Alabama Senate makes state parks free for military vets

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – As Governor Kay Ivey designated last Thursday “Military Appreciation Day,” the Alabama Senate passed five bills to support military veterans, including the Parks for Patriots Act which will give Alabama military veterans free access to state parks.

The Legislature also held a joint session of the House and Senate to honor General Gus F. Perna, the commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command in Huntsville and Alabama’s only four-star general.

“More than 50,000 Alabamians serve in the military or work as employees of the Department of Defense, and it is appropriate and right that we honor their heroism and service,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said. “Veterans from Alabama have fought honorably in numerous wars, defending this nation from Nazi fascists and now, radical Islamic terrorists.

“As veterans return from battlefields in the Middle East and across the globe, it is our privilege to open every door of opportunity we can for our veterans, so that Alabama can benefit from their leadership and tenacity.”

In addition to the Parks for Patriots Act, the Senate approved a tax credit for small businesses that hire unemployed veterans, created a voluntary contribution check-off on income tax returns for the Alabama State Veterans Cemetery at Spanish Fort, added Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who own businesses to the preferred vendor list for state contracts, and passed a bill that would make it illegal to park a vehicle in spaces reserved for military veterans.

“Like all Alabamians, I am thankful for the service of our retired and active military service members,” Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) said. “Facilities like the Anniston Army Depot are essential for our national defense and a huge engine of economic growth in Alabama – and I am grateful for the opportunity the Legislature has to support the men and women who wear the uniform and serve Alabama and our nation so well.”

Since September 11, 2011, more than 25,000 Alabama National Guard soldiers and airmen have deployed, and approximately 1,000 are currently deployed.

Nine of Alabama’s thirty-four State Senators are military veterans.

Thursday concluded the twelfth day of the 2018 session. The state constitution allots the Legislature thirty days to complete each legislative session.