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Minutes for HB2174 - Committee on Transportation

Short Title

Providing for license plate decals for certain military veterans with disabilities.

Minutes Content for Thu, Mar 16, 2017

Chairperson Petersen opened the hearing on the bill.  Scott Wells gave a briefing.  This bill amends the statute for distinctive license plates for military veterans and those persons currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  It would add a provision so a person who has a permanent disability or impairment, but does not meet the definition of disabled veteran, could obtain a wheelchair decal to place on the license plate.  The cost would be $2.00 for the decal, and the vehicle displaying the decal would have all the rights and privileges as the handicapped/disabled plate or placard.  Mr. Wells stood for questions.  Senator Goddard asked how disability is certified and Mr. Wells said he would defer that question to the Department of Revenue.

Steve Christenberry, Lobbyist for ABATE of Kansas and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, provided proponent testimony (Attachment 1).  He said fortunately he has no service-related disability nor Social Security disability ranking; however, many members of ABATE of Kansas are previous or current service members.  He continued, noting currently, a person who has a 50% or higher Veterans Affairs-rated military disability can get a disabled veterans tag.  Less than 50% VA disability, they cannot get a tag.  However, an honorably discharged veteran can purchase a veteran's tag.  A person with Social Security disability would have to choose between keeping the veteran's tag or getting the disability tag.  This bill asks the Division of Motor Vehicles to create a wheelchair emblem decal for an individual who does not meet the VA 50% disability rating.  This decal could be placed on veteran tag for recognition for military service and a non-service disability.  ABATE of Kansas supports this.  Answers to some of the questions asked were:

  • The placard could be placed on the windshield.
  • Mr. Wells will research if this is recognized in other states.
  • The decal or placard could be hung from a mirror for veterans or other  persons with disability.
  • There is a separate license plate for the National Guard.

Deb Wiley and Mark Schemm, Division of Vehicles, were in the audience and provided comment and answers: 

  • Senator Goddard said we are discussing the decal on the plate versus the handicapped placard on the mirror.  Ms. Wiley said that is the intent of the bill, and these individuals do qualify for a placard indicating disability but it is difficult to hang the placard on the motorcycle for handicapped parking purposes.  Decals are relatively inexpensive and the Division has no objection.
  • The handicapped license plate function is to provide parking privileges. A decal could be placed on a license plate and avoid moving a mirror placard from vehicle to vehicle.  The plate is associated with the vehicle itself.
  • There is a temporary medical disability, six months, and a permanent medical disability placard and there is protocol for the doctor to provide a statement attesting to eligibility for each. 
  • The handicapped placard includes a disability symbol recognized internationally, and it was believed a Kansas placard is honored in other states.
  • There was discussion of honorable discharge versus other kinds of discharges and whether this should apply to only honorably discharge persons.
  • A placard hanging on a motorcycle can get stolen. 

George Hanna, a U.S. Navy veteran from Tecumseh, Kansas, provided proponent testimony (Attachment 2).  Mr. Hanna was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle and suffered serious injuries.  He was unsure if he would ever walk again.  His wife bought him a trike for transportation, and he had to give up his veteran's tag in order to get a handicapped tag.  When he purchased the tag indicating disability, the state already had a 2 x 2 sticker that is put on a traditional motorcycle tag.  He questioned why the state couldn't use the same sticker identifying eligibility for disability parking on the veteran's license plate.  The sticker sells for $2.00.  Many persons do not meet the 50% service-connected threshold for disabled veterans.  Mr. Hanna said It is not his intent to take away any privileges of veterans who qualify for a disabled veterans tag, but he is just trying to bridge the gap between his disability and the fact that he is a veteran.  Frankly, he said he doesn't want to be seen as a handicapped person, but would rather have a discreet sticker on his tag.

Senator Hardy whether persons with other specialty tags also must choose between the handicapped sticker or the specialty tag (example:  Washburn tag).  Mr. Hanna said the same requirements are in place.  Senator Hardy suggested there could be some revenue through purchase of the $2 sticker.  Ms. Wiley said that is correct: a choice in tags must be made.  As long as law enforcement can recognize the disability on the decal/sticker, it is not an issue for the Division of Vehicles.  The 2 x 2 decals are used on the Ad Astra small motorcycle plate for persons with disabilities.  On a regular large disabled plate, it says "disabled" on the bottom.  The decal is also utilized by cities or counties for transporting persons with disabilities. Ms. Wiley added that a standard size works on all plates and the cost is $.14 per sticker.  There would have to be discussion to make sure law enforcement recognizes that as valid for indicating disability.

There was no opponent nor neutral testimony.

The hearings was closed.