Mass. Legislature Enacts Valor Act

Posted by Spencer Matthews

The Massachusetts House and Senate gave final approval to S. 2254, An Act relative to veterans’ access, livelihood, opportunity, and resources, on Thursday, May 24, 2012. The bill has been laid before the Governor, who has 10 days to sign the bill or return it to the Legislature with vetoes.

The bill works on many fronts to help veterans and active military members improve business, educational, and housing opportunities. For example, through the formation of public/private partnerships, it facilitates seed money for the start-up and expansion of veteran-owned businesses. It also promotes the participation of disabled-veteran business owners in public construction and design projects.

“This is a comprehensive measure that will help veterans help themselves through business and educational opportunities, in addition to providing basic services that are vital to military families,” said Representative John J. Binienda (D-Worcester). “We owe these men and women a lot, and this proposal is more than just a hand-out; it’s sound policy that will not only help veterans but will contribute to the state as a whole through economic development.”

The legislation removes certain educational obstacles by requiring the state’s public institutions of higher learning to adopt new policies and procedures for awarding proper academic credit for a student’s prior military training, coursework and, experience. It also makes it easier for the children of military personnel to transfer between school districts and states, joining 42 other states in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

To help ease the costs of housing, utilities, medical services and food for “Gold Star Families,” the bill expands eligibility for the “Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund.” It also eliminates the $2,500 Property Tax Exemption Cap for Gold Star Spouses.

The bill also helps the courts better recognize veterans issues by making sure veterans and service members facing criminal complaints have a properly recorded military history and are considered for diversion and treatment options if eligible.

Additional provisions of the Valor Act include the following:

· Prohibits local hiring authorities from requesting military medical records that are not requested by the Human Resources Department;

· Allows for at least a 90-day license renewal extension for service members returning from active duty for certain Department of Public Safety licenses, such as engineering and firefighter licenses;

· Creates a local option property tax exemption for veterans who volunteer in their community, with a maximum credit rate equal to the minimum wage and a total exemption not exceeding $1000; and

· Directs the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, Department of Veterans’ Services, and the soldiers’ homes to study the fiscal impact of designating a non-profit entity as a state soldiers’ home.

Related posts:

  1. Dramatic Decline in Veteran Homelessness Inspires Mass. Program
  2. RMV Will Begin Issuing MA Driver’s Licenses with ‘Veteran’ Designation in January, 2012
  3. Small Business Bill For Vets Announced By Senator Brown
  4. Governor Patrick Announces New Plan for Helping MA Veterans Find Employment
  5. AG Coakley Fights For Veteran’s Benefits

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Posted by Spencer Matthews on Jun 28 2012. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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