Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a series of six bills aimed at providing benefits and quality of life improvements to military veterans and their families.
The six bills signed by the Governor will support educational opportunities for veterans and children of active-duty military personnel as well as expand access to employment opportunities by removing barriers to licensure and post-secondary education requirements.
“Florida is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and I am proud to continue that commitment to our military members and their families by signing these pieces of legislation,” said DeSantis. “Providing military families with the resources they need to receive a high-quality education and find good jobs is the best way that we as a state can show our appreciation for the sacrifices that they make.”
DeSantis included provisions in the recently signed state budget, including nearly $14 million in support of scholarships for the children and spouses of disabled or deceased veterans in Florida, $5.1 million for National Guard members seeking higher education degrees, and the implementation of the Hometown Heroes Housing program, an investment of more than $100 million that allows individuals who serve as military officers to secure buyer-friendly loans to buy property within the state.
“We’re very appreciative of Governor DeSantis’ unwavering support of Florida’s 1.5 million veterans, their families, and survivors. As a Navy combat deployed veteran, he appreciates the importance of expanding earned benefit eligibility to our active-duty members, our veterans, and their family members,” said retired Marine Corps Major General James S. Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “Working together to offer enhanced educational and workforce opportunities for our nation’s heroes, we’ll ensure Florida continues to be the most sought-after state by veterans in the nation.”
The bills add to the state’s presently offered special benefits for service members, veterans, and their families, including homestead tax exemptions, state employment preferences, and education and tuition assistance. A considerable portion of Florida’s state legislature is composed of former military personnel, including DeSantis himself.
Today’s signed bills include:
HB 45: provides educational opportunities for disabled veterans by providing additional assistance to achieve a 100 percent award for tuition and fees.
SB 430: reenacts the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which ensures a smooth transition for children of active-duty military families by enabling seamless school placement, enrollment, records transfers, and verification of graduation requirements upon relocation.
SB 514: allows state agencies to substitute work experience, including military experience, for postsecondary education to allow veterans to use on-the-job experience to apply for civilian jobs.
SB 896: helps veterans access jobs in education by allowing their military service to count toward the requirement for a temporary educator certificate under the mentorship of a certified teacher.
SB 562: requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to expedite license applications of active-duty military spouses.
SB 438: updates Florida’s definition of Uniformed Service to include the United States Space Force and updates military base names.
DeSantis in November additionally pledged an investment of $8.6 million toward career and workforce training opportunities for military veterans and their spouses. A series of grants as part of the pledging include a twelve county partnership across northern Florida and the panhandle to connect veterans and spouses with career opportunities, expanded job training for disabled veterans, and a partnership with CareerSource Broward to further engage homeless veterans in training and credentialing programs.