DeSantis Signed Bills to Make Florida a Military Friendly State

Florida Governor DeSantis signed three bills in June that he hopes will make Florida the ‘most Military friendly state in the nation.’ The state is home to 21 military bases across all service branches. The Bills were HB 429, HB 435, and SB 922 – all bills which will make strides in helping military members and veterans with everything from school help for their children, skill development for veterans transitioning from the service, and making it easier to hire veterans for civilian jobs. He signed the bills at American Legion Palm Valley on Friday, June 4, 2021.

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DeSantis signed the three bills which take these programs further than the Federal Government.

DeSantis signed: HB 429 – Establishment of Purple Star Campus Program for children of active-duty service members

HB 429 passed both Florida House and Senate with no opposition, which is an accomplishment in itself. The bill goes into effect on July 1, 2021. It establishes the Purple Star Campus Program to create “saved seating” for children of active duty military, Reserves or National Guard no matter what time of the year the transfer may occur.

Military children move every two to three years. The Purple Star School program is designed to help schools respond to the educational and social-emotional challenges military-connected children face during their transition to a new school and keep them on track to be college, workforce, and life-ready. Military-connected refers to children of service members on active duty, and in the National Guard and Reserves. 

The Purple Star Program

The program at a minimum will have a liaison to help children in transition to a different school, a website to support military families, a student-led transition team, and developmental opportunities for staff, as well as “supporting projects that connect the school with the military community; and providing outreach for military parents and their children.”

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DeSantis signed: HB 435 – The ‘Florida is for Veterans’ Program bringing the Florida version of the DoD SkillBridge Program for transitioning military members

This bill also passed both Florida House and Senate unopposed. The SkillBridge program connects transitioning veterans to job opportunities for those in the last 180 days of their service. The Florida bill “jumpstarts” the program by bringing workforce training for both employer and prospective employees. It aims, in part, to “assist businesses in obtaining approval for skilled workforce training curricula under the program, including apprenticeships, internships, or fellowships; and match transitioning servicemembers who are deemed eligible for program participation by their military command with training opportunities offered by Florida is for Veterans or participating businesses, with the intent of having transitioning servicemembers achieve gainful employment in the state upon completion of their training.”

What we’ll do with this bill is break new ground by becoming the first state in the nation to codify in law statewide Skill Bridge initiative that matches service members separating or retiring from Florida’s 21 military installations and from those across the country with Florida’s boundless career opportunities. We’re already hearing this bill will likely become a model for other states to use.” 

Florida Gov DeSantis – The Florida Times-Union

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DeSantis signed: SB 922 – Veterans Preference for Employment – the Veterans Employment Track Act

The bill expands the benefit of a veterans’ preference in employment and also increases points used in appointment and retention determinations. In expanding the benefit of a veterans’ preference, the bill authorizes a state or a political subdivision of the state to waive a postsecondary educational requirement for a position of employment if the applicant is otherwise qualified.

SB 922

This bill also passed both House and Senate with no opposition. It increases the point system for veterans preference, and requires the ‘political subdivisions’ of the state to write up a veterans recruitment plan.

We owe our veterans a tremendous debt of gratitude and this new law will allow those who have served our country honorably to apply for employment and use their service as a substitute for a postsecondary education requirement. So many vets come home and have a difficult time finding employment and this bill will get them into the workforce quicker and proves once again that Florida leads the nation in taking care of our veterans. I thank Governor DeSantis for his support and commitment to Florida’s heroes.” 

Florida Rep Nick DeCiglie

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Featured photo: official Florida photograph of the bill signing on June 4, 2021

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