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Adams and Reese Attorney Mark Norris Drafts Tennessee Bill to Help Veterans Attend College

11/15/2013

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Adams and Reese attorney and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has drafted a bill that would make Tennessee public colleges and universities more veteran-friendly, starting with in-state tuition for vets moving to Tennessee. An article about the Bill was featured in The Commercial Appeal in the November 11th edition.

“We have what I call a benefits gap when it comes to men and women returning from service,” said Norris. “The G.I. Bill benefits package only pays cost of in state tuition.

Under Tennessee law, if you relocate to Tennessee, you have to wait a year before you qualify. “This is intended to plug that gap if you relocate to Tennessee within 24 months of being discharged.”

Veterans would then have a year to establish residency and show proof with a driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, pay stub or by registering to vote.

House Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, is co-sponsor. The House and Senate bills would establish the Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act, funneling resources to help vets meet their educational goals here.

The Act would also create a VETS Campus designation for colleges taking concrete steps to better serve veterans. Schools could earn the designation by offering orientation programs specifically for vets, outreach programs or by working with staff to improve awareness of issues specific to veterans.

Norris is chairman of the newly formed veterans subcommittee, part of the House and Senate state and local government committee. He is also on the state workforce development board of directors. By helping veterans connect quickly with colleges and other postsecondary options, the state can benefit from veterans’ life experiences, including training they learned in the military, Norris said.

Johnson, who has worked with Norris on other pieces of veteran-related legislation, represents constituents around Fort Campbell, the Army base which strides the Tennessee-Kentucky border. It is the home of the 101st Airborne Division and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.