Assemblyman Joe DeStefano (R,C,I,Ref-Medford) criticized Assembly Majority members on the Veterans Affairs Committee after they rejected bills that would reduce costs for veterans groups and families use of state parks and recreational facilities.
The Assembly Minority bills blocked by the Assembly Majority included:
- A.858 (Kolb) directs the state to waive pavilion rental fees in state parks for recognized veterans organizations.
- A.3307 (Norris) directs the state to waive fees for the use of cabins and cottages for up to 14 days per year for veterans who are blind, non‑ambulatory, an amputee or for any veteran who has been awarded, or is eligible for, an allowance by the federal government toward the purchase of an automobile.
- A.4904 (M. L. Miller) provides that any veteran who holds a federal Golden Access Passport or federal Access Pass issued upon a determination of permanent disability may use state campsites, parks and other public places of recreation free of charge.
- A.4993 (Morinello) permits family members of service members who have died on active duty during wartime to utilize all state parks free of charge.
Our veterans are the foundation of our country. They risk their lives to protect us and it is our duty as legislators to ensure their wellbeing when they come home, said DeStefano. The Assembly Majority would rather spend taxpayer money on a review and report than simply provide financial relief for veteran organizations and families.
Instead, the Assembly Committee approved the Outdoor Rx Act. (A.8094). The bill would direct multiple state agencies to conduct a review of issues related to veterans abilities to access public parks, lands and recreational facilities, and requires the Division of Veterans Services to submit a report to the governor and all legislative leaders by Jan. 1, 2021.