The "Big Four" introduce our 2024 Legislative Priorities Tuesday, November 21, 2023, at the Indiana Statehouse, leadership from the "Big Four" introduced our 2024 legislative priorities. These priorities focus on crucial issues affecting veterans in our great state. As we look towards the future, we believe that addressing these concerns will contribute significantly to the well-being of those who have served our nation with honor and dedication.
Priority 1: Resolution to Reduce Veteran Suicide
Veterans have dutifully served our nation, safeguarding its security and upholding our freedoms. Many of these courageous individuals bear invisible wounds resulting from their service, necessitating treatment on par with physical injuries. Unfortunately, such treatment is often inaccessible. A concerted effort is imperative to provide the necessary support for these veterans. Less than half of returning veterans in need of mental health treatment receive it, primarily due to persistent stigma and barriers such as limited access and extended wait times.
A Resolution was introduced by Repressive Craig Haggard January 4, 2024 -
House Bill 1070
Mental health grants. - Authored by Repressive Becky Cash
Provides that the division of mental health and addiction may not exclude a for-profit organization from consideration and any award of a grant that is administered by the division that is for mental health care and services solely because the organization is a for-profit organization.
Current Status: 1/31/2024 - Engrossed
Priority 2: Equal Tuition Remission for Disabled Veteran's Children
Eliminate the 2011 amendments linking the disability rating of the Veteran to the amount of tuition remission granted to their children. Remove the condition requiring veterans to have served in a war zone, recognizing that Veterans lack control over their deployment locations. A veteran disabled in any military capacity remains a "service-connected disabled veteran."
Priority 3: State Sponsored Life Insurance Program for the National Guard
Given the increased deployment and state duty requirements for the Indiana National Guard, essential as first responders to disasters, state emergencies, and military activations, it is imperative to ensure the protection of Guard members' families. A cost-effective benefit should be extended to all Guard families, acknowledging their significant sacrifices for the welfare of our State and Nation.
Priority 4: Access to State Parks for Veterans
Initiate measures to reduce suicide among veterans by granting all current and former service members complimentary access to Indiana State Parks. Recognizing the therapeutic benefits of nature, this initiative draws inspiration from historical practices such as horticulture therapy prescribed for soldiers returning from World Wars. Outdoor experiences have proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol levels, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance cognitive function, offering a valuable avenue for self-restoration.
Priority 5: Electronic Pull Tabs for Veteran Service Organizations – Arrow International is holding until next year
Authorize Veteran Service Organizations to utilize electronic pull tabs. These electronic pull tabs function similarly to conventional ones. The resultant increase in revenue will play a pivotal role in preserving numerous VSO Posts, enabling them to sustain active involvement in their respective communities.
We believe that these legislative priorities address critical issues facing our veterans and their families. Your support in championing these initiatives will not only honor the service of our veterans but also contribute to the well-being of our communities.
Other Bills that the Big 4 will be following and supporting are:
** House Bill 1021
Green alert for missing at risk veterans. - Authored by Mitch Gore and Renee Pack
Defines "veteran at risk". Creates the green alert program to provide public notification regarding missing veterans at risk. Changes the name of the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children and missing endangered adults to the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children, missing veterans at risk, and missing endangered adults (clearinghouse). Makes conforming changes to the duties of the clearinghouse. Creates certain duties and reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies concerning missing veterans at risk. Provides immunity for a broadcaster who broadcasts, or an electronic billboard operator who displays, a green alert notification and a person who establishes.
Current Status: 2/20/2024 - Senate Veterans Affairs and The Military, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing)
House Bill 1038
Property tax exemption for qualified veterans. - Authored by Sheila Klinker
Provides a property tax deduction for an individual or surviving spouse of a veteran who has been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as individually unemployable.
Current Status: 2/5/2024 - Dead
** House Bill 1120
Property taxes. – Authored by Jeffrey Thompson
Increases the assessed value limit for the disabled veteran property tax deduction from $200,000 to $240,000. Extends the current cap on operating referendum tax that may be levied by a school corporation to taxes first due and payable in 2025 at not more than 3% over the maximum operating referendum tax that the school corporation could have levied in the previous year using the maximum referendum rate for that year. Adds a provision to allow a redevelopment commission to expend revenues from its allocation fund that are allocated for police and fire services on both capital expenditures and operating expenses.
Current Status: 2/13/2024 - Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing)
House Bill 1169
Additional renter's deduction for disabled veterans. - Authored by Mike Aylesworth
Provides an additional tax deduction for a disabled veteran who rents a dwelling for use as the disabled veteran's principal place of residence.
Current Status: 2/5/2024 - Dead
House Bill 1202
Military and Veteran Issues. - Authored by Steve Bartels
Increases the maximum amount for a grant from the military family relief fund from $2,500 to $3,500. Provides that beginning July 1, 2025, and each July 1 thereafter, the maximum amount of a grant will be annually increased by an amount approved by the Indiana veterans' affairs commission not to exceed the current annual cost of living adjustment determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Expands the eligibility requirements for admission to the Indiana Veterans' Home. Adds a definition of an "eligible person" for purposes of administering grants for veteran services (GVS). Provides that a qualified entity may receive a GVS to provide certain services to support an eligible person. Updates references throughout the Indiana Code relating to the armed forces of the United States or uniformed services to include the United States Space Force. Makes technical changes to various references relating to the components of the armed forces of the United States. Provides that the governing body of a school corporation, the organizer of a charter school, or the chief administrative officer of a nonpublic school system shall authorize the absence and excuse of each secondary school student who is ordered to active duty with the armed forces of the United States, including their reserve components or the Indiana National Guard for at least 15 days in a school year. (Current law provides that a governing body of a school corporation or the chief administrative officer of a nonpublic school system shall authorize the absence and excuse of each secondary school student who is ordered to active duty with the Indiana National Guard for not more than 10 days in a school year.)
Current Status: 2/13/2024 - Committee Report amend do pass adopted; reassigned to Committee on Appropriations
Senate Bill 15
Veterans' benefits and services poster. - Authored by James Tomes
Requires that the Indiana department of labor consult with the Indiana department of veterans' affairs to create and distribute a veterans' benefits and services poster. Provides that the veterans' benefits and services poster must contain certain information. Requires that Indiana employers with more than 50 full-time employees (or their equivalent) display the veterans' benefits and services poster in a conspicuous place.
Current Status: 1/24/2024 - Engrossed
Senate Bill 39
Hunting season for qualified disabled veterans. - Authored by David Niezgodski and Scott Baldwin
Provides that catastrophically disabled veterans may hunt on the same free hunting days as those designated for youth hunters by the director of the department of natural resources. Defines "catastrophically disabled veteran".
Current Status: 2/5/2024 - Dead
** Senate Bill 49
Catastrophically disabled veteran hunting. - Authored by Susan Glick and James Tomes
Provides that catastrophically disabled veterans may hunt on the same free hunting days as those designated for youth hunters by the director of the department of natural resources. Defines "catastrophically disabled".
Current Status: 2/12/2024 - Referred to House Natural Resources
** = Voters Voice