State Rep. Harry A. Readshaw, whose 36th Legislative District includes parts of Baldwin and Whitehall boroughs, said in a news release on Wednesday that two bills of critical importance to Pennsylvania veterans are close to becoming laws. Readshaw, a Democrat, is a co-sponsor of both bills.
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 1531, which would create a Veterans Trust Fund in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) to provide funding for various grants and programs.
A new "Honoring Our Veterans" vehicle license plate authorized by that bill would help to finance the Veterans Trust Fund. Of the new plate's fee, $15 would go directly to the trust fund. Also contributing to the fund would be proceeds from the sale of real estate and other properties owned by the DMVA and voluntary $3 contributions from residents applying for or renewing their driver's licenses, photo identification cards or vehicle registrations.
The second bill—House Bill 2428—would allow a person's veteran status to be included on a state driver's license or identification card. Any veteran of any branch of the U.S. armed forces or National Guard who has been discharged or released under any status other than dishonorable would qualify. There would be no fee for the veteran's designation to be included on the ID.
In an effort to ensure passage during the state General Assembly's 2011-12 legislative session, Readshaw said in the news release, he withdrew his amendment to the Senate bill, which would have also authorized a Pennsylvania Monuments vehicle registration plate, providing $15 per plate to the Gettysburg National Military Park Trust Fund for the cleaning, repair and restoration of the memorials on the Gettysburg Battlefield that honor Civil War veterans who fought for the Union.
"Being a veteran (U.S. Marine Corps) and out of respect to all of the veterans across the commonwealth," Readshaw said in the release, "I withdrew my amendment so that Senate Bill 1531 in the House and House Bill 2428 in the Senate would be passed and both would be sent to the governor (Tom Corbett) for his signature.
"As time for action fades away in this term, I realized the need for closure on the veterans bills outweighed my desire to provide the additional funding for the Gettysburg Monuments."
Both bills now await Corbett's signature. (UPDATE: Corbett signed both bills on Oct. 24.)
Sign up for the daily Baldwin-Whitehall newsletter.