June 29, 2009

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:

Pursuant to Article LVI, as amended by Article XC, Section 3 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I am returning to you for amendment Section 66 of House Bill No. 4129, "An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2010 for the Maintenance of the Departments, Boards, Commissions, Institutions and Certain Activities of the Commonwealth, for Interest, Sinking Fund and Serial Bond Requirements and for Certain Permanent Improvements."

Section 66 requires the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to provide, at no cost, a set of veteran's registration plates or emblems for a passenger vehicle owned and principally used by United States Armed Services personnel awarded the Iraqi Freedom Campaign Ribbon, and an emblem to those who served in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). In general, I support the purpose of this section as consistent with my Administration's commitment to our veterans. However, as enacted, the language of this section discriminates against service members who have served honorably in other campaigns and wars. It also treats Iraq and Afghan veterans differently by requiring only the latter to pay for their plates. I believe this section's purposes can be substantially achieved by affording to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts registration plates or emblems in the same fashion as other veterans residing in the Commonwealth.

For these reasons, I recommend that Section 66 be amended by striking out the text and inserting in place thereof the following text:-

SECTION 66. Section 2 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official edition, is hereby amended by striking out the fifteenth paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-

The registrar shall furnish, upon application, to owners of private passenger motor vehicles and motorcycles who are veterans, as defined in clause Forty-third of section 7 of chapter 4 and upon presentation of evidence deemed satisfactory by the registrar, distinctive registration plates bearing on the left side the word "VETERAN". These plates shall also include a distinctive emblem or decal for those individuals who have been awarded the Iraqi Freedom Campaign Ribbon or who served in Operation Enduring Freedom. There shall be an annual $20 fee for such "VETERAN" plates in addition to the established registration fee for private passenger motor vehicles and motorcycles. For the purposes of this paragraph, the word "motorcycles" shall not include motorized bicycles.

Respectfully submitted,

Deval Patrick