I believe it is essential that we, as Americans, honor the men and women in our armed forces that selflessly serve our country and risk their lives to protect our freedoms. Honoring our troops and supporting our military veterans has been one of my primary objectives since I was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. And as Majority Leader in the House, I was honored to help pass several bills this year to support our veterans.
These bills include House Bill 831, which Governor Deal signed last week. This law will provide employment protections to those Georgia workers called into active military service as part of the National Guard of another state. Because of House Bill 831, men and women who work in Georgia but serve in another state’s National Guard will now be eligible for reemployment with their employers upon completion of their active military duty. As a former member of the Georgia National Guard, I was proud to support this bill in the House.
In addition, we passed House Bill 862, which clarifies the eligibility criteria for disabled veterans claiming a homestead exemption. This bill would allow an eligible disabled veteran to qualify for the homestead exemption by meeting either, rather than both, of the criteria required by law. As such, this bill will mean that more disabled veterans in Georgia are eligible for the homestead exemption. This bill also provides that eligible disabled veterans shall be issued a free motor vehicle license plate, and that the vehicle on which said license plate is affixed shall be exempted from all ad valorem taxes for state, county, municipal and school purposes. This bill currently awaits a decision by Governor Deal.
We also passed Senate Bill 270, which incorporated House Bill 12 – the Georgia Military Service Integrity and Preservation Act. This bill would make it unlawful for any individual, with the intent to secure a tangible benefit for himself or herself, to make a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation that such individual is a military veteran or recipient of military decoration.
This bill also makes it unlawful for any individual, with the intent to deceive, to appear in court while wearing a uniform of the armed forces of the United States or of the organized militia of this state if such individual is not authorized to wear such uniform. Similarly, this bill makes it unlawful for any individual to wear a military decoration which such individual has not, in fact, been awarded. Those guilty of committing these offenses will be guilty of a misdemeanor, unless a military decoration is involved, in which case the offense will be classified as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. This bill currently awaits a decision by Governor Deal.
This session, we passed Senate Bill 18, which requires the Technical College System of Georgia to establish policies for granting academic credit to active duty military or veteran students for college-level learning acquired prior to enrollment in the Technical College System. That way, men and women who have served in our armed forces can receive academic credit for that portion of their military training that is substantially similar to the coursework offered in the Technical College System. This bill awaits a decision by Governor Deal.
We passed House Bill 736, which Governor Deal signed last week. This law will enable spouses of eligible veterans and those veterans who receive a Soldier’s Medal to be issued a special and distinctive license plate for veterans.
It was my honor to support these bills on behalf of the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. As Majority Leader in the House, and as your representative in District 159, I will continue to help pass legislation that honors our troops and supports our veterans.
If I can ever be of service to you, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (email@example.com), or engage on Facebook (FB.com/JonBurnsGA).