Lawmaker Pushes for Veteran Discounts on Specialty License Plates


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HARTFORD — A state lawmaker is pushing for the fourth year in a row to provide veterans with discounts on specialty license plates, as a gesture to honor their service. 

“I’ve always had a special place in my heart for veterans, and a lot of veterans struggle financially, even mentally and physically. They were proud to serve our country and we should be proud of that,” said State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus, R-Prospect, a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “It’s a way of giving back to them. I think it’s a level of respect.”

The bill would give veterans a 50% discount on specialty veterans license plates. According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, there are 18 different veterans-style plates that cost between $10 and $134 depending on the style and design.

Zupkus ideally wanted veterans to receive specialty plates for free, but said “this was a compromise.” 

A DMV spokesperson said on Friday it was too soon to determine the financial impact of the fee reduction, though a cost analysis from a similar proposal in 2023 suggested it could result in an annual revenue loss under $20,000.

Zupkus, whose father, grandfather and daughter served in the military, said speciality license plates are one way veterans can show off their pride. 

“They want to say ‘Hey, I served, and I support our military.’’’

The bill still needs to pass out of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which members say is highly likely. The measure would then need support of both legislative chambers and to be signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont.

“I think everyone across the board, especially in the Veterans Committee, work very closely together. Party politics don’t get into the equation here. It’s about what is the best thing we can do for our veterans,” Veterans and Military Affairs Committee member State Rep. Farley Santos, D-Danbury, told CT Examiner this week.

Santos said giving a discount on specialty veterans plates “is a very basic thing that we can do to honor those that served their country. … We don’t have a comprehension of the sacrifices they [veterans] made for us. I’m really proud of their service and I’m happy to do all I can to help them.”

“I like the fact that specialty plates are out there because it allows you to acknowledge your past and it allows for other people to recognize what you have done,” said State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who served in the U.S. Army from 1974 to 1978. “If you see someone in a car with a speciality plate, wave to them.”

East Lyme resident Brian Burridge, who served in the U.S. Navy and Connecticut National Guard, currently volunteers as a veterans representative for the state Department of Veterans Affairs. In that role, Burridge is often the first point of contact for veterans, helps them fill out benefit forms and provides transportation to medical appointments. 

Burridge also sponsors a Veterans Outreach Program and coordinates a veterans coffeehouse in East Lyme. He recently told CT Examiner that veterans would be grateful that lawmakers are doing something to help them. 

“The biggest benefit that everyone is relaying to me is about parking privileges,” he said. “The license plates are readily seen, and those veterans can often get priority parking.”

Burridge also noted that veterans may hesitate to share their overseas experiences with friends and family, but tend to open up more with fellow veterans. Specialty license plates, he added, can facilitate conversations among vets.

“There could be more socialization and more communication,” said Burridge, a retired energy auditor for the state. “They might have a lot of similar stories they can share. There is often post-traumatic stress disorder because of things that are just so painful, but get a veteran talking to another veteran and it makes it easier for them to talk.”

Robert Storace

Robert Storace is a veteran reporter with stints at New Britain Herald, the New Haven Register, the Connecticut Post, Hartford Business Journal and the Connecticut Law Tribune. Storace covers the State Capitol for CT Examiner. T: 203 437 5950