(May 6) – Two bills and two resolutions to honor the service and sacrifice of Colorado’s veterans and their families passed the House this morning. A bill by Rep. Su Ryden to expand tax exemptions to more veterans and a bill by Rep. Susan Lontine to expand the Fort Logan National Cemetery earned final approval from the House this morning. Both bills passed the House unanimously.

HB16-1444 will expand the property tax exemption for seniors and disabled veterans to apply to more veterans in the state. A constitutional amendment was passed 10 years ago to exempt seniors and certain veterans who have lived in their home for more than 10 years from property taxes. But the legislature inadvertently overlooked a group of veterans from the exemption due to their disability rating, and this bill fixes that mistake.

“This bill is going to give some truly deserving veterans the property tax exemption,” said Rep. Ryden, D-Aurora. “There are about 414 veterans in Colorado who are not getting that exemption because of the way this law was written and it’s about time we fixed it.”

The second veterans bill passed this morning was HB16-1456, which authorizes the sale of vacant state-owned land around the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan to expand the Fort Logan National Cemetery. The Department of Veterans Affairs would like to buy the land to expand the cemetery, which otherwise will run out of room in 2027.

“This bill will extend the life of the cemetery so that our veterans of the Denver metro area will have a dignified place for their final resting place,” said Rep. Lontine, D-Denver. “The bill also directs the proceeds of the sale to the Veterans Community Living Centers, a wonderful cause to support our veterans.”

One of the resolutions passed this morning, HJR16-1025, honors Gold Star Families, families who have lost loved ones in battle or military conflicts.

“They’re not sitting at home grieving their loss,” said Rep. Ryden, D-Aurora, of the families that her resolution honors. “They’re still really active in our community, helping other people. They’re some of the most selfless people that I’ve ever met. And I just want to recognize the great work that they do.”

The bills proceed to the Senate.

The second resolution to pass the House this morning was SJR16-034, which designates a portion of Highway 24 as “SPC Rob Lee 104 Nichols Memorial Highway,” in honor of 20-year Colorado Springs resident Specialist Rob Lee Nichols who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2013.

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