COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate passed a bill that will exempt disabled veterans from paying income tax on their disability severance pay.

The bipartisan legislation, Substitute House Bill 18, received unanimous support in the Senate.

“Our veterans have made many sacrifices to protect their fellow citizens and advance freedom around the world,” Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said in a news release. “This is a long-overdue change and is the least we can do for heroes who have given so much for our country.”

The bill includes a one-time retroactive tax credit to refund veterans who were forced to pay the tax. This refund will extend to payments as far back as Jan. 17, 1991. Veterans will have a two-year window to claim this refund.

The legislation will be sent to the House for concurrence and then sent to Gov. Mike DeWine if passed. The House’s version of the bill also passed unanimously, so the chamber is expected to concur. Lawmakers will meet again in January.

The bill’s primary sponsors are Reps. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, and Erica Crawley, D-Columbus. When the bill passed in the House in March, Vitale noted that the legislation was supported by the Central Ohio Defense Group, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

“Let’s not have Ohio be a state that taxes veterans who were injured while serving our great state and our great nation,” Vitale said in a news release. “It’s all about the vets.”

Crawley said her experience as a Navy veteran, and those of her family members who also served, led her to sponsor it.

“I am proud that my first bill to pass the House is bipartisan and an example of what the Ohio General Assembly can achieve when we all work together,” she said in a news release.

Federal legislation in 2016 made the same changes, but for the federal income tax.

Earlier this month, DeWine signed legislation designed to help the spouses of active duty military members. This legislation established occupational licensing reciprocity for all spouses of military members, which means that Ohio would grant licenses to a person if he or she had a valid license in another state. That person would still need to pass a background check if that license required one.

By Tyler Arnold

The Center Square