As true patriots who have bravely risked their lives to fight for our country’s freedom and safety, our servicemen and women are American heroes. As many of these military members complete their duties and return home, Ohio is proud to welcome back with open arms the approximately 900,000 veterans who live in our state.

The Ohio House is committed to helping make the transition back into civilian life as smooth and successful as possible for our veterans. Unfortunately, far too often many of these individuals are injured or harmed during their line of duty, leaving them permanently disabled. As rehabilitation and rest can only go so far, it is vital that we work to pass legislation to aid in these veterans’ mental, physical, and financial recoveries as they become acclimated again to civilian life.

This month, House Bill 85 went into effect to assist with this process. Sponsored by my colleagues Representatives Anne Gonzales and Lou Terhar, the bill increases the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 for veterans who are permanently and totally disabled with a 100 percent disability from the VA. Additionally, if a service member passes away while receiving the homestead exemption, the benefits will continue for the surviving spouse who owns and lives in the home.

Signed by Governor Kasich in June, this bill is particularly important and relevant because it makes Ohio competitive with other states regarding legislation for veterans. Previously, 47 other states already had some type of property tax relief system enacted for former military members who are disabled. House Bill 85 passed with broad bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle, alluding to the practicality and necessity of the bill.

There are some 8,000 permanently disabled veterans in Ohio who meet the requirement for tax exemption under this bill, and as long as they were honorably discharged as a result of their service, they will now be able to qualify for the homestead exemption. This practice has been in effect since 1970 when Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow senior citizens to qualify for property tax cuts, and now, it is the common sense and right decision to extend this to disabled veterans.

Giving back to our veterans for their courageous sacrifice will always be a top priority for the Ohio House, and I am proud to support House Bill 85 in order to continue to help make Ohio a better home for our service members.

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