Saturday, March 09, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Military bill becomes law

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) on Tuesday stood beside Gov. Mike Beebe as he signed important legislation affecting military families.

Williams’ Senate Bill 15 adopts the interstate compact on educational opportunity for military children, who often move around as their parents are transferred to new military bases. The new law directs school administrators to make sure students get credit for course work they completed previously in other states or school districts. Students of military children would get excused absences if necessary.

According to Williams, another provision allows first graders and kindergarteners to continue at their grade level, regardless of their age. For example, not all states have the same official starting date for youngsters and a military child transferring into the state may be a few weeks too young to start first grade in Arkansas. Under Senate Bill 15, those children would not have to be held back a year.

Senate Bill 7, another bill passed by the Senate, helps the spouses of active-duty members of the armed services who are transferred to bases in Arkansas and who are looking for a new job. It would authorize state boards and commissions to grant temporary licenses, certificates and permits to spouses of active-duty personnel.

Senate Bill 7 also authorizes boards and commissions to expedite the granting of permanent licenses to spouses, as long as they are in good standing in the state from which they came.

Col. Brian Robinson, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Adjutant Gen. William Wofford, as well as several military families, also attended the bill-signing ceremony, along with Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville), Larry Biernacki of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and Daniel Gray of the Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps.

The new law will benefit hundreds of military families, and we salute the initiative of our local legislators to help these deserving families.