Governor Walker today signed four bills into law to benefit Wisconsin's veterans.
Governor Walker signed SB 338 which is part of his Wisconsin Working plan. SB 338 waives fees for occupational and professional licenses for qualified veterans.
"I want to thank former Senator Galloway and Representative Wynn for delivering this bill to my desk," Governor Walker said. "This legislation will make it easier for veterans to work or establish a business in Wisconsin."
The Governor also signed SB 550. The legislation was a result of a request by First Lady Michelle Obama. At the National Governors Association meeting at the end of February, Mrs. Obama asked the nation's governors to pass legislation to support military spouse license portability by 2014. Upon hearing her request, the Governor took the idea to the Wisconsin legislature who passed bipartisan legislation to fulfill the goal. SB 550 will make it easier for spouses to become employed in Wisconsin by extending to them the ability to more easily receive reciprocal licenses from other states. In addition, licensing boards would be required to grant military spouses temporary reciprocal licenses if they have a similar license from another state.
"Senator Wanggard and Representative Spanbauer should be commended for this bipartisan piece of legislation," said Governor Walker. "We owe a debt of gratitude not only to our servicemen and women, but to their spouses as well. This legislation will make it easier for military spouses to find work in Wisconsin."
The Governor also signed SB 339 into law. SB 339 helps disabled veterans enter the civil service. It mirrors the policy for federal civil service positions.
"Former Senator Galloway and Representative Wynn continue to show our state's commitment to our veterans through this legislation," said Governor Walker. "The Disabled American Veterans Department of Wisconsin also worked hard for this legislation and I'm pleased that the bill received bipartisan support and no opposition."
Last, the Governor signed SB 369 which provides an income tax credit for hiring unemployed disabled veterans.
"This legislation provides an incentive to business for hiring Wisconsin heroes," said Governor Walker. "Thanks go to Senator Lassa and Representative Wynn on this bipartisan piece of legislation."
"On behalf of the veterans community I would like to thank Governor Walker for his leadership on veterans issues, particularly helping veterans find meaningful employment," Secretary Scocos said. "This has been a successful legislative session for veterans and the bills Governor Walker signed today will help ease the burden on our nation's heroes who are seeking employment as well as encourage employers to hire veterans."
Earlier this year Governor Walker declared 2012 the Year of the Veteran. The Year of the Veteran honors the deeds of Wisconsin's veterans and provides them with the tools they need to reintegrate into civilian society such as education, health care and employment assistance.
The Year of the Veteran celebrates the past, emulates the example set by Wisconsin's forefathers, and honors all the state's veterans by reaffirming the State of Wisconsin's commitment to providing the highest level of support to the nation's heroes.
Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos are overseeing the year-long Year of the Veteran initiative. A full listing of events and resources can be viewed at www.YearoftheVeteran.com.
There are more than 400,000 veterans living in Wisconsin and nearly 300,000 are wartime veterans. More than 56,000 of these veterans are disabled.
The veteran's unemployment rate in Wisconsin is estimated to be higher than the general population and for veterans recently returning from wars overseas even higher. To that end, a particular emphasis of Year of the Veteran is on employing Wisconsin's veterans.
Efforts to connect veterans with jobs include:
- 15 Year of the Veteran specific Career and Benefit fairs throughout the state.
- Four Symposiums to educate employers and connect them with the veterans community.
- A virtual career fair for Wisconsin service members, guard/reservist, veterans, and military spouses hosted by Milicruit.
In conjunction with the Year of the Veteran Governor Walker has directed state agencies to hold at least 15 veteran specific job fairs and four employer education symposiums;
Governor Walker also supported a number of bills that would benefit veterans this legislative session, including:
*AB 438. SB 357 - Military training, education, or other experience may satisfy requirements for certain professional credentials.
*AB 437. SB 369 - Unemployed disabled veterans: income and franchise tax credits for hiring created.
*SB-338. AB-429 - Waives fess for certain professional and occupational licenses issued to veterans.
*SB-339. AB-428 -- Non-competitive appointment of certain disable veterans to classified positions in the state civil service system.
*SB 442 - Converts Gates Hall in Union Grove to a nursing facility instead of assisted living which would alleviate a waiting list and positively impact the solvency of the veterans' nursing homes.
All of the bills have now been signed into law.
Year of the Veteran also includes several special events to honor and educate the men and women and their families who put service before self. A major cornerstone of this year long recognition of veterans is Operation Greatest Generation, a day of celebration and recognition for the Wisconsin men and women who shaped the course of history during World War II.
Among other planned events are:
*A series of listening sessions on employment and reintegration issues for veterans throughout the state hosted by Lt. Governor Kleefisch and Secretary Scocos.
*A Hall of Honor dedication and open house at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King honoring the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
*A ceremony rededicating the Camp Randall arch, a training ground for Wisconsin's Civil War era veterans.