A speciality license plate to honor aging veterans and help an organization take them to see memorials in Washington got strong backing from a House committee Wednesday.
The bill (HB 451) from Republican Rep. Brett Hage of Oxford, would authorize the creation, sale, and use of a speciality plate to support Honor Flight, an organization that arranges free trips to and tours of Washington for veterans of World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, so they may visit memorials there.
The House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee approved the measure 13-0 Wednesday, amid strong praise for the cause.
“I know a gentleman who is now about 92 and was ecstatic to get an opportunity to go to D.C., and he didn’t have to pay for it,” said Democratic Rep. Dianne Hart of Tampa. “He lives in Tampa in my district and he was just all over the place talking about the trip.”
Honor Flight is a non-profit that has 130 chapters nationally, 10 in Florida Florida, that arranges trips to Washington. Hage said Florida’s first Honor Flight hub was established in 2007. From Florida the organization has escorted more than 14,000 veterans to Washington tours.
“This is an organization that allows people to go visit these memorials who wouldn’t be able to otherwise do so,” Hage said.
Like about 120 other speciality license plates available in Florida, the Honor Flight plate would cost $25, with those proceeds going to support the organization. Hage said the 10 local chapters would split the proceeds. The chapters also raise money locally through local fundraising efforts, and the national organization brings in donations and services provided through corporate sponsorships and direct donation.
Hage said he intends to have the plate bundled with a number of other specialty plates to reduce the minimum sales requirements Florida normally has to sustain such plates. Normally 3,000 plates must be ordered before a new plate is manufactured.
The bill heads next to the House Commerce Committee.
Republican Sen. Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills is carrying the companion bill (SB 958).