Legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain to strengthen consumer protections for active-duty military and their families and reduce costs for disabled veterans to add adaptive equipment to their vehicles was recently signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Fain sponsored the Senate version of both new laws, which go into effect on June 7.
Veterans with a disability often require expensive custom vehicle improvements that allow them to remain self-sufficient. The legislation exempts disabled veterans from taxes on equipment needed for them to enter, exit and safely operate a vehicle.
“Many disabled veterans are on a fixed income and the taxes alone for this major undertaking can create a major financial hardship,” said Fain, R-Auburn. “I’m pleased that the state will continue its support of veterans maintaining their independence given the great sacrifice they made for our country.”
While the federal government typically pays for the modifications, veterans are responsible for paying sales taxes. With the cost of modifications ranging up to tens of thousands of dollars, taxes can cost more than $3,000 per vehicle, according to Fain.
The second new law recognizes the fact that active-duty service members can be called away at a moment’s notice, which can create a problem if they are under a long-term contract for certain services such as internet or a gym membership. The Legislature’s action allows them to cancel or suspend the contract without penalty due to a deployment or requirement to change bases.
“The people who sacrifice a great deal for our country do so knowing their lives could be upended at a moment’s notice,” said Fain. “This policy change recognizes these difficult demands and reduces difficulties for service members who are going through a transition whether they are deployed abroad or ordered to move within the U.S.”
The legislation adds to the state Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to exempt military service members from fees or penalties associated with termination of a contract for internet, cellphone plan, television, or radio contract as well as a gym membership. It also expands the types of roles that qualify to include not only active-duty military personnel, but also members of the National Guard and reservists.