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LaFave backs bill focusing on disabled veterans

LANSING — The House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved a plan giving 100-percent disabled military veterans greater access to Michigan’s state parks and license plate options.

Currently, 100-percent disabled veterans are only able to receive a Disabled Veteran (DV) license plate with no registration cost. Under the plan sponsored by state Rep. Beau LaFave, who was born with a disability that requires him to use a prosthetic leg, and co-sponsored by Rep. Greg Markkanen, a veteran with 26 years of military service, honorably discharged 100-percent military disabled veterans will be able to select a license plate of their choice other than a DV plate while retaining the same tax exemption and benefits associated with one.

“It’s an honor to be at the helm of a variety of veterans issues before the Legislature aimed at making the lives of our service members a little bit easier upon returning home to Michigan,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “This particular effort has been a top priority of mine as chair of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee, and it’s nice to see the unanimous bipartisan support behind it. Members of the Armed Services who have fought valiantly to protect the freedoms we enjoy each and every day shouldn’t have to face financial barriers when it comes to receiving the benefits they rightfully deserve.”

Michigan veterans already can access state parks for free with a DV license plate. However, when it comes to disclosing disability statuses, LaFave said it varies from veteran to veteran and that some would rather forgo a DV license plate.

“Regardless of where a veteran falls on the spectrum of disclosing their disability status, we should be providing more options for disclosure,” LaFave said. “Not every veteran wants to disclose their disability to every driver on U.S. 2 or in the Super One parking lot.”

The plan would also allow all 100-percent disabled military veterans, regardless of whether they registered for a DV plate or not, to park in handicap spaces without the handicap parking placard. LaFave said this would ensure no veteran would be at risk of prosecution for a parking violation.

The legislation also amends the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to reflect the new license plate options and waive the state park access fee.

“It’s critical that we take care of our veterans,” said Markkanen, of Hancock. “They have sacrificed so much for their country and our most cherished freedoms. Giving them more options and greater access to our state parks so they can enjoy all of Michigan with their families is the least we can do.”

Both House Bills 4551 and 4552 now move to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

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