A number of measures were considered by the General Assembly in 2011 affecting Hoosier veterans, members of the military and their families.
Among the enacted legislation is a new law that will reduce the university tuition benefit provided to children of disabled veterans under an existing state program. Under HEA 577 , the benefit is now based on the parent’s disability level as determined by the VA. Since 1935, Indiana has paid 100% tuition and normal fees for the children of disabled or deceased vets for post-secondary education at a state college or university. Under the new plan, the amount of the benefit will be equal to the parent’s percentage of disability plus 20%, with a maximum of 100%. For a veteran with a 10% disability rating, for example, the child’s tuition benefit will be 30%. This change was originally proposed to take effect for all current and future students in 2011. After push-back by Senate Democrats and other legislators as well as a significant negative response from constituents and veterans’ groups, the children of veterans and current service members were grandfathered in under the existing rules.
Other changes approved this year for this program will require children using the scholarship to be younger than 32 years old, require that the parents live in Indiana and that students maintain a minimum grade-point average. The act will affect the children of service members enlisted after June 30, 2011. Children of service members and veterans enlisted before July 1, 2011, remain eligible for the 100% tuition benefit.
HEA 1109 allows service member to use a photo ID issued by the United States Department of Defense, a branch of the uniformed services, the Merchant Marine Academy, or the National Guard as legal identification for voting. The act requires the Bureau Motor Vehicles to put an indication of an individual’s status as a veteran of the armed forces on an individual’s license, permit, or ID if the individual requests such and provides the appropriate documentation.
HEA 1183 prompts a study by the Interim Commission on Military and Veterans Affairs on Indiana businesses owned by service members and veterans and a review of how other states assist in their creation and success. The commission has until November 1, 2011, to report their findings to the Legislative Council. Recommendations by the commission will likely become legislation for the 2012 legislature to consider. (Read more about HEA 1183′s “Buy Local” provisions>>)