State Senate approves 10 bills aimed at improving Queens veterans’ lives

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Earlier this month, state Senator Joseph Addabbo partnered with Albany colleagues to approve 10 bills that aim to help both veterans and active military personnel.

The bevy of bills will (among other things) provide new protections against assault, create more job opportunities, make it easier for those being deployed to get married, and offer increased tax and annuity benefits for those who need them.

“Our veterans and active duty military members deserve our utmost respect for their service, whether they are being deployed to combat as we speak, remaining active in the reserves, or have already returned home from the battlefield to resume their civilian lives,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “The most vital needs of our current and former military members may differ from person to person, which makes it very important for us to address a broad spectrum of critical concerns voiced by our servicemen and women.”

The bills approved by the Senate with Addabbo’s support are as follows:

  • S.955 would make it a class C violent felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to assault military members or military reserves personnel engaged in the performance of their legal duties;
  • S.927 would make it a class D non-violent felony, punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison, to incite violence against active duty military members or reservists;
  • S.936 creates a multi-agency Task Force – including the Division of Veterans’ Affairs, Office of General Services, Civil Service, Labor, SUNY, CUNY and the State Education Department – to seek improvements in statewide employment opportunities for veterans;
  • S.2424 would require the Veterans’ Affairs Commission, a group that advises the State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, to work toward implementing a statewide program to better address the varied employment, health, economic, and other concerns of service-disabled veterans;
  • S.1013 would enable military members being deployed in less than 30 days to get married less than 24 hours after obtaining their marriage licenses.;
  • S.5158 would require the state’s Affordable Home Ownership Development Program to give preferences to applicants who will provide a certain amount of housing for veterans with service-related disabilities;
  • S.4464 would waive the one-time $10 service charge for members of veterans’ organizations obtaining personalized license plates, and eliminate motor vehicle registration renewal fees for active duty military members and honorably discharged veterans and reservists who served on active duty;
  • S.200 would increase annuity payments paid to blind veterans and their surviving spouses;
  • S.959 would allow local governments to make the alternative veterans’ property tax exemption available to all full-time active duty service members; and
  • S.5411 would allow local governments to provide the alternative veterans’ property tax exemption to reserve members who were activated under “Operation Graphic Hand” in 1970 to address a serious United States Post Office strike.

The pieces of legislation are now headed to the state Assembly floor for a vote.

“I hope these bills will also be considered favorably in the State Assembly before the 2017 legislative session draws to a close later this month,” Addabbo said. “Those who proudly wear the uniform and put their lives on the line for us deserve nothing less.”

In another show of support for veterans, Addabbo was on hand for the unveiling of the plans for a new Vietnam War memorial at Elmhust Park on the Maspeth/Elmhurst border that will honor the military men from Queens who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.