Bailey, Senate continue to stand up for veterans

Legislation passed for fourth time would protect educational benefits

On the first day of the Legislature’s third special session the Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 5355, to ensure military veterans will retain the use of their G.I. Bill benefits in the state. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee and has been working on this issue since late 2014 when changes were announced by federal authorities.

Bailey explained that recent changes to federal law require states to modify the definition of a resident student; without the change in state law represented by SB 5355, veterans may lose their ability to attend state-run colleges and universities with their education benefits.

“If we don’t line up requirements we jeopardize payments from the G.I. Bill for their education,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “We must pass this bill for the 20,000 veterans attending college in our state.”

The House failed to take up the measure the first three times it was approved by the Senate.

“We need action by the House now to put this vitally important legislation on the governor’s desk before the Legislature adjourns for the year,” said Bailey. “Educational benefits for thousands of veteran are on the line; we cannot afford to play politics with this issue.”

Bailey has been a champion of veteran issues in the Senate and was the sponsor of legislation in 2014 that removed a one-year waiting period for veterans to qualify for in-state tuition rates.