HARRISBURG, Nov. 19, 2013 — Sen. Anthony H. Williams and the Senate Democratic Caucus today unveiled a 21-bill package designed to help soldiers returning to civilian life in Pennsylvania.
Williams is the prime sponsor of two of the proposals: Senate Bill 1137, which would provide down payment or closing cost help in the form of grants, forgivable loans or deferred no-interest loans to veterans; and Senate Bill 231, which would deliver tax credits to employers who hire vets.
The Philadelphia Democrat said the caucus’ detailed legislative package is the culmination of more than a year’s worth of work and study that included policy hearings to learn veterans’ needs.
“Moving this package forward would mean helping veterans on critical issues — jobs, health care, education, social services, counseling and housing,” Williams said. “Considering all they have given to us, this is the least we can do to address these quality-of-life concerns many confront on a daily basis. Too many are still struggling.”
The legislative package would also address post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, by helping emergency service providers to better recognize and interact with veterans and others suffering with PTSD (SB 1141), and create a special fund (SB 1144) to pay for public service announcements that would inform veterans of the services and benefits available to them.
“Our fighting women and men go to work every day to make sure we remain free. They uphold liberty here and across the globe, and we must make sure we are doing all we can to help them return to life with their families and their private-sector employers,” Williams said.
Editor’s Note: The following Senate bills are included in the Democratic Caucus’ proposal:
SB 1132 – Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom Service Bonus Bond Issue
SB 1133 – Peer to Peer Counseling
SB 1134 – $20M RCAP carve out for vets housing
SB 1135 – Vets priority for public housing
SB 1136 – Homeless Veterans Initiative
SB 1137 – Closing Cost and Down Payment Assistance
SB 1138 – Veterans Emergency Assistance Program
SB 1139 – Military Family Relief Assistance
SB 1140 – 5 additional veteran preference points on Civil Service
SB 1141 – EMS training for PTSD and TBI
SB 1142 – Subsidized child care priority for vets and active duty military
SB 1143 – PTSD, MST, and TBI income tax check-off
SB 1144 – PTSD, MST, and TBI public service announcement fund
SB 1145 – Disabled Vets Real Estate Tax Exemption
SR 262 – Task Force on Women Veterans Health Issues
SR 263 – Urging Congress to increase funding for Department of Veterans Affairs
SB 203 – Veterans Entreprenurial Training and Support Program
SB 215 – Veteran-owned business loan guarantee program
SB 231 – Employer Tax Credit for Hiring Veterans
SB 232 – Higher Education Credits for Veterans based on Military Training
SB 241 – Educational Gratuity Program