Ward bill deserves quick OK

The Pennsylvania Senate should imitate Friday’s unanimous vote by the state House of Representatives approving a bill authored by Rep. Judy Ward, R-Blair.

The Ward measure is aimed at allowing motorcycles registered in this state to display a Purple Heart/Combat Wounded Veteran license plate, if the owner is a recipient of that military decoration.

In Pennsylvania, such a plate is available for passenger cars and trucks, but according that right to motorcycles had “slipped through the cracks” of Harrisburg’s legislative halls.

Friday’s vote paved the way for Ward’s bill to be sent to the Legislature’s upper chamber, where no objections seem likely.

Beyond that, it must be presumed that Gov. Tom Wolf would not hesitate to quickly affix his signature.

But outside of the fact that a significant oversight is on the verge of being corrected, what’s equally interesting is how Ward’s measure was born.

In a news release issued Friday, she explained:

“A constituent of mine who was wounded in action in Vietnam in 1967 is actually the one who came to me with the idea and asked that I introduce this legislation so he may display the plate on his motorcycle while he is ‘still young enough to ride.'”

There are two points to be gleaned from that.

The first is that one person can influence the course of legislative decision making, if he or she isn’t reluctant to express a viewpoint. The second is that many lawmakers — one of whom is Ward — aren’t too busy to welcome ideas from constituents regarding topics that might not be of “moving mountains” magnitude.

Ward’s measure — House Bill 1294 — will directly affect only a small segment of the state’s population.

However, the Ward bill is important because it will extend a right that should have been granted to the motorcycle-riding population at the same time that Purple Heart/Combat Wounded Veteran plates were authorized for passenger cars and trucks.

“This is just one more small way we can honor our veterans who gave so much in service to their country,” Ward said in Friday’s press release.

She said the veterans in question should be able to display the plates with pride, and it’s safe to say that that goal will be attained.

But first, the Senate and governor must not delay the day when such plates will begin showing up on the commonwealth’s roadways.

Finally, the Purple Heart veteran who wasn’t afraid to step forward with the request to Ward deserves the first plate of the new series when it’s issued.

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