A bipartisan group of state legislators filed seven bills this week that aim to help members of the N.C. National Guard and other military members and veterans.
Rep. Grier Martin, a Raleigh Democrat and U.S. Army Reserve member, is the lead sponsor of all seven bills.
The bills would address criminal sentencing for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, employment rights for National Guard members returning from duty, and college course credits and tuition assistance.
Martin and his co-sponsors held a news conference Tuesday to build support for the proposals.
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“With our current service, we see the needs on the ground that our folks need,” said Sen. Danny Britt, a Lumberton Republican and National Guard member. “What we can do would be great work to support the soldiers that are out there. I think it’s great that we’ve got good bicameral and bipartisan support.”
Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte Democrat who’s also in the National Guard, said the bills have “a great chance of passing” this session.
“In a highly polarized political environment, this is an area where everyone agrees,” he said.
Here’s what each bill would do:
House Bill 483 would allow judges to consider if a veteran is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, when determining a criminal sentence. Martin said the bill is modeled after an Oklahoma law.
House Bill 484 would extend federal protections for military personnel on active duty to include National Guard members on active duty within the state for work such as disaster relief.
House Bill 485 would require public universities and community colleges to allow active duty National Guard members to be formally excused from their courses while serving.
House Bill 486 would expand the state’s tuition assistance program for National Guard members to cover professional certification programs.
House Bill 487 would strengthen the employment rights of National Guard members as they return to work after serving.
House Bill 488 would provide more rights to National Guard members who have to break a lease on rented homes as part of a move required by military service.
House Bill 489 would give child welfare agencies the power to check if a family member is in the military and share information with the appropriate military authorities.