Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed legislation on Friday to help veterans, including tax relief on retirement income.

With a National Guard aircraft behind him, the former U.S. Army captain and paratrooper signed the bills in a hangar at Martin State Airport, which is home to the Maryland Air National Guard, in Middle River, Maryland.

“We need to make sure that ‘thank you for your service’ is more than just a quote, or something that we always put at the end of a sentence. We need to support our military community,” Moore said, adding that veterans will have second and third careers. “These are people who will start businesses. These are people who will buy homes.”

Moore, a Democrat, prioritized the tax relief measure for military retirees called the Keep Our Heroes Home Act, because it’s designed as an incentive for veterans to stay in Maryland, instead of moving to another state with more favorable tax conditions.

The law will exempt up to $20,000 of military retirement income for Maryland residents who are 55 and older. It will exempt up to $12,500 for retirees who are younger than 55. That’s an increase in exempted income the state currently allows: $15,000 for 55 and over and $5,000 for those under 55.

The state estimates that about 33,000 military retirees will be eligible to subtract additional retirement income as a result of the new law. It takes effect July 1 and applies to tax year 2023 and beyond.

The governor initially proposed higher exemptions, but the measure was scaled back by the General Assembly. Moore proposed exempting up to $40,000 for all veterans.

Moore also signed into law a program that will reimburse the state’s National Guard members up to $60 a month for health care and dental plans. The Health Care for Heroes Act takes effect July 1.

Another bill signed by the governor will require the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs to bury an eligible spouse or dependent, including a child or parent, of a veteran in a state veterans cemetery without charge.

The governor also signed into law a bill that creates a checkoff on income tax returns for the Maryland Veterans Trust Fund, which provides grants or loans to veterans and their families.

The state also will study on expediting the state licensing process for service members, veterans and military spouses, under a bill signed into law by Moore.

Moore also signed a bill that will require a child on the registry for the Waiver for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to remain on the registry, if the child’s family moves out of the state for military service.

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