The following information is an update on current legislation regarding veterans.
New Laws -
Chapter 434 (S.431, Maltese cosponsor) ‒ established the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame to honor those veterans who have not only served our nation with honor but continue to serve New York and its citizens. In 2005, twenty-six distinguished veterans from across New York State were inducted into the inaugural class of the Veterans Hall of Fame, including my distinguished recommendation, Bob O'Malley, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Chapter 681 (S.5799) ‒ enacts Patriot Plan 111 provisions which expand benefits to New York's military personnel and their families regarding survivors benefits, health insurance coverage and reimbursement of insurance premiums while members of the organized militia are in non-training active service; also creating a new War on Terror Veteran license plate that may be issued veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Chapter 256 (S. 5740) ‒ ensures veterans benefits from the veterans' alternative exemption recognizes that property values have increased significantly since 1984 when the original veterans' exemption became law. This law accounts for inflation and adjusts veterans' exemptions accordingly.
Chapter 652 (S. 2714, Maltese cosponsor) ‒ expanded Operation Recognition which is a program ordered by the legislature to allow WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans to earn high school diplomas if they were unable to do so in the past.
Chapter 493 (S. 677, Maltese cosponsor) ‒ authorizes a distinctive Persian Gulf Veteran license plate for veterans serving in the Middle East.
Chapter 298 (S. 3504) ‒ protects the rights of veterans by limiting the disclosure of honorable discharge certificates filed in the office of the county clerk.
Chapter 699 (S. 4306) ‒ exempts veterans attending a state university as a student from fees for parking or registering a motor vehicle on campus.
Among our Priorities for the 2006 Legislative Session, my Senate Majority Colleagues and I have introduced the following bills:
• S. 101 (Maltese prime sponsor) ‒ authorizes granting school tax exemptions to veterans with 40% or more disability.
• S. 3674 (Maltese prime sponsor) ‒ establishes the Eighth Air Force Historical Society Fund for veteran's counseling services provided by local veterans service agencies.
• S 1500 (Maltese cosponsor) ‒ includes veterans who are eligible for pecuniary assistance from the U.S. Government as being eligible for full exemption from property taxes.
• S 2045 (Maltese cosponsor) ‒ authorizes additional paid leave for state correctional officers who are absent on military duty.
I continue to provide assistance to veterans and their families, as I have always felt that they deserve the utmost consideration. We have been active in obtaining medals for veterans who have earned them while serving our country. Many of New York's National Guard units have served or are serving around the world today. These veterans may be eligible for awards they may not be aware of. My office will continue to help these returning veterans obtain the awards they deserve for their service. If you would like to receive our commemorative book listing all veteran awardees, or more information on medal eligibility requirements, please contact Kelly Knowles in my Albany office at 518-455- 3281. I believe it is important to honor our nation's veterans for the courageous sacrifices and contributions they have made and continue to make for our country.