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Legislative Notes
10/26/20 Update



FEDERAL

 

LEGISLATIVE DIVISION UPDATE
Week ending October 17th, 2020

Congress
The focus of Capitol Hill this week was on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court nomination hearing. Committee chair Sen. Graham (R-SC) on Thursday announced the committee will vote on October 22.

However, in the background, House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have continued negotiating another coronavirus stimulus package. The White House appears to back a large, comprehensive package. However, GOP lawmakers are pushing back, expressing concern over the exploding federal debt. Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) says he will again bring up his smaller bill focused on expanded unemployment insurance, small businesses, schools and hospitals. While Democrats have already expressed opposition to that approach, it remains to be seen if they will vote against it just two weeks before the election (and while early voting is already occurring throughout much of the country).

Mnuchin, on CNBC Thursday morning, said he intends to tell Pelosi the White House is unwilling to let differences in spending on a national testing plan stand in the way of getting to an agreement. Despite that glimmer of hope, it is unlikely any agreement will be reached before the November 3 elections.

Army Secretary McCarthy says he expects Congress to finish the conference on the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December.

Upcoming Hearings

• On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing: “VA MISSION Act: Assessing Progress Implementing Title I.”

Grassroots
The National Legislative Division (NLD) uses VoterVoice as its advocacy platform for connecting American Legion members with members of Congress. From October 10th to October 16th eight hundred and fourteen (814) members subscribed to receive action alerts while four (4) unsubscribed. There are now 24,853 members and supporters signed up to receive action alerts.
On Thursday, October 8, the NLD launched a new VoterVoice Campaign to encourage members to email their representatives and senators in support of a bill that would require VA to designate one week a year as Buddy Check Week (modeled directly after TAL Buddy Check Program).
The campaign was first placed in this article highlighting the bills and was again sent to members through the National Commander on Tuesday, October 13th. It was also shared with the Legislative Commission and Council this week. Please share it with your networks so we can reach the largest amount of people! Below is the link and if you have any question feel free to email grassroots@legion.org.

As of October 16th, 738 members have taken action and sent 2,207 messages to congress.
https://votervoice.net/AmericanLegion/Campaigns/77447/Respond

Legislative AARs

• On Monday, October 12, NLD staff participated in a VSO Meeting on VBA Claims, Appeals, and Legislative Concerns.
• On Tuesday, October 13, NLD staff participated in a Government Affairs Leadership Weekly Meeting.
• On Tuesday, October 13, NLD staff participated in a conference call with the Senate Majority Steering Committee to discuss what Congress will be looking to accomplish in the coming week.
• On Tuesday, October 13, NLD staff participated in a conference call with the TEAM Coalition to discuss efforts on a variety of issues concerning Toxic Exposure.
• On Tuesday, October 13, NLD staff attended The House Committee on Veterans Affairs bi-weekly Student Veterans conference call discussing current legislative efforts that affect student veterans and their families. The committee is currently focused on emergency legislation to get veterans back to work through reeducation and training programs.
• On Wednesday, October 14, NLD staff participated in a webinar titled “China and Southeast Asia: Balanced and Centered?.”
• On Wednesday, October 14, NLD attended a VA Webinar on self-directed violence among marginalized communities within the veteran community. This call's primary focus was to identify the possible additional negative implications COVID-19 may have on this population.
• On Wednesday, October 14, NLD staff participated in a call with Arnold Ventures and Veterans Education Success to discuss joint efforts to advance legislation that helps student veterans and ensure educational institutions are not defrauding VA and student veterans.
• On Thursday, October 15, NLD staff participated in an HVAC majority/VSO/MSO Discussion.
• On Thursday, October 15, NLD staff participated in a webinar titled “A Conversation with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the Readiness of the U.S. Armed Forces”.
• On Thursday, October 15, NLD participated in the Monthly House Veteran Affairs Committee (HVAC) Majority phone conference with other various Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), Military Service Organizations (MSOs), and veteran advocacy groups. This particular call calls for organizations to begin thinking about their primary concerns they want the incoming 117th Congress to address.
• On Thursday, October 15, NLD staff attended a webinar presented by The Heritage Foundation entitled “A Conversation with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the Readiness of the U.S. Armed Forces.” Sec. Esper presented his plan for a modern military focused on increased shipbuilding capabilities and cyber warfare.
• On Friday, October 16, NLD attended a VA Webinar on mental health disparities among ethnic minorities within the veteran and military community. This call covers the impacts of racial discrimination against servicemembers and veterans in health care settings and cultural implications that may influence the accessibility or quality of care.

Lawrence Montreuil, Legislative Director The American Legion Legislative Division (202) 263-2981



116th Congress (2019-2020)

Active Bills Since Last Report

H.R.2898 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate a week as "Buddy Check Week" for the purpose of outreach and education concerning peer wellness checks for veterans. Sponsor: Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18] (Introduced 05/22/2019) Cosponsors: (30) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: House - 06/11/2019 Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

S.4657 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as "Buddy Check Week" for the purpose of outreach and education concerning peer wellness checks for veterans, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen. Ernst, Joni [R-IA] (Introduced 09/23/2020) Cosponsors: (6) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: Senate - 09/23/2020 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.


Help support this Buddy Check Bill by going to the VoterVoice Campaign website:

 ehttps://votervoice.net/AmericanLegion/Campaigns/77447/Respond

and take advantage of the easy to use method there to urge your Senators and Representatives to vote “YES” for these “Buddy Check Week” Bills.

H.R.561 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Protecting Business Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2019 Sponsor: Rep. Bergman, Jack [R-MI-1] (Introduced 01/15/2019) Cosponsors: (20) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: 10/20/2020 Presented to President.

H.R.925 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) The Heroes Act Sponsor: Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5] (Introduced 01/30/2019) Cosponsors: (34) Committees: House - Natural Resources Committee Reports: H. Rept. 116-284 Latest Action: House - 10/01/2020 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

H.R.1812 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act Sponsor: Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1] (Introduced 03/18/2019) Cosponsors: (2) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs Committee Reports: H. Rept. 116-75 Latest Action: 10/20/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-176.

H.R.2359 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Whole Veteran Act Sponsor: Rep. Lamb, Conor [D-PA-17] (Introduced 04/25/2019) Cosponsors: (2) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs Committee Reports: H. Rept. 116-71 Latest Action: 10/20/2020 Presented to President.

H.R.4183 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Identifying Barriers and Best Practices Study Act Sponsor: Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17] (Introduced 08/13/2019) Cosponsors: (10) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: 10/20/2020 Presented to President.

H.R.6168 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020 Sponsor: Rep. Luria, Elaine G. [D-VA-2] (Introduced 03/10/2020) Cosponsors: (4) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: 10/20/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-178.


H.R.8337 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act Sponsor: Rep. Lowey, Nita M. [D-NY-17] (Introduced 09/22/2020) Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House - Appropriations; Budget Latest Action: 10/01/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-159.

S.785 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 Sponsor: Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT] (Introduced 03/13/2019) Cosponsors: (53) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: 10/17/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-171.

S.4072 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)A bill to designate the clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Bend, Oregon, as the "Robert D. Maxwell Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic". Sponsor: Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR] (Introduced 06/25/2020) Cosponsors: (1) Committees: Senate - Veterans' Affairs Latest Action: 10/13/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-169. (TXT | PDF)


S.Res.737 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)A resolution expressing support for the designation of September 30, 2020, as "National Veterans Suicide Prevention Day". Sponsor: Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA] (Introduced 09/30/2020) Cosponsors: (3) Latest Action: Senate - 09/30/2020 Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Voice Vote. (consideration: CR S5998; text: CR S5985-5986)

For any Federal Bill Details go to:
Library of Congress - https://www.congress.gov/search?q=%7B%22congress%22%3A%22114%22%2C%22source%22%3A%22legislation%22%2C%22search%22%3A%22sjr21%22%7D

 AL Legislative Center: http://capwiz.com/legion/issues/bills/?bill=66103631



NEW JERSEY

Remember to vote for Public question No. 2 on the back of NJ Ballot. This NJ Constitutional Amendment will provide Veteran benefits for All NJ veterans.

2020-2021 Bills – 218th Legislative Session

The Governor signed two bills into law that affect nursing homes, including veteran facilities, throughout New Jersey.

S 2785 - This bill provides for each long term care facility in New Jersey, to adopt and implement written policies and have appropriate technology, staff and other capabilities in place to prevent the social isolation of facility residents during times of public emergency.
It further provides to require the social isolation prevention policies adopted by each long term facility to authorize and include specific protocols and procedures to encourage and enable residents of the facility to engage in in-person contact, communications and religious and recreational activities with other facility residents and with family members, friends and other external support systems, except when such in-person contact or activities are prohibited, restricted or limited as permitted by federal and State statute, rule or regulation. To read more of this law, go to: njleg.org and follow the prompts.

S 2712 - This bill requires nursing homes to maintain certain minimum direct care staff-to-resident ratios. Which briefly are: (1) one certified nurse to every eight residents for day shift; (2) one direct staff member to every 10 residents for the evening shift, provided no fewer that half of all staff members are to be certified nurse aides, and each staff member will sign in to work as a certified nursed aide and will perform certified nurses aide duties; (3) one direct care staff member to every 14 residents for the night shift. provided that each direct care staff member will sign in to work as a certified nurse aide and will perform nurse aide duties.
This bill sets forth a methodology for computing the appropriate ratios. You can find the complete law, at: njleg.org, as above.

Joseph M. Gugliuzza (Gull-you-za)
Dept. Legislative Chairman



Active Bills Since Last Report


A1025/S2968 Changes definition of veteran for civil service hiring preference. Latest Action: 10/19/2020 Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd Reading

A1090/S2736 Provides gross income tax credit to certain totally and permanently disabled veterans for rent constituting property taxes. Latest Action: Senate: 10/19/2020 Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd Reading and Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee

A3123 Allows veteran or personal representative to withdraw honorable discharge papers from county clerk. Latest Action: 10/8/2020 Reported out of Assembly Committee, 2nd Reading

A3566 Aca (1R)/S2067 Requires DMVA notify certain veteran organizations and county officers of names of persons buried or cremated in State veteran cemeteries. Latest Action: 10/8/2020 Reported out of Assembly Comm. with Amendments, 2nd Reading.

A4007/S2785 Scs (SCS) Requires long-term care facilities, as condition of licensure, to implement policies to prevent social isolation of residents. Latest Action: 8/27/2020 Passed by the Senate (39-0); 9/24/2020 Passed Assembly (Passed Both Houses)

A4628/S2821 Sca (1R) Requires Adjutant General of DMVA create program for veterans to receive evaluation and treatment for PTSD, total brain injury, or traumatic brain injury. Latest Action: Senate: 10/19/2020 Reported from Senate Committee with Amendments, 2nd Reading and Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

A4636/S2910 Provides free admission to State parks and forests, and certain historic sites and historic properties for certain veterans on Veterans Day. Latest Action: Senate: 10/19/2020 Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd Reading and Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee

A4652/S2712 ScaSca (2R) Establishes minimum direct care staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes. Latest Action: 7/22/2020 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. 9/24/2020 Passed by the Senate (26-12);
9/24/2020 Passed Assembly (Passed Both Houses) (51-26-1).

A4870/S1454 Sca (1R) Allows shore municipalities to provide spouse and dependent children of veterans free or reduced cost access to beaches. Latest Action: 10/22/2020 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee; Senate: 10/19/2020 Reported from Senate Committee with Amendments, 2nd Reading

S171 Establishes grant program for homeless veterans’ shelters. Latest Action: 10/19/2020 Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd Reading and Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.


For Details of NJ Legislative bills go to “NJ Legislature”
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/Default.asp