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MAHONING VALLEY Film commission founder seeks aid to promote area



Published: Sat, February 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



COLUMBUS (AP) -- Motorists could declare their country "One Nation Under God" with a proposed specialty license plate.

Thirty of 33 senators signed on as co-sponsors when the bill was introduced this week.

"I figured it was a major part of our heritage, and we should have that option," bill sponsor Robert Spada, a North Royalton Republican, said.

Democratic Sens. Robert Hagan of Youngstown and Ray Miller of Columbus declined to sponsor it. Republican Sen. Steve Stivers is away from the Senate on military duty.

"This license plate will simply give families who support the Pledge of Allegiance a simple and affordable way to do so," said Rep. Tom Patton, who introduced his version of the bill in the House.

Spada said legislators have received a few calls from people who object to state-issued plates having a reference to God.

The "under God" phrase made news last year when an atheist objected to his daughter saying it when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at school. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out Michael Newdow's first case because he did not have full custody of the girl, but he and other parents renewed the lawsuit last month arguing an unconstitutional blending of church and state.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is considering challenging a "Choose Life" license plate approved last year but has no opinion on the "under God" proposal.

"If the state opens up the forum to everybody, they can't keep out religious people," said Chris Link, executive director.

New plates must be approved by the legislature after receiving 1,000 signatures of drivers who would consider buying it. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers about 40 specialty plate designs, which cost an additional $10 to $35 a year.

Plates featuring sports teams are the most popular sellers, spokesman Fred Stratman said.




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