Norris Delivering for Veterans & Their Families

A Column from Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport)

This year, as I was participating in Veterans Day ceremonies, I was reminded how special it is to live in the greatest country in the world having the freedom to move about, express our thoughts and participate in democracy without fear or intimidation. That’s just not the case in so many parts of our world, but it is here due to the sacrifices and commitment of our veterans and current members of our military. If these men and women did not step forward for more than two centuries our country, and many democracies around the globe, would be far different than it is today.

As your state assemblyman, it has been my honor to meet and get to know many veterans throughout the 144th Assembly District. I am inspired by their courage and service, not just in our military but in their continued service to our community and making Western New York a place we love to call home. It's that sense of home we celebrate this November. All of our lives are shaped by someone who answered the call, and we remain grateful for these brave service members who placed country, freedom and democracy over their individual self.

One thing I can do to show our community’s gratitude for veterans is to work on initiatives that assists them. That’s why I sponsor legislation to reduce the burden of taxation on veterans, including making permanent the tax exemption for those who served during the Cold War (A.2289), allowing any local government the ability to extend a property tax exemption to those who have served for at least 10 years (A.2758), and exempting certain senior veterans from New York state income taxes (A.2050).

Another initiative I am proud to sponsor provides academic credit at state-operated institutions of higher learning for completed military coursework (A.1474). In my view, the training and education our military received in service to our nation should be applicable to their academic pursuits. For so many, having a degree helps transition from soldier to civilian workforce — and I believe our state should fully support that transition.

Additionally, I am proud to have sponsored legislation that was just signed into law to honor our veterans and Gold Star families by allowing them free access to public campsites, parks and other places of recreation across our state (A.6084-A).

Every veteran should have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream because they’ve risked it all to provide us with that opportunity already. Be assured I will continue to be an advocate for our veterans and fight for common sense measures to ensure they receive the proper resources and assistance. This November, please join me in thanking our veterans, and as you gather to give thanks this Thanksgiving, please keep our military in your prayers. We are so fortunate to live here in Western New York, in the greatest nation on earth, and that’s thanks in no small part to our veterans. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving.