- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - The widow of a soldier killed in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting on Monday got a surprise: relief from a nearly $6,000 tax bill thanks to three anonymous donors.

According to The Norman Transcript (https://bit.ly/1jxXRq3 ), a deputy treasurer in Cleveland County this week presented the unsuspecting widow with the receipts of her past-due property taxes, paid in full.

“I am so glad that we can do this and that people stepped up,” Cleveland County Treasurer Jim Reynolds said.

Reynolds said he learned of Jennifer’s situation two and a half months ago and quickly took action.

With the help of his brother, Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, and the Senate author of the bill, Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, the three constructed House Bill 2621, which outlines rules and exemptions for widows with spouses who have been killed in the line of duty. Though the bill has not been heard yet, it is scheduled for the last week of session.

Reynolds said if the bill passes, widows like Hunt will not have to pay property taxes.

Jennifer Hunt had been married just short of three months when her husband, Jason, was killed in the rampage at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, when a U.S. Army major fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others.

“I’ve never had help before,” she said, “but this bill isn’t just for me; this is for other people.”

Overwhelmed with information, Jennifer Hunt said her first time in the treasurer’s office was one that left her with too many unanswered questions after her husband was killed five years earlier.

Unexpected bills in the mail contradicted what she was hearing about the rules of tax exemptions for widows, stirring stress and fears of potentially losing her house, she said.

“I was told in the beginning that I was exempt,” she said, “but I found out later that that was not the case for me.”

Though the exemptions are in place for widows in other states, the current bill drafted by Mike Reynolds and Bercheen could put Oklahoma on the map along with those other states, including Florida, Washington, Texas and Arizona.


Information from: The Norman Transcript, https://www.normantranscript.com

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