Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday held a ceremonial bill signing for HB 338 and HB 424, two military-focused bills that his office says further strengthen Alabama's commitment to the military and helps improve our position as we continue to prepare for any future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission reviews.
The bills were drafted and supported by the Military Stability Commission. Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey serves as Chair of the Military Stability Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to strengthen Alabama's military installations, advocate for our military men and women, and prepare for the BRAC process, as well as respond to the effects of sequestration.
"Anything we can do to reinforce Alabama's role as a good host to military installations, families, and veterans, like these two measures the Governor signed, is a positive step toward giving our state a competitive edge in the BRAC process," said Lieutenant Governor Ivey.
HB 338, sponsored by Rep. Paul Lee (R-Dothan), allows military members and veterans to receive academic and professional licensure credit for relevant skills acquired in the military.
"Often, these brave individuals spend years gaining valuable experience in their job field before they leave the military. This bill exempts them from having to go through the long and cumbersome process of having to pay for exams and wait for certifications before they can get back to work," said Rep. Lee.
A Senate version of HB 338 was sponsored by Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City).
"This bill allows our military men and women to transfer the skills they obtain during their service years to the workforce and transition into civilian life with greater ease," said Sen. Williams. "We want our veterans to know that their skills and talents are valuable to the civilian workforce."
Under the provisions of this bill, state public education institutions, community colleges, and technical schools will award certain education credits to a veteran enrolled in the institution for courses that were part of the student's military training or service.
Additionally, certain Alabama licensure boards will adopt policies crediting military education, training, or service completed as credit toward professional license or certification.
HB 424, sponsored by Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), extends in-state tuition fees for active service members, their spouses, and dependents located in Alabama under orders.
"I have a great deal of respect for our military and their families. Coupled with the fact that Ft. Rucker is vital to my district, I feel that anything we can do to strengthen our state's position in the BRAC evaluation will bode well for future job creation and economic growth in my community," said Rep. Moore.
The bill also extends to a member of the Alabama National Guard who stays in the Guard while enrolled in school after two years of service and a veteran of the Armed Forces who has served on active duty for two years and has received an honorable discharge; is currently serving in a reserve unit; or has been assigned to a service-connected disability.
Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) sponsored the Senate version of the bill.
"This is a common sense way to show our gratitude for the service and sacrifice of members of our military and their families while stationed in Alabama," said Sen. Holtzclaw, a retired United States Marine Corps Officer. "It's also a positive way to show how important members of the military are to our state and our state's economy as we anticipate the next round of BRAC."
It is unclear when BRAC may come up again, but the process could begin as soon as 2015 or 2016.
Alabama is home to more than 11,896 active duty members, 22,099 reserve and National Guard personnel, more than 420,000 veterans, and four major military installations: Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ft. Rucker in Dale County, and Anniston Army Depot.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Lt. Governor's Press Office