The following comments are provided by TNVET concerning the current TN Legislative Items listed in the document below:
The attachment comes from a database prepared by the state legislature to provide updates on bills. The description of each bill is created when the bill is generated, but doesn't always reflect what is going on with amendments, which may make the bill vary significantly.
For example, HR 322/SB 521 was a bill to give 100% P&T disabled veterans three free nights stay at our state parks. Sherry Pickering reported that this bill was amended in one of the subcommittees and now requests 50% off of a stay in state parks, again, for 100% P&T disabled veterans.
What gets most of our veteran bills left in a committee at the end of the year is the dreaded "fiscal note". A fiscal note comes from the Comptrollers office and assigns an estimated cost of the bill (how much the state would lose, or gain, in revenue). These estimates can be pretty enlightening at what they consider the cost to be, even with input from the affected Department. For example, in the bills noted above, there would be a loss of revenue for the x number of veterans stays.
(Note- We think the number of 100% P&T sited in fiscal note is high, but not sure where they got their information).
In almost every case, if there is a fiscal note which the governor has not funded on a bill, it stands little to no chance of passing. I don't know if that is true for EVERY bill, but it seems that way for veteran-related bills. HR 322 has been placed on House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee for 4/14/2021 - that committee is where the "dollar meets the road".
For further study of a specific bill, go to Tennessee General Assembly Search (tn.gov) and type in the bill number (ie SB 1183 our bill for VA leave time). When the bill page comes up, look at the amendments and fiscal note pages for further information.
Middle TN Chapter Legislative Affairs Report for April 2021.
More than 100 Soldiers assigned to the Tennessee National Guard’s 252nd Military Police Company returned home Friday, March 26, after an 11-month overseas deployment as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
SB0793/HB0442-As introduced, enacts the "Major Trevor Joseph Act," which requires the department to provide burial services for a person who died while on active duty with the armed forces and is being interred in a state veterans cemetery on a date requested by the family members of the person if the department is given notice of the burial at least 72 hours in advance of the burial. Placed on Senate Consent Calendar 2 for 3/29/2021. (Last action on companion, Placed behind the budget. (This will most likely kill this bill).
HB0082 by Lamberth (SB0754 by Johnson) As introduced, establishes state employment protections for members of the national guard, state guard, and civil air patrol called to active state duty equivalent to the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) for members of the national guard called to federal active service. Received from House, Passed on First Consideration (Last action on companion, Sponsor(s) Added.
Middle TN Chapter Legislative Affairs Report for January 2021.
Veterans Legislation enacted in 2020
Veterans Education Programs (Public Law No: 116-128, Mar. 21, 2020). Directs the VA to treat certain programs of education that have been converted to distance learning because of emergencies and health-related situations in the same manner as programs of education pursued at educational institutions.
Student Veterans Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (Public Law No: 116-140, Apr. 28, 2020). Provides a variety of education programs and assistance for veterans during the covered period from March 1 to Dec. 21, 2020, because of the pandemic.
Ryan Kules and Paul Benne Specialty Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-154, Aug. 8, 2020). Provides improvements to VA’s adaptive housing and educational assistance programs.
Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Action of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-153, Aug. 8, 2020). Establishes grants and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal governments to develop and maintain veterans’ treatment court programs to help veterans charged with nonviolent crimes receive the help and the benefits they need.
Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-171, Oct. 17, 2020). Improves mental health care and suicide prevention programs in the VA.
Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act (Public Law No: 116-177, Oct. 20, 2020). Requires the comptroller general to assess the effectiveness of all agreements the VA has entered, including non-VA organizations related to suicide prevention and mental health services.
Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act (Public Law No: 116-177, Oct. 20, 2020). Requires the VA to expand readjustment counseling and mental health services through its Vet Center Program.
Whole Veteran Act (Public Law No: 116-185, Oct. 30, 2020). Requires the VA to submit a report to Congress on advancing its whole health initiative to transform the veterans’ health care system.
VA Website Accessibility Act of 2019 (Public Law No: 116-213, Dec. 4, 2020). Requires VA to study and report on the VA website’s accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
Veterans Comprehensive, Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act of 2020 (Public Law No: 116-214, Dec. 5, 2020). Enhances transition assistance services and suicide prevention programs as well as improves care and services for women veterans.
On 5 February hundreds of Veterans descended on the TN State Capitol in support of a number of important legislative initiatives. Many thanks to the Women Veterans of America Chapter in Clarksville for taking the lead on this event for 2020.
MOAA was very well represented at the event with five Chapters (Chattanooga Chapter, Fort Campbell Chapter, Memphis Chapter, Middle TN Chapter, and the Stones River Chapter) in attendance. MTC was represented by Lt. Col. Scott Findley, USAF; COL John Furgess, USA; LTC Doug Gilbert, USA; COL Doug Minton, USA; LTC Mike Patenaude, USA; Maj. Gen. Carl Schneider, USAF; Lt. Col. Karon Uzzell-Baggett, USAF; LTC Thad Vann, USA; and of course COL Sam Whitson, USA who was in session as a State Representative. (Pictured above from left to right: LTC Pete Warner, USA(Pres. Stones River Chapter);Lt.Col. Scott Findley, LTC Doug Gilbert, MajGen. Carl Schneider, COL Doug Minton, and LTC Thad Vann - all MTC members).
Middle TN Chapter Non-Partisan Policy
The Middle TN Chapter Board and Membership has a mandate to always remain politically nonpartisan as an affiliate organization of MOAA National. As such, we do not support or oppose any candidate for political office. We will periodically provide notice that a member is continuing to serve by running for office; however this is not to be construed as an endorsement of his or her political views.
Normally during this time frame each year we would organize visits to our elected officials when they are home during Congressional break and when the TN State Legislature is out of session. However, this being an election year we are unable to accomplish these tasks without being drawn into the election fray.
So, while the Chapter cannot become actively involved in supporting a candidate, we whole heartedly support the individual involvement of our members on a personal basis. An informed and active electorate is important to the success of our state and nation, so it is up to each of us to become informed on the issues and to vote and encourage all that you know to do so as well.