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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XX
VETERANS
Chapter 295
LAWS RELATING TO VETERANS: GENERAL PROVISIONS
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CHAPTER 295
CHAPTER 295
LAWS RELATING TO VETERANS: GENERAL PROVISIONS
295.01 Children of deceased or disabled veterans; spouses of deceased or disabled servicemembers; education.
295.015 Children of prisoners of war and persons missing in action; education.
295.016 Children of servicemembers who died or became disabled in Operation Eagle Claw.
295.017 Children of servicemembers who died or became disabled in the Lebanon and Grenada military arenas; educational opportunity.
295.018 Children of servicemembers who died in Newfoundland air tragedy; educational opportunity.
295.0185 Children of deceased or disabled military personnel who die or become disabled in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom; educational opportunity.
295.019 Children of servicemembers who died in U.S.S. Stark attack.
295.0195 Children of deceased or disabled military personnel who died or became disabled in the Mideast Persian Gulf military arena during hostilities with Iraq or in the military action in Panama known as Operation Just Cause.
295.02 Use of funds; age, etc.
295.03 Minimum requirements.
295.04 Appropriation; benefits.
295.05 Admission; enrollment.
295.065 Legislative intent.
295.07 Preference in appointment and retention.
295.08 Positions for which a numerically based selection process is used.
295.085 Positions for which a numerically based selection process is not used.
295.09 Reinstatement or reemployment; promotion preference.
295.11 Investigation; administrative hearing for not employing preferred applicant.
295.123 Deserters and others; inapplicability of chapter.
295.124 State approving agency for veterans’ education and training.
295.125 Preference for admission to career training.
295.13 Disability of minority of veterans and spouse removed, benefits under Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.
295.14 Penalties.
295.155 Military retirement based on longevity.
295.16 Disabled veterans exempt from certain license or permit fee.
295.17 Identification cards.
295.186 Removal of certain forms from official records.
295.187 Florida Veteran Business Enterprise Opportunity Act.
295.188 Preference in hiring veterans for private employers.
295.21 Florida Is For Veterans, Inc.
295.22 Veterans Employment and Training Services Program.
295.23 Veterans research and marketing campaign.
295.24 Prohibited reimbursement of assessments; penalty.
295.01 Children of deceased or disabled veterans; spouses of deceased or disabled servicemembers; education.
(1) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for dependent children either of whose parents entered the Armed Forces and:
(a) Died as a result of service-connected injuries, disease, or disability sustained while on active duty; or
(b) Has been:
1. Determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its predecessor to have a service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation;
2. Determined to have a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent and is in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services; or
3. Issued a valid identification card by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in accordance with s. 295.17,

when the parents of such children have been residents of the state for 1 year immediately preceding the death or occurrence of such disability, and subject to the rules, restrictions, and limitations set forth in this section.

(2) It is also the declared policy of this state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for spouses of deceased or disabled servicemembers.
(a) The unremarried spouse of a deceased servicemember, as defined in s. 250.01, qualifies for the benefits under this section:
1. If the servicemember and his or her spouse had been residents of the state for 1 year immediately preceding the servicemember’s death and the servicemember’s death occurred under the circumstances provided in subsection (1); and
2. If the unremarried spouse applies to use the benefit within 5 years after the servicemember’s death.
(b) The dependent spouse of a disabled servicemember, as defined in s. 250.01, qualifies for the benefits under this section:
1. If the servicemember and his or her spouse have been married to each other for 1 year; and
2. If the servicemember and his or her spouse have been residents of the state for 1 year immediately preceding the occurrence of the servicemember’s disability and the disability meets the criteria set forth in subsection (1); and
3. Only during the duration of the marriage and up to the point of termination of the marriage by dissolution or annulment.

All rules, restrictions, and limitations set forth in this section shall apply.

(3) Sections 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
(4) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules for administering this section.
History.s. 1, ch. 20966, 1941; s. 1, ch. 21655, 1943; s. 1, ch. 28195, 1953; s. 1, ch. 67-455; s. 16, ch. 69-180; s. 1, ch. 82-93; s. 2, ch. 83-71; s. 12, ch. 84-114; s. 11, ch. 87-356; s. 21, ch. 88-290; s. 25, ch. 89-207; s. 6, ch. 93-268; s. 20, ch. 95-143; s. 6, ch. 2000-294; s. 948, ch. 2002-387; s. 6, ch. 2004-230; s. 1, ch. 2005-127; s. 1, ch. 2006-244.
295.015 Children of prisoners of war and persons missing in action; education.
(1) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for dependent children either of whose parents has been classified as a prisoner of war or missing in action in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States or in the capacity of civilian personnel captured while serving with the consent or authorization of the United States Government. Such educational opportunity shall be provided until such time as the parent so classified is returned alive or the parent’s remains are recovered; provided that, in order to be eligible, the parents of such children must have been residents of the state for 1 year preceding the event that led to the parent’s classification as a prisoner of war or missing in action by the United States Government.
(2) The provisions of ss. 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
History.s. 2, ch. 72-346; s. 2, ch. 82-93; s. 13, ch. 84-114; s. 26, ch. 89-207; s. 21, ch. 95-143; s. 243, ch. 95-148; s. 949, ch. 2002-387; s. 1, ch. 2007-168.
295.016 Children of servicemembers who died or became disabled in Operation Eagle Claw.
(1) It is hereby declared to be a policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for the dependent children of any servicemember who died or suffered a service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation as determined by the Veterans Administration, or who has been determined to have a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent and is in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services, in the Iranian rescue mission known as Operation Eagle Claw, which servicemember was residing in the state on April 25, 1980. A certified copy of a death certificate, a valid identification card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in accordance with s. 295.17, a letter certifying the service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation from the Veterans Administration, or a letter certifying the service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent for retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services shall be prima facie evidence of the fact that the dependent children of the servicemember are eligible for such benefits.
(2) The provisions of ss. 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
History.s. 1, ch. 81-275; s. 3, ch. 83-71; s. 12, ch. 87-356; s. 22, ch. 88-290; s. 27, ch. 89-207; s. 244, ch. 95-148; s. 950, ch. 2002-387.
295.017 Children of servicemembers who died or became disabled in the Lebanon and Grenada military arenas; educational opportunity.
(1) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for the dependent children of any servicemember who died or suffered a service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation as determined by the Veterans Administration, or who has been determined to have a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent and is in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services, while participating in a Multinational Peace Keeping Force in Lebanon during the period from September 17, 1982, through February 3, 1984, inclusive, or as a participant in Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada during the period from October 23, 1983, through November 2, 1983, inclusive, which servicemember was residing in the state during those periods of military action. A certified copy of a death certificate, a valid identification card issued in accordance with the provisions of s. 295.17, a letter certifying the service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation from the Veterans Administration, or a letter certifying the service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent for retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services shall be prima facie evidence of the fact that the dependent children of the servicemember are eligible for such benefits.
(2) The provisions of ss. 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
History.s. 1, ch. 86-177; s. 13, ch. 87-356; s. 28, ch. 89-207; s. 245, ch. 95-148; s. 951, ch. 2002-387.
295.018 Children of servicemembers who died in Newfoundland air tragedy; educational opportunity.
(1) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for the dependent children of those servicemembers killed in the crash of a military transport airplane in Gander, Newfoundland, on December 12, 1985, while returning from Mideast peacekeeping duties in the Sinai Desert, which servicemembers entered the military service from this state. A certified copy of a death certificate shall be prima facie evidence of the fact that the dependent children of the servicemembers are eligible for such benefits.
(2) The provisions of ss. 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
History.s. 2, ch. 86-177; s. 29, ch. 89-207; s. 246, ch. 95-148; s. 952, ch. 2002-387.
295.0185 Children of deceased or disabled military personnel who die or become disabled in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom; educational opportunity.
(1) It is declared to be the policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for the dependent children of those military personnel who die or suffer a service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or who are determined to have a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent and are in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services, while participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, which began on October 7, 2001, or while participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began on March 19, 2003, if such military personnel have been residents of the state during the period of military action. A certified copy of a death certificate, a valid identification card issued in accordance with the provisions of s. 295.17, a letter certifying the service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or a letter certifying the service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent for retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services is prima facie evidence that the dependent children of such military personnel are eligible for educational benefits.
(2) Sections 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 apply.
History.s. 1, ch. 2002-279; s. 25, ch. 2003-1; s. 2, ch. 2005-127.
295.019 Children of servicemembers who died in U.S.S. Stark attack.
(1) It is hereby declared to be state policy to provide educational opportunity at state expense for the dependent children of those servicemembers killed in the Iraqi missile attack on the U.S.S. Stark in the Persian Gulf on May 17, 1987, which servicemembers claimed Florida as their home of record on the date of the attack.
(2) The provisions of ss. 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
History.s. 32, ch. 88-290; s. 18, ch. 90-302; s. 247, ch. 95-148; s. 953, ch. 2002-387.
295.0195 Children of deceased or disabled military personnel who died or became disabled in the Mideast Persian Gulf military arena during hostilities with Iraq or in the military action in Panama known as Operation Just Cause.
(1) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to provide educational opportunity at state expense for the dependent children of those military personnel who died or suffered a service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or who have been determined to have a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent and are in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Forces, while participating in the Mideast Persian Gulf arena during hostilities with Iraq, which began as Operation Desert Shield on August 5, 1990, through cessation of those hostilities, inclusive, or while participating in the military action in Panama known as Operation Just Cause during December 1989, if such military personnel were residents of the state during the period of military action. A certified copy of a death certificate, a valid identification card issued in accordance with the provisions of s. 295.17, a letter certifying the service-connected 100-percent total and permanent disability rating for compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or a letter certifying the service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent for retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Forces shall be prima facie evidence of the fact that the dependent children of such military personnel are eligible for educational benefits.
(2) The provisions of ss. 295.03, 295.04, 295.05, and 1009.40 shall apply.
History.s. 2, ch. 91-166; s. 7, ch. 93-268; s. 954, ch. 2002-387.
295.02 Use of funds; age, etc.
(1) Sums appropriated and expended to carry out the provisions of s. 295.01(1) may be used to pay tuition and registration fees, board, and room rent and to buy books and supplies for the children of deceased or disabled veterans or servicemembers, as defined and limited in s. 295.01, s. 295.016, s. 295.017, s. 295.018, s. 295.0185, s. 295.019, or s. 295.0195, or of parents classified as prisoners of war or missing in action, as defined and limited in s. 295.015, who are between the ages of 16 and 22 years and who are in attendance at an eligible postsecondary education institution as defined in s. 295.04. Any child having entered upon a course of training or education under the provisions of this chapter, consisting of a course of not more than 4 years, and arriving at the age of 22 years before the completion of such course may continue the course and receive all benefits of the provisions of this chapter until the course is completed.
(2) Sums appropriated and expended to carry out the provisions of s. 295.01(2) may be used to pay tuition and registration fees, board, and room rent and to buy books and supplies for the spouses of deceased or disabled veterans or servicemembers, as defined and limited in s. 295.01, who are enrolled at an eligible postsecondary education institution as defined in s. 295.04.
(3) Notwithstanding the benefits-disbursement provision in s. 295.04, such funds shall be applicable for up to 110 percent of the number of required credit hours of an initial baccalaureate degree or certificate program for which the student is enrolled.
(4) The Department of Education shall administer this educational program subject to regulations of the department.
History.s. 2, ch. 20966, 1941; s. 1, ch. 63-124; s. 2, ch. 63-204; s. 17, ch. 69-180; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 70, ch. 72-221; s. 1, ch. 72-346; s. 1, ch. 74-211; s. 2, ch. 81-275; s. 139, ch. 83-217; s. 3, ch. 86-177; s. 3, ch. 91-166; s. 21, ch. 91-221; s. 248, ch. 95-148; s. 26, ch. 2004-357; s. 3, ch. 2005-127; s. 2, ch. 2006-244; s. 1, ch. 2010-155.
295.03 Minimum requirements.Upon failure of any student benefited by the provisions of this chapter to comply with the ordinary and minimum requirements of the institution attended, both as to discipline and scholarship, the benefits thereof shall be withdrawn as to the student and no further moneys expended for his or her benefits so long as such failure or delinquency continues.
History.s. 3, ch. 20966, 1941; s. 3, ch. 82-93; s. 4, ch. 86-177; s. 249, ch. 95-148; s. 3, ch. 2006-244.
295.04 Appropriation; benefits.
(1) The sum necessary for the purposes of this chapter shall be appropriated in the General Appropriations Act for each fiscal year, provided that no student shall receive an amount in excess of tuition and registration fees.
(2) As used in this section, the term “eligible postsecondary education institution” means an institution described in s. 1009.533.
(3)(a) A student who is enrolled in a public eligible postsecondary education institution is eligible for an award equal to the amount required to pay tuition and registration fees or the amount specified in the General Appropriations Act.
(b) A student enrolled in a nonpublic eligible postsecondary education institution is eligible for an award equal to the amount that would be required to pay for the average tuition and registration fees of a public postsecondary education institution at the comparable level or the amount specified in the General Appropriations Act.
(4) Only students in good standing in their respective institutions shall receive the benefits under this section.
History.s. 4, ch. 20966, 1941; s. 38, ch. 26869, 1951; s. 2, ch. 63-124; s. 17, ch. 65-130; s. 18, ch. 69-180; s. 1, ch. 73-305; s. 2, ch. 74-211; s. 3, ch. 82-93; s. 5, ch. 86-177; s. 2, ch. 2010-155.
295.05 Admission; enrollment.Eligibility for admission is not affected by this chapter, but all students receiving benefits under this chapter shall be enrolled according to the customary rules and requirements of the institution attended.
History.s. 5, ch. 20966, 1941; s. 3, ch. 82-93; s. 6, ch. 86-177; s. 4, ch. 2006-244.
295.065 Legislative intent.It is the intent of the Legislature to provide preference and priority in the hiring practices of this state as set forth in this chapter. All written job announcements and audio and video advertisements used by employing agencies of the state and its political subdivisions must include a notice stating that certain servicemembers and veterans, and the spouses and family members of the servicemembers and veterans, receive preference and priority in employment by the state and are encouraged to apply for the positions being filled.
History.s. 6, ch. 77-422; s. 1, ch. 98-33; s. 7, ch. 2014-1.
Note.Former s. 295.15.
295.07 Preference in appointment and retention.
(1) The state and its political subdivisions shall give preference in appointment and retention in positions of employment to:
(a) Those disabled veterans:
1. Who have served on active duty in any branch of the United States Armed Forces, have received an honorable discharge, and have established the present existence of a service-connected disability that is compensable under public laws administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; or
2. Who are receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension by reason of public laws administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Defense.
(b) The spouse of a person who has a total disability, permanent in nature, resulting from a service-connected disability and who, because of this disability, cannot qualify for employment, and the spouse of a person missing in action, captured in line of duty by a hostile force, or forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
(c) A wartime veteran as defined in s. 1.01(14), who has served at least 1 day during a wartime period. Active duty for training may not be allowed for eligibility under this paragraph.
(d) The unremarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability.
(e) The mother, father, legal guardian, or unremarried widow or widower of a member of the United States Armed Forces who died in the line of duty under combat-related conditions, as verified by the United States Department of Defense.
(f) A veteran as defined in s. 1.01(14). Active duty for training may not be allowed for eligibility under this paragraph.
(g) A current member of any reserve component of the United States Armed Forces or the Florida National Guard.
(2) The Department of Veterans’ Affairs shall adopt rules to ensure that veterans are given special consideration in the employing agency’s selection and retention processes. The rules must include the award of point values as articulated in s. 295.08, if applicable, or, where point values are not relevant, must include procedures to ensure that veterans are given special consideration at each step of the employment selection process, unless the sponsoring governmental entity is a party to a collective bargaining agreement, in which case the collective bargaining agreement must comply within 90 days following ratification of a successor collective bargaining agreement or extension of any existing collective bargaining agreement.
(3) Preference in employment and retention may be given only to eligible persons who are described in subsection (1).
(4) The following positions are exempt from this section:
(a) Those positions that are exempt from the state Career Service System under s. 110.205(2); however, all positions under the University Support Personnel System of the State University System as well as all Career Service System positions under the Florida College System and the School for the Deaf and the Blind, or the equivalent of such positions at state universities, Florida College System institutions, or the School for the Deaf and the Blind, are included.
(b) Positions in political subdivisions of the state which are filled by officers elected by popular vote or persons appointed to fill vacancies in such offices and the personal secretary of each such officer, members of boards and commissions, persons employed on a temporary basis without benefits, heads of departments, positions that require licensure as a physician, licensure as an osteopathic physician, licensure as a chiropractic physician, and positions that require that the employee be a member of The Florida Bar.
(5)(a) Each state agency shall, and each political subdivision of the state may, develop and implement a written veterans’ recruitment plan that establishes annual goals for ensuring the full use of veterans in the agency’s or political subdivision’s workforce. Each veterans’ recruitment plan must be designed to meet the established goals.
(b) The Department of Management Services shall collect statistical data from each state agency on the number of persons who claim veterans’ preference, the number of persons who are hired through veterans’ preference, and the number of persons who are hired as a result of the veterans’ recruitment plan. The department shall annually update the statistical data required by this paragraph on its website and include such statistical data in its annual workforce report.
(c) For purposes of this subsection, the veterans’ recruitment plan applies to the eligible persons described in subsection (1).
History.s. 1, ch. 24201, 1947; s. 1, ch. 70-7; s. 1, ch. 77-422; s. 1, ch. 78-372; s. 1, ch. 80-370; s. 4, ch. 87-356; s. 1, ch. 89-323; s. 3, ch. 92-80; s. 2, ch. 98-33; s. 79, ch. 99-13; s. 1, ch. 2001-273; s. 2, ch. 2003-42; s. 42, ch. 2007-217; s. 41, ch. 2013-15; s. 8, ch. 2014-1; s. 1, ch. 2016-102.
295.08 Positions for which a numerically based selection process is used.For positions for which an examination is used to determine the qualifications for entrance into employment with the state or political subdivisions in the state, 15 points shall be added to the earned ratings of a person included under s. 295.07(1)(a) or (b), 10 points shall be added to the earned ratings of a person included under s. 295.07(1)(c), (d), or (e), and 5 points shall be added to the earned rating of a person included under s. 295.07(1)(f) or (g), if the person has obtained a qualifying score on the examination for the position. The names of persons eligible for preference shall be entered on an appropriate register or list in accordance with their respective augmented ratings. However, except for classes of positions with Federal Government designations of professional or technician, the names of all persons qualified to receive a 15-point preference whose service-connected disabilities have been rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its predecessor or the United States Department of Defense to be 30 percent or more shall be placed at the top of the appropriate register or employment list, in accordance with their respective augmented ratings. The respective augmented rating is the examination score or evaluated score in addition to the applicable veteran’s preference points.
History.s. 2, ch. 24201, 1947; s. 1, ch. 77-422; s. 14, ch. 84-114; s. 5, ch. 87-356; s. 8, ch. 93-268; s. 3, ch. 98-33; s. 9, ch. 2014-1.
295.085 Positions for which a numerically based selection process is not used.In all positions in which the appointment or employment of persons is not subject to a written examination, with the exception of positions that are exempt under s. 295.07(4), first preference in appointment, employment, and retention shall be given by the state and political subdivisions in the state to a person included under s. 295.07(1)(a) or (b), and second preference shall be given to a person included under s. 295.07(1)(c), (d), (e), (f), or (g) who possess the minimum qualifications necessary to discharge the duties of the position involved.
History.s. 4, ch. 24201, 1947; s. 2, ch. 77-422; s. 3, ch. 78-372; s. 3, ch. 80-370; s. 15, ch. 84-114; s. 6, ch. 87-356; s. 2, ch. 89-323; s. 4, ch. 98-33; s. 80, ch. 99-13; s. 10, ch. 2014-1.
Note.Former s. 295.10.
295.09 Reinstatement or reemployment; promotion preference.
(1)(a) When an employee of the state or any of its political subdivisions employed in a position subject or not subject to a career service system or other merit-type system, with the exception of those positions which are exempt pursuant to s. 295.07(4), has served in the Armed Forces of the United States and is discharged or separated therefrom with an honorable discharge, the state or its political subdivision shall reemploy or reinstate such person to the same position that he or she held prior to such service in the armed forces, or to an equivalent position, provided such person returns to the position within 1 year of his or her date of separation or, in cases of extended active duty, within 1 year of the date of discharge or separation subsequent to the extension. Such person shall also be awarded preference in promotion and shall be promoted ahead of all others who are as well qualified or less qualified for the position. When an examination for promotion is utilized, such person shall be awarded preference points, as provided in s. 295.08, and shall be promoted ahead of all those who appear in an equal or lesser position on the promotional register, provided he or she first successfully passes the examination for the promotional position.
(b) The provisions of paragraph (a) shall also apply to a person who was a veteran when employed by the state or its political subdivision and who was recalled to extended active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States and was discharged or separated therefrom with an honorable discharge.
(c) The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) shall apply only to a veteran’s first promotion after reinstatement or reemployment, without exception.
(2) For the purposes of this section, “extended active duty” means active duty, other than for training, beyond the date of honorable discharge or separation, due to military requirements.
History.s. 3, ch. 24201, 1947; s. 1, ch. 77-422; s. 2, ch. 78-372; s. 2, ch. 80-370; s. 3, ch. 89-323; s. 250, ch. 95-148; s. 81, ch. 99-13.
295.11 Investigation; administrative hearing for not employing preferred applicant.
(1) The Department of Veterans’ Affairs or its designee shall, upon the written request of any person specified in s. 295.07, investigate any complaint filed with the department by such person when the person has applied to any state agency or any agency of a political subdivision in the state for a position of employment which was awarded to a nonveteran and the person feels aggrieved under this chapter. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs shall review each case and may issue an opinion to the Public Employees Relations Commission as to the merit or lack of merit in each case. The investigation must be accomplished within existing amounts appropriated to the department.
(2) Upon completion of the investigation, the department shall furnish a copy of the investigative findings to the complainant and to the agency involved.
(3) When a satisfactory resolution to the complaint is not forthcoming, any department of the state or political subdivision in the state may testify telephonically or in person at the discretion of the Public Employees Relations Commission. The complainant, however, may be represented at the hearing by counsel of his or her choice at his or her expense.
(4) Jurisdiction to effectuate the purposes of ss. 295.07-295.09 shall vest with the Public Employees Relations Commission for appropriate administrative determination. If, upon preliminary review of the Public Employees Relations Commission, the commission agrees with the department’s determination that a case lacks merit and finds, in its discretion, that there was a complete absence of justiciable issues of either law or fact raised by the veterans’ preference complaint, the Public Employees Relations Commission shall dismiss the complaint without the necessity of holding a hearing.
History.s. 5, ch. 24201, 1947; ss. 18, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 77-422; s. 4, ch. 78-372; s. 33, ch. 79-190; s. 4, ch. 80-370; s. 79, ch. 86-163; s. 8, ch. 87-356; s. 23, ch. 88-290; s. 113, ch. 92-279; s. 55, ch. 92-326; s. 251, ch. 95-148; s. 6, ch. 98-33; s. 82, ch. 99-13.
295.123 Deserters and others; inapplicability of chapter.The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any person who has been classified by any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States as a deserter or who received less than an honorable discharge upon separation or discharge from the Armed Forces.
History.s. 5, ch. 77-422.
295.124 State approving agency for veterans’ education and training.The Department of Veterans’ Affairs shall act as the state approving agency for purposes of veterans’ education and training, in accordance with 38 U.S.C. s. 1771 and the applicable annual contract between the state and the Federal Government.
History.s. 1, ch. 80-140; s. 16, ch. 84-114; s. 24, ch. 88-290.
295.125 Preference for admission to career training.
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature through enactment of this section to assist returning veterans of the Southeast Asian conflict to train themselves for a civilian future. Although the provisions of this section apply only to state-supported career center facilities and programs, it is the further intent of the Legislature to encourage privately supported career centers to join with the state in assisting our returning veterans by providing preferences for them in admission procedures and standards.
(2) In determining order of admission or acceptance for students, every career center or career program that receives state funding or support shall give preference as provided in subsection (3) to a person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States at any time during the Vietnam War, as defined in s. 1.01(14), and who has been separated therefrom under honorable conditions, if such person’s enrollment is directly related to his or her present employment or to his or her securing employment.
(3) The name of each person qualified for preference under the provisions of subsection (2) shall be placed on the waiting list for acceptance or admission, if any, in a position which would reflect the same order of preference as if the person had been placed on the waiting list 36 months previously or on the day he or she entered the Armed Forces of the United States, whichever is later.
History.s. 1, ch. 74-210; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 1, ch. 77-214; s. 17, ch. 84-114; s. 22, ch. 95-143; s. 252, ch. 95-148; s. 27, ch. 2004-357; s. 2, ch. 2014-63.
295.13 Disability of minority of veterans and spouse removed, benefits under Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.The disability of minority of any person otherwise eligible for a loan, or guaranty or insurance of a loan, pursuant to chapter 37 of Title 38 U.S.C., “Home, Farm and Business Loans,” and the disability of the minor spouse of any eligible veteran, in connection with any transaction entered into pursuant to that Act of the Congress, as heretofore or hereafter amended, shall not affect the binding effect of any obligation incurred by such eligible person or spouse as an incident to any such transaction, including incurring of indebtedness and acquiring, encumbering, selling, releasing, or conveying property, or any interest therein, if all or part of any such obligation is guaranteed or insured by the United States Government or the Veterans Administration pursuant to such act and amendments thereto; or if the Veterans Administration is the creditor, by reason of a loan or a sale pursuant to such act and amendments. This section does not create, or render enforceable, any other or greater rights or liabilities than would exist if neither such person nor such spouse were a minor.
History.s. 1, ch. 28204, 1953; s. 24, ch. 69-353; s. 18, ch. 84-114.
295.14 Penalties.
(1) When the Public Employees Relations Commission, after a hearing on notice conducted according to rules adopted by the commission, determines that a violation of s. 295.07, s. 295.08, s. 295.085, or s. 295.09(1)(a) or (b) has occurred and sustains the veteran seeking redress, the commission shall order the offending agency, employee, or officer of the state to comply with the provisions of s. 295.07, s. 295.08, s. 295.085, or s. 295.09(1)(a) or (b); and, in the event of a violation of s. 295.07, s. 295.08, s. 295.085, or s. 295.09(1)(a) or (b), the commission may issue an order to compensate the veteran for the loss of any wages and reasonable attorney’s fees for actual hours worked, and costs of all work, including litigation, incurred as a result of such violation, which order shall be conclusive on the agency, employee, or officer concerned. The attorney’s fees and costs may not exceed $10,000. The action of the commission shall be in writing and shall be served on the parties concerned by certified mail with return receipt requested.
(2) When reparation is sought through civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction, any agency, employee, or officer of the state or a political subdivision thereof found in violation of any provision of this act shall, in addition to any other edict issued by the court, be required to pay the costs of suit and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in such action and shall be required to pay as damages such amount as the court may award, any law to the contrary notwithstanding.
(3) Any employee or officer found liable pursuant to a second or subsequent violation of the provisions of this section shall forfeit his or her position.
History.s. 6, ch. 77-422; s. 5, ch. 78-372; s. 61, ch. 79-164; s. 5, ch. 80-370; s. 80, ch. 86-163; s. 9, ch. 87-356; s. 253, ch. 95-148; s. 7, ch. 98-33; s. 83, ch. 99-13.
295.155 Military retirement based on longevity.Military retirement on the basis of longevity does not disqualify a person eligible under s. 295.07 from veterans’ employment preference.
History.s. 9, ch. 98-33.
295.16 Disabled veterans exempt from certain license or permit fee.A totally and permanently disabled veteran who is a resident of Florida and honorably discharged from the Armed Forces, who has been issued a valid identification card by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in accordance with s. 295.17 or has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its predecessor to have a service-connected 100-percent disability rating for compensation, or who has been determined to have a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent and is in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the uniformed armed services is not required to pay any license or permit fee, by whatever name known, to any county or municipality in order to make improvements upon a dwelling owned by the veteran which is used as the veteran’s residence, if such improvements are limited to ramps, widening of doors, and similar improvements for the purpose of making the dwelling habitable or safe for the veteran.
History.s. 1, ch. 78-69; s. 4, ch. 83-71; s. 25, ch. 88-290; s. 9, ch. 93-268; s. 11, ch. 2006-69; s. 1, ch. 2006-250; s. 1, ch. 2009-109.
295.17 Identification cards.
(1)(a) The Department of Veterans’ Affairs may issue an identification card to any veteran who is a permanent resident of the state and who has been adjudged by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its predecessor to have a 100-percent, service-connected permanent and total disability rating for compensation, or who has been determined to have a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent and is in receipt of disability retirement pay from any branch of the United States Armed Services, upon the written request of such veteran. Such card may be used by the veteran as proof of eligibility for any benefit provided by state law for 100-percent, service-connected permanently and totally disabled veterans except those benefits provided by ss. 196.081, 196.091, and 196.24. The identification card shall bear a statement that it is unlawful for any person other than the veteran to whom it was issued to use the card.
(b) The department is responsible for design and content of the identification card and shall adopt rules and procedures relating to the eligibility and application for and issuance and control of identification cards.
(2) It is unlawful for any person to:
(a) Display, cause or permit to be displayed, or have in his or her possession any fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained identification card.
(b) Lend his or her identification card to any person or knowingly permit the use thereof by another.
(c) Display or represent any identification card which has not been issued to the person as being his or her card.
(d) Permit any unlawful use of an identification card issued to him or her.
(e) Photograph, photostat, duplicate, or in any way reproduce any identification card or facsimile thereof in such a manner that the photograph, photostat, duplicate, reproduction, or facsimile could be mistaken for a valid identification card or display or have in his or her possession any such photograph, photostat, duplicate, reproduction, or facsimile.
(f) Display or cause or permit to be displayed his or her identification card after such card has expired.
(3) Any person who violates any provision of subsection (2) is guilty of a noncriminal violation and shall be punished by a fine of $200.
History.s. 1, ch. 80-61; s. 31, ch. 81-167; s. 31, ch. 83-55; s. 14, ch. 87-356; s. 26, ch. 88-290; s. 10, ch. 93-268; s. 254, ch. 95-148; s. 1, ch. 97-14.
295.186 Removal of certain forms from official records.Any veteran of the United States Armed Forces or his or her widow or widower, attorney, personal representative, executor, or court appointed guardian has the right to request that a county recorder remove from the official records any of the following forms recorded before, on, or after the effective date of this act, by or on behalf of the requesting veteran: DD-214; DD-215; WD AGO 53; WD AGO 55; WD AGO 53-55; NAVMC 78-PD; and NAVPERS 553. The request must specify the identification page number of the form to be removed. The request shall be made in person and with appropriate identification to allow determination of the identity of the requested. The county recorder has no duty to inquire beyond the request to verify the identity of the person requesting the removal. No fee shall be charged for the removal. When the request for removal is made, the county recorder shall provide a written notice to the requesting party that the removal of the document from the official records is permanent and no further record of the document will exist in the official records of the county.
History.s. 1, ch. 2002-391.
295.187 Florida Veteran Business Enterprise Opportunity Act.
(1) SHORT TITLE.This section may be cited as the “Florida Veteran Business Enterprise Opportunity Act.”
(2) INTENT.It is the intent of the Legislature to rectify the economic disadvantage of service-disabled veterans, who are statistically the least likely to be self-employed when compared to the veteran population as a whole and who have made extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of the nation, the state, and the public, by providing opportunities for service-disabled veteran business enterprises as set forth in this section. The Legislature also intends to recognize wartime veterans and veterans of a period of war for their sacrifices as set forth in this section.
(3) DEFINITIONS.For the purpose of this section, the term:
(a) “Certified veteran business enterprise” means a business that has been certified by the Department of Management Services to be a veteran business enterprise as defined in paragraph (c).
(b) “Service-disabled veteran” means a veteran who is a permanent Florida resident with a service-connected disability as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or who has been terminated from military service by reason of disability by the United States Department of Defense.
(c) “Veteran business enterprise” means an independently owned and operated business that:
1. Employs 200 or fewer permanent full-time employees;
2. Together with its affiliates has a net worth of $5 million or less or, if a sole proprietorship, has a net worth of $5 million or less including both personal and business investments;
3. Is organized to engage in commercial transactions;
4. Is domiciled in this state;
5. Is at least 51 percent owned by one or more wartime veterans or service-disabled veterans; and
6. The management and daily business operations of which are controlled by one or more wartime veterans or service-disabled veterans or, for a service-disabled veteran having a permanent and total disability, by the spouse or permanent caregiver of the veteran.
(d) “Wartime veteran” means:
1. A wartime veteran as defined in s. 1.01(14); or
2. A veteran of a period of war, as used in 38 U.S.C. s. 1521, who served in the active military, naval, or air service:
a. For 90 days or more during a period of war;
b. During a period of war and was discharged or released from such service for a service-connected disability;
c. For a period of 90 consecutive days or more and such period began or ended during a period of war; or
d. For an aggregate of 90 days or more in two or more separate periods of service during more than one period of war.
(4) VENDOR PREFERENCE.
(a) A state agency, when considering two or more bids, proposals, or replies for the procurement of commodities or contractual services, at least one of which is from a certified veteran business enterprise, which are equal with respect to all relevant considerations, including price, quality, and service, shall award such procurement or contract to the certified veteran business enterprise.
(b) Notwithstanding s. 287.057(11), if a veteran business enterprise entitled to the vendor preference under this section and one or more businesses entitled to this preference or another vendor preference provided by law submit bids, proposals, or replies for procurement of commodities or contractual services which are equal with respect to all relevant considerations, including price, quality, and service, the state agency shall award the procurement or contract to the business having the smallest net worth.
(c) Political subdivisions of the state are encouraged to offer a similar consideration to businesses certified under this section.
(5) CERTIFICATION PROCEDURE.
(a) The application for certification as a veteran business enterprise must, at a minimum, include:
1. The name of the business enterprise applying for certification and the name of the veteran submitting the application on behalf of the business enterprise.
2. The names of all owners of the business enterprise, including owners who are wartime veterans, service-disabled veterans, and owners who are not a wartime veteran or a service-disabled veteran, and the percentage of ownership interest held by each owner.
3. The names of all persons involved in both the management and daily operations of the business, including the spouse or permanent caregiver of a veteran who has a permanent and total disability.
4. The service-connected disability rating of all persons listed under subparagraphs 1., 2., and 3., as applicable, with supporting documentation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Department of Defense.
5. Documentation of the wartime service of all persons listed under subparagraphs 1., 2., and 3., as applicable, from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Department of Defense.
6. The number of permanent full-time employees.
7. The location of the business headquarters.
8. The total net worth of the business enterprise and its affiliates. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the net worth includes personal and business investments.
(b) To maintain certification, a veteran business enterprise shall renew its certification biennially.
(c)  Chapter 120, relating to application, denial, and revocation procedures, applies to certifications under this section.
(d) A certified veteran business enterprise must notify the Department of Management Services within 30 business days after any event that may significantly affect the certification of the business, including, but not limited to, a change in ownership or change in management and daily business operations.
(e) The certification of a veteran business enterprise shall be revoked for 12 months if the Department of Management Services determines that the business enterprise violated paragraph (d). An owner of a certified veteran business enterprise whose certification is revoked may not reapply for certification under this section as an owner of any business enterprise during the 12-month revocation period.
1. During the 12-month revocation period, a veteran business enterprise whose certification has been revoked may bid on state contracts but is not eligible for any preference available under this section.
2. A veteran business enterprise whose certification has been revoked may apply for certification at the conclusion of the 12-month revocation period by complying with requirements applicable to initial certifications.
(6) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS.The department shall:
(a) Assist the Department of Management Services in establishing a certification procedure, which shall be reviewed biennially and updated as necessary.
(b) Identify eligible veteran business enterprises by any electronic means, including electronic mail or Internet website, or by any other reasonable means.
(c) Encourage and assist eligible veteran business enterprises to apply for certification under this section.
(d) Provide information regarding services that are available from the Office of Veterans’ Business Outreach of the Florida Small Business Development Center to veteran business enterprises.
(7) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES.The department shall:
(a) With assistance from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, establish a certification procedure, which shall be reviewed biennially and updated as necessary.
(b) Grant, deny, or revoke the certification of a veteran business enterprise under this section.
(c) Maintain an electronic directory of certified veteran business enterprises for use by the state, political subdivisions of the state, and the public.
(8) REPORT.The Small Business Development Center shall include in its report required by s. 288.705 the percentage of certified veteran business enterprises using the statewide contracts register.
(9) RULES.The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Management Services, as appropriate, may adopt rules as necessary to administer this section.
History.s. 1, ch. 2008-155; s. 28, ch. 2010-151; s. 2, ch. 2010-177; s. 12, ch. 2012-159.
295.188 Preference in hiring veterans for private employers.
(1) The Legislature intends to establish a permissive preference in private employment for certain veterans.
(2) A private employer may adopt an employment policy that gives preference in hiring to an honorably discharged veteran, as defined in s. 1.01(14); the spouse of a veteran with a service-connected disability, as described in s. 295.07(1)(b); the unremarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability, as described in s. 295.07(1)(d); or the unremarried widow or widower of a member of the United States Armed Forces who died in the line of duty under combat-related conditions. Such policy shall be applied uniformly to employment decisions regarding hiring and promotion.
(3) These preferences are not considered violations of any state or local equal employment opportunity law.
History.s. 11, ch. 2014-1.
295.21 Florida Is For Veterans, Inc.
(1) CREATION.There is created within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs a nonprofit corporation, to be known as “Florida Is For Veterans, Inc.,” which shall be registered, incorporated, organized, and operated in compliance with chapter 617, and which is not a unit or entity of state government. As used in this section and s. 295.22, unless the context indicates otherwise, the term “corporation” means Florida Is For Veterans, Inc. The corporation shall be a separate budget entity and is not subject to the control, supervision, or direction of the department in any manner, including, but not limited to, personnel, purchasing, transactions involving real or personal property, or budgetary matters.
(2) PURPOSE.The purpose of the corporation is to promote Florida as a veteran-friendly state that seeks to provide veterans with employment opportunities and that promotes the hiring of veterans by the business community. The corporation shall encourage retired and recently separated military personnel to remain in the state or to make the state their permanent residence. The corporation shall promote the value of military skill sets to businesses in the state, assist in tailoring the training of veterans to match the needs of the employment marketplace, and enhance the entrepreneurial skills of veterans.
(3) DUTIES.The corporation shall:
(a) Conduct research to identify the target market and the educational and employment needs of those in the target market. The corporation shall contract with at least one entity pursuant to the competitive bidding requirements in s. 287.057 and the provisions of s. 295.187 to perform the research. Such entity must have experience conducting market research on the veteran demographic. The corporation shall seek input from the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation on the scope, process, and focus of such research.
(b) Advise the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, pursuant to s. 295.23, on:
1. The target market as identified in paragraph (a).
2. Development and implementation of a marketing campaign to encourage members of the target market to remain in the state or to make the state their permanent residence.
3. Methods for disseminating information to the target market that relates to the interests and needs of veterans of all ages and facilitates veterans’ knowledge of and access to benefits.
(c) Promote and enhance the value of military skill sets to businesses.
(d) Implement the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program established by s. 295.22.
(e) Responsibly and prudently manage all funds received and ensure that the use of such funds conforms to all applicable laws, bylaws, or contractual requirements.
(f) Administer the programs created in this section and s. 295.22.
(4) GOVERNANCE.
(a) The corporation shall be governed by a nine-member board of directors. The Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall each appoint three members to the board. In making appointments, the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must consider representation by active or retired military personnel and their spouses representing a range of ages and persons with expertise in business, education, marketing, and information management.
(b) The board of directors shall annually elect a chair from among the board’s members.
(c) Each member of the board of directors shall be appointed for a term of 4 years, except that, to achieve staggered terms, the initial appointees of the Governor shall serve terms of 2 years. A member is ineligible for reappointment to the board except that a member appointed to a term of 2 years or less may be reappointed for an additional term of 4 years. The initial appointments to the board must be made by July 15, 2014. Vacancies on the board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. A vacancy that occurs before the scheduled expiration of the term of the member shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term.
(d) The Legislature finds that it is in the public interest for the members of the board of directors to be subject to the requirements of ss. 112.313, 112.3135, and 112.3143. Notwithstanding the fact that they are not public officers or employees, for purposes of ss. 112.313, 112.3135, and 112.3143, the board members shall be considered to be public officers or employees. In addition to the postemployment restrictions of s. 112.313(9), a person appointed to the board of directors may not have direct interest in a contract, franchise, privilege, project, program, or other benefit arising from an award by the corporation during the appointment term and for 2 years after the termination of such appointment. A person who accepts appointment to the board of directors in violation of this subsection, or accepts a direct interest in a contract, franchise, privilege, project, program, or other benefit granted by the corporation to an awardee within 2 years after the termination of his or her service on the board, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Further, each member of the board of directors who is not otherwise required to file financial disclosure under s. 8, Art. II of the State Constitution or s. 112.3144 shall file a statement of financial interests under s. 112.3145.
(e) Each member of the board of directors shall serve without compensation but is entitled to reimbursement for travel and per diem expenses as provided in s. 112.061 while performing his or her duties.
(f) Each member of the board of directors is accountable for the proper performance of the duties of office and owes a fiduciary duty to the people of this state to ensure that awards provided are disbursed and used as prescribed by law and contract. An appointed member of the board of directors may be removed by the officer who appointed the member for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, unexcused absence from three consecutive board meetings, arrest or indictment for a crime that is a felony or a misdemeanor involving theft or a crime of dishonesty, or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to or being found guilty of any crime.
(g) A majority of the members of the board of directors constitutes a quorum. Council meetings may be held via teleconference or other electronic means.
(5) POWERS.In addition to the powers and duties prescribed in chapter 617 and the articles and bylaws adopted thereunder, the board of directors may:
(a) Make and enter into contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient for the exercise of its powers and functions. However, notwithstanding s. 617.0302, the corporation may not issue bonds.
(b) Make expenditures, including any necessary administrative expenditure.
(c) Adopt, amend, and repeal bylaws, consistent with the powers granted to it under this section or the articles of incorporation, for the administration of the activities of the corporation, and the exercise of its corporate powers.
(d) Accept funding for its programs and activities from federal, state, local, and private sources.
(e) Adopt and register a fictitious name for use in its marketing activities.

The credit of the State of Florida may not be pledged on behalf of the corporation.

(6) PUBLIC RECORDS AND MEETINGS.The corporation is subject to the provisions of chapters 119 and 286 relating to public records and meetings, respectively.
(7) STAFFING AND ASSISTANCE.
(a) The corporation is authorized to hire or contract for all staff necessary for the proper execution of its powers and duties. All employees of the corporation shall comply with the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees under part III of chapter 112. Corporation staff must agree to refrain from having any direct interest in any contract, franchise, privilege, project, program, or other benefit arising from an award by the corporation during the term of their appointment and for 2 years after the termination of such appointment.
(b) All agencies of the state are authorized and directed to provide such technical assistance as the corporation may require to identify programs within each agency which provide assistance or benefits to veterans who are located in this state or who are considering relocation to this state.
(c) The Department of Veterans’ Affairs may authorize the corporation’s use of the department’s property, facilities, and personnel services, subject to this section. The department may prescribe by contract any condition with which the corporation must comply in order to use the department’s property, facilities, or personnel services.
(d) The department may not authorize the use of its property, facilities, or personnel services if the corporation does not provide equal employment opportunities to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin.
(8) ANNUAL REPORT.The corporation shall submit an annual progress report and work plan by December 1 to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must include:
(a) Status and summary of findings regarding the target market, veteran benefits, and any identified gaps in services.
(b) Status of the marketing campaign, delivery systems of the marketing campaign, and outreach to the target market.
(c) Status of the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program administered under s. 295.22.
(d) Proposed revisions or additions to performance measurements for the programs administered by the corporation.
(e) Identification of contracts that the corporation has entered into to carry out its duties.
(f) An annual compliance and financial audit of accounts and records for the previous fiscal year prepared by an independent certified public accountant pursuant to rules adopted by the Auditor General.
(9) DISSOLUTION.All moneys and property held by the corporation shall revert to the state if the corporation ceases to exist.
History.s. 12, ch. 2014-1.
295.22 Veterans Employment and Training Services Program.
(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.The Legislature finds that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring that each veteran who is a resident of the state finds employment that meets his or her professional goals and receives the training or education necessary to meet those goals. The Legislature also finds that connecting dedicated, well-trained veterans with businesses that need a dedicated, well-trained workforce is of paramount importance. The Legislature recognizes that veterans may not currently have the skills to meet the workforce needs of Florida employers and may require assistance in obtaining additional workforce training or in transitioning their skills to meet the demands of the marketplace. It is the intent of the Legislature that the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program coordinate and meet the needs of veterans and the business community to enhance the economy of this state.
(2) CREATION.The Veterans Employment and Training Services Program is created within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to assist in linking veterans in search of employment with businesses seeking to hire dedicated, well-trained workers. The purpose of the program is to meet the workforce demands of businesses in the state by facilitating access to training and education in high-demand fields for veterans.
(3) ADMINISTRATION.Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., shall administer the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program and perform all of the following functions:
(a) Conduct marketing and recruiting efforts directed at veterans who reside in or who have an interest in relocating to this state and who are seeking employment. Marketing must include information related to how a veteran’s military experience can be valuable to a business. Such efforts may include attending veteran job fairs and events, hosting events for veterans or the business community, and using digital and social media and direct mail campaigns. The corporation shall also include such marketing as part of its main marketing campaign.
(b) Assist veterans who reside in or relocate to this state and who are seeking employment. The corporation shall offer skills assessments to veterans and assist them in establishing employment goals and applying for and achieving gainful employment.
1. Assessment may include skill match information, skill gap analysis, resume creation, translation of military skills into civilian workforce skills, and translation of military achievements and experience into generally understood civilian workforce skills.
2. Assistance may include providing the veteran with information on current workforce demand by industry or geographic region, creating employment goals, and aiding or teaching general knowledge related to completing applications. The corporation may provide information related to industry certifications approved by the Department of Education under s. 1008.44 as well as information related to earning academic college credit at public postsecondary educational institutions for college-level training and education acquired in the military under s. 1004.096.
3. The corporation shall encourage veterans to register with the state’s job bank system and may refer veterans to local one-stop career centers for further services. The corporation shall provide each veteran with information about state workforce programs and shall consolidate information about all available resources on one website that, if possible, includes a hyperlink to each resource’s website and contact information, if available. If appropriate, a veteran shall be encouraged to participate in the Complete Florida Degree Program established under s. 1006.735.
4. Assessment and assistance may be in person or by electronic means, as determined by the corporation to be most efficient and best meet the needs of veterans.
(c) Assist Florida businesses in recruiting and hiring veterans. The corporation shall provide services to Florida businesses to meet their hiring needs by connecting businesses with suitable veteran applicants for employment. Suitable applicants include veterans who have appropriate job skills or may need additional training to meet the specific needs of a business. The corporation shall also provide information about the state and federal benefits of hiring veterans.
(d) Create a grant program to provide funding to assist veterans in meeting the workforce-skill needs of businesses seeking to hire veterans, establish criteria for approval of requests for funding, and maximize the use of funding for this program. Grant funds may be used only in the absence of available veteran-specific federally funded programs. Grants may fund specialized training specific to a particular business.
1. Grant funds may be allocated to any training provider selected by the business, including a career center, a Florida College System institution, a state university, or an in-house training provider of the business. If grant funds are used to provide a technical certificate, a licensure, or a degree, funds may be allocated only upon a review that includes, but is not limited to, documentation of accreditation and licensure. Instruction funded through the program terminates when participants demonstrate competence at the level specified in the request but may not exceed 48 months. Preference shall be given to target industry businesses, as defined in s. 288.106, and to businesses in the defense supply, cloud virtualization, or commercial aviation manufacturing industries.
2. Costs and expenditures for the grant program must be documented and separated from those incurred by the training provider. Costs and expenditures shall be limited to $8,000 per veteran trainee. Eligible costs and expenditures include:
a. Tuition and fees.
b. Curriculum development.
c. Books and classroom materials.
d. Rental fees for facilities at public colleges and universities, including virtual training labs.
e. Overhead or indirect costs not to exceed 5 percent of the grant amount.
3. Before funds are allocated for a request pursuant to this section, the corporation shall prepare a grant agreement between the business requesting funds, the educational institution or training provider receiving funding through the program, and the corporation. Such agreement must include, but need not be limited to:
a. Identification of the personnel necessary to conduct the instructional program, the qualifications of such personnel, and the respective responsibilities of the parties for paying costs associated with the employment of such personnel.
b. Identification of the match provided by the business, including cash and in-kind contributions, equal to at least 50 percent of the total grant amount.
c. Identification of the estimated duration of the instructional program.
d. Identification of all direct, training-related costs.
e. Identification of special program requirements that are not otherwise addressed in the agreement.
f. Permission to access aggregate information specific to the wages and performance of participants upon the completion of instruction for evaluation purposes. The agreement must specify that any evaluation published subsequent to the instruction may not identify the employer or any individual participant.
4. A business may receive a grant under the Quick-Response Training Program created under s. 288.047 and a grant under this section for the same veteran trainee. If a business receives funds under both programs, one grant agreement may be entered into with CareerSource Florida, Inc., as the grant administrator.
(e) Contract with one or more entities to administer an entrepreneur initiative program for veterans in this state which connects business leaders in the state with veterans seeking to become entrepreneurs.
1. The corporation shall award each contract in accordance with the competitive bidding requirements in s. 287.057 to one or more public or private universities that:
a. Demonstrate the ability to implement the program and the commitment of university resources, including financial resources, to such programs.
b. Have a military and veteran resource center.
c. Have a regional small business development center in the Florida Small Business Development Center Network.
d. As determined by the corporation, have been nationally recognized for commitment to the military and veterans.
2. Each contract must include performance metrics, including a focus on employment and business creation. Each university must coordinate with any entrepreneurship center located at the university. The university may also work with an entity offering related programs to refer veterans or to provide services. The entrepreneur initiative program may include activities and assistance such as peer-to-peer learning sessions, mentoring, technical assistance, business roundtables, networking opportunities, support of student organizations, speaker series, or other tools within a virtual environment.
(4) DUTIES OF ENTERPRISE FLORIDA, INC.Enterprise Florida, Inc., shall provide information about the corporation and its services to prospective, new, expanding, and relocating businesses seeking to conduct business in this state. Enterprise Florida, Inc., shall, to the greatest extent possible, collaborate with the corporation to meet the employment needs, including meeting the job-creation requirements, of any business receiving assistance or services from Enterprise Florida, Inc.
History.s. 13, ch. 2014-1; s. 10, ch. 2015-98.
295.23 Veterans research and marketing campaign.
(1) The Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation shall:
(a) Provide input to Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., on research to identify the target market and the educational and employment needs of those in the target market.
(b) Develop and conduct a marketing campaign to encourage retired and recently separated military personnel to remain in the state or to make the state their permanent residence.
(c) Develop a process for the dissemination of information to the target market and targeting that information to the interests and needs of veterans of all ages to facilitate veterans’ knowledge of and access to benefits.
(2) The Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation shall seek advice from Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., on the scope, process, and focus of the marketing campaign. Input must be received before invitations to bid, requests for proposals, or invitations to negotiate for contracted services are advertised. Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., shall be kept informed at each stage of the marketing campaign and may provide recommendations to the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation to ensure that the effort effectively reaches veterans.
(3) For the purposes of this section, the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation shall expend $1 million annually on marketing the state to veterans as a permanent home and on information dissemination to improve veterans’ knowledge of and access to benefits through a combination of existing funds appropriated to the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation by the Legislature and private funds.
History.s. 14, ch. 2014-1.
295.24 Prohibited reimbursement of assessments; penalty.A person who is recognized as an agent or attorney pursuant to 38 U.S.C. s. 5904 and representing a claimant may not, directly or indirectly, request, receive, or obtain reimbursement from the claimant for assessments charged to the agent or attorney by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs pursuant to 38 U.S.C. s. 5904(6)(A). A person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 2016-228.