Gold Star license plates simplified under new law thanks to Spokane family

OLYMPIA – A bill making Gold Star license plates permanent – without the need for periodic renewal – was signed by the governor into law today.

House Bill 1197 was sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, after a Spokane Gold Star family contacted him regarding a computer glitch that occurred when they tried to renew their Gold Star plates online. The glitch forced the Lyons family and others to re-verify their Gold Star qualifications at a Department of Licensing office.

“I appreciated working with the Lyons family, who brought this to my attention and helped get this bill to the governor’s desk on behalf of all Gold Star families across Washington,” Riccelli said.

Matt and Keirsten Lyons’ son, Marine Sgt. Jacob Michael Hess, was killed in 2014 while serving in Afghanistan.

Surviving family of United States Armed Forces members who died while serving our country are eligible for special vehicle license plates from the state Department of Licensing. These Gold Star plates are a way of honoring a fallen family member, but are also a painful reminder of the family’s loss. To receive the plates, families provide specific documentation of eligibility at the time of application.

“Our Gold Star families have already sacrificed so much, and the state should be compassionate in its processes. This bill makes sure no family goes through the unnecessary pain of having to re-verify Gold Star qualifications for license plates,” Riccelli said.