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Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

Nixon Signs 7 Military-Related Bills

Gov. Nixon signed a total of 7 veteran-related bills Wednesday, four inside the National Gaurd Armory in Springfield/Credit:

Military leaders and state lawmakers and administrators joined Gov. Jay Nixon Wednesday as he signed several bills into law aimed to benefit veterans and their families. KSMU’s Scott Harvey reports.

Inside the Missouri National Guard Armory in Springfield, the Democratic Governor was applauded by service members for his support of an assortment of measures, including  Senate Bill 116. The bill’s sponsor and an Army veteran of Iraq, Republican Sen. Will Kraus, says the law will ease the voting process for those serving overseas, which can take upwards of nine weeks through traditional mail.

“This process reduces that by allowing them to go online and request an absentee ballot. We think it’s the right thing to do, it’s important to get the military that are overseas serving our country the right to vote,” Kraus said.

The Uniformed Military and Overseas Act is also intended to extend the time in which ballots from military voters can be counted.

Kraus also sponsored SB 117 and 118, which offers in-state tuition for veterans and additional veterans’ treatment courts in Missouri, respectively. Both bills were also signed by the Governor Wednesday.

“The freedoms we enjoy are because of the citizens who willingly have stood in defense of them, even at the costs of their lives. Their sacrifice can never fully be repaid but these measures clearly demonstrate our ongoing support and commitment to them and their families,” Nixon said.

Additionally, Nixon inked his approval for SB 702. The bill, which received strong support from State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, is aimed to increase the likelihood of identifying owners of unclaimed military medals by permitting the Treasurer to offer information such as photos to the public and veteran service organizations. Zweifel, whose administration put an end to the auctioning off of these medals when he took office in 2009, has since returned 45 medals to the families of veterans.

“This not only is a representation of our ability and their service that they’ve had, but often these medals that we find when I return them are a missing piece in that family’s history that they’ve been able to get reconnected  with. So it’s an especially important responsibility that we have that we take seriously, and we’re excited to get to work on it,” Zweifel said.

The State Treasurer’s Office currently has 95 unclaimed medals that they’ll be attempting to return to their proper owners.

Here's a list of other veterans-related bills signed by Gov. Jay Nixon Wednesday.

Senate Bill 106 Requires professional licensing boards or commissions to accept military education, training and service as credit toward licensure requirements; requires health-related professional licensing boards to establish procedures to ensure that active duty members of the armed forces are able to remain in good standing with their professional licensing bodies; and requires public higher education institutions to give credit for courses that are part of a student’s military service.

House Bill 159 waives the requirement to prove in-district-school residency for a student who is a dependent of a military member who is deployed out of state or deployed in Missouri under Title 10 or Title 32, or who – as a result of deployment – relocates to another school district to live with other family members.

Senate Bill 186 contains the language on returning medals and also allows funeral homes to release the cremated remains of a veteran when there is no identified next-of-kin, and the notice provision is met.

Senate Bill 118 includes a provision also included in the previously signed House Bill 374 to allow for the establishment of additional veterans’ treatment courts in Missouri.