BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that the so-called Veterans’ HOME Act was signed into law by the Governor July 14. This legislation further strengthens the Commonwealth’s commitment to its veterans, service members and their families by expanding benefits and services. The legislation also builds upon passage of the Valor Act I in 2012 and Valor Act II in 2014.
Focusing on housing and long-term support, the passage of the Veterans’ HOME Act continues the strong reputation that Massachusetts has as a leader in understanding the sacrifice that military personnel and their families make not only while on active duty, but also after returning home.
“I am proud to have supported this legislation in the Senate which takes additional steps toward ensuring that all of our service members and veterans are provided with the assistance they need,” said Senator Moore.
Provisions of the newly-signed law include:
• Establishing the Office of State Veterans’ Homes and Housing within the Department of Veterans’ Services serve as an advisor to the secretary on matters of veterans’ housing and long term care.
• Requiring the office to annually report to the legislature on or before each November 1, with findings relative to the quality of care provided, financial status, the uniformity of policies and procedures, capital needs and the status of federal Department of Veterans Affairs accreditation.
• Mandating housing authorities exclude disability income in excess of $1,800 paid by the federal government for totally disabled and unemployable veterans from the gross income determination.
• Updating the veterans’ preference so that all veterans have a preference in Ch. 667 housing.
• Expanding the Public Service Scholarship to provide for the children of all POWs.
• Clarifying the tax abatement for a surviving spouse following the death or MIA status of a soldier, sailor, or member of the National Guard so that it applies to a spouse of any active duty service member or veteran who suffers a service-related injury or illness.
• Fully abating any property taxes due by a surviving spouse following the death or missing in action status of a soldier, sailor, or member of the National Guard.
• Extending a total property tax exemption to 100% disabled service-connected blind veterans.
• Updating Chapter 151B so that Veteran Status is clearly a protected employment category.
• Exempting Silver Star recipients, the military’s third highest honor, from civil service exam.
• Updating the provision on paid public service leave so that it applies to uniformed service and accurately reflects the modern approach to military training.
• Allowing municipalities to create a voluntary check off box to donate money to a municipal veteran’s assistance fund to provide support for veterans and their dependents in need of immediate assistance with food, transportation, heat, and oil expenses.
• Providing excise tax exemption for veterans while deployed.
• Extending assistance from the Military Relief Fund to the National Guard.
• Businesses with 50+ employees must grant veterans a paid leave of absence on Veterans Day.
• Prohibiting municipalities from transferring the right to receive debt payments if the municipality receives notice that the debtor is a veteran.
• Expanding eligibility for Gold Star Family license plate, and establishes Bicentennial Park in Fall River as the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument of the Commonwealth.
• Studying the implementation of a sliding scale property tax abatement for disabled veterans, costs of transporting incarcerated disabled veterans to VA medical facilities, and on implementing tax rebates for veterans who lease dwellings to veterans.