Laws help make Washington friendly to veterans

Free in-state tuition, other services aim to aid service members

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Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law several measures Wednesday that aim to help veterans in Washington.

One new law will automatically award veterans and their family members in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities. State law normally requires students to live in Washington for a year before they become eligible for the benefit.

Senate Bill 5318 will also extend resident tuition to active-duty military members who are stationed out of state but who have maintained a home in Washington.

Inslee said Wednesday it’s important for Washington to build up transition programs for people leaving the military, which includes making it easier for veterans to pursue an education.

“We want all veterans from all services to retire in Washington,” Inslee said.

Other veteran-related measures that Inslee signed Wednesday include:

• House Bill 2363, which allows family members of military personnel to remain eligible for developmental disability services in Washington — even if military orders cause a soldier to move out of state.

• Senate Bill 5969, which requires institutions of higher education in Washington to adopt policies for awarding academic credit for military training.

• Senate Bill 5691, which establishes a new veterans home in Walla Walla.

• House Bill 2397, which lets Medal of Honor recipients receive three special Medal of Honor license plates. Current law only allows Medal of Honor recipients to receive one special license plate.

• Senate Bill 5775, which allows honorably discharged service members to apply for a veteran designation on their state-issued driver’s license or ID card. The new designation will become available starting in August 2017.

• House Bill 2130, which requires the state Department of Veterans Affairs to notify veterans about Washington’s Veterans Innovation Program and help them apply. The program provides funding for education, training and employment opportunities, as well as support during times of crisis. The law will also extend the program beyond 2016, when it was scheduled to end.

With the exception of the law to create a veteran designation for IDs and driver’s licenses, all the laws will go into effect in mid-June.