Lawmakers considering bills to benefit service members, veterans

Life insurance, college tuition benefits among items under consideration

F-15 aircraft
The 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15 aircraft remain ready on the flight line at Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts. The 104th Fighter Wing received the highest rating of "Mission Ready" on the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Inspector General (IG) Alert Force Evaluation, January 27, 2017.(U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey)

BOSTON (WWLP) – Lawmakers are considering public comment on more than 20 bills dealing with benefits and finances for veterans and their families.

The state’s Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs heard from the public Thursday on bills, including proposals that would provide tax relief for veterans, increase the annuity for Gold Star families, and exempting veterans from certain fees.

Under a proposal sponsored by Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), the state would reimburse or pay a Massachusetts National Guardsman’s monthly premium for life insurance.

“It provides those members who cannot afford to get more coverage, to be able to get more coverage through the SSLI,” said Austin Jenkins of the National Guard Association.

Under another bill, the state would provide public higher education tuition and fee waivers for Massachusetts National Guard members.

The bills still have a long way to go. The committee is currently reviewing public testimony on the proposals before making recommendations.