Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Senate sends three bills honoring Oklahoma’s military heroes to governor

Senate sends trio of bills honoring Oklahoma’s military heroes to governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 25th) – The Senate approved a trio of bills Monday honoring the service and sacrifice of Oklahoma’s military and their families. Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee chair Frank Simpson, R-Springer, authored the bills to ensure veterans are provided a proper burial and to help Oklahoma’s heroes save money in various areas.   

“Throughout my 12 years in the Senate, my focus has always been on finding ways to further honor and help our brave military members and their families. These heroes willingly put their lives in danger and sacrifice time away from their own families to help others. This type of selflessness and bravery deserves our utmost respect and support,” Simpson said. “I’m grateful for the Senate’s overwhelming support of these great measures and look forward to them being signed into law.”     

House Bill 1067, also known as the Dignity in Burial Act, directs the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to establish a program to provide burial grants of up to $1,000 for honorably discharged veterans who lacked the financial capability prior to their death to prepare or provide for interment or cremation. To qualify for the grant, the deceased must be a veteran who died in Oklahoma and was not in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) at the time of their death. The applicant must provide documentation regarding the deceased veteran’s burial location and that an appropriate casket and memorial headstone were provided, if interred. Reimbursement will come from the Indigent Veteran Burial Revolving Fund, or the ODVA Revolving Fund, should funds be insufficient in the first fund.

HB 3050 would exclude the sales price of a purchased vehicle from the $25,000 annual sales tax allowance provided for 100% disabled veterans and the unmarried surviving spouses of such veterans. This would be limited to one vehicle every three years.

Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, is the House author of HB 1067 and HB 3050.

“It’s important that we properly honor our courageous military members not only while they’re serving, but throughout their lives,” Hardin said. “House Bill 1067 gives us one last opportunity to show our state’s gratitude and honor of Oklahoma’s patriots by covering some of the expense of their burial. The other measure will provide our fully disabled vets further financial relief by ensuring car purchases don’t count towards their annual sales tax limit. I’m glad my bills received such strong support and am anxious to get them signed.”     

HB 1800, by Rep. Eric Roberts, R-Oklahoma City, extends eligibility for in-state tuition to Oklahoma colleges and universities to veterans who left service in the last 10 years, up from five. The measure also allows any service member who was stationed in Oklahoma for more than one year at any time in the previous 10 years to be eligible for in-state tuition. These benefits will also apply to the veteran's spouse and dependents.

“It can be hard for retired veterans to return to civilian life, and finding a new career is an important step in that transition.  Many of them are young, and it’s important that we provide them all the resources necessary to start their new life,” Roberts said. “Finding a new career path can be stressful, but we want to ensure they have ample time to get acclimated to their new life and be able to fully utilize this educational benefit if they want.”

The bills will now go before Gov. Kevin Stitt for his final consideration. If signed, the new laws would go into effect on Nov. 1, 2022.


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