November 11 was first celebrated as “Armistice Day” in 1919 and became a national holiday in 1926. Congress changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954. Any thoughts about military service or veterans issues are welcome in this thread.
Earlier this year, the Iowa legislature approved several bills supporting Governor Terry Branstad’s Home Base Iowa Initiative. Some details are after the jump. Branstad himself is a veteran, and he tapped former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell to co-chair the initiative.
The decline of veterans in Congress continues. Thirty years ago, about a third of the members of Congress had military experience. But only 81 of the 435 newly-elected members of the House of Representatives and thirteen of the 100 U.S. Senators have served or are serving in the U.S. military. No one in Iowa’s incoming U.S. House delegation has served in the military, although several have veterans in their immediate families. Outgoing U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is a veteran, and his successor, Joni Ernst, is a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.
Seven of the 50 people who will serve in the Iowa Senate next year have military experience: Democrats Jeff Danielson, Tom Courtney, Dick Dearden, Bill Dotzler, and Wally Horn, and Republicans Bill Anderson and Jason Schultz (just elected to the Senate for the first time after several terms in the state House).
Of the 100 people just elected to the Iowa House, nineteen have military experience. The Republican veterans who were just re-elected are Dwayne Alons, Stan Gustafson, John Landon, Dave Maxwell, Kraig Paulsen, Sandy Salmon, Quentin Stanerson, Guy Vander Linden, Matt Windschitl, and Dave Heaton. Five Republican veterans were just elected to the Iowa House for the first time: Darrel Branhagen, Ken Rizer, Zach Nunn, John Wills, and Steve Holt. Four House Democrats who are veterans were just re-elected too: Dennis Cohoon, Jerry Kearns, Todd Prichard, and Brian Meyer. Retiring House Republicans Steve Olson and Tom Shaw are also veterans, as is retiring House Democrat Roger Thomas.
Many Iowa lawmakers have immediate family members who either served in the military or are doing active duty.
From a November 10 blog post by the Iowa House Democrats:
This year, the Iowa Legislature continued to support Iowa Veterans and military families. The Legislature passed many of the Governor’s recommendations of the Home Base Iowa Initiative. This includes exempting military retirement pay from state individual income taxes, which will be available for the current 2014 tax year, meaning the credit would be available to taxpayers on tax returns filed in April 2015. In addition, the initial fee for all military license plates is eliminated; however, the annual fee will remain intact at the cost of $5.00.
Private sector employers are allowed to grant a preference in hiring and promotion for veterans and some spouses; and the various professional and occupational licensure boards are required to match up military training to current licensure requirements. Community colleges and the three state Regents universities are also required to report annually regarding the award of educational credits to veterans for military education, training, and experience for the prior five academic years. The initial report is due to the Legislature and Governor’s Office by December 15, 2015.
The Legislature also approved several other bills related to veterans that were not part of the Home Base Iowa Initiative, including: exempting state individual income taxes from military survivor benefits; expanding eligibility and financing options for the Military Homeownership Assistance program; and improved reporting requirements for sexual assaults within the Iowa National Guard.