Legislature Provides Help for Military Families

veteransThe 2009 Legislative session saw several bills that will help make a few things easier for military families that have one or more parents on active duty.

In February, the House passed House File 214, joining Iowa to the Instate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The compact, which currently has about 15 other states as members, allows for easier transition between states for children of military families, who traditionally face bureaucratic and social barriers to success. It would make easier the transition of records, the placement in appropriate classes, and the inclusion in social activities such as athletics.

The House also acted to make foreclosures against those serving overseas in the military illegal. House File 706 states that a creditor may not initiate a proceeding of foreclosure against an active duty member of the Iowa National Guard, and the bill brings the Iowa Code in line with Federal Code on this issue as it relates to reserve or regular components of the armed forces of the United States.

Along similar lines, Senate File 253, which passed the House unanimously in March, allows that an active duty military member who is deployed outside the United States in an area other than a combat zone, qualified hazardous duty area or contingency operation is allowed an additional period of time to file a state income tax return.

These provisions help ensure that Iowa’s honorable military members serving to protect our freedom overseas do not need to worry about having their house foreclosed on while they are focusing their energies serving our country and that extra time to file their taxes will lead to one less stress that they have to deal with while activated.

The House also worked this year on combating the “brain drain” that Iowa is facing by passing a few measures to recruit veterans to the state.

Senate File 186 gives non-resident veterans the same preferential hiring treatment as resident veterans for government and civil service jobs. The intention is to bring veterans, who develop unique sets of skills while serving in the military, to the state where they can help make their communities stronger.

The House also passed unanimously Senate File 451, which would give instate tuition to veterans and their families who move here to attend Iowa’s Regents universities (the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa) and Iowa’s community colleges. The bill states that a veteran must reside in the state during their course of study, or during the course of study of their child or spouse. If a veteran is called to serve during the semester, the spouse or child will continue to receive instate tuition until the end of the semester.