Governor vetoes Acosta bill to customize license plates for Gold Star families

Assemblyman Dante Acosta poses for a picture at his Santa Clarita office on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday, authored by Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, that would have allowed the Department of Motor Vehicles to sponsor a gold star family specialized license plate program.

The bill regarding gold star families, as families that have lost a member in combat are known, would have allowed them to have specialized license plates with customizable text. Existing law requires the plates to be sequential.

Acosta said Monday he was appalled at the veto.

The assemblyman, who lost his son Rudy in combat in 2011, said the news personally affected him as a gold star father himself.

“If you look at that through a prism of, we’ve given them extra money to improve its proceedings, and they haven’t done it, it’s very distressing,” he said. “There are literally thousands of gold star family members who won’t be able to personalize a plate with their loved one’s name or date or commemorate them, and that’s a way that people cope with their loss. This passed the Assembly and the Senate with huge bipartisan support. There is no reason why there should have been a holdup.”

Acosta attributed his concerns about the DMV’s efficiency to the Real ID act, the federally compliant driver’s license that can be used as identification for getting on a plane starting in October 2020, that the DMV has been implementing since January 2018.

“When you look at things in light of the fact that we’ve given the DMV tens of millions of dollars of extra money for this act, Gov. Brown is admitting the DMV can’t do its job,” he said. “We are bothered that these license plates, already available, would have no real difference between this and others you can personalize. It’s not any extra work for the DMV.”
The Real ID Act, passed in May 2005, sets standards for issuing identification that reflects the holder’s real identity out of recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.

All California drivers are required to visit the DMV before 2020 to upgrade their driver’s license if they plan to travel domestically, according to the law.

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