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Indiana veterans and military service members advocate for pro-military legislation

Military Legislation Day
Posted at 8:14 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 20:14:23-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Over 300 current and former military members came to the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday to advocate for policies that will improve their quality of life. At the top of that list is to no longer pay income taxes on military income.

"We have lots of reservists and Guard in the state of Indiana," James Bauerle, an Army Veteran and the Legislative Chair of the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, said. “We have a lot of people who join the military and go on active duty. People will then leave the state because Indiana taxes everything over $5,000 of military income."

For years, veterans have been advocating for policies to better improve their lives. House Bill 1034 would exempt military income from Indiana income tax.

Bauerle says the bill needs to include more than just active members of the military.

"We want the same thing that the Guard gets for reserve military members, " Bauerle said.

Other military groups would like to see the legislature allow veteran organizations to have video gaming machines. They say this policy would allow veteran organizations to stay open by creating more revenue. Keeping the doors open for American Legions and other veteran organizations have proven difficult that last few years.

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They also want the legislature to give veterans free entrance to Indiana State Parks, something they feel will help better the mental health of current and former military members. They'd like to see a modification to college tuition fee exemptions as well.

Veterans like Bauerle say they can get behind that if reserve members are included.

"Indiana has state law that pays for college tuition for people that join the Indiana National Guard,” Bauerle said. “Those who join the reserves get nothing from the state. That’s wrong."

Veterans like Rhonda Seward hope the state will continue recognizing women in the military by designating June 12 as Women Veterans Recognition Day.

"Today women are in infantry units, women are in different branches of the military service and they are doing new jobs and new things,” Seward said. “I just want them to get that recognition for their contributions."

According to the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana, all the states that border Indiana exempt military related income from income taxes.

House Bill 1034 has been referred to the Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, which meets on Wednesday.

To read more about the VFW’s four main legislative priorities, click here. To read more about the Military Veterans Coalition of Indiana’s priorities, click here.