Legislation signed into law strengthens Indiana for veterans

Posted by: Kelly Sweeney  | Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:00 am

STATEHOUSE — Several bills strengthening Indiana for Hoosier veterans were signed into law by Governor Mike Pence. State Representative Doug Gutwein (R-Francesville) championed two of these new laws and attended their ceremonial signings along with the Indiana National Guard Director of the Joint Staff Brian R. Copes and Secretary of State Connie Lawson.

“Hoosier veterans have made incredible sacrifices for our state and nation, and one way we can show our appreciation for their selfless service is by making Indiana the best place for veterans to live, work and raise a family,” said Rep. Gutwein. “Our state has a history of passing legislation to benefit veterans, and I was proud to author legislation this session, working alongside Secretary of State Connie Lawson, continuing that effort.”

House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1041, authored by Rep. Gutwein, aims to benefit active and reserve components of the Indiana National Guard. This legislation grants Indiana’s military officers the authority to notarize documents for soldiers preparing for deployment.

Throughout their service, especially prior to deploying, members of the military have to fill out many time-sensitive documents that require validation. In the past, military officers were able to notarize these documents for both active and reserve components of the Indiana National Guard. Last year, the Department of Defense determined that they could no longer validate these documents unless it was declared by state law.

To address the situation, Rep. Gutwein coordinated with Secretary Lawson, whose office is responsible for approving the state’s notary applications, to author this legislation which adds Indiana’s Adjutant General, as well as anyone they designate, to the list of officials with the capacity to acknowledge the signature of another person. HEA 1041 ensures that the Adjutant General or their designee can only notarize service-related documents exclusively for active and reserve members of the Indiana National Guard.

The second law, co-sponsored by Rep. Gutwein, creates the Second Service for Veterans program in order to help connect veterans with a job in the teaching profession. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 331 requires state colleges to provide academic and career counseling to honorably discharged veterans that pursue a degree in education. Under this legislation, those colleges would also be required to develop a plan to attract more veterans into the major.

SEA 331 also allows military training and experience, if applicable, to count as college credits toward a degree in education. In addition, this legislation requires state universities to offer in-state tuition to veterans serving out-of-state that apply and are accepted into the program.

“During their time in service, members of the military adopt skills that are easily transferable into the teaching profession like how to communicate effectively,” said Rep. Gutwein. “I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation which will not only benefits veterans looking to find employment, but also Hoosier students who will receive a top-notch education from Indiana’s honorable service men and women.”

Visit www.in.gov/legislative for more information about HEA 1041 and SEA 331.