Brown signs veterans’ bills, jabs at Senate GOP

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a slew of bills today – including two from Bay Area lawmakers – to improve services and opportunities for California’s veterans, and he used the occasion to take a swipe at U.S. Senate Republicans.

“Yesterday, a bill to invest in job training for veterans was blocked because of Washington political infighting,” Brown said in his news release. “Here in California, Republicans and Democrats joined together to support our veterans. These bills respect the honor and dignity of those who serve.”

Senate Republicans blocked a bill Wednesday that would have created a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans to work tending the country’s federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments. Republicans said the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year.

California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter Gravett, in Brown’s release, said “veterans issues should never be partisan.” Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the California National Guard’s adjutant general, said the new state laws “demonstrate that California is fulfilling its obligation to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much.”

Among the bills Brown signed into law was AB 2478 by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, which expands the current exemption given to veterans from paying non-resident tuition at California Community Colleges by one year.

More specifically, it lets veterans who were discharged from a military installation in California additional time (up to two years) to establish residency if they need to briefly return to their home state prior to attending community college. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office has said some veterans don’t start the residency process immediately after discharge for various reasons, including rehabilitation from injuries.

The Assembly in May approved AB 2478 on a 75-0 vote; in August, the state Senate approved it 37-0 and the Assembly gave it an 80-0 concurrence vote.

Brown also signed AB 1550 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, which increases the fees required to issue, renew, and personalize specialized veterans’ license plates to fund veterans’ organizations.

Specifically, it raises the fee for initial plate issuance from $30 to $50; the annual renewal fee from $30 to $40; and the plate personalization fee from $40 to $78, with all of the money directed to County Veterans Service Officers – agencies that assist veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services accrued through military service.

The Assembly in May approved AB 1550 on a 71-3 vote; in August, the state Senate approved it 37-0 and the Assembly gave it a 72-1 concurrence vote.

For a list of other veterans’s bills Brown signed into law today, follow us after the jump…

AB 2462 by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego – Public postsecondary education: academic credit for prior military academic experience: Requires the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to determine which courses should be awarded credit for prior military academic experience using standards of the American Council on Education.

AB 2133 by Assemblyman Robert Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys – Veterans: priority registration: Increases, from 4 to 15, the number of years after leaving active duty that a veteran, who is a resident of California, is eligible for priority registration for enrolling in classes at the CCC, the CSU and the UC.

AB 1904 by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego – Professions and vocations: military spouses: expedited licensure: Requires boards under the Department of Consumer Affairs to expedite the licensure process for military spouses and domestic partners of military members on active duty in California.

SB 1405 by Senator Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles – Accountancy: military service: practice privilege: Authorizes accountants to have their licenses placed on a military inactive status while engaged in active duty in the National Guard or armed forces.

AB 2659 by Assemblyman Robert Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys – Vehicles: driver’s licenses: Allows licensed drivers of military commercial vehicles to qualify for a California commercial driver’s license without additional California driving tests.

SB 1413 by Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino – Adjutant General: support programs: Allows the Adjutant General to establish support programs, acquire facilities and solicit and accept donations for the benefit of military personnel and their families.

AB 2371 by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-Marina Del Rey – Veterans: criminal defendants: mental health issues and restorative relief: Provides restorative relief to a veteran defendant who acquires a criminal record due to a mental disorder stemming from military service.

AB 1224 by the Committee on Veterans Affairs – Veterans: veterans’ farm and home purchases: Authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to adopt implementing regulations necessary to allow financing of cooperative dwelling units.

AB 1505 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento – Department of Veterans Affairs: veterans’ benefits: reinstatement: Reinstates state veterans benefits that were denied solely on the basis of sexual orientation when the federal government first reinstates those benefits.

SB 1287 by Senator Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach – Sport fishing licenses: Requires the Department of Fish and Game to issue a reduced fee sport fishing license to active military personnel who are recovering service members.

SB 1288 by Senator Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach – Hunting licenses: Requires the Department of Fish and Game to issue a reduced hunting fee license to military personnel who are recovering service members.

AB 2490 by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-Marina Del Rey – Veterans: correctional counselors: Requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to develop policies to assist veteran inmates in pursuing veteran’s benefits.

AB 342 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego – Office of Planning and Research: Designates the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to serve as the state liaison with the United States Department of Defense.

AB 2202 by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego – Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: State Council: Extends the January 1, 2013 sunset to 2016 for the Superintendent of Public Instruction to reconvene a task force to review and make recommendations regarding the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

AB 2198 by Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber – Department of Veterans Affairs: reporting requirements: Recalibrates reporting requirements in the annual county veterans service officers’ report to ensure these programs are maximizing support to veterans.

SB 1198 by Senator Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello – Department of Veterans Affairs: publicity of benefit programs for homeless veterans: Requires CalVet to provide veterans with information about federal veteran pensions, federal housing vouchers, and CalFresh.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.