Nevada needs to keep its Guard up |

Nevada needs to keep its Guard up

Richard Perkins

As the legislative session moves along, much has been accomplished, but there is still much to be done. The most pressing issue of the session, skyrocketing property taxes, was handled thoughtfully and quickly, and most importantly, in a bipartisan manner.

Nonetheless, the continued War Against Terrorism reminds us that many Nevadans are still making sacrifices for the cause of freedom.

Now, more than ever, we owe it to the citizens of this state, some of whom are sacrificing their lives in a war thousands of miles away, to do the peoples’ business in a way that makes them proud.

The War on Terror has been difficult for all Americans, yet for none has it been more trying that our men and woman in uniform. More than 3,000 Nevada National Guard members have served since Sept. 11, 2001.

As Nevadans, we need to make every effort to support those who are fighting and sacrificing daily for our safety. To this end, I have proposed the Patriot Relief Act to express the gratitude of the people of Nevada to the men and women who are called into active duty as members of the Nevada National Guard.

When guard members are called to active duty, our citizen soldiers often take a large hit to their pocketbook. They serve out of a sense of dedication, not because of monetary gain. This pay cut can also create a hardship for family members who are left behind. To alleviate this concern, the act would create a system whereby guardsmen and family members would be exempt from paying sales tax. This change would mean few dollars to the state but would give an extra boost to these families.

In addition, I am proposing to create a $5 million Patriot Relief Fund to help those men and women who put themselves in the face of danger for our safety. This fund will provide life insurance for all of Nevada’s National Guard members. And while I hope a single policy will never be redeemed, I believe we have a responsibility to provide these soldiers and their families with a little peace of mind, should the unthinkable happen. Further, this fund will also set aside funds to buy textbooks for those guard members who are going to college, so that they may better prepare themselves for the working world.

Finally, the Patriot Relief Fund will provide dedicated funding to help guard members and their families when they encounter difficulties with their bills when mobilized. These soldiers leave work, often with little or no notice, to go and defend our freedoms abroad. Meanwhile, life is still moving forward, bills are piling up and notices are being sent. They deserve all the financial protections the State can provide.

Taken together, these programs will ensure that guardsmen can focus on protecting us from the forces of evil while defending our freedom. The sales tax exemption, guaranteed life insurance and the Patriot Relief Fund will give Guardsmen and their families the peace of mind to focus on what is important, their loved ones, rather than unforeseen financial crises.

The days of this legislative session are going by quickly. We must act now, in a bipartisan manner, to deal with these pressing concerns.

n Richard Perkins, a Democrat from Henderson, is speaker of the Nevada Assembly.