Honoring -- and Helping -- our Veterans

May is National Military Appreciation Month, with several observances honoring our veterans and their families, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 7th, Armed Forces Day on May 15th and Memorial Day on May 31st.

Honoring the service and sacrifice of our active-duty military and our veterans is important, but supporting them means more than holidays or national commemorations. This session I am very pleased that members of my Caucus have introduced important legislation that will help improve the lives and livelihoods of California’s veterans.

AB 291, introduced by Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto (R – Murrieta), will provide tax relief to military survivors taking advantage of Survivor Benefit Plans (SBPs), a benefit that many military members choose to opt into. California has 29,000 survivors receiving SBP payments, and most are over 65. Today only six states fully tax SBPs. AB 291 will eliminate this unnecessary, costly burden on military families.

State licensing fees required for many professions can cost hundreds of dollars and are one of the hurdles many veterans face transitioning to civilian life. AB 1026, introduced by Assemblyman Thurston “Smitty” Smith (R – Apple Valley) will lighten the burden. The bill grants a 50 percent fee reduction for initial state licensing to any honorably discharged member of the United States Armed Forces or California National Guard. Another bill, AB 1151, also introduced by Assemblyman Smith, will eliminate the $5 fee charged by the DMV for veterans to add the word “VETERAN” to  the face of their driver’s license or ID card. The DMV doesn’t need the money -- there is really no reason for this fee.

The men and women who have worn the uniform, often at great risk and sacrifice, have protected and defended us all. Eliminating needless taxes and fees makes California more affordable for veterans, and benefits everyone.