Bailey veteran-education bill clears Legislature

20,000 veterans retain G.I. Bill benefits at state colleges

The Senate meets for floor session and to pass a resolution for Navy Day, February 11, 2015, the 31st day of the Legislative Session.For the second straight year Sen. Barbara Bailey has made sure state lawmakers came through for veterans looking to use their military benefits to attend college. The state House of Representatives today passed Senate Bill 5355, Bailey’s bill to allow continued use of G.I. Bill benefits by veterans at state-run colleges and universities.

“This is a great day for veterans in our state,” said Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, after work on her bill was completed on the final day of the 2015 legislative session. “Supporting our veterans is a priority. Making sure that they can continue to access our state’s world-class higher education system with the benefits they’ve earned is the right thing to do. Our state benefits greatly from having these veterans stay and educate themselves and continue to be an integral part of our communities.”

Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, introduced SB 5355 to accommodate changes in federal law by changing the state’s definition of “resident student.” It’s the latest success in her ongoing effort to expand access to higher education for all students in the state; she sponsored legislation last year to remove a mandatory one-year waiting period for veterans to be eligible for in-state tuition.

“This past couple of years has been stressful as our state has worked to deal with changing federal laws concerning veteran education,” said Bailey. “I hope that we have reached a place where veterans feel welcomed and supported at our state higher-education institutions, knowing that they have an advocate in the state Legislature.”

The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.