Senator Mike Morrell Working to Make Living in California More Affordable for Veterans
Senator Mike Morrell (R-23rd District-Rancho Cucamonga) has authored a pair of bills to ease the burdens facing California’s disabled veterans. SB 500 and SB 562 will increase job opportunities while working to keep the cost of housing more maintainable. The higher costs of living and an increasingly competitive job market are realities faced by many Californians. But California’s disabled veterans are often the hardest hit by these realities.
“California sends more men and women into military service than almost any other state,” said Morrell. “Unfortunately, many return home unable to perform the jobs they did in the Armed Forces. We need to ensure these service members have every opportunity to achieve the American Dream that they fought for.”
Thankfully the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance has unanimously approved SB 562. This legislation will increase the current Basic Property Tax Exemption for disabled veterans to keep up with the rise in California home prices and cost of living. With the median home price in California at approximately $540,000, property taxes for a home of this value exceed more than $5,000 per year.
SB 562 is supported by Disabled American Veterans Department of California and has been sponsored by Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit that builds new homes to meet the needs of disabled veterans.
A first-of-its-kind veterans’ education bill for disabled veterans to attain graduate-level degrees, SB 500 would create an education program through California’s Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) that extends housing and tuition assistance to veterans with a disability rating above 50 percent while they are enrolled in and pursue any program, internship, or fellowship that earn credits towards a master’s degree.
A recent survey from CareerBuilder found that nearly a third of employers are bumping up education requirements for new hires. Whereas many positions used to require only a four-year degree, 27 percent are recruiting for positions that now require a master’s degree. Some veterans are now returning home to not only a rise in housing cost but also to a job market demanding different skillsets and degrees.
SB 500 was originally scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs on March 26 but was postponed by the committee until April 9.
In addition to authoring SB 562 and SB 500, Sen. Morrell has also co-authored SB 663, which would expand property tax exemptions for Veterans Service Organizations (VSO). VSOs already receive property tax exemptions for some properties but this bill would expand the exemption to cover lodges and other multi-purpose facilities where organizations often find the best uses for treatments, recovery, and fundraising. Thus far, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance on March 27.
Sen. Morrell represents the 23rd State Senate District. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 2010 and won a special election to the State Senate in March 2014. He was again elected to represent the 23rd State Senate District in the 2016 general election with support from 56.6 percent of the district’s voters.
The 23rd State Senate District covers portions of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. In addition to the city of Yucaipa, the district includes all or portions of the following communities: Banning, Beaumont, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Cedar Glen, Calimesa, Cherry Valley, Crestline, Homeland, Hemet, Highland, Lake Arrowhead, Loma Linda, Menifee, Mentone, Nuevo, Phelan, Pinon Hills, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, San Bernardino, San Jacinto and Wrightwood.