Thanks to Glenn Reynolds mentioning MilBlogs and Blackfive on MSNBC, I received this letter from LTC (ret. ) Steve Lynch:
I recently found your web page via an article on MSNBC. I'm a twenty-year veteran of the Air Force who is trying to get the word out to Ohioans in the military re proposed legislation called the Ohio Patriot Plan.I will put the Ohio Patriot Plan in the extended section of this post. If you live in Ohio please contact Representative Peter Ujvagi and tell him of your support for the plan. While the representative may want to hear from the military on this issue, I think it would be important for ANY person living in Ohio to voice their support for this plan. Our military men and women (and their families) deserve no less!
The legislation is geared to help active duty, reserve and national guard personnel assigned outside of the state, and to also help their families. Among other things, it allows children of parents who have been
deployed to remain in their home school district, and enables college students who have been recalled in the middle of a semester to receive military leave from school - rather than forfeit tuition or be otherwise penalized for serving their country. It also allows deployed personnel to cancel cell phone contracts without penalty.
I've attached a summary of the law. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have on how I can get the word out to military personnel from Ohio who are serving in Iraq and elsewhere. The bill co-sponsor, Representative Peter Ujvagi (email@example.com) from the Toledo area, is looking to hear from military personnel who favor the law. He is looking to build as much support as possible as soon as possible.
Believe it or not, there is a chance the bill may die in committee which is one reason I am trying to help drum up support.
Thank you for any help or suggestions you can provide. God bless you for your service to our country.
Steve Lynch, Lt Col, USAF (ret)
South Russell, Ohio
The Ohio Patriot Plan
The “Patriot Plan” is modeled after New York legislation of the same name which was passed this past August and signed by Governor George Pataki, and provides a comprehensive package of new benefits and enhanced protections for Ohio military personnel and their families. At the request of Mr. Steven Lynch, an attorney representing members of the US Coast Guard, and former member of the Air Force, the legislation is being drafted by the Legislative Service Commission under the Primary Sponsorship of Representative Peter Ujvagi.
The provisions of the Plan include:
- Protection against Military Status Discrimination: Expands the protections of the Human Rights Law to military personnel to ensure that they are not discriminated against in housing, employment, public accommodations or credit applications.
- Termination of Vehicle Leases: Permits military personnel to terminate without penalty a car lease if he or she is called to active duty.
- Interest Rate Cap on Installment Loans: Caps rates of interest on installment loans at 6 percent while the individual is on state active duty.
- Health Insurance Benefits: Directs the Insurance Department to protect the rights of military personnel to continue, suspend or convert health insurance benefits during periods of active duty. Also requires the Governor’s Office of Veterans Affairs to make health provider information concerning military-related illnesses, such as Gulf War Syndrome and Hepatitis C, available to military personnel and their families via a website.
- Educational Military Leave of Absence and Tuition Relief: Requires colleges and universities to provide educational military leave of absence for students called to active duty. The provisions require that the institution restore the student to his/her previous educational status upon return from military service without loss of credits earned, scholarships or grants or other feed paid prior to commencement of military duty. In addition, colleges and universities would be required to provide a tuition refund or credit to students who are forced to suspend their studies because of military leave of absence before or on the institutional date of withdrawal. Also includes an enforcement mechanism providing an opportunity for students to file civil claims if the institution does not comply.
- Electronic Transfer of Paychecks: Provides that paychecks of public employees activated for foreign deployment will be made by electronic transfer of funds (direct deposit) unless such employee opts to not have such payments made in such manner.
- Patriot Discount Program: Establishes a voluntary, state sponsored program for merchants who agree to provide reduced price discounts for merchandise and services for all military personnel. To be managed by the Governor’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
- School Stability: Children of overseas deployed parents will be permitted to remain in the same school, without disruption for the period of deployment.
- Evictions: Prohibits evictions of a financially dependant family member in residence with a soldier during period of active duty military service. The service member must be listed on the lease.
- Termination of Cellular Contracts: A soldier deployed overseas may terminate a cellular telephone contract without penalty.
- Utility Disconnection: Utilities may not be disconnected from the residence of a financially dependant family member in residence with a soldier during a period of active duty military service. The service member must be listed on the lease or provide proof of residency.
Any provisions concerning the termination of legal and binding contracts would be effective only on contracts signed after the effective date of the legislation signed by the Governor of the State of Ohio, but before the date of deployment notification.
Additionally there are programs already in place to support service members and their families under Ohio Law.
- State Family Liaison Officers: the Adjutant General oversees a Family Support Office.
- War Orphans Scholarship Program: the State funds through the General Revenue Fund a scholarship program to provide college tuition waivers to the children of soldiers killed in the line of active military duty. (Rep. Ujvagi has also introduced HB 359 expanding the War Orphans Scholarship Program to extend tuition waivers to spouses of soldiers killed in combat after May 7, 1975.)
- Waive License Fee Renewals: the State of Ohio currently waives teaching license fees for licenses that lapse during deployment and extends EMT and First Responder certifications that expire during deployment. Professional licenses and continuing education requirements are also extended during deployment.
- Property Taxes: In June 2003 the House passed Sub SB 47, a Senate initiative to extend the time National Guard members and armed forces reservists called to active duty have to pay their property taxes.