By Marc Kovac
Veterans will have an easier time getting certain state licenses, and crooks will face stiffer penalties for stealing the identities of Ohio’s military men and women, under legislation signed in to law recently by Gov. John Kasich.
Backers say House Bill 488 will help Ohioans who have served in the armed services as they make the transition back to civilian life and seek out jobs and educational opportunities.
“This elevates Ohio’s status as a veteran-friendly state and as a place all veterans can be proud to call home,” Tim Gorrell, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, said.
Among other provisions, HB 488 will enable veterans to earn college credits and certain state licenses to account for their military training. It also provides a means for connecting private employers who want to hire veterans with military men and women looking for jobs.
Colleges and universities will be required to provide increased academic and career counseling to veterans, and offer priority status when those men and women are registering for classes.
Additionally, HB 488 increases criminal penalties for those convicted of identity theft against active-duty military-service members and their spouses.
“These changes will make Ohio one of the toughest states for punishing felons who commit identity fraud against active-duty service members,” Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a released statement. “... Military service members and their families sacrifice so much to protect our country, and it’s our job to do all we can to protect them.”
The Ohio House and Senate approved the law changes on unanimous votes last month. The governor actually added his signature to HB 488 a couple of times — once to make the bill official and again in public to celebrate its contents.