Preserve, Protect & Defend - 2015 Veterans Affairs Legislation

April 17, 2015

House Bill 48 - Prestige License Plates

Effective Date: 7/1/15

Creates a special license plate for first responders suffering major injury in the line of duty;
Creates a special license plate for members of the Georgia State Defense Force;
Clarifies the requirements for free motor vehicle license plates issued to disabled veterans;
Permits the issuance of prestige plates for motorcycles;
Allows the surviving spouse of a service member’s sibling to retain a special veteran’s license plate or Gold Star license plate; and
Amends the current Code allowing disabled veterans to receive ad valorem tax exemptions to allow for unmarried surviving spouses or minor children to receive the exemption.

House Bill 62 - Scholarship Program for Special Need Students

Effective Date: 7/1/15

This bill waives certain qualifications for students whose parent is an active duty member of the military and was stationed in Georgia within the preceding year. Current law states that special needs students qualify for the scholarship program if their parent currently resides in Georgia and has been a Georgia resident for at least one year. This legislation removes the one-year residency requirement if the student’s parent is an active duty military member and was stationed in Georgia within the previous year

House Bill 98- Georgia Code of Military Justice

Effective: 7/1/15

Current laws governing Georgia’s organized militia date back to 1955.  This bill’s purpose is to remove inapplicable provisions in the Georgia Code of Military Justice (GCMJ), and to reflect concerns over conflict between state law and federal law arising on the numerous occasions that the Georgia National Guard has been federalized since 1955. This bill generally aligns the GCMJ with federal law governing service men and women.  Officials of the Georgia National Guard and Georgia’s Court of Appeals judges worked closely with Senate and House study committees 2014 to perfect this legislation. 

House Bill 180 - Georgia War Veterans' Nursing Home and the Georgia State War Veterans’ Home

Effective Date: 7/1/15

Under current law, a veteran wishing to be admitted into the Georgia State War Veterans' Nursing Home or the Georgia State War Veterans’ Home must be a Georgia resident for at least five years immediately prior to the time of applying for admission.

This legislation reduces the residency requirement to two years. A veteran may also fulfill the residency requirement if he or she is a current Georgia resident and has been a resident for at least five out of the last 15 years prior to application for admission. The Veterans Service Board is authorized to adopt appropriate rules to determine if a war veteran qualifies under this legislation.

House Bill 443 - Voluntary Veterans' Preference Employment Policy Act

Effective Date: 7/1/15

This legislation allows employers to create and maintain a veterans' preference employment policy, which must be in writing and applied uniformly, to employment decisions regarding hiring, promotion, or retention during a reduction in force.[1]

An employer's use of a veterans' preference employment policy does not constitute a violation of any local or state equal employment opportunity law.

Senate Bill 18 - Life Experience to Tech College Credit

Effective Date: 7/1/15

This bill allows the Technical College System of Georgia to maintain a policy that would allow individuals to receive academic credit for skills/training/experience learned in previous work, the military, or self-study.

Senate Bill 69 - State Defense Force

Effective Date:  7/1/15

Under current law, all rights and duties imposed by military law or other state statutes relating to the National Guard and Reserves are extended to the State Defense Force except for Code Section 38-2-279, relating to rights of public officers and employees absent on military duty, and Code Section 38-2-280, relating to the reemployment in private industry. This legislation repeals these exceptions and grants members of the State Defense Force the same rights as members of the National Guard and Reserves.[2]

Senate Bill 203 - Georgia World War I Centennial Commission

Effective Date: 7/1/15

This legislation creates the six-member Georgia World War I Centennial Commission consisting of two members appointed by the Governor, two members appointed by the Senate President, and two members appointed by the Speaker.

The purpose of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission is:

To plan, develop, and execute programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I and Georgia's role in it;
To encourage private organizations and local governments in Georgia to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War I; and
To serve as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans, in Georgia, for the centennial of World War I.

1. Veteran is defined as an individual who served on active duty in the armed forces of the U.S. and was honorably discharged from such service.

2. The Georgia State Defense Force is an unpaid, volunteer component of the Georgia Department of Defense, under direction of the Governor and the Adjutant General of Georgia. Its mission is to provide an organized, trained, disciplined, rapid response volunteer force to assist state and local government agencies and civil relief organizations during emergencies.