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Senate passes military friendly bills

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The Alabama Senate on Tuesday approved multiple bills related to military operations in the state and making the transition easier for members of the armed forces and their families.

“We want to make sure we do everything possible to show that Alabama is probably the friendliest state toward the military,” said Sen. Tom Butler, chair of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

“Military investments in our state are extremely important, with Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Fort Rucker and the depot in Anniston,” Butler, R-Madison, said.

“We have so many investments in infrastructure, in jobs, and we just want to make sure that we make it easier for those transferred here to get acclimated.”

The bills now move to the House.

Senate Bill 28, by Butler, would create Space National Guard within the Alabama National Guard if the federal government creates the Space National Guard in the National Defense Authorization Act by fiscal year 2025.

Senate Bill 99 creates a compact allowing psychologists and counselors licensed to practice in participating states to also practice within Alabama. It’s sponsored by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre. Rep. Kenneth Paschal, R-Pelham, is sponsoring the House version.

Similarly, Senate Bill 167 by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville,  creates a compact so that occupational therapists licensed to practice in other states can also practice within Alabama.

Senate Bill 141, also by Butler, extends the deadline for various occupational licensure boards to allow military spouses licensed in other states to practice while in Alabama.

Senate Bill 116, by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn,  would make it easier for children of active military members locating to Alabama to enroll in local school in advance and without proof of residency. Rep. Debbie Wood, R-Valley is sponsoring the House version.

Senate Bill 119 by Sen. Will Barfoot, R – Pike Road, expands scholarships provided under the Alabama G.I. and Dependents’ Educational Benefit Act to include in-state private two-and four-year colleges. It also adds the U.S. Space Command to branches qualifying for the benefit.

The bills are recommendations from the Alabama Military Stability Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth. 

“The bills in this legislative package offer solid evidence that we continue working every day to ensure Alabama remains the nation’s most attractive and friendliest state for active military, military dependents, and veterans who have served our nation,” Ainsworth said in a written statement.

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