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Legislation aims to protect financial freedoms for armed service members

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A bill headed to Governor Kay Ivey's desk is aimed at protecting financial freedom for the youngest members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

In Alabama, you have to be nineteen to open your own checking or savings account, or borrow money without another adult co-signing it. But Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest) says he sought change when he heard about a problem that causes for some young military members.

"There have been instances where soldiers have gone off, they've been deployed for six months," explained Whitt. "They come back and their account has been drained by some family member."

He says a new bill he helped usher through would stop that by providing an exception for active service members who want to open accounts or take out non-educational loans.

"This bill or piece of legislation will now allow you, at the age of 17 to come in and control your own personal finances," said Whitt. "It will protect our service men and women and allow them to protect their own personal finances."

Whitt believes that this will fill a void and is a necessary change in banking and help those who deploy make sure their money is safely in their own hands.

"If a soldier is mature enough to carry a weapon and defend our country, then he ought to be able to own his own checking account," he asserted.

We're told there would be no way for people under 19 to do this online. The exemption would apply to all active service members. Rep. Whitt said the bank or credit union would have to check their documents before opening new accounts.

"Open it up in person, show valid id card and a valid military id card."

There were no dissenting votes on the bill from either chamber of the Alabama Legislature, Whitt said. That is something he believes speaks to the need for it.

"It's a good bill for our military," he stated. "I just thought, 'Hey, this is something I need to get behind.' It makes sense.'"

The bill passed unanimously and is now on its way to Governor Kay Ivey. Representative Whitt expects her to sign it. The law would take effect three months after her signature.

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