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…