Keating signs bill for 'Choose Life'' license plate

Tuesday, May 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A bill permitting ``Choose Life'' license plates as a way of promoting adoption was signed into law Monday by Gov. Frank Keating.

Under the bill, the speciality license plate can be purchased for $25 by ``anyone who wishes to demonstrate support of organizations that encourage adoption as a positive choice for women with unplanned pregnancies.''

Proceeds from license plate sales would go into a fund to be distributed by the Department of Human Services to nonprofit organizations for counseling and other needs of pregnant women.

Similar bills passed in other states have come under legal attack from abortion right advocates, who argue that women who go to some adoption clinics do not get balanced information.

Earlier in the legislative session, Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, saw his Choose Life measure die in a Senate committee. But it was revived on the Senate floor through an amendment offered by Sen. Jim Williamson, R-Tulsa.

Balkman said senators responded to pressure from petitions signed by supporters of the measure.

He said he introduced the original bill after being contacted by Lori Sowers of Norman, who had been a volunteer at a crisis center for pregnant women. She said some had been ``kicked out of their house'' and ``I thought this would be a great way to raise money for them.''

Some critics have said the license plate promotes ``a political message,'' but Sowers said it was ``not a pro-life, pro-choice issue, necessarily.

``It's just a way to help make adoption into a more viable option in Oklahoma.''

Keating also signed House Bill 2110, by Rep. James Covey, D-Custer City, and Sen. Paul Muegge, D-Tonkawa, which promotes milk as the official state drink and renames the Department of Agriculture as the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

The governor signed House Bill 2380, which prohibits the Oklahoma Transportation Authority from constructing a turnpike from the Kansas state line south to the Texas state line in the vicinity of U.S. 69 in eastern Oklahoma.

He vetoed Senate Bill 1359, which created the Oklahoma Biennial Compensation Review Board to make recommendations on the pay of classified state workers.

Keating said the board would have duplicated work being done by the Office of Personnel Management.

Since taking office in 1995, Keating has used his veto power a record 272 times. He has yet to be overridden.