Buchanan & DeSaulnier battle over license plates

Their East Bay Districts overlap, but Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier certainly weren’t seeing eye to eye at Monday’s Assembly Transportation Committee hearing.

DeSaulnier, D-Concord, was there to speak on behalf of his SB544, which would require the California Department of Education to apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for creation of a specialized license plate program to generate funds for school violence prevention programs.

DeSaulnierThe problem is, DeSaulnier – who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee – earlier this year helped push through a resolution, SR28, that puts a moratorium on new license plate types until a task force made up of California Highway Patrol, DMV and local police can issue a report by July 2015 “on license plate designs appropriate for traffic safety and effective law enforcement in today’s environment.”

And that resolution essentially put the kibosh on Buchanan’s AB49, which would require the Department of Health Care Services to apply to DMV for a special license plate promoting breast cancer awareness – what supporters call the “pink plate” bill. AB49 now languishes in the Senate Rules Committee.

“Could you please explain to me why you should not have to follow the same rules as everyone else, and why this plate and any other should not be subject to the pending results of the study?” Buchanan, D-Alamo, asked DeSaulnier on Monday. “Because it seems to me that when we write a bill that kills one, it should apply to everybody, especially the author of that resolution.”

The difference, DeSaulnier replied, is that “the full-plate pink plate had a problem, in my conversations with the CHP” – police were concerned that the fully colored plate might be hard to distinguish from other states’ plates, especially under twilight conditions. His school-violence prevention plate, he said, merely has a logo on one side, not a fully different color.

But Buchanan insists SR28 applies to all specialty license plates. And “if we’re going to pass a resolution that clearly states it applies to all specialty plate types… we should be applying that equally to all license plates and not making special carve-outs,” she said.

Replied DeSaulnier: “If someone comes together with a plate that complies with our rules then it will get out of our committee.”

“Right now, my opinion is, your plate does not,” he told Buchanan. “In my discussions with CHP, they had some questions, so that’s why we’re doing the study. … My whole difficulty with your plate was whether public safety could see or not.”

Buchanan held her ground. “I believe for us to approve a bill that’s in conflict with an existing senate resolution that came out of the senate transportation department is not responsible,” she said. “I think that if they want to change it, it should be changed first.”

The Assembly Transportation committee voted 10-3 to advance DeSaulnier’s bill, which is now pending before the Assembly Education Committee.

The California Channel has video of the exchange here (starting at the 50-minute mark).

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Willis James

    Just a bunch of pandering fools. Each trying to advance their “caring” credentials by choosing a popular subject for new license plates.
    School violence
    Breast cancer

    Why not have every legislator pick a popular license plate category?
    Where are the prostate cancer plates? I guess men’s illness doesn’t rate. What would they look like? DRE4YOU

    BTW, since more Americans will die of heart disease, where is the “prevent heart disease” plate? I can see folks pulling up to the drive through window at In-N-Out sporting their “prevent heart disease” plates.

    I want one of the Support Police plates.

  • Elwood

    Well, hopefully, arguing about silly **** like this can keep them from doing any real damage.

  • Heather Goff-Solari

    Wills, Breast cancer does not discriminate. Both men and women can get it.

  • Willis James

    Oh please…. Tell me how many men get breast cancer and how many men get prostate cancer?

    In fact, more men get prostate cancer than women get breast cancer. Yet we seldom see the “pink” equivalent for prostate cancer being put forth by legislators or others.

    The whole “pink” thing is overdone. You have to ask, how much progress or prevention or even early detection has been accomplished by the pink movement. In my estimation it has been far more about politics and a general women’s movement than it has been about actual health outcomes.

    All the emphasis on early detection has not proven to shift the outcomes much at all.
    Sure, you have increase percentages of those who live 5 years or more, but mostly only because they are diagnosed several years earlier in the same process that would take place with or without early detection.

    Just saying, that the ‘pink’ thing has been way overdone. NFL, pink shoes, etc. Now a new license plate. Pink ribbons.

  • Deborah Bordeau

    Willis – I would gladly support a plate that promoted prostate cancer awareness and research. I’d gladly support a plate that supports law enforcement. Are you working on these? Can I help your efforts in some way? I’m all for raising awareness for worthy causes, i.e., the ones you mentioned and breast cancer. That’s why I’m campaigning for the Pink Plate. The four of us who started this plate are true believers – if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. So, again, where can I find or how can I help your efforts on prostrate cancer??

  • Willis James

    My point was that it is difficult for any politician to do anything but get on board for such a new license plate. Just look at the co-author list.
    What politician want to face a opponent in the next election saying Senator, or Assemblyman… x voted against the Pink Plate?
    So they all pile on to co-author. Then voluntarily people choose to purchase the plate (no problem there).

    I just think there is a element of pandering involved and I reacted to it.

    That, plus the flood of “pink” issues we see almost daily. The Avon walk seems never ending. At the grocery store I am asked if I want to contribute to fight breast cancer.
    The NFL and others all wearing pink gloves, shoes… Products saying “we support” some form of pink.
    Its sometimes as though it was the only disease there is. Mean while, ask a store clerk where the similar donation for prostate cancer should go..and you draw a blank stare.

    I see in the bill that it says funds to “be allocated for the provision of early breast cancer detection services for uninsured and underinsured women.”

    That seems worthwhile, though I don’t know what the money is actually spent on and how effectively it is spent, or would be spent, in that process.
    I don’t imagine those issues will come up often in the passage of AB49.

    All in all, it just seems like “pink” is getting a disproportionate emphasis compared to so many other issues involving health for men and women.
    Far more for example than women’s heart disease which affects many more women.
    BTW, I don’t think we need a license plate for prostate cancer and certainly not for “police support”.

  • JohnW

    We probably shouldn’t discuss the color for the prostate awareness plates. And those should probably only be allowed for the rear plate.

    I’m all for disease awareness. But I’m a bit old school. License plates are for law enforcement. They’re not billboards. And their effectiveness for law enforcement shouldn’t be compromised by special colors.

  • Heather Schemel-Mccullough

    Hi Willis- Everything that you mention about the Pink and companies using the cause to make money instead of focusing on the efforts is EXACTLY why we went with the Pink Plate Idea. Safeway is the worst. Their employee’s don’t even know where the money goes or what it supports! Our plate would 100% fund an excellent program for women that cannot afford screeenings, and ZERO funds would go towards a company/organization like Safeway, Komen, etc. We were tired of companies taking advantage of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we want to help keep women informed every day, every month, every year, not just in the month of October. I understand and agree with you that there are other causes out there that don’t get as much attention. But if noone is willing to step up and do something about it, then it will never get better. The county we live in has one of the highest rates of Breast Cancer in California. For us, this is our cause- we are breast cancer survivors, fighting for something we beleive in. I encourage anyone that beleives in something and wants to fight for it to do the same!

  • Elwood

    The leading cause of death for women is heart disease. The second leading cause is cancer of all types.

    What is so special about breast cancer?