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Sen. Banks: Pro-Veteran Initiatives Highlight 2014 Session

STATEHOUSE (March 14, 2014) — State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) today applauded the pro-veteran initiatives passed by the General Assembly during the 2014 legislative session.

Banks focused much of his own legislative efforts on improving the lives of Hoosier veterans. He authored, sponsored or added provisions to the following bills, which have all moved to the governor’s desk for approval:

• Senate Bill 180 establishes the Veterans Disability Clinic Fund, which would provide grants to certain law schools that maintain a veterans disability clinic. These clinics would offer legal services at little to no cost to veterans. The legislation also directs the Indiana State Department of Health to further study the implementation of programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries. It also requests that the General Assembly further study the issue of veterans’ benefits during the summer and fall.

• Senate Bill 331 establishes the Second Service for Veterans Program to attract students who are veterans to the teaching profession. Banks added a provision to the legislation that expands college credit opportunities in any academic field for veterans who 1) pass certain college equivalency examinations or 2) complete courses at an accredited postsecondary education institution during their service.

• House Bill 1242 makes it illegal for an employer to refuse to hire an applicant because of their status as a U.S. military veteran, National Guard member or reservist.

• House Bill 1319 includes a provision Banks authored that requires school corporations and charter schools to identify students whose parents are active armed forces members, reservists or National Guard members.

Additionally, Banks authored Senate Bill 260 to expand local support for in-state military bases. It allows local units of government to use funds to sponsor 1) active in-state military bases; 2) a military base’s facilities that are scheduled for closing or are completely or partially closed; and 3) other entities that provide direct support to these bases or facilities.

Banks also lauded the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 352, which provides financial assistance to veterans and their families. It allows them to apply for Indiana’s Military Family Relief Fund any time after their military service. Gov. Mike Pence signed the legislation into law this week.

“One of our greatest callings as a legislature is to care for those who have fought for our freedom,” Banks said. “While many U.S. veterans struggle to access the services they need, these new initiatives show that Indiana is serious about providing for its military men and women. I’m grateful for the efforts of the Senate and House to give our veterans a strong support network throughout their entire lives.”

The General Assembly adjourned “sine die” this week, which signifies the conclusion of the 2014 legislative session.