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Lawmakers discuss removing Confederate flag from license plates

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Confederate flag has disappeared from some places, but it’s still on some Tennessee license plates.

The controversial flag landed on the agenda on Capitol Hill on Monday where lawmakers are weighing in on a lot of hot button issues, including a proposed ban on Confederate flag license plates.

The bill’s sponsor said the state should not celebrate a symbol of racism while the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization said the flag represents a diverse group of people who deserve freedom of expression from the state.

When choosing a license plate in Tennessee, drivers have a plethora of options, all to showcase symbols important to them. The Confederate flag is one of them.

State Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, believes it’s one that shouldn’t have government support.

Her bill would stop the issuance and renewal of the Sons of Confederate Veterans specialized plates that don the flag. It would apply to all motor vehicles and motorcycles.

The fiscal note on the bill said as of Oct. 1, 2015, a little more than 3,000 specialty plates and 28 personalized plates were registered as SCV, displaying the flag.

“I do not want the state to issue this symbol of racism and hate,” said Kyle. “Any time you have symbols that designate hate or racism, we are just empowering more people to use these type symbols.”

Last June Gov. Bill Haslam said he’d support the removal of the Confederate flags from Tennessee license plates. He said he still does today.

The executive director of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said it is an attempt to limit first amendment rights and freedom of expression.

“I don’t think the state has any responsibility to deny an individual of his freedom of expression, and the second part of that is money from the sale of each SCV license plate goes right back to the state,” said Sons of Confederate Veterans Executive Director Michael Landree. “It actually goes to the state museum to preserve Confederate flags, original Confederate flags, that are in the state museum.”

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