Thursday, May 17, 2012

House of Representatives Adopts The VALOR Act

In an ongoing commitment to providing jobs and expanding access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families, the House Republican Caucus joined their House Democratic colleagues in passing The Valor Act.

Passed in advance of Memorial Day, The Valor Act works on many fronts to assist veterans and active military members by improving business, educational, and housing opportunities.

“I am pleased that the House has come together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that we have the resources in place for the Commonwealth’s servicemen and women when they return home from active military deployment,” said Representative Jones. “By passing The Valor Act, the House and Senate have reaffirmed their commitment to creating jobs for military personnel while expanding benefits and services for veterans and their families.”

Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in job creation and retention, the Valor Act includes Republican-led provisions – initially offered in the GOP Jobs Package – that require public institutions of higher learning to adopt new policies and procedures to award proper academic credit for a veteran’s prior military training, coursework and experience.

Additionally, the state’s boards of professional licensure will now consider military education, training, and service by an individual who is a member of the Armed Forces or the military reserves toward qualifications required to receive a license or certification.

Furthermore, the bill adds Massachusetts to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, making it easier for the children of military personnel to transfer between school districts and states.

To address the 13.1% national unemployment rate for post 9/11 veterans, The Valor Act also includes provisions to help veterans transition into civilian employment by allowing for at least a 90-day license renewal extension for certain Department of Public Safety licenses for service members returning from active duty.

The proposals offered by House Republicans also dovetail with provisions of the Valor Act facilitating seed money for the start-up and expansion of veteran-owned businesses as well as promoting public/private partnerships and the participation of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in public construction and design projects.

Finally, in addition to requiring the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs be a veteran, the legislation helps ease the costs of housing, utilities, medical services and food for Gold Star Families, and expands eligibility for the Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund while eliminating the $2,500 Property Tax Exemption Cap for Gold Star Spouses.

The Valor Act will now be sent to Conference Committee.