Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and state lawmakers promoted a series of proposals on Wednesday that they say will make life easier for members of the military and their families.
Moore, an Army veteran, pledged that 2024 will be “Maryland’s year for military families” and spoke at a lectern with a sign promoting that slogan.
Moore said that, when he was deployed to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006, he thought the soldiers had it hard. But they had each other for support. The families back home didn’t always have that same support.
“Our military families are sacrificing just as much as our people in uniform,” he said.
The Democratic governor plans to sponsor two bills related to military service members and their families:
- Families Serve Act of 2024: This bill would allow employers, in government and the private sector, to give a preference to military spouses in hiring. In state government, he said, military spouses won’t be guaranteed jobs but will gain extra points in the evaluation process.
- Time to Serve Act of 2024: This bill would give state employees up to 30 days of leave to fulfill duties for the National Guard or the military reserves, an increase from the current allowance of 15 days.
The state Department of Veterans Affairs will sponsor two more bills:
- Adding more members to the Maryland Military Installation Council, a group that advises the state on military issues. The council, which falls under the Department of Commerce, would be expanded to include the state labor secretary, the state schools superintendent and a military spouse.
- Waiving vehicle registration fees for drivers with Gold Star Families license plates, which are for families who have lost a loved one in military service.
The governor also announced he will back initiatives from state lawmakers:
- Renaming the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Veterans and Military Families, sponsored by Sen. Dawn Gile and Del. Andrew Pruski, both Anne Arundel County Democrats.
- Making it illegal for employers to discriminate against military members, veterans or their families in hiring decisions, sponsored by Gile and Del. Adrian Boafo, a Prince George’s County Democrat.
- Creating a multistate compact for cosmetology licenses, allowing cosmetology professionals a smoother transition when moving between states, sponsored by Gile and Del. Stephanie Smith, a Baltimore Democrat. Smith said about 20 states are working on the compact, which would apply to military-affiliated and unaffiliated cosmetologists.
Moore’s team has indicated he plans to introduce about a dozen bills when lawmakers convene their next General Assembly session in January. The Families Serve Act and Time to Serve Act are the first proposals that he has unveiled.
Last year, Moore was successful in passing bills that expanded a tax credit for military retirement income and established a small subsidy to help Maryland National Guard members pay for health insurance.
The session begins Jan. 10.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct the sponsorship of the anti-discrimination bill.