DeSantis signs veteran-focused bills at nursing home in Pasco County. Here’s what’s in them

Governor signs HB 725, HB 1329

LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Thursday at the Baldomero Lopez State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Land O’ Lakes, where he signed two bills.

The governor signed HB 725, “Veterans’ Long-term Care Facilities Admissions,” and HB 1329, “Veterans.”

HB 725 revises state statutes on resident eligibility in Florida veterans’ nursing homes to include veterans’ spouses or surviving spouses.

HB 1329 revises several provisions related to veterans, including:

  • The creation of the Major John Leroy Haynes Florida Veterans’ History Program within the Department of State’s Division of Arts and Culture.
    • The program’s stated purpose is to “collect and preserve the stories and experiences of Florida’s veterans and the State of Florida’s military contributions throughout the nation’s history,” according to the bill text.
    • “For the 2024-2025 fiscal year, the sum of $91,207 in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund is appropriated to the Division of Arts and Culture of the Department of State, and one full-time equivalent position with associated salary rate of 68,771 is authorized, to implement and administer the Major John Leroy Haynes Florida Veterans’ History Program as created by this act,” the bill text states.
  • Required instruction for public middle and high school students about Veterans Day and Memorial Day “in order to encourage patriotism.”
  • The purpose of Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., which is now to “serve as the state’s initial point of military transition assistance dedicated to promoting Florida as a veteran-friendly state helping to provide veterans and their spouses with employment opportunities and promoting the hiring of veterans and their spouses by the business community,” according to the bill text.
    • The corporation’s duties now include marketing, awareness and outreach activities directed toward its target market, i.e. service members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have “24 months or less until discharge, veterans with 36 months or less since discharge, and members of the Florida National Guard or reserves,” as well as their spouses and surviving spouses.
    • The corporation will now be governed by an 11-member board of directors instead of a nine-member board.
  • The Veterans Employment and Training Services Program within the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs is to assist in connecting service members with opportunities for entrepreneurship, education, training and resources to inspire the growth and development of veteran-owned small businesses.
    • Assistance may include grant funds to be used to “provide a certificate, a license or non-degree training from the Master Credentials List pursuant to s. 445.004(4)(h); any federally created certifications or licenses; and any skills-based industry certifications or licenses deemed relevant or necessary by the corporation,” according to the bill text.
  • The advisory council on brain and spinal cord injuries within the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs will include 18 members instead of 16.
    • “Additionally, the council must include two veterans who have or have had a traumatic brain injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or sub-concussive impacts due to military service, or include the family members of such veterans,” the bill text states.
  • Free hunting and fishing licenses for certain disabled veterans.

Both bills take effect July 1

Watch the news conference again in the video player below: