In a ceremony today at the Missouri National Guard Armory in Springfield, Gov. Jay Nixon signed four bills.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In a ceremony today at the Missouri National Guard Armory in Springfield, Gov. Jay Nixon signed four bills intended to help current members of the armed forces and military veterans.

The new laws encompass a wide range of benefits for current and former members of the military, including making it easier for troops who are deployed to vote; giving greater educational and career opportunities to returning veterans; and helping to return military medals to their rightful owners or their heirs.

Nixon was joined at the ceremony by State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a strong supporter of one of the bills, and by Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, the Adjutant General of Missouri.

"Those who serve our country by proudly wearing a military uniform know the meaning of sacrifice," Nixon said. "These new laws aim to help our troops while they are serving by strengthening their voting and parental rights, and assist our veterans to transition back into their careers and their education."

One bill also will help in returning military medals to their rightful owners.

Senate Bill 116, which incorporates the "Uniformed Military and Overseas Voters Act" to require the Secretary of State to develop an electronic system to facilitate registration and voting by military and overseas voters, and extends the time in which ballots from such voters can be counted. The bill received strong support from Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, himself a military veteran who served overseas.

The Governor also signed Senate Bill 106, which, among other provisions:

Requires professional licensing boards or commissions to accept military education, training and service as credit toward licensure requirements;

Requires health-related professional licensing boards to establish procedures to ensure that active duty members of the armed forces are able to remain in good standing with their professional licensing bodies; and

Requires public higher education institutions to give credit for courses that are part of a student's military service.

"The freedoms we enjoy are because of those citizens who willingly have stood in defense of them, even at the cost of their lives," Gov. Nixon said. "Their sacrifice can never fully be repaid, but these measures demonstrate our ongoing support and commitment to them and their families."

Breakout Box:

Senate Bill 117 allows veterans who are leaving the military to qualify for lower tuition rates at Missouri public universities and colleges by providing them with resident student status.

House Bill 702 will help the Missouri State Treasurer in identifying the owners of military medals that are unclaimed property.

House Bill 159 waives requirement to prove in-district-school residency for a student who is a dependent of a military member who is deployed out of state or deployed in Missouri under Title 10 or Title 32, or who – as a result of deployment – relocates to another school district to live with other family members.

Senate Bill 118 includes a provision to allow for the establishment of additional veterans' treatment courts in Missouri.