Chicago – This past weekend was good for Illinois veterans, with Governor Pat Quinn signing six acts into law at two events – a visit to Hero Street in Silvis, Illinois on Saturday, Aug. 10, and Veterans Day at the Illinois State Fair on Sunday, Aug 11, 2013. He also recognized Ms Linda Kay Crites of Springfield as the Illinois Veteran of the Month for July 2013, assisted by Rodrigo Garcia, the Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), in a ceremony before the bill-signing took place at the State Fair.
“We are pleased with all these new laws, and especially HB2353, which strengthens Illinois’ support for veterans on campus,” said Erica Borggren, Director, IDVA. “We appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts and thank Gov. Quinn for his leadership and longstanding commitment to serving, equipping, and honoring our veterans.”
The new laws signed at the Hero Street event included:
· House Bill 2353 allows veterans using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to be considered as in-state students for the purpose of tuition in state-supported institutions of higher learning in Illinois, resulting in veterans being better able to afford a full education. This will also help draw talented young veterans to Illinois universities. HB 2353 was sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake) and is effective immediately.
· Senate Bill 2229, sponsored by State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Rep. Deborah Conroy (D-Villa Park), anyone with at least ten years of service in the Illinois National Guard will be eligible for six years of tuition waivers instead of the current maximum of four years, recognizing that older service members may take a longer time to complete their studies. The new waiver takes effect in the upcoming 2013-14 school year.
The new laws signed on Veterans’ Day at the Illinois State Fair by Governor Quinn included:
· House Bill 3346, sponsored by State Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), requires the Illinois Discharged Service Member Task Force to evaluate the needs of women veterans and, as part of its FY2014 report, make recommendations regarding how to meet those needs. The law goes into effect immediately.
· House Bill 2408, sponsored by State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Belleville) and State Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Matteson), allows small veterans-owned- and service-disabled businesses to also register as minority, disabled and women owned businesses when applicable, giving these businesses more opportunity to do business with the state of Illinois. The law goes into effect immediately.
· Senate Bill 1824, sponsored by State Sen. John M. Sullivan (D-Rushville) and State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), requires those who build veteran memorials on public property to raise enough funds to cover the maintenance and preservation of the memorial as well as its construction. The law goes into effect immediately.
· Senate Bill 2231, sponsored by State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet), increases penalties for criminal damage and defacement of veteran and military memorials. The law goes into effect January 1, 2014.