Baker Signs Legislation Supporting Veterans’ Benefits And Housing
Jul 17, 2016 03:10PM
By Bill Gilman
Gov. Baker discusses the state initiative for tackling opioid addiction and abuse.
On July 14, Governor Charlie Baker was joined by active duty service members and veterans of the United States Armed Services, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Veterans' Services Francisco Ureña and members of the legislature as he signed An Act relative to housing, operations, military service, and enrichment, (H. 4285) or "The HOME Act," into law. The omnibus legislation provides additional support for members of the Armed Services, veterans, gold star families, and the Commonwealth's two Soldiers’ Homes.
“We are grateful to the brave men and women who have answered the call for our nation and Commonwealth ," said Baker. "I am honored to sign this legislation enhancing the services Massachusetts provides to those active service members, veterans and families who selflessly serve to secure our safety and freedom."
“This legislation provides important support for the veterans and service members of our Armed Services who have fought to uphold our nation’s values,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to provide critical assistance with financial security, housing, and educational opportunities for all those who have served and for their loved ones here at home.”
“These laws highlight our commitment as a Commonwealth to our veteran population,”said Secretary of Veteran Affairs Francisco Ureña. “I am pleased to see the legislature’s support of our country’s heroes.”
“I am so proud of the commitment from my colleagues and the Baker Administration in continuing to address the needs of our veterans,” said Senator Mike Rush, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “This legislation not only provides comprehensive services and programs to those who serve their country, but give them the recognition that they deserve. It is our job as elected officials to do all we can to support those brave men and women and their families who serve this great country.”
“There is no question that Massachusetts is number one in terms of providing services to our veterans,” said Representative Jerry Parisella, Chairman of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “Although we do so much for our veterans, it is important that we continue to improve the lives of those who have so gallantly served their country.”
The legislation (as amended in H. 4477), signed into law by Governor Baker includes:
- Section 1, Designates the Fall River Gold Star monument the official gold star monument of the Commonwealth.
- Section 4, Expands the Public Service Scholarship to extend support to benefit children of service members held as prisoners of war or missing in action in any conflict.
- Sections 6-8, Extend pay and benefits protections for employees of the Commonwealth who serve in the National Guard units or in reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces when they are called to service
- Sections 9-10, Extend total municipal real estate tax exemption to cover surviving spouses of any service member killed during active duty service and veterans with service-connected blindness that results in a 100% disability rating from the Federal Veterans Administration.
- Section 12, Allows for municipalities to establish a way for individuals to voluntarily check off, donate, or pledge an amount of money which shall go to the Municipal Veterans Assistance Fund. The Fund provides support for vets and their dependents in need of immediate assistance with food, transportation, heat and oil expenses
- Sections 17-20, Expand provisions establishing preferences for veterans in publicly-supported housing units.
- Sections 22-24, Add veteran status as protected class under the law prohibiting discrimination in employment (Ch. 151B, §4).