Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Membership Application

To apply for membership please contact our Vice President Andy Hooker at Andy will e-mail you the Sarasota County Veterans Commission membership form.

Sarasota County Veterans Commission By-laws



The Sarasota County Veterans Commission, Inc., (SCVC) was originally organized under the laws of the State of Florida on January 25, 1982 and is a not for profit corporation governed under Chapter 617, Laws of the State Florida.


The purposes of the SCVC are to:

Section 1: represent the Sarasota County veterans organizations, military and patriotic associations and their auxiliaries providing solidarity in communicating the veterans view points and as a means of disseminating information on issues before local, state, and national legislative bodies which affect veterans, active military, reserve and national guard personnel, their families, surviving spouses and orphaned children.

Section 2: plan, cooperate and coordinate with local authorities, government officials, and other interested parties on matters of patriotic commemoration.

Section 3: plan, coordinate and implement any other programs to serve the best interests of the personnel cited in Section 1 of this article and any welfare agencies that support said personnel.


Section 1: Whenever used in this document, the word “organization” shall be construed to denote a post, chapter, unit, branch or similar component of a larger group of veterans, military or patriotic association.

Section 2: The term “commissioner” shall refer to an elected officer of the SCVC; the term “commission” shall refer to the commissioners and all representatives of member organizations.

Section 3: Historically the terms “chairman” and “chairmen” are not gender specific. The proper way to address a female chairman is “Madam Chairman.”


Section 1: Membership shall be open to Sarasota County based congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization (VSO) units, posts, chapters, and their auxiliaries. To be considered for Commission membership an organization must submit a membership application to the Membership Committee and agree to pay the membership dues as stated in Articles IV and V. Current members of the Commission will be grandfathered in as members under Section 1.

Section 2: The representation of the above shall be in two categories:
a. One delegate and one alternate from each represented organization. The President, Chair, Commanders or presiding officers of each member organization shall appoint in writing to the commission one delegate and one alternate. Those so appointed shall serve until replaced on written notice from the appointing authority.
b. Ex-officio members shall include all the Past Presidents of the Commission, the Sarasota County Veterans Service Officer; the Commission may designate the Director of the Sarasota Veterans Center and Director of US Department of Veterans Affairs Sarasota Outpatient Clinic, Director of the Sarasota National Cemetery, Commander, HHB 3rd Battalion 265th Air Defense Artillery, FLARNG, and such others as appropriate.

Section 3: Honorary Members. The Commission may vote to grant Honorary Membership to individuals in recognition of their outstanding service to the Nation, to the State, to Active and Reserve forces, and to veterans. Normally, an individual eligible for regular or auxiliary membership is not eligible for this type of membership. Honorary members pay no dues and have no voting rights.

Section 4: Associate Members. Associate Members are categorized as non-congressionally charted VSOs who have an interest in patriotic, military and/or veterans’ affairs. These organizations will pay no dues and will have no voting rights before the SCVC. However, any associate member may request to make a presentation to the SCVC or ask for consideration requiring a SCVC vote, but only Commission members may move or vote on such matters. Associate Members are:

Military Oriented Organizations: Sarasota based National Guard, Reserve, ROTC, Civil Air Patrol, and JROTC units.

Government Agencies: Sarasota government agencies with veterans, Guard or Reserve personnel or a substantial interest in veterans’ issues.

Industries/Companies. Sarasota County based commercial/private companies with veterans, Guard, or Reserve personnel or a substantial interest in veterans’ issues.


Section 1: Dues for member organizations shall be set annually and published by the Commission. Dues are to be received by the Treasurer no later than December 31st of any given calendar year.

Section 2: Ex-officio members shall be exempt from paying dues.

Section 3: Any organization not paying their dues by the December 31st cut off date will be dropped from the Commission roles but may be reinstated upon payment of dues.


Section 1: The regular meetings of the Commission shall be held at a time and place designated by the Commission President. The meetings of the Commission shall be open to veterans, their families and the public.

Section 2: The Commission shall meet at least once monthly, 12 months of the year, unless extenuating circumstances make this infeasible.

Section 3: The President may call special meetings whenever deemed necessary or when requested to do so by the membership. The purpose of any such meeting shall be stated by the President and announced by mail, electronic means, or by telephone sufficiently in advance of any such meeting to give members time to react.

Section 4: Executive sessions by the Commissioners are strictly prohibited unless the subject matter is so sensitive or of a highly personal nature wherein the membership should not be involved.

Section 5: All meetings will be conducted using the latest Robert’s Rules of Order, which shall govern this Commission in all applicable cases.

Section 6: The President shall preside at all regular and special meetings. In the absence of the President, the Vice President shall preside. In the absence of the President and Vice President, the Secretary then the Treasurer shall preside.
Section 7: All SCVC meetings will be smoke free regardless of the facility in which the meeting is held.


Section 1: Commissioners have one vote each on any item; the President may vote only in the case of a tie.

Section 2: Member organizations will have one vote each, to be cast by the primary or alternate member. If both the primary and alternate are present, the “one organization one vote” rule still applies.

Section 3. Ex-officio members will have one vote.

Section 4: Any member of any organization cited in Article II, and the public in general, are both welcome and encouraged to attend meetings. Anyone may give a presentation to the Commission for their cause, however, only members of the Commission may make motions for any action and only Commission members may vote on any motion before the Commission.

Section 5: The Secretary will maintain a roster of all registered organizations and their appointed voting representatives and may be called upon during any meeting to verify the credentials of any person casting a vote.

Section 6: Proxy voting will not be allowed. Each person present shall cast only one vote, e.g. one individual may not represent multiple organizations or cast multiple votes.

Section 7: Liaison officers from other county veteran’s commissions or counsels will not be eligible to vote.

Section 8: A simple majority of 51% or more is sufficient to pass any proposal with the exception of the changes to the Bylaws, which will require a two-thirds majority vote of members present. (Refer to Article XII, Section 2).


Section 1: The elected officers of the Commission shall consist of the President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, and shall perform their duties as prescribed by these bylaws or as directed by the membership. The President may appoint at his discretion a Sergeant-At-Arms and a Chaplain and other positions as deemed appropriate (e.g. SCVC Newsletter Editor, SCVC Web Master).

Section 2: The duties of the President are to:
a. Act as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, and as an ex-officio member of all committees except the Nominations Committee.
b. Appoint chairmen of standing and special committees.
c. Make a decision pending approval of the membership in case of doubt as to the duties and responsibilities of any officer or committee chairman.
d. Appoint a replacement to fulfill the duties of any elected official for anyone who might resign or become unable to fulfill their duties. This appointment must be verified or rejected by the membership at the second regularly scheduled meeting after the appointment is made. See Article X, Section 9.
e. Preside at all meetings and assure that the Commission operates within the parameters established in these bylaws.
f. Set goals and objectives for the Commission, including but not limited to membership, programs, financial matters, and communication with the membership and public.
g. Oversee and manage the Commission's Internet presence, member e-mail lists, and newsletter.
h. Maintain liaison with other veterans’ organizations in the area and other organizations impacting upon the Commission.
i. Represent the Commission at Veteran’s Day services, Memorial Day ceremonies, and any other appropriate commemorative occasion.
j. Present awards and citations
k. Participate in the observance of the death of a member, such as a visitation at a wake or attendance at the funeral, as may be appropriate.
l. Act as final arbiter for all interpretations of the meaning/intent of these bylaws.
m. Undertake other duties as the position of President may require or as voted upon by the membership.

Section 3: The duties of the Vice President are to:
a. Fill the vacancy of the office of the President, should the President become incapacitated, until the next regular election of officers of the Commission.
b. Assume the duties of the President at any function wherein the President is unable to attend.
c. Attend all Commission meetings.
d. Attend any special events in the absence of the President.
e. Undertake additional activities as assigned by the President.

Section 4: The duties of the Secretary are to:
a. Record, prepare, and submit minutes of all meetings for correction, deletions, additions, and approval by the Commission.
b. Maintain official Commission files, to include approved minutes, the Commission’s newsletters, presidential and secretarial correspondence, and memorial records.
c. Conduct a roll call or monitor a sign-in sheet of delegates and organizations at each meeting.
d. Maintain an up-to-date list of organizations, delegates and alternates as certified by the member organizations.
e. Originate correspondence for the Commission.
f. Act as custodian of the Commission’s Bylaws.
g. Ensure that copies of all correspondence, records, minutes, etc., are maintained in the official file of the Sarasota County Veterans’ Commission office, and will ensure that adequate measures are taken to protect those historical documents.

Section 5: The duties of the Treasurer are to:
a. Establish and maintain a checking and/or savings account in a recognized, insured banking facility acceptable to the Commission.
b. Maintain records of all receipts, deposits, and expenditures.
c. Collect dues from member organizations.
d. Submit a written report monthly of the financial status to the Commission.
e. Participate in an annual audit of the accounting system, which will be completed within 30 days of the end of the fiscal year. The fiscal year will run from October 1 to September 30.
f. Disperse funds only by check with authorization by vouchers signed by the President or Vice President or as authorized in the minutes of meetings.
g. Notify the Secretary in the case that any organization is in arrears in the payment of their annual dues.
h. Allow the President to expend up to $50.00 without prior approval for necessary incidental expenses of the Commission. The President will provide the Treasurer with back-up documentation in the way of receipts, etc.

Section 6: The duties of the Commission Sergeant-At-Arms are to:
a. Be responsible for the security at all scheduled monthly meetings of the Commission.
b. Be responsible for the security at all candidate forums and special meetings called by the President.
c. Appoint, as needed, additional Sergeants-At-Arms to fulfill the duties of the Sergeant-At-Arms’ office.
d. Be the Chair of the Security Committee, which may be called together at the discretion of the President or Sergeant-At-Arms. The Committee will be made up of all appointed Sergeants-At-Arms and other members as deemed appropriate by the Sergeant-At-Arms
e. Establish, as needed, a Color/Honor Guard.

Section 7: The duties of the Commission Chaplain are to:
a. Give the prayer at all scheduled monthly meetings of the Commission
b. Give the prayer at all candidate forums and special meetings called by the President.
c. Be available to represent the Commission by giving the prayer at special occasions, as needed.
d. Keep the President informed of illnesses of members of the Commission.

Section 8: Any elected or appointed officer failing to attend three consecutive Commission meetings shall be removed automatically from office unless the absences are excused and acceptable to the Commission. Insofar as is reasonably possible, elected and appointed officers are encouraged to notify the President in advance of any planned absence.


Section 1: The Standing Committees of the Commission shall be the Audit Committee, Bylaws Committee, Patriotic Observance Committee, Nominating Committee, and Membership Committee. The President may appoint special committees as required, such as the Veteran of the Year, special events, investigations, assistance in preparing position statements, etc., as deemed appropriate.

Section 2: The President will serve as an ex-officio member of all committees except the Nominations Committee. Committee Chairmen shall have the authority to appoint additional members to their committees as required.

Section 3: The Audit Committee shall make an annual audit of all financial records. Upon approval by the Audit Committee, the Audit Committee shall submit its report, with its findings and any recommendations, in writing, to the Commission for final approval. The report will be given at the first Commission meeting after the conclusion of the audit.

Section 4: The Bylaws Committee will meet at least once annually during the first quarter of each calendar year. The committee will review the Bylaws and recommend any changes. Such changes will be published at least 30 days prior to any meeting where the acceptance of any Bylaws changes is to occur. (Refer to Article XII, Section 1, for details).

Section 5: The nominations Committee will meet in May of each calendar year and prepare for the nominations process in June. (Refer to Article X for details).

Section 6: The Membership Committee will meet at least annually or when an application for membership is received. The Committee is responsible for membership recruitment and retention. Organizations wishing to become a member of the Commission will submit a completed and signed application to the Membership Committee. A copy of the organizations by-laws, charter, mission statement and 501(c) documentation status or other incorporation documentation with the Division of Corporations of the State of Florida will accompany the application. Upon submission the Membership Committee will review the application in detail. After review the Membership Committee will report to the Commission at its next scheduled general meeting with a recommendation to approve or disapprove the application for membership. A motion will be made by a Commission member in good standing and seconded to accept or reject the Membership Committee recommendation. The Commission will then vote on the application. The vote of the Commission is final.


Section 1: The Nominations Committee will consist of at least three members, none of whom may be elected Commissioners. Anyone may recommend a nominee to the Nominations
Committee. At the July meeting, the slate of nominees will be announced and any further nominations may be accepted from the floor. The floor nominated nominee may be accepted. At this point nominations will close.

Section 2: A candidate must be a member in good standing in their parent organization, and that organization must be a member in good standing of the Commission.

Section 3: A candidate must be present and accept the nomination or have submitted a letter of acceptance in advance for the office at the time of nomination.

Section 4: No person may hold more than one elective office in the Commission at the same time, however, only if necessary and upon approval of the Commission, the offices of Secretary and Treasurer may be combined, but this is discouraged.

Section 5: The annual election of officers shall be held in September of each year, with a term of office beginning on October 1 and continuing until their successors are elected.

Section 6: All voting for officers shall be by secret ballot. Absentee voting is prohibited. However, in the event that all elected officers have agreed to serve for another term, if this is agreeable with the Nominations Committee, and there are no nominees to vie for any office, then a motion may be entertained for an election by acclamation, which will be duly recorded by the Secretary.

Section 7: The Nominations Committee Chairman will preside over the conduct of any election. The Secretary will verify the qualifications of all delegates and alternates who are to cast a vote.

Section 8: There are no term limits for elected officers. As long as an officer is willing, able, and indeed carrying out the duties of their office in an exemplary manner, then the Commission should give serious consideration for allowing them to continue.

Section 9: A vacancy in any elected office, except for the office of the President, may be temporarily filled by appointment by the President. At the next Commission meeting, the Commission may entertain nominations for the vacated position with an election at the following meeting. No one is to be nominated and elected at the same meeting. The person elected will serve for the remainder of the term to which the vacated officer was initially elected.

Section 10: Note the time between the nomination of officers and election as cited in Sections 5 and 9 of this Article. This is to allow each nominee time to meet with the Commission delegates, prepare a resume, and otherwise make their qualifications and positions known to the voting Commission members.


Section 1: The officers, delegates, and alternates of the Commission are prohibited from using this Commission or its name on behalf of any political party or candidate. The Commission will aggressively maintain a position of non-partisanship in all of its dealings.

Section 2: Candidates seeking political office may not distribute campaign literature, posters, signs, hats, shirts, etc., at any Commission meeting.

Section 3: Persons holding elected office are encouraged to address the Commission concerning matters of interest to the veterans/military community and the Commission. However, their appearance cannot be in conjunction with any reelection effort, and their appearance will in no way constitute a political endorsement of them or their positions by the Commission.

Section 4: During election years, the Commission may conduct candidate forums wherein all candidates for a given office are offered the opportunity to be present and engage in presentations and/or debates. Herein political activities will be allowed outside of the forum building, but must not in any way disrupt the orderly and dignified participation by the candidates.

Section 5: These Bylaws do not prevent the Commission from supporting or endorsing, or stating opposition to, any local, county, state, and federal legislation or actions that would have an impact upon the interests of the Commission.


Section 1: These Bylaws may be amended or revised only after having been considered by the Bylaws Committee. Any proposed change(s) must be submitted to the Bylaws Committee, whose members will give the recommendations(s) due consideration. The Committee will then make their recommendation(s) known and such recommendation(s) will be published at least 30 days prior to any meeting when a vote of acceptance or rejection is to be held.

Section 2: At the voting meeting, the Bylaws Committee Chairman will preside over the Bylaws portion of the meeting. The recommendation(s) will be read, discussion will be called for, and a vote taken after the Secretary has verified the qualifications of the persons to cast a vote. A vote to change the Bylaws must be by a two-thirds majority of the members present when the vote is taken.

Section 3: These Bylaws are hereby approved and accepted this 18th day of August, 2008.

Signed by:

Dr. Richard M. Swier, President
Andrew Hooker, Vice President
Gen Fowler, Secretary-Treasurer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Veterans Legislative Update - February 2009

Can We Really Believe in Change? - After many years observing the political landscape, I have learned that it is easier to campaign for a political office than to govern from that office. Campaigns are an exercise in making promises, while governing means delivering on those promises. President Barack Obama, during his run for the White House, made many promises to veterans and members of the Armed Forces and their families. Many of us who attended the VFW National Conventions in 2007 and 2008 heard him deliver those promises. Most of these promises were later captured in an interview with Isaac D. Pacheco, in the “American Veteran”, Winter 2009. The following is a list of those promises with a short analysis of each. A year from now, in this space, we will discuss how well the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress deliver on those promises.

VA Appropriation-Obama:
“As President, I will fully fund the VA so it has all the resources to serve the veterans who need it…I also support proposals being introduced in Congress to pass the VA budget two years in advance to minimize disruptions and VA certainty”

Analysis-I suggest Mr. Obama read the constitution, Presidents no matter how well intended don’t fund anything. The President may propose a budget for an agency but it is The Congress that appropriates funding for the agency. Former President Bush learned that each budget cycle. Annually, his submissions to the Congress under funded VA, while the Congress always added money to the Bush requests.

At this writing, there are no bills dealing with advanced funding. More troubling, VA Secretary Erik Shinseki during the his confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was an enthusiastic supporter of the concept of advanced funding for VA. In a more recent hearing before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Secretary Shinseki was less than enthusiastic. His statement may indicate that the Administration’s support of advance funding is softening after less than a month in office. Shinseki said, “My preference would be a timely budget”, referring to getting the VA appropriation done before the new fiscal year. Shinseki went on to say, “If that is not possible, I am sure there will be a discussion about other options.” Not exactly an about face on his earlier testimony, it is more like a left face.

Concurrent Receipt of Military Retirement Pay and Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation-Obama:
“I support immediately and completely ending the disability tax and providing full and concurrent receipt of retirement pay and disability compensation.

Analysis-We certainly support the President’s position. Previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, for more than twenty years opposed the concept of concurrent receipt. It was the Republican dominated Congress in 2002 and 2003 that forced partial concurrent receipt on the Bush Administration in the form Concurrent Disability Retirement Pay and Combat Related Special Compensation. The occupant of the Oval Office may have changed but the “bean counters” in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) remain. Sadly, the Congress missed the boat by adding this one to the economic stimulus package. Our quick review of the House and Senate stimulus bills show exactly nothing which will directly benefit the military community.

TRICARE Fees and Copayments Increases-Obama:
“I will ensure that America keeps the sacred trust we made with the men and women who devote their careers to military service….I was proud to consistently oppose President Bush’s plan to dramatically increase fees for military retirees using TRICARE”

Analysis-It is clear that the new President wasn’t well briefed on this issue. The so-called “sacred trust” was broken long ago when military retirees, after being told that in exchange for twenty or more years of service they and their dependents would receive free health care, found themselves paying for their “free” healthcare in the form of TRICARE enrollment fees and co-payments. While we applaud President Obama’s campaign rhetoric we’ll see if his “Green Eye Shade” guys in OMB get the word or continue to recommend draconian increases to TRICARE enrollment fees and co-payments. The Congressional Budget Office has already indicated that increases to TRICARE fees and co-payments are “options” for Congressional consideration.

Opening VA Healthcare to Non-service Connected Veterans-Obama: “I am committed to ending the unfair ban on healthcare enrollment of certain groups of veterans, including Priority 8 veterans, who often earn modest incomes. I have voted to end the unfair policy, which has resulted in the VA turning away nearly one million veterans since 2003.

Analysis-Unlike military retirees who served twenty or more years, no one ever promised a non-service connected veteran free or low cost health care. In 1996, when the Congress enacted the Veterans Health Care Reform Act, it established a system of priorities for health care. The bill provided that if there was insufficient funding to treat non-service connected veterans, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs had the authority to deny enrolled non-service connected veterans healthcare. Former Secretary Principi exercised that authority in 2003 by not enrolling new Priority 8 veterans. President Obama claims he voted to end the “unfair policy” – not completely true, he only voted for last year’s appropriation which allows only certain Priority 8 veterans to enroll in VA Healthcare.

While we are committed to ensuring veterans receive the healthcare they need, we are concerned that a sudden influx of non-service connected veterans will result in degradation of care needed by service connected disabled veterans. Not all Priority 8 veterans “earn modest incomes”. Priority 8 includes the wealthiest veterans; who can certainly afford to pay co-payments and an enrollment fee. Lastly, does President Obama envision VA as the test bed for a National Health Care System?

VA’s Disability Claims Backlog-Obama: “There are currently more than 800,000 claims pending within the Veterans Benefits Administration. VA error rates have grown high. Over 100,000 cases contain significant errors. In the Senate, I voted to increase funding to hire additional claims staff. As President, I will hire additional claims workers and convene our leading veterans groups, employees and managers to develop an updated training and management model that will ensure…decisions are rated fairly…”

Analysis-We hope this isn’t “A Bridge Too Far”. When former President George W. Bush took office, he tasked his first VA Secretary, Anthony Principi, with the mission of fixing this problem. Eight years and billions of dollars after a VA Secretary said he will fix the problem, America’s veterans and their surviving spouses are waiting. Given the current Global War on Terrorism and the elderly World War II and Korean War population and the herbicide related diseases afflicting Vietnam veterans, the hiring of new personnel alone will not reduce the backlog. Someone hired by VA today, will not be able to competently rate claims for three years. Money alone is not the fix, the problem is systemic and requires a major restructuring of the Veterans Benefits Administration how it transition people from active military status and a complete revision of the rating schedule.

President Obama set the bar high for his administration. Let’s see how well he delivers on these promises. With the Administration and The Congress of the same party, they have the political high ground to deliver on those promises. The President while he speaks eloquently of a “sacred trust”, must understand that for those who willingly placed themselves between this nation and its enemies “sacred trust” is more than a phrase, it represents payment for a lifetime of sacrifice in the service of our nation.

Bipartisan Bill Introduced on TRICARE
- Reps. Chet Edwards (D-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC) this week jointly reintroduced their Military Retirees' Health Care Protection Act (H.R. 816) which would bar the Defense Department from unilaterally increasing military TRICARE enrollment fees, co payments, and other fees.

Under their legislation, only Congress would have that authority. Edwards and Jones have championed this legislation for several years, and have been joined by hundreds of their colleagues who signed on as cosponsors of their bill. Their effort, along with the resistance of top Armed Services Committee leaders, is a big reason why Congress has rejected repeated Pentagon proposals to double or triple TRICARE fees for retirees under age 65 and increase pharmacy copays for all beneficiaries who purchase medications through TRICARE's retail or mail-order pharmacy systems.

"I hope the new administration will not request the same premium increases as the last, but this legislation will allow us to remove any temptation," Edwards said in announcing the newly reintroduced bill. "We cannot attract the best and brightest to fight our war on terrorism in the years ahead if they see us breaking faith with those who served in years past."

"This legislation is about offering protection for the men and women who are willing to protect our nation from its enemies, and keeping promises to those who have promised to put themselves in harm's way when called upon," Rep. Jones agreed. "The families of our armed forces deserve consistent health care benefits."

We in the Veterans of Foreign Wars have long appreciated the support of Representative Edwards and Jones fore veterans, military retirees, active and reserve members of the Armed Forces. We are gratified that Mr. Edwards, last year’s recipient of the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Organization’s Congressional Award, has taken a critical leadership role on this issue. We also appreciate the work that Representative Jones is doing to reform the Reserve Component Retirement System.

More Quality of Life Legislation - Although the focus in Congress is on the passage of an economic stimulus package we are gratified that some members have filed bills which address a number of our legislative priorities.

H.R. 775 (Rep. Ortiz, D-TX) would repeal the requirement to deduct VA survivor benefits from military Survivor Benefit Plan annuities.

H.R. 613 (Rep. Jones, R-NC) would allow a survivor to keep the entire retired pay for the month in which a service member dies. Current practice requires the government to recoup the money and pro-rate it based on the date of death.

H.R. 593 (Rep. Smith, D-WA) would better protect against deduction of VA disability compensation from military disability severance pay in instances of combat- or operations-related disabilities. A narrow interpretation of the recent law change on this topic covers only injuries occurring in a combat zone - excluding those which incurred in combat training or other operations-related accidents.

State Legislative Update

Proposed Ad Valorem Tax Changes-The Department of Florida, VFW adopted legislative priorities. which if approved, will benefit some veterans who are homeowners. The first requires that counties provide a 100% ad valorem exemption to active service members for the period in which they are serving in combat zones. The other priority calls for removing the pre-service residency requirement for those veterans seeking an ad valorem exemption based on service connected disabilities deemed combat related. Currently. to qualify for the Combat Related Ad Valorem exemption, the veteran must be at least 65 years old and must have entered active duty as resident of Florida.

At this writing, we are lining up sponsors for these bills in both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. Assuming passage of these bills, the people of Florida will have to approve these changes through referenda during the General Election in November 2010.