Jerry Brown signs bills boosting benefits for veterans, soldiers


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Veterans and those in the military will get more state benefits, including help with education, finances and, in the case of wounded soldiers, their fishing licenses, under 18 bills signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.


Brown noted that the bills he signed were sponsored and supported by members of both major political parties, and he used the occasion to take a jab at Congress.

“Yesterday, a [federal] bill to invest in job training for veterans was blocked because of Washington political infighting,” Brown said. “Here in California, Republicans and Democrats joined together to support our veterans. These bills respect the honor and dignity of those who serve.”

The actions include an extension from four to 15 in the number of years after leaving active duty that a veteran is eligible for priority registration at state colleges and universities. Assemblyman Robert Blumenfield (D-Van Nuys) wrote AB 2133 to reflect the length of time that veterans can get financial assistance through the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

The governor also signed a bill requiring the state Department of Consumer Affairs to expedite the issuing of vocational licenses to military spouses. The agency issues dozens of licenses for vocations including construction contracting, barbering and court reporting.

AB 1904 was authored by Assemblyman Marty Block (D-San Diego), who cited a study by the RAND National Defense Research Institute that found the majority of military spouses are less likely to be employed, more likely to be seeking work, and earn less than comparable civilian spouses.

Other bills signed by the governor will:

-- Reinstate state-offered veterans benefits that were denied by the federal government solely on the basis of sexual orientation when the federal government reinstates those benefits.

-- Increase the fees for new and renewed personalized veterans’ license plates to provide more money to the County Veterans Service Officer Fund, which assists veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services.

-- Allow licensed drivers of military commercial vehicles to qualify for a California commercial driver’s license without undergoing an additional driving test.

-- Give the Adjutant General of the National Guard more power to establish support programs and solicit donations for the benefit of military personnel and their families.

-- Provide reduced fees for sports fishing and hunting licenses to active military personnel who are recovering from injuries or illnesses.

For the record, 2:55 p.m. Sept. 20: A previous version of this item incorrectly said the Blumenfield bill was AB 1233. It is AB 2133.


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