Pennsylvania Governor: General Assembly to Back Legislation

Wolf Administration Encourages General Assembly to Back Package of Legislation Aimed at Improving the Lives of Veterans

HarrisburgPA (STL.News) Governor Tom Wolf and Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler?, Pennsylvanian’s Adjutant General and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), ?today called for the General Assembly to review, update and pass a package of legislation aimed at improving the lives of the commonwealth’s nearly 800,000 veterans.

“Pennsylvania’s veterans have served our nation and communities with honor, and we owe it to all of them to offer programs and services that will improve their quality of life,” said ?Gov. Wolf.  “These bills will do just that, by increasing veterans benefits, expanding outreach efforts and strengthening education and employment opportunities.  I encourage the General Assembly to pass these bills so we can begin administering these benefits to veterans.”

“As a nation and commonwealth, we must make sure that the service and sacrifice of our veterans is never overlooked or forgotten,” said Schindler.  “I join Governor Wolf in encouraging the passage of these important bills to ensure the needs of our veterans are met.”

The package of bills would expand benefits such as veterans’ preference in hiring, ?the Real Estate Tax Exemption? for veterans who are disabled, fishing license fee exemptions for therapeutic programs, and reimbursement for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) coverage for National Guard members.  Several of the bills improve DMVA’s ability to support Pennsylvania veterans and servicemembers.

The following are bills the Wolf administration is supporting as priorities:

Veteran Services

  • SB 849: Clarifies that the state’s hiring preference for veterans applies to those who were discharged for medical reasons.
  • SB 578/HB 1953: Expands the Real Estate Tax Exemption program to all ?veterans who are 100% disabled and the unmarried surviving spouse of servicemembers who died in the line of duty.
  • SB 241: Grants fishing license fee exemptions for veterans in therapeutic programs.
  • HB 1612: Extends Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) reimbursement to National Guard members on Emergency Federal (T32) Status.

Veteran Outreach

  • HB 995: Codifies PA VETConnect as DMVA’s veterans outreach program.
  • HB 803 /SB 433: Creates a special fund for the Keystone State Challenge Academy, Pennsylvania’s National Guard Youth Challenge program.
  • HB 1421: Updates the veterans’ burial program to increase the payment amount and allow for greater flexibility in contracting organizations that provide the program.
  • HB 159: Recognizes the Department of Defense (DOD) Family Advocacy Program (FAP) to address child and domestic abuse in military communities and to complete the lines of communication with Child Protective Services (CPS).

Veteran Education & Employment

  • HB 941: Grants residency status on military personnel, their dependents and civilian personnel assigned to an active-duty station in Pennsylvania for in-state tuition rates at institutes of higher education.
  • HB 1868: Encourages veteran representation on state licensing boards and allows for military experience to replace education requirements in licensing.