Plan calls for free entry for vets at state parks

January 23, 2019

Arizona has a history of looking after its military veterans. For example, no license tax or registration fee is collected from a service-connected disabled veteran for a personally-owned vehicle.

Free hunting and fishing licenses are given to qualifying veterans. The state also has two veteran’s homes in Phoenix and Tucson that are skilled care nursing facilities.

If Rep. Jay Lawrence gets his way, another perk will be added to that list. The District 23 state legislator – covering Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and Rio Verde – has sponsored a house bill that grants veterans and active duty military personnel free entry to all Arizona state parks.

Currently, vets and active duty troops receive discounted entry fees. Full price day use fees range from $2 to $30. Closer to home, entry to Lake Havasu State Park is $15 weekdays and $20 on weekends.

Rep. Lawrence’s HB 2020 proposes doing away with the discounts and let those who are serving or have served access the state’s 27 parks for free.

The act reads: “All veterans and active duty military personnel shall be granted park entrance free of charge to all state parks located in this state on presentation of the person’s military identification.”

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Rep. Lawrence is a member of the House Veteran’s Caucus. He could not be reached for comment.

Still, news of the proposed act was welcomed by Russ Mascari, a veteran and commandant of the Havasu Marine Corps League detachment.

“I think that’s a great idea,” he said of the act, noting that every financial break helps veterans, many of whom cope with strained household budgets.

“Most vets I know live off of not-too-great an income. A lot of them work part-time jobs just to make ends meet,” he said.

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