The New York State Senate recently took time to honor World War II veterans by adopting a special resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. That day, June 6th, 1944, marked the beginning of the liberation of Europe and the eventual end of World War II.
Along with honoring the courageous servicemen who turned the tide of world history, the senate also passed a legislative package to provide tax relief, expanded benefits, and special honors to all of the men and women who have helped protect our freedoms and way of life.
Among the bills receiving senate approval was a measure I sponsored (S.3572A) that would exempt veteran’s organizations from paying taxes on heating fuel. Currently, religious and charitable organizations are exempt from paying tax on non-highway diesel motor fuel used for heating purposes. However, veterans groups are required to pay the tax up front and apply for a refund.
My bill, which was prompted by a request from veterans in Worcester in my district, would remove a layer of bureaucracy and save veterans groups a few dollars. These organizations do so much for the men and women who served our nation, and also play an active role in many community events and organizations, saving them a few dollars and some paperwork is the least we can do.
I am hopeful that my bill and the others, which were all adopted with unanimous approval by the senate, will also be passed by the state assembly and sent to the governor for his consideration. The legislative package is comprehensive and offers a small thank you to all our veterans.
Tax Relief for Veterans
S3931 - Extends the alternative veterans' property tax exemption by local option to active members of the military. Currently, only honorably discharged veterans are eligible for the exemption.
S4136A - Helps disabled veterans by authorizing local governments to provide a property tax exemption to 100-percent-disabled veterans who served in a combat theatre or combat zone of operations, or their unmarried surviving spouses.
S6781 - Encourages more school districts to authorize a veterans’ property tax exemption by giving school districts the authority to repeal the benefit in the event of a negative change to the district’s economic circumstances. Some districts have not enacted the tax exemptions for veterans because of concerns it could not be reversed in the future if the need arose.
Expanding Veterans’ Benefits
S1963 - Allows those with military service and an honorable discharge to attend classes at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) on a tuition-free audit basis.
S1978 - Makes college more affordable for those in military service by including active duty and honorably discharged veterans who attend college under the new GI bill within the definition of resident for in-state tuition eligibility at community colleges and state-aided four-year colleges.
S7617A - Allows veterans holding a federal Golden Access Passport or federal Access Pass to access state recreational facilities free of charge.
S5735A - Requires the Division of Veteran Affairs to maintain a fact sheet on their website containing contact information for all veterans’ integrated service networks located within the state and contact information for the United States veterans health administration.
Honoring Veterans and their Families
S4198 - Establishes a “Bronze Star Recipient” and “Silver Star Recipient” license plate to be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles upon proof that the applicant is a Bronze or Silver Star recipient, or the spouse of a recipient.
S3869 - Provides legal protections for veterans’ memorials in New York State by establishing official recognition for the importance these memorials serve in honoring the sacrifices of our veterans. The bill is in response to actions taken by some municipalities and school districts that removed war memorials from their property without providing for the preservation, moving or replacement of the memorial.