Gov. Steve Beshear, surrounded by veterans and lawmakers, signed into law several bills benefitting Kentucky veterans and families of the Kentucky National Guard. The bills include House Bill 121, HB 221, HB 224, HB 256, HB 369 and HB 379. “These bills address several serious concerns affecting Kentucky's citizen soldiers and our veterans,” Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “I thank and congratulate the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Military Affairs, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky's circuit court clerks, the Tourism Cabinet and lawmakers for their cooperation and hard work in making all of these initiatives a reality.”
Among the new laws are the following (with bill number and sponsors):
· HB 121 – Rep. Fitz Steele, of Hazard – Creates a new section of KRS Chapter 2 to define “Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flag” and requires that any such flag either purchased or displayed by a public institution be manufactured in the United States.
· HB 221 – Rep. Rick Nelson, of Middlesboro and Rep. Tanya Pullin, of South Shore – Provides veteran's designations on operator's licenses.
· HB 224 – Rep. Pullin – Allows money in the military family assistance trust fund to be used for the Kentucky National Guard Adoption Assistance Program.
· HB 256 – Rep. Tom McKee, of Cynthiana and Rep. Mike Denham, of Maysville – Establishes the Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial Committee for purposes of establishing the Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial, and establishes the Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial Fund to be administered by the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
· HB 369 – Rep. Dennis Horlander, of Shively – Ensures police officers receiving the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund salary supplement shall continue to receive the supplement when called to active duty with the United States Armed Forces.
· HB 379 – Sponsored by Rep. David Floyd, of Bardstown – Increases the number of military family assistance trust fund board members from six to seven, requires the appointment of a member of the Kentucky National Guard to the board and staggers terms for appointed board members.
“Veterans frequently seek official government identification recognizing them as veterans,” Ken Lucas, commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, said. “We now have a new law offering a ‘Veteran’ designation on a new or renewed driver's license to solve that problem.”
“Last September, we formed the Military Spouse Task Team, a group comprised of Fort Campbell, Fort Knox and Kentucky National Guard family members, to join together and openly address concerns of our military families and propose possible solutions to ease their burdens,” first lady Jane Beshear said in a press release. “Adoption assistance was one of the first topics raised by our members, and I am so pleased that the General Assembly has passed legislation to support families facing this issue.”
“The men and women of the Kentucky National Guard are grateful for the support of our Commander-in-Chief, Governor Beshear, the legislature and the citizens of the Commonwealth for the creation of these laws,” Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky, said. “This bill signing shows that we have identified several critical needs and have in turn taken direct and effective action to support our citizen soldiers and airmen. Whether they are deployed overseas or supporting our communities here at home, our troops can proudly say that Kentucky is indeed committed to the welfare of the National Guard family.”