By Peter Schorsch
Takeaways from Tallahassee
June 7, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a slew of veteran-related bills into law Friday, including a measure that helps military families select schools tailored to their unique circumstances.
The measure (HB 429) mandates the Department of Education to establish a Purple Star Campus Program in Florida.
Under the program, schools will be recognized as a Purple Star Campus if they meet certain requirements such as military liaisons and reserved seats for military-connected students.
“We understand that people are coming and going from Florida all the time,” DeSantis said. “We also understand that there are academic challenges that some of these students face as they relocate to new schools when their parent [who] serve in the military are transferred.”
Ron DeSantis goes on a bill-signing blitz.
Notably, Florida is just the 10th state to develop and implement a Purple Star School Program.
DeSantis also signed a bill (HB 435) to make Florida the first state in the nation to codify a federally funded program connecting veterans with job training, apprenticeships and internships.
That measure, proponents such as Republican Sen. Danny Burgess said, could keep transitioning service members in Florida or otherwise attract them to the state.
“We here in Florida are hoping to be that landing pad, that place where veterans and their families know they can come, and they can start their life after service,” Burgess, who serves as an Army Reserve officer, said.
Not least, DeSantis signed a third bill (SB 922) that will waive secondary education requirements for veterans applying to state and political entities.
The measure also bolsters veteran hiring preferences.
“Enhancing veteran preference opportunities expands our ability to attract and retain top talent as another way to ensure Florida remains the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also announced plans to reserve at least $7 million to “expand employment pathways and support services for Florida’s veterans and for Florida’s military spouses.”
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General, cheered the bill signings later Friday.
“We appreciate Gov. DeSantis for signing these important veteran-related bills, which will create additional employment and advancement opportunities as our service members transition from their uniforms into civilian attire,” he said. “Working together to ensure a positive future for Florida veterans and their families, we’ll ensure Florida continues to be the most sought-after state by veterans in the nation.”