Tag Archives: benefits

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Legislative Package to Support Florida’s Military Members and Their Families

From the press office of Governor Ron DeSantis:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed eight bills to support Florida’s military members and their families. Florida is the most military-friendly state in the nation and is home to nearly 1.5 million veterans, the third largest veteran population in the country. Bills signed by the Governor will support veteran education and training opportunities, expand veteran benefits, and strengthen long-term care for Florida’s veterans and their families.

“Florida is the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation and through this legislation, we are further supporting our military, veterans and their families with the resources they need while they are serving and after they have fulfilled their duty,” said Governor Ron DeSantis

Senate Bill (SB) 732 establishes the Collegiate Purple Star Campuses Program to support military members, veterans, and their families while they are attending a Florida college or university. This bill requires institutions who wish to be designated a Collegiate Purple Star Campus to: 

  • Designate a staff member as a military liaison. 
  • Maintain a webpage on the institution’s website which includes resources for military students and families.
  • Maintain a student-led transition program that assists military students in transitioning into the institution.
  • Offer staff members professional development training opportunities that will help them better serve military students. 
  • Provide priority course registration for military students.

SB 274 creates the “Pathway for Military Combat Medics Act.”  The Act will give military combat veterans postsecondary course credit for their military combat medic training to be used toward a nursing education program. This will allow veterans to earn their nursing education degree more quickly and at a lower cost. 

House Bill (HB) 139 makes it easier for military veterans and their spouses to transition to civilian life in Florida. This bill establishes the Office of Veteran Licensure Services within the Department of Health to provide information and assistance with health care licensure processes for all veterans and their spouses. Additionally, this bill requires Veterans Florida to assist veterans and their spouses with access, training, education, and employment in Florida’s health care professions. 

HB 485 creates the Division of Long-term Care within the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) to oversee the operations of veterans’ adult day health care programs. Additionally, the bill expands eligibility requirements for veterans who wish to enter an adult day health care program and names the week of November 11th of each year as “Veterans Week.”

HB 635 supports veterans who need dental care by creating the Veterans Dental Care Grant Program within the FDVA to provide dental care to Florida’s veterans. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that only 15% of veterans are eligible to access dental services through the VA. This program will distribute grants to eligible nonprofits that provide dental care to veterans in Florida. 

SB 574 supports servicemembers that are living in Florida who receive military orders to live in government quarters and who must terminate an existing lease agreement. This bill defines the term “government quarters” to include privately owned military housing. This will enable servicemembers to early terminate a private rental agreement if they become eligible for privatized military housing. 

HB 621 supports military families by establishing a uniform death benefit for active duty servicemembers of $75,000. Currently, servicemembers who are killed while on active duty and while performing their official duties are eligible for a death benefit of $75,000 while servicemembers who are killed while on active duty but not while performing their official duties are only eligible for a death benefit of $25,000. 

HB 1285 establishes the Florida State Guard as a permanent component in Florida’s state militia and creates the Division of the State Guard within the Department of Military Affairs. The Florida State Guard has been appropriated $108 million in the General Appropriations Act.

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Improvements to State Reemployment Assistance Program

From Governor Ron DeSantis’ office:

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, during a COVID-19 response roundtable at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Governor Ron DeSantis announced actions the state is taking to improve Florida’s reemployment assistance program. The Governor was joined at the roundtable by Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Executive Director Ken Lawson, Department of Management Services (DMS) Secretary Jonathan Satter and Department of Revenue (DOR) Executive Director Dr. Jim Zingale.

“A lot of people are hurting right now through no fault of their own,” said Governor DeSantis. “A flawed and bureaucratic reemployment system should be the last thing that prevents them from getting assistance. Last week, I directed DEO to take whatever means necessary to fix the system and since then they have made significant progress. I appreciate the many state employees that have been working around the clock to help their fellow Floridians.”

Last week, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-93, directing DEO and other executive agencies to take necessary actions to improve DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Program.

The following agencies have taken the actions outlined below:

Department of Economic Opportunity
DEO installed 72 new servers.
The system can now handle up to 120,000 simultaneous connections by individuals filing claims. This allows for far greater capacity than the 20,000 connections the system was having difficulty with one week ago.
DEO published a paper application over the weekend that people can complete and mail in. Before creating the paper application, people could only fill out an application over the phone or online.
The paper application and important information about Reemployment Assistance is available at http://www.FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19.
DEO hired a call center, streamlined the training process, and trained more than 200 people so that they can start answering calls today.
DEO will continue to train more than 700 more individuals throughout the week, so that by next week more than 1,000 individuals will be answering calls for Reemployment Assistance.

“I want to thank Governor DeSantis for taking extraordinary efforts to ensure that our agency can better serve Floridians during this global pandemic,” said DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson. “With additional customer call center support and critical technology improvements, DEO can assist more individuals and businesses during this unsettling time.”

Department of Management Services
DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter coordinated the Governor’s call-to-action for state employees to assist DEO with calls, data entry and citizen services.
More than 2,300 state employees have volunteered to help. DEO will determine the number and extent to which the employees will be utilized.
DMS is coordinating technology support and telecommunications capacity to handle a surge in calls and applications for reemployment assistance.
DMS is now working with DEO to establish virtual desktop support and workflow processes to serve an estimated one million Floridians impacted by COVID-19.

“Governor DeSantis is committed to promptly connecting Floridians with the benefits they need to get through this unprecedented time,” said DMS Secretary Jonathan R. Satter. “The personal commitment from state employees to help their neighbors get the assistance they need is remarkable. We will continue to allocate the technical and personnel resources necessary to provide Floridians the level of service they expect and deserve.”

Department of Revenue
In response to the Governor’s directive, DOR is mobilizing 579 employees to support DEO.
These employees have the work experience to assist with the verification of applications.
The employer identification process DOR will be assisting with is one of the final steps before payment is sent to the individual who has applied for reemployment assistance.
These 579 employees work in the Child Support and General Tax programs within the agency and will still be able to handle their normal responsibilities.

“The Department of Revenue is eager to assist the Department of Economic Opportunity in verifying the applications for reemployment benefits during this statewide health emergency,” said DOR Executive Director Jim Zingale. “DOR has nearly 600 experienced employees who are ready to mobilize for this all-hands-on-deck effort.”