A bill that would give Tennessee drivers the option to put the phrase “In God We Trust” on state license plates advanced to the full Tennessee Senate, where it will be discussed and voted on as soon as next week.
The Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee voted 9-0 in favor of sending the bill to a floor vote Monday after Sen. Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) removed a provision that would have mandated that the phrase be used on all license plates, the Associated Press reported.
The bill’s revision to make the license plates optional reduced the estimated $19.8 million cost to the state, the Tennessean reported.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote in an opinion requested by Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Ketron), the sponsor of the House version of the bill, that he found the bill to be “constitutionally suspect,” WBIR reported.
Slatery said the plates would would likely violate free speech protections and the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The companion bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Transportation Committee Tuesday after it was deferred for more than two weeks.