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Committee endorses aid for veterans, military spouses

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Nov. 30, 2011 at 11:14 am with No Comments »
November 30, 2011 11:14 am

A series of efforts aimed at helping veterans and military families won unanimous backing today from a task force of state lawmakers.

The ideas endorsed by the Joint Committee on Veterans’ and Military Affairs could be considered by the Legislature in the ongoing emergency budget session but are more likely to wait until January. They include:

  • An expedited process for professional licensing of military spouses. Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, said his proposal would apply to wives and husbands who are licensed in another state and are transferred to Washington. They would get a temporary license and a quicker path to a permanent license. It’s similar to what the Legislature approved for members of the military last winter with a law that counts military training toward licensing requirements.
  • Free Discover Passes for disabled veterans, pushed by Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. The $30 annual pass is required to park at state parks and recreation lands.
  • A sales tax exemption for vehicles that help disabled veterans with mobility, backed by Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham.
  • Preferences for veterans in government layoffs and hiring. Many veterans already receive a preference but Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, wants it expanded to all veterans regardless of how long they served.
  • A veteran designation on drivers’ licenses, suggested by McCune.
  • An expansion of special license plates for military medals, proposed by Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-South Hill.
  • Extensions of the age limit for the Washington State Guard, a voluntary organization that currently admits people up to age 64. Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, proposes one-year, renewable extensions.
  • Official recognition of July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, proposed by Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane.
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