Posted on February 9, 2023
HARTFORD – During a public hearing before the Veterans’ and Military Affairs Committee on Feb. 7, Rep. David Labriola, R-Oxford, submitted the following written testimony in support of a bill he co-sponsored, H.B. 5205, An Act Exempting Veterans From The Passport To The Parks Motor Vehicle Registration Program Fee.
“Chairmen Marx and Nolan, Vice Chairmen Delany and Maroney, Ranking Members Gordon and Vail, and Distinguished Members of the Veterans’ and Military Affairs Committee, I write to you today in strong support of HB 5205: An Act Exempting Veterans From The Passport To The Parks Motor Vehicle Registration Program Fee.
This bill is an important proposal to re-establish the ability for Connecticut veterans to access Connecticut state parks free from the burden of the Passport to the Parks registration fee. Enacted by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2017, the Passport to the Parks fee currently subjects residents that own non-commercial vehicles to pay a $10 biennial registration renewal fee. This fee applies to all vehicles in a household, and it is mandated with the intent of funding the preservation of state parks and allowing residents with Connecticut registered vehicles to park for free at all Connecticut state parks.
As a direct result of this program, Connecticut veterans, who comprise a mere 5% of the state population, are disproportionately burdened. Many of the state’s veterans have endured numerous sacrifices in service to their country and take refuge in the state parks as a form of recreational therapy. Furthermore, since some of Connecticut’s veterans live at or below the poverty level, the imposition of the fee required by the program is inhibiting our veterans from receiving the healing benefits at our state parks.
I urge the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to pass House Bill 5205 to allow veterans to access Connecticut state parks free from the burden of the Passport to the Parks registration fee. Please allow the full General Assembly the opportunity to debate this issue and pass legislation that recognizes and respects the sacrifices made by the military veterans of our state. Thank you for your consideration.”