A bill that’s cleared the legislature eventually will send each of Iowa’s 99 counties $10,000 to help run veterans affairs offices around the state. The bill also calls for regular business hours in those offices according to Senator Steve Warnstadt, a Democrat from Sioux City who’s in the Iowa National Guard.
For counties with fewer than 30,000 residents, veterans affairs offices must be open at least 20 hours per week. For counties with a population between 30,000 and 60,000, veterans affairs offices must be open at least 30 hours per week and counties with 60,000 or more residents must have those offices open for 40 hours each week.
The $10,000 will be sent to counties next year and Warnstadt says the money may be used to cover the salaries of county veterans commissioners or pay for additional training for the people who work in those offices. "At the end of this process..what you will have is fully qualified veterans service officers in every single county," Warnstadt says. "…Veterans in the state of Iowa will be far better served."
The bill also slightly expands the number of Iowans who may get a "Gold Star" license plate for their vehicles. The spouses, children, parents or siblings of a soldier who died while on active duty can apply today for a "Gold Star" license plate. The bill extends the privilege to the families of soldiers who die after they’ve been released from active duty, but who die of an injury or condition related to their service. The measure cleared the Senate on a 50 to zero vote and now goes to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law.