Governor also discusses already-signed bills that will provide more than $33 million in improvements for Missouri’s seven veterans’ homes
CAMERON, Mo. – Speaking at one of the state’s seven homes for military veterans, Gov. Jay Nixon today signed several bills that will help or honor Missouri military veterans and those Missourians currently serving in the armed forces. The Governor was joined at the event by veterans and veterans’ groups.
“The men and women who have served our country in the military deserve both our thanks and our continued commitment honoring that service,” Gov. Nixon said. “The bills I have signed today represent our ongoing bi-partisan effort to fulfill that promise to our veterans and those active military members.”
Senate Bill 34 will help ensure that military and certain overseas voters wanting to vote in Missouri elections are able to vote in state, as well as federal, elections. The bill also provides safeguards for domestic violence victims participating in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program administered by the Missouri Secretary of State by permitting them to vote by absentee ballot.
“One of my top priorities is ensuring that only eligible voters vote and that every eligible Missourian has the opportunity to cast a ballot,”Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander said. “Senate Bill 34 helps protect the voting rights of thousands of Missourians, specifically members of our military and survivors of domestic violence. I’m pleased that Governor Nixon is signing our proposal today, and standing up for eligible Missourians’ right to vote.”
Senate Bill 116 will help provide continuity to school-age children of military members who are stationed outside Missouri by allowing those children to remain in the school district where they live with another family member, without having to pay non-resident tuition.
House Bill 179 will make it easier for veterans to obtain a veteran’s designation on their driver’s license or ID card by allowing them to use a alternative form of documentation, the DD Form 2, to prove their status as a veteran. Currently, veterans have to present another set of discharge documents, the DD Form 214, for that designation; this form can be more difficult to obtain than the DD Form 2.
House Bill 1070 will establish the Office of Military Advocate within the Missouri Department of Economic Development to advocate for military services and the preservation of military bases in Missouri. The state is home to Whiteman Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Leonard Wood, as well as facilities such as Rosecrans Air National Guard Base.
The advocate, who will be appointed by the Governor, would serve as the liaison between state and federal branches of government. The office also would provide enhanced communication to Missouri government leaders and base communities in order to increase early awareness on base realignment actions and potential downsizing.
In addition to the bills signed in Cameron, Gov. Nixon earlier today signed four bills that deal with honoring veterans and members of the military with the name designation of highways, bridges and interchanges. The bills are Senate Bill 156, Senate Bill 318, Senate Bill 474 andHouse Bill 522.
Among the roadways designated are portions of Mo. Hwy. 10 in Carroll and Ray counties as the Ray-Carroll Veterans Memorial Highway; a portion of U.S. Hwy. 54 in Camden County as the Veterans Memorial Expressway; a portion of U.S. Hwy. 160 in Ozark County as the Jerry Corp Memorial Highway to honor a Missourian killed during the Vietnam War; a portion of U.S. Business Hwy. 71 in Andrew County as the Randy Bever Memorial Highway to honor a combat medic in the Missouri National Guard who died in a civilian helicopter crash while working as a medical flight nurse; and a portion of Mo. Hwy. 21 in Reynolds County as the Donald Lee Cook Memorial Highway to honor a Missouri veteran of World War II.
At the Cameron Veterans’ Home, Gov. Nixon also discussed three bills he signed into law earlier this month – House Bill 17, House Bill 18 and House Bill 19 – that will help provide funding for capital improvement projects around the state, including more than $33 million for repair and renovation projects at Missouri’s seven veterans’ homes. At Cameron, the funding will help replace sprinkler pipe systems, a chiller, water softeners, cooling tower, boilers and exterior doors, and make electrical upgrades.
“We need to ensure our veterans receive the best care we can provide, and we are delivering on our promise to them,” Gov. Nixon said. “This past January, I called on legislators to finish the job they started last year when they authorized additional bonding capacity by passing the necessary bills to get these projects underway, and I appreciate the bi-partisan fashion in which they accomplished this. And because of the strong AAA credit rating that reflects our strong record of fiscal responsibility, Missouri taxpayers are going to save up to $30 million over the life of those bonds.”
As a result of a strong record of fiscally responsible budget management, Missouri has a AAA credit rating from all three major rating agencies. This allows the state to benefit from low interest rates, and makes long-term capital investments more affordable. For example, Missouri taxpayers will save $30 million over the life of these bonds compared to a state with an A- rating.
Missouri is home to more than 494,000 military veterans, and has veterans’ homes to serve older and disabled veterans in Cameron, Cape Girardeau, Mexico, Mount Vernon, St. James, St. Louis and Warrensburg. In addition to the projects at Cameron, projects at the other veterans’ homes include:
n Cape Girardeau Veterans’ Home – Renovate nurses’ stations, kitchenette and restrooms, and replace nurse call and fire alarm systems, boilers, water heaters, sump pump and hot water circulating pumps, and exterior doors;
n Mexico Veterans’ Home – Renovate bariatric shower rooms, and replace nurse call and fire alarm systems, chillers, water softener, cooling tower and flooring;
n Mount Vernon Veterans’ Home – Renovate kitchen hood and system, and replace hot water circulating pumps, pool pack, water heaters, chillers, cooling tower, backflow preventers, pump pack, sprinkler system and boilers;
n St. James Veterans’ Home – Interior renovations including a solarium, and replace nurse call and fire alarm systems;
n St. Louis Veterans’ Home – Renovate the front entrance and lobby, construct storage building, upgrade lighting, and replace air handlers, water heaters and anti-scald devices;
n Warrensburg Veterans’ Home – Replace nurse call and fire alarm systems, sprinkler pipe systems, exterior doors, chillers, boilers and water softeners, and make electrical upgrades.
The funding also will allow the state to make improvements statewide at the homes in the areas of electronic medical records and anti-wander systems, and have funding for critical maintenance and repair. Approximately $700,000 will be available for improvements to state veterans’ cemeteries in Jacksonville, St. James and Springfield.
In addition to repair and renovations at the veterans’ homes, the three bills contain funding for capital improvement projects at a variety of higher education campuses around Missouri; state buildings, including the Capitol; and state parks.