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BOSTON – The Massachusetts Legislature today, July 29, passed comprehensive legislation, An Act relative to military spouse-licensure portability, education and enrollment of dependents, addressing the Commonwealth’s most immediate needs in the veteran community and making necessary updates to service member quality-of-life issues and acknowledgements of our military branches and individual service, including supporting military families who relocate to the Commonwealth with expedited licensure and school enrollment, creating education awareness programs and establishing the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity.

Having been passed by the House and Senate, An Act relative to military spouse-licensure portability,
education and enrollment of dependents, now goes to Governor Baker for his signature.

“This is a historic bill. This is most likely the most encompassing military and veterans bill passed in the
Commonwealth in the last century.  This bill recognizes both the sacrifice of our military service
members, as well as veterans and their families, and it establishes programs that will recruit and retain
service members, attract future military missions, and continue to provide for our growing veteran
population.” said Adjutant General Gary Keefe of the Massachusetts National Guard.

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“The SPEED Act is a momentous piece of legislation that that will improve the lives of every single
service-member, Veteran, and military family member who resides in our state, now and in the future.
The legislation supports our military families in their transition to Massachusetts, introduces new benefits
and services for Veterans and National Guard members, and expands the ways our Commonwealth
recognizes the sacrifices of those who have served. This is an omnibus bill that is truly built off of the
work of so many members of the Legislature. I am grateful to Senate President Spilka for her leadership
and to all my colleagues for their commitment to getting this bill to the Governor’s desk.” said Senator
John Velis (D-Westfield).

“I want to thank Speaker Mariano and my fellow conferees for their tireless work in coming to a
resolution so quickly for the deserving veterans of the Commonwealth,” said Representative Paul
McMurtry (D-Dedham), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. “The
Legislature has made veterans issues a priority from the start of the session and I along with my co-chair,
Sen. Velis, have worked together to make sure this bill made it to the Governor’s desk. It’s a great honor
to chair the Veterans Committee and bring a great deal of pride to the House as we continue the
Commonwealth’s long history of recognizing veterans and their families.”

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Highlights of the legislation include:

Military spouse licensure portability: requires the Division of Occupational Licensure, the Department of
Public Health, and Massachusetts Boards of Registration to accept a military spouse’s application for
licensure or notify them of what criteria they were not able to meet within 30 days of the application.
Expedited military spouse teacher licenses: establishes a military spouse certificate to be issued by the
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner to military spouse teachers that meet certain requirements.

School enrollment for military children: allows military families to register and enroll in a school district
when a service member first receives their relocation order, waiving the proof of residency requirement at the time of registration. This provision also allows military children who are transferring mid-semester to enroll in and attend one of the Commonwealth’s virtual schools.

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Purple Star campus designation: establishes the Purple Star Campus Program, to be administered by the
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, to designate schools that demonstrate a
commitment to students and families of service members.

In-state tuition continuity for military-connected college students: ensures that a member of the military
stationed in the Commonwealth, their spouse, or their children are deemed an in-state resident after their acceptance at one of the state’s higher education institutions.

Civilian licensure and certification information: directs the Commissioner of Veterans’ Services to
make information on civilian licensure and certification opportunities available to service members and
veterans, and provide information on military education and skills to relevant agencies.

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Open Burn Pit Registry:
* Directs the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH), in consultation with the
Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Adjutant General of the National
Guard, to develop educational materials and an informational pamphlet on the health impacts of
open burn pits and other airborne hazards during overseas deployment and information on the
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry to be
distributed to health care providers, veterans’ service offices and organizations, and service
members and veterans.
* Directs the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services, in consultation with the
Commissioner of DPH and the Adjutant General, to contact all members of the Armed Forces,
National Guard and veterans to register for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne
Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
* Requires the Adjutant General to request that the periodic health assessment for National Guard
members determine whether the member is eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry and if eligible, the member
register for the Registry.

Massachusetts National Guard family education program: establishes a Massachusetts National Guard
Family Education Program to allow National Guard members to transfer their unused education benefits
under the National Guard Education Assistance Program to their dependents.

Slot machines at veterans’ organizations commission: establishes a commission to study and report on
limited slot machine licenses for veteran organizations.

Veteran Mentor Program: enables the UMass system, including UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell,
Bridgewater State University, and Salem State University to establish veteran mentoring pilot programs
to assist veterans attending their institutions adjust to civilian life.

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Property tax exemption clarification: prohibits a city or town from requesting further evidence from a
disabled veteran in subsequent tax years after the veteran has been granted a property tax exemption by
the assessor of that town, unless the veteran’s disability rating determined by the VA is reduced.
Founding anniversaries of U.S. Armed Forces: requires the Governor to set aside the founding date
anniversaries of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Massachusetts National Guard.
Medal of Fidelity: establishes the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity to be presented to the next of kin of a
service member or veteran who died as a result of service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder
service-connected condition resulting from a traumatic brain injury, or a service-connected disease,
condition or injury related to exposure to harmful toxin, herbicides, agents or materials.

Deborah Sampson Memorial Commission: Establishes a commission to determine a location and create
a memorial for Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts resident who disguised herself as a man in the
Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

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Funeral and burial benefits: requires funeral directors and their staffs to provide information on burial
and funeral benefits for veterans.

Tax credit for employment of National Guard members: establishes a tax credit for businesses that
employ members of the National Guard.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.