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Politics & Government

Lawmakers Consider Politically Charged License Plates


Wisconsin produces nearly 40 special license plates. If you don’t want the standard “America’s Dairyland,” you can choose options such as “Packers” or “Ducks Unlimited” or “Marine Corps Veteran.”

On Tuesday, a legislative committee will hold a public hearing on a plan to carve out a few more slogans. At least one is drawing criticism: “In God We Trust.” Sen. Glenn Grothman is the co-sponsor.

“There are 16 states right now that have plates of that nature and it’s really a shame that so many people in other states are able to put In God We Trust on the plates and in Wisconsin, you can’t,” Grothman says.

What you have to do to get a special license plate is pay an additional $15 registration fee and sometimes donate $25 to a cause. In the case of “In God We Trust,” Grothman says the donations would go to the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

If the state moves ahead with the plan, Annie Laurie Gaylor says her group may sue. She’s co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It advocates for separation of church and state.

“The framers of our Constitution adopted an entirely God-less Constitution and I think they would be rolling in their graves,” Gaylor says.

Earlier this year, Gaylor’s group sued the federal government, demanding it remove the words, “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.

“Why does government need to buttress religion and why do religious people constantly try to use the government to promote their personal views?” Gaylor asks.

Gaylor says lawyers for the Foundation will be on hand at today’s public hearing.  Republican Glen Grothman says the threat of legal action won’t stop him from pushing his plan through the Legislature.

“There was a lawsuit filed when Indiana did this and it was upheld, so there was no problem down there and I don’t know why there would be a problem in Wisconsin,” Grothman says.

The Assembly Transportation Committee will also listen to opinions about three other proposed license plate slogans.

Another of Grothman’s reads, “Choose Life.” Contributions for that plate would go to the group “Choose Life Wisconsin.” The other two would benefit Wisconsin Trout Unlimited and the ALS Association.