Terrorism spawns two new specialty license tag designs©Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times,
TALLAHASSEE -- The Legislature approved "United We Stand" and "American Red Cross" specialty auto license plates Tuesday and specified that money raised from the tags will go to efforts to fight terrorism and biological attacks.
Senate Majority Leader Jim King paraded up and down the aisle with an enlarged picture of the United We Stand plate as opponents argued against passing the bill. The picture depicted the American flag over an image of Florida.
Both plates would cost an extra $25 over regular registration fees and will be available July 1. Half the money from the American Red Cross plate would go to the organization and the other half to three statewide poison control centers for "combating bioterrorism and other poison-related purposes." Half the proceeds from the United We Stand plate would go to a grant program to improve security at airports and the other half to the federal rewards program to be used to help capture terrorists.
Organizations usually have to gather 40,000 petition signatures for lawmakers to consider specialty plates. The bill waived that provision, which Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale, protested could lead to scores of nonprofit groups seeking the same exemption.
"I was told if I spoke against this I would be considered un-American, a terrorist, probably a pig," Campbell said. Even so, he said it sets a bad precedent.
The bill passed 28-10.
"This is largely symbolic . . . but I think this is the right thing to do and the right time," said Buddy Dyer, D-Orlando.
The House later passed the measure 110-4, sending it to Gov. Jeb Bush.
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From the Times state desk
From the state wire