Bonilla Introduces Legislation to Bring Back Veterans License Plate

February 11, 2013 10:24 am · 26 comments

Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) has introduced a bill that will reestablish the “Veterans” license plate that is reserved for Californians who have served in the armed forces.

“Several veterans have expressed a desire to be able to purchase a California license plate that belongs to them, that specifically identifies them as a veteran,” said Assemblywoman Bonilla.

“That is why I am partnering with many veterans organizations to introduce this bill. Not only will it create this distinctive plate to properly recognize their service and sacrifice, but it will increase funding to County Veteran Service Offices to ensure that veterans have access to their guaranteed benefits including employment, retirement, medical and housing assistance.”

Bonilla’s legislation, designated Assembly Bill 244, will reestablish the “Veterans” license plate that was discontinued in 2010 and was replaced by the “Honoring Veterans” plate that can be purchased by any Californian who wishes to support veterans. That plate will still continue to be available if AB 244 is passed.

“Ever since the ‘Veterans’ license plate was discontinued, veterans and veterans groups have been clamoring for it to be brought back so that veterans can show their pride as veterans who have served their country during wartime,” said Pete Conaty, Retired Army officer and governmental affairs advocate for numerous veterans service organizations.

California has the largest population of veterans in the nation. Slightly less than two million veterans reside in California, with over 37,000 veterans returning to California each year.

The funds generated by the sales of the “Veterans” license plate will be distributed to County Veterans Service Offices to help maintain their operations.

great idea! February 11, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Love the idea! I hope it passes.

J. February 11, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Too bad there is NO way to get a Disabled-Veteran’s plate; you have to pick one or the other: Disabled or Veteran, but not both.

mixed feelings February 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM

I appreciate veterans as much as the next guy, but it seems to me the only reason to have a special plate only available to vets is to officially prove you are a vet to people who look at your plate. Who looks at your plate? Traffic cops? Is this to help vet organizations reduce traffic tickets for its members?

A little off topic, but…
We all appreciate vets but not all vets are the same. Some have seen combat, some not. Some have been permanently scarred or disabled by their service, some not. To me there are many degrees of heroism and sacrifice, and I think we lump them all together too much. Some vets need a ton of help because they lost so much while others just spent their service time getting paid and maybe learning some skills. My point is it’s not all the same and sometimes I feel like by treating it all the same you kind of devalue the sacrifice of the guy who lost his legs or had his buddy die in his arms. It’s not all the same that’s all I’m saying.

judaspriest February 11, 2013 at 11:18 AM

the previous veteran plates were nice ,, much more so than the current version granted you can still obtain a unit identifier for the plate.. but making it obvious that you are in fact a veteran is a much better way to go

the DMV needs to have requirements though in the previous version of the pate it identified you as a vet but anyone could order one … in order to obtain a plate you should have to send a copy of your DD214 otherwise there will be those that only want to pretend

1st CAV retired!!

Cowellian February 11, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I had to show my DD214 to get my specialized Veterans plate in Tennessee. Tennessee also has Disabled Vet plates as well as Retired Military plates with a logo for the branch of service.

@ mixed feelings February 11, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Let me take a while guess here. You never served in the armed forces did you? What am I saying. Of course you did not.

Howard K. Mullins III February 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM

@judaspriest February 11, 2013 at 11:18 AM

That’s a great idea. I hope they follow through.

Berlin Brigade

Mr. John February 11, 2013 at 12:14 PM

My only concern: Vets are sometimes targets. If I were a vet, I would not want to advertise it to everyone for fear that I could be targeted by some irrational person. I’d be proud to tell it to the people I know, but not to all the lunatics out there that I do not.

bluebird February 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Dear mixed feelings,

It is obvious you did not serve your country in the military, nor are you a dependent of someone who has. Even though some did not see war or combat, their service should not be “devalued” as you would suggest. They were ready at a moments notice to take up arms or fly into combat areas to keep you safe here at home.

It makes me mad when I read or hear comments such as yours. We thank all veterans, young, old, disabled, able-bodied, here with us today or those who have passed on, for their service to protect our rights to live in freedom. We thank those who didn’t serve but kept the home fires burning in their support roles. These folks are often left out but we know who we are and we keep doing what we do. Otherwise, we might have “mixed feelings” .

Jim February 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Love the vets and I have family that has served in the last 2 wars and what they sacraficed BUT I think it’s another way for the state to add revenue…so if this money is going to help vet organizations will they direct the genral funds from taxes that are currently alloted toward paying off California’s debt or is this just another way for lawmaker’s to “shuffle the deck”

Jojo Potato February 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Not that I don’t appreciate veterans, am one too, but I think Ms. Bonilla could better spend her time doing her job. I’m sure there are lots of deserving groups that could have special plates. Rather than trying to get votes by catering to a specific group (and their votes), how about balancing the budget or other such useful projects?

LoudPipesSaveLives February 11, 2013 at 1:20 PM

I agree with BlueBird and Jim, It takes guts to step up to the plate. It would be nice to give those recognition. The funds should go to veteran organizations, PERIOD

vindex February 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

It is a no-brainer yes. If people want to have that plate, and they want to pay more for it. Sure.

Cowellian February 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM

JoJo Potato@11,
Most states have a variety of specialty plates. Some states prohibit politically sensitive ones, while other states allow them. Tennessee has Susan B. Komen plates, as well as Choose Life plates. Virtually every college in the State, as well as SEC schools have their own TN plates. ALL specialty plates cost more than regular plates, with the additional funds being split between the sponsoring organization and the state.

California already has quite a few specialty plates, and there are procedures for any group that wants their own plate. Since the additional funding would support local veterans groups, it makes sense to bring them the Veterans plates back.

mixed feelings February 11, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Actually, I was army infantry, mechanized infantry to be specific. Trained in ft benning, stationed in ft lewis. In case that’s not enough for you zealots my father was in the Navy, my uncle was in nam, and my grandfather lost a chunk of his skull fighting at guadal canal.

My service was between the gulf war and 9-11 so my unit wasn’t put into combat or even a combat zone. Like nearly everyone in my unit, I was a young man who joined to gain stability and make progress in my own life, not to be some kind of martyr hero for my country. While being in the military was a hardship, it was an enriching experience that I would never replace. I came out of it a better person and better off than when I went in, but not all are so lucky.

So, yeah, I am speaking from direct experience that not all vets are the same. So yeah, I served my country with my time and effort, but I also got room, board, and even a paycheck on top of it. In other words, when it comes to a vet like me, we are EVEN.

Not so when it comes to someone who lost their life, legs, or sanity. You can never make things square with them, which is why we honor them. It’s the least we can do to say sorry for putting them in harms way, to say sorry cause it’s our fault, because they lost their legs so we could keep our safety.

So I personally as a vet who honestly got a fair trade feel like it’s shameful to compare able-bodied vets like me to others who are scarred or disabled for life. Ya, thanks for working your job in the military for X years. Good for you. Not like you didn’t get paid for it. But you’re not my hero for just having a tough job, or even one with an element of danger. You don’t get to be on that same level when there are other guys who gave so much more. How can you let people put you on that level, how can you put yourself on that level?

I’m not saying don’t honor vets. I’m just saying not all vets are the same.

Jojo Potato February 11, 2013 at 2:05 PM

@Cowellian – What I was trying to get at was, let’s stop trying to have the government do everything for everybody. I’m sure it would be cheaper to just issue plain plates for everyone and cut out the who bureaucracy for maintaining all the special interest plates. I doubt if the increased plate fees pay for the whole process. If you want to send a message, get a bumper sticker.

Mimi (original) February 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

The wider variety of personalized plates available the better, in my opinion!

Anon February 11, 2013 at 4:32 PM

So are there two classes of citizens now: veterans and non-veterans? I don’t remember that being mentioned in the Constitution.

Bill February 11, 2013 at 6:35 PM

@ Mixed feelings, trust me, Cops could care less if you have a Veterans plate!! One would think it might give a degree of respect or a second chance for a small infraction, but it is the exception not the rule. Today’s Police are more tax collector than peace officer. When you see a cop chase a minor speeder right past a woman and her kid broken down on the side of the road then you know what’s really up!! It’s all about the revenue… Cop enters freeway, first car cop sees with a minor infraction gets pulled over, cop turns around and does the same thing going the other direction! BTW, I believe a Veteran who signed up to defend our country should get the benefit of the doubt from the police..

The Dude February 11, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I’m all for them having the plates, but it sure seems like Susan Bonilla is an expert at avoiding working on any real, pressing problems. Just votes yes for anything put in front of her.

Dennis February 11, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Sooooo … I’m a combat veteran (Vietnam 68,69,70) and I don’t have a problem with vets paying extra to get a ‘veteran’ vanity plate. I do have 2 issues Ms Bonilla should address, however.
First, it appears the fees will cover the costs of the plates, and maybe have some $ excess to donate to vetersns groups. Who chooses? Will that donation be tax deductable? If not, lower the fee to the exact cost and let the veterans decide how much, and to whom, the donations should be.
Second, as a Vietnam Vet, I have seen the distain with which some politicians treat us. I was originally elated by the announcement of the Vietnam Service Medal, thinking the military haters in Congress were extending an olive branch at lasy. Then the award was changed to Vietnam ERA Service Medal. That’s right, folks, if you were the club pro at an officer’s club golf course in Paris, any time during the Vietnam ERA, you were entitled to the award. Just like the guys who actually served IN Vietnam. Result: it was no longer a tribute to Vietnam Vets, but a way the military-haters could say “your service was no more noble or honorable than the guy doing laundry in London”.
So make it clear this is just a vanity plate, bought by the vet, and is NOT and award or sign of gratitude from the government to the vets.

Dennis February 11, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Am I correct in thinking tjat the vanity plates are leased, not owned? The first year fees cover the cost of the plates, but subsequent years there is no cost, and the fees are just additional revenue, which the State promises to spend appropriately?
How about charging vets extra the first year to cover the additional cost, and subsequent years charge the same registration fees as those with normal plates?

If she really cares about Veterans February 12, 2013 at 8:06 AM

maybe she can come keep me company while I sit and wait for five hours at VA clinic for a 20 minute visit.

Geezer February 12, 2013 at 11:01 AM

As a Vietnam ERA Vet, I can understand where @mixedfeelings and @Dennis are coming from. I served in the Air Force from 67-72. As the Air Force was tasked with fighting the Cold War with the Soviet Union, I spent most of my time at tiny radar sites around the country (including Alaska) watching for the Russians to bomb us. I never lost a foot to a pungi stick, or got shot at by the “cong”. But I have the utmost respect for those who did. And I have the utmost respect for the “kids” who went to Iraq and Afghanastan with the IED’s and car bombs. We are all veterens, but some of us gave up more than others in answer to our countries call. I really like the idea of a Disabled Vet plate, and I think maybe Disbaled Vets should get a break on the cost. (preferably FREE). A plain old Vet plate is nice, and I might spring for the cost of one, but my heart goes to the Vets who left a piece of themselfs in a foreign land while defending my right to post my opinion on a blog like this. Thank you to every man and woman Vet…….

J. February 12, 2013 at 12:35 PM

All Vets throw themselves in to the pool to be on the front lines. They can be called up to the front lines at any time during their service. Or, they are drafted in to the pool. Either way, they can all go in harms way, if needed. To keep the machine oiled, the military needs the laundry done in London, the greens groomed in Greenwich, and the Humvees serviced in Iraq.

Tree Farm February 13, 2013 at 7:44 AM

@ Bill, you are a loser. Enjoy your life, sheep.

As a veteran who just reregistered my truck- I could not afford the current vanity plate for veterans. The cost of the plate plus my registration was $400. I have two young children at home and can not justify the increased cost that happened overnight on January 1st, 2013. The veteran plate cost went up $40. Thanks Califonia!

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