Marine recruits perform a training exercise at Camp Pendleton. Gov. Jerry… ( Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)
SACRAMENTO — Veterans and those in the military will receive more state benefits, including help with education, finances and even fishing licenses, under 18 bills signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Brown noted that the measures were sponsored and supported by members of both major political parties, and he used the occasion to take a jab at Congress.
"Yesterday, a [federal] bill to invest in job training for veterans was blocked because of Washington political infighting," Brown said. "Here in California, Republicans and Democrats joined together to support our veterans. These bills respect the honor and dignity of those who serve."
The measures include an extension of veterans' eligibility for priority registration at state colleges and universities from four to 15 years after leaving active duty. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) wrote AB 2133 to match the period of veterans' eligibility for financial assistance through the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
The governor also signed a bill requiring the state Department of Consumer Affairs to expedite the issuing of vocational licenses to military spouses. The agency dispenses licenses for construction contracting, barbering, court reporting and dozens of other vocations.
That measure, AB 1904, was introduced by Assemblyman Marty Block (D-San Diego), who cited a study by the Rand National Defense Research Institute that found the majority of military spouses are less likely to be employed, more likely to be seeking work and more likely to earn less than civilians.
Other bills signed by the governor will:
• Restore state benefits that were rescinded due to a military discharge based solely on sexual orientation, if the federal government reinstates eligibility.
• Increase fees for personalized veterans' license plates to provide more money to the County Veterans Service Officer Fund, which aids veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services.
• Make it easier for licensed drivers of commercial vehicles in the military to qualify for a California commercial driver's license.
• Give the adjutant general of the National Guard more power to establish support programs and solicit donations for military personnel and their families.
• Reduce fees for sports-fishing and hunting licenses for active military personnel recovering from injuries or illnesses.