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Alabama Senate passes package of bills to increase military friendliness

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday quickly and unanimously passed a legislative package that is designed to further improve the federal military presence and investment across the Yellowhammer State.

The legislative package is the result of work by the Alabama Military Stability Commission, a panel that is chaired by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL). In addition to several elected officials and cabinet members, the commission also includes regional appointees from areas across the state with a heavy defense sector concentration.

Ainsworth was praised for his leadership on enhancing Alabama’s military friendliness by Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) in floor remarks after the package passed. The lieutenant governor has made the issue a public priority since taking office in January 2019.

“The federal military bases located in Alabama play an important role in our state’s economy and job climate, so retaining and, when possible, expanding their footprint must always be a top priority,” Ainsworth said in a statement.

“The bills that were passed by the State Senate today will enhance the educational and occupational options for dependents of active armed forces personnel, and they will implement guidelines that make Alabama even more attractive for military investment and expansion,” he added.

Among the bills in the package are measures that will allow military dependents attending public colleges and universities in Alabama to pay in-state tuition while stationed here; provide additional state services to military veterans; and guarantee the acceptance of out-of-state occupational licenses for military dependents in various professions.

The package, which stalled last year when the 2020 regular session was abruptly halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, now heads to the House.

Senator Tom Butler (R-Madison), who chairs the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, noted that addressing issues important to military families is especially timely since Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal was recently announced as the preferred location to host the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command.

“Passing these bills just three days into the session offers solid evidence that Alabama is rolling out the red carpet for the U.S. Space Command,” Butler stated. “Those of us who live in Alabama understand it is a special place to live, work, worship, and raise children, and the military families who report for duty here will soon learn that fact, as well.”

RELATED: Ainsworth debuts ‘Heroes Welcome’ website that has resources for military families new to Alabama

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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