Volume 3 Number 27
July 3, 2006

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GOVERNOR BUSH SIGNS SERIES OF BILLS TO BENEFIT FLORIDA VETERANS AND ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY TROOPS

Governor Jeb Bush recently signed into law a series of bills that will provide additional benefits to Florida’s veterans and active duty military troops. Since 1999, Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature have worked diligently to establish Florida as a military and veteran-friendly state.  In 2005, an interim study conducted by the U.S. House Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranked Florida highest overall in providing benefits to veterans. 

“On behalf of all Floridians, I thank our soldiers and veterans for their extraordinary dedication and service to our country,” said Governor Bush. “Their selfless dedication to our country commands not only our respect and admiration, but also our willingness to provide them and their families with assistance to improve their quality of life.” 

House Bill 7127 – Relating to Military Funerals

Establishes a first degree misdemeanor offense for any person who willfully interrupts or disturbs an assembly of people who have gathered to acknowledge the death of a military veteran with a military funeral honors detail. Florida joins 7 states that have passed similar legislation.

Senate Bill 1614 – Relating to License Plates for Members of the Florida National Guard

Permanently provides free license plates for active members of the Florida National Guard. The tag is available to all members and is exempt from all base taxes and fees.

Senate Bill 122 – Relating to Undergraduate Tuition Waivers for Florida Recipients of the Purple Heart

Provides free undergraduate tuition at state colleges and universities to Florida recipients of the Purple Heart (and combat-related decorations ranked superior in precedence to the Purple Heart) and their children.

House Bill 573 Relating to Property Taxes for Veterans

Helps veteran homeowners maintain their current standard of living by requiring counties to reduce certain property taxes for disabled veterans, 65 years of age or older, in proportion to the percentage of their combat disability.

Senate Bill 1370 Relating to waiving the residency requirement for State Veterans Nursing Homes

Waives state residency requirements for admission into State Veterans Nursing Homes.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many disabled veterans living in the Gulf States were displaced from their nursing homes and evacuated to Florida facilities. This legislation allows the state to continue providing this critical aid. Florida veterans will still be given priority when moving into any of Florida’s six State Veterans Nursing Homes. 

Senate Bill 2034 Relating to the Children of Deceased or Disabled Veterans Program

Extends the educational benefits of the Children of Deceased or Disabled Veterans Program to the spouses of disabled veterans or soldiers that have been killed or are missing in action. The program provides eligible Floridians with free tuition and payment for registration fees at any institution of higher learning in Florida.

“While today is a great day for servicemen and servicewomen in Florida, it is not a unique day in our state. Under Governor Bush’s leadership, Florida’s commitment to our troops is stronger than ever,” said Major General Douglas Burnett, Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard. 

“This has been another positive year for veterans’ legislation,” said FDVA Executive Director, Colonel Rocky McPherson.  “Governor Bush and the Senate and House sponsors have shown tremendous respect and commitment to our veterans through ongoing support for such legislation in the past several years. We hope to continue this combined effort in years to come.” 

For more information on benefits and assistance for veterans, please visit www.floridavets.org.  For more information on Governor Bush’s commitment to members of the armed forces, please visit www.myflorida.com.