Senate Considers Key Legislation to Support
Active Duty Military, Veterans, and Their Families
The Florida Senate today celebrated Military Appreciation and Florida National Guard Day at the Capitol by considering several pieces of legislation designed to help solidify Florida’s reputation as the friendliest state in the nation for active duty military, veterans and their families. Led by Senator Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville), chair of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security, the Senate also honored the Florida National Guard, as well as Senators and Senate Professional Staff who have served in the Unites States Armed Forces.
“We are so pleased to welcome and honor our Adjutant General, Major General Michael Calhoun and several members of the Florida National Guard,” said Senator Gibson who sponsored a Senate resolution honoring the Florida National Guard for their service during the 2017 Hurricane Season. “When Floridians are facing some of the most challenging times, the Florida National Guard is at its best springing into action at a moment’s notice to help Floridians in need. We are so grateful for their courageous service to our state during the recent hurricane season.”
“My Senate colleagues and I are committed to enacting policies that keep Florida the number one state for active duty members of our armed forces, veterans, and their families,” said Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart). “The legislation we discussed today sends a clear message that Florida is truly the Welcome Home State. From veterans of the War on Terror returning from Iraq or Afghanistan and looking to further their education, to Lieutenant Sconiers whose remains made it home to Florida nearly seventy five years after he gave his life for the freedom of others, we are honored that so many of our nation’s finest choose to call Florida home.”
The Senate considered the following legislation today. The legislation will be available for final passage later this week.
Identification Card and Driver License Fees for Veterans
Senate Bill 100, Identification Card and Driver License Fees for Veterans, by Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), eliminates the $1 or $2 fee a veteran must pay to have the word “Veteran” displayed on an identification card or driver license issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
Additionally, Senate Bill 100 prohibits tax collector offices from charging the $6.25 service fee for driver license services rendered, upon providing the specified documentation proving veteran status. The bill also provides for additional forms of identification a veteran may present to the DHSMV as proof of veteran status.
Postsecondary Fee Waivers
Senate Bill 460, Postsecondary Fee Waivers, by Senator George Gainer (R-Panama City), authorizes a Florida College System institution to waive certain fees for a person who is an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces and using military tuition assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Florida Veterans Care Program
Senate Bill 440, Florida Veterans Care Program, by Senator Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah), addresses specific access and quality of care concerns Florida’s veterans continue to face by authorizing the state to operate the Florida Veterans Care Program (program), which would offer veterans and their families an alternative gateway to quality medical coverage.
Through use of the existing infrastructure and operations of the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program, or a similar program, veterans and their families would be able to voluntarily enroll and elect coverage quickly through participating managed care plans as an alternative to the federal veterans’ health care system. The program is designed to be administratively simple, and would seek to leverage existing managed medical assistance and long-term care operations to reduce costs and expand choices. The bill authorizes the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families, and the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs to negotiate with the federal government for federal funding for the program, but the program may not be implemented without prior legislative approval.
Lieutenant Ewart T. Sconiers Highway
Senate Bill 330, Transportation Facility Designations/Lieutenant Ewart T. Sconiers Highway, by Senator Gainer designates the portion of U.S. 90/S.R. 10 between S.R. 285 and N. 9th Street/S.R. 83 in Walton County as “Lieutenant Ewart T. Sconiers Highway.”
Lieutenant Sconiers was born in 1915 and raised in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He attended the University of Florida before enlisting in the Army on September 16, 1941. He was shot down and captured on October 21, 1942. He was imprisoned in German-occupied Poland and later passed away there on January 24, 1944. In April of 2017, his remains were found and positively identified. After nearly seventy-five years, Lieutenant Sconiers was laid to rest in DeFuniak Springs with full military honors on January 27, 2018.