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					2006 Recap of Legislative & Fair Military Airfare Committee LEGISLATIVE - FEDERAL LEVEL H.R. 5037 - Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act Original Sponsor: Congressman
Mike Rogers Prohibition on certain demonstrations at cemeteries under control of National Cemetery Administration and at Arlington National Cemetery. Passed.

S. 4321 - Spouses of Seriously Wounded to Get Education Sooner
Introduced by U.S. Senators Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) Under current law when a servicemember is discharged from the military as a "permanently and totally disabled" veteran, the veteran's spouse is eligible for education benefits from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, through a program called Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance. The problem was that the discharge process for some individuals could take years. Speeding up the benefit process would help families and ensure a better transition to civilian life. The change would allow spouses to have immediate eligibility for educational benefits when the servicemember is hospitalized or receiving treatment and awaiting discharge from the service. Passed on December 9 For informational purposes, News Releases from the U.S. Department of Defense and the American Forces Press which directly impact our active duty military personnel and veterans were posted on the yahoo website.

LEGISLATIVE - STATE LEVEL AB 2707 - Bill to restrict Picketing at Funerals Author: Assemblyman Rick Keene
I, along with Diane Layfield testified before the Judiciary Committee on April 18th at the State Capitol in Sacramento. With a majority vote were successful in getting AB2707 out of the committee. Various Unions objected to the bill because they believed it would limit their right in labor negotiations even though the language in the bill refuted their argument. The ACLU objected to the bill because of free speech. On April 25th we For more information please contact us at info@bluestarmoms.org Or visit our website www.bluestarmoms.org

testified before the Public Safety Committee. Approximately 40 people including Blue Star Moms were present along with representatives of those opposing the bill which included the ACLU, Service Employees and Teamsters Union. At the conclusion of the hearing, committee members, by a 4-3 vote, did not forward the bill for vote by the Assembly. Assemblyman Keene was committed to keeping this issue before the legislation, considered alternative vehicles or introducing the bill in 2007; however, on December 27th President Bush signed into law an amendment to U.S. law protecting military funerals from protests like those staged by the Westboro Church that characterizes soldier's death as divine punishment for homosexuality. The new amendment aligned with our bill we introduced in that it prohibits protestors from demonstrating from within 150 feet of a funeral and within an hour of the memorial service. It provides a year in jail and/or an undetermined fine for violators. The rule applies to funerals at non-federal cemeteries, joining legislation passed in May 2006 that bans demonstrations at national cemeteries such as Arlington National Cemetery. I'm working with Assemblyman Keene's office to ensure the language is clear who is authorized to enforce the law, local, sheriff or state police. Federal law supersedes state law and in all probability it appears there will be no need to introduce new legislation in California to address this issue.

FAIR MILITARY AIRFARE:
I continue to receive and respond to e-mail inquiries from military personnel and their families and friends. The volume of such inquires has declined to about six per month, probably due to the improved webpage. This site now contains all pertinent information regarding which airlines to contact and how to do so. It also contains links to search engines which expedite procurement of reasonable airfares. The airfare project was successful in that our military families now can easily identify the best airlines and book through them. Some airlines, for example, U.S. Air, and United are unlikely to provide meaningful improvements, but others have made a real effort to match the responsiveness of the best carriers, such as Southwest and Jet Blue. We will continue to work with legislators, notably Senator McCain to keep the pressure on the airlines to comply with H.R. 2115. The airlines continue to go through a great deal of change, and will continue to evolve in the coming months, as demonstrated by the proposed consolidation of Continental and United Airlines and of U.S. Air and Delta. With the ongoing troop rotation in Iraq and Afghanistan the airfare website was more active than usual.

For more information please contact us at info@bluestarmoms.org Or visit our website www.bluestarmoms.org

Overall, military personnel and their families now have the means available to avoid the truly egregious airfares we were seeing three years ago. Nancy J. Totman Military & Legislative Advocate Blue Star Moms

For more information please contact us at info@bluestarmoms.org Or visit our website www.bluestarmoms.org


				
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