This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A bill to allow a special license plate to honor Martin Luther King Jr. to raise money for education and training in human rights may not sound controversial. But it created some Tuesday, when a few lawmakers worried that it may help promote abortion or other actions they dislike.
The House Transportation Committee still approved HB506 by Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, on a 7-3 vote, and sent it to the full House. But not before a few lawmakers questioned if the "rights" it would help promote include abortion or government-funded welfare programs.
The bill would allow sale of the special license plates to people who agree to make a $35 year donation to a special Martin Luther King account. Chavez-Houck said money would go mainly for scholarships and internships, but the bill said it would go to help promote human rights.
Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, asked Roderic R. Land, chairman of the Utah Martin Luther King Human Rights Commission who pushed the bill with Chavez-Houck, to define human rights and asked him if he personally feels abortion is a right. Land responded that he is pro-choice.
Daw said the wording of the bill was too "wide open." He said, "We leave ourselves open for things that frankly I don't agree with," and opposed the bill.
Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, said he was concerned that Land also listed avoiding hunger and obtaining education as rights in his testimony. Nielson said he supports such causes but, "I'm very challenged in seeing that as rights that government should secure," and he opposed the bill.
Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, also opposed it, saying, "I vote against every license plate bill because I just get very concerned about government being tool or an avenue for fundraising."