HEADLINES

Betts proudly supports active duty, military veterans

May was designated by Congress as National Military Appreciation Month, to ensure that the nation was given the opportunity to support and honor the brave men and women who have served, and who continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom and peace.

Beginning as an informal tradition, formal legislation was passed to acknowledge our service men and women, and to let them know that their country gathers in remembrance and appreciation of those who've served, and of those who continue to serve. May was selected as it has the most days set aside (five) for celebrating and commemorating our military's achievements, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and most noted, Memorial Day.

It is because of the service of our men and women in uniform that we continue to enjoy our precious freedom as Americans. I proudly stand in support of our active duty and veteran service members, who ask very little, but sacrifice so much for their nation.

This year, I, along with my colleagues in the Connecticut General Assembly, unanimously passed several bills in favor of our active duty and military veterans.

The following legislation awaits signature by the Governor to become law:

SB 217, AAC Excused Absences from School for Children of Service Members
The bill allows public schools to grant students up to 10 days of excused absences a year to allow for a child to spend time with parents who are being deployed or are returning from a military combat zone. Students and parents will still be responsible for obtaining and completing students' missed class assignments.

SB 293, AAC Clubs Operated by Nationally Chartered Veterans' Service Organizations
Allows member of a national veterans' service organization to go to any of their chartered and affiliated clubs without having to sign a guest book. Under current law, any organization holding a state liquor club permit must require club members to sign a guest book.

HB 5293, AAC Stolen Valor, Veterans' Service Officers and Technical Corrections to the Definition of Veteran
In 2005, Congress passed their Stolen Valor Act. In 2007, CT adopted similar language into state statute. However, in the U.S. v. Alvarez case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal law prohibiting someone from representing themselves as having been awarded any military medal was unconstitutional and violates their First Amendment right to free speech. The 2013 Federal Stolen Valor Act was corrected to prohibit the false representation of medals for the use of obtaining benefits or money. This bill corrects state statute to make it a crime to falsely represent having been awarded a medal for the purpose of defrauding the state to obtain money, property, or benefits. The bill also limits the veterans' pretrial diversionary programs to those who were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable from the U.S. armed forces.

HB 5294, AAC the Admission of Veterans to Hospitals and the Application of Military Occupational Training to State Licensure Requirements
Bill requires hospitals to seek all possible forms of funds and payments available to help cover the cost of services to admitted veterans who have no adequate means of support.

HB 5299, AAC the Findings for the Military Occupational Specialty Task Force
The bill provides veterans with military experience or qualifications to be exempt from certain state certifications or training if they have equivalent certifications or training through the military.

HB 5597, AA Implementing Provisions of the State Budget for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015

Sec(s). 57-65, 210, 259. Makes revisions to the Soldiers', Sailors', and Marines' Fund (SSMF) passed last year putting the American Legion in charge of administering the fund. Under this bill, the state treasurer will annually disperse at least $2 million of the fund's interest to the American Legion to provide benefits to qualified veterans and their families. The budget adjustment appropriated $635,000 to cover the administrative costs for the American Legion. Also, the use of the SSMF has been expanded to allow for purposes of temporary income, shelter and to help with food and clothing expenses.

Sec. 72. The commissioner of the Department of Housing may establish priorities for providing funding under the Security Deposit Guarantee Program to eligible veterans. The program provides assistance in covering rental security deposits.

Sec. 55. Prohibits the sale of abandoned military medals found in baking safety deposit boxes, and instead requires the Dept. of Veterans to hold such medals in custody until either the original owner reclaims it, or the owner's heirs/ beneficiaries are identified.

If you would like to discuss these or any other topics that came before the legislature this session, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (800) 842-1423 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

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