding to any provider that offers abortions as part of its family planning services.

More than two dozen other states offer residents a “pro-life” license plate option—an idea that has not advanced in the California Legislature given that Democrats hold super-majorities in both chambers.

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