- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

RICHMOND Senate lawmakers passed a bill yesterday that would allow Virginia motorists to put pro-life license plates on their vehicles, but might not have enough votes to avoid a veto by Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner.
"This is a gentle message of encouragement and raises money for adoption," said Delegate Richard H. Black, a Sterling Republican who sponsored the legislation.
The Senate passed the bill 25-14, and House lawmakers passed the bill 57-37 earlier this month. However, the Senate needed 27 votes and the House needed 67 votes to avoid the veto.
"I would hope that the governor would not veto a bill that is so important to adoption," said Mr. Black.
Ellen Qualls, Mr. Warner's press secretary, said he is concerned about license plates being used for "political advocacy or controversial sloganeering."
Proceeds from the "Choose Life" plates would go toward adoption-related programs that neither advocate nor advise abortion. The plates would cost $25 more than the standard fee, which is now under budget review.
Opponents say the bill would turn the state-sponsored plates into political bumper stickers.
"We need to haul these things in," said Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax County Democrat.
Mr. Warner also can sign, amend or return the bill to the General Assembly.
The Senate also passed a bill yesterday to ban a rarely performed medical procedure opponents call "partial-birth abortion."
The bill by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, passed with a veto-proof 29-11 margin. It passed in the House with a veto-proof 72-27 margin earlier this month.
The bill would make it illegal for doctors to kill a fetus partially emerged from the mother's body. The punishment would be a maximum 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Opponents say the legislation likely would face a court challenge.
A Virginia law banning the procedure was overturned after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar law in another state was unconstitutional.
Mr. Marshall says he thinks the bill will withstand a constitutional challenge because of the way it is crafted.
In other General Assembly news, the Senate postponed a vote until today on a bill that would regulate the type of information that can be posted on the Internet by clerks of courts.
According to existing Virginia law, the clerks must post public documents online to collect the commonwealth's portion of the technology trust fund.
But the bill, sponsored by Delegate Samuel A. Nixon Jr., Richmond Republican, would bar the posting of signatures, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, a mother's maiden name or financial account numbers.
A floor amendment added yesterday by Sen. William T. Bolling, Mechanicsville Republican, requires clerks to learn why people are searching the Internet for the information and whether they are U.S. citizens.


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