Legislative Notes

7/30/18 Update

FEDERAL

 

 

NDAA:

House and Senate conferees convened their first official meeting this month to resolve differences in the two FY19 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA). Leaders remain confident that the conference report will be released before the August recess.  The Senate version contains some major changes in military personnel management and Military Health System (MHS) reform that will need to be negotiated.

 

VA Community Care

The minibus conference meeting was postponed due to lack of agreement on how to pay for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covered care provided in the community.  February’s Bipartisan Budget Act moved the Choice program to the discretionary side of the budget.  However, the appropriations bill in the minibus package does not fully fund the program, and spending caps are too low for the expected expenditures. That leaves Choice with a $1.6 billion shortfall for FY19.  The MISSION Act, which consolidates all of the VA’s community care programs into a single program, would lack $8.67 billion in FY20 (when it starts) and $9.5 billion the following year.

 

As it currently stands, budget caps would not accommodate the higher spending amounts. Without an increase to those caps, the VA would either have to cut back on community care (which accounts for about a third of all health care covered by the Department) or reduce other programs.

 

A proposal from Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Shelby (AL) and ranking member Sen. Leahy (VT) would increase the budget caps by the amounts of the expected shortfalls.  This proposal has received the support of 33 veteran organizations, most notably, The American Legion.

 

House Veterans Affairs Committee Activity

This month the committee officially created the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization.  This subcommittee, consisting of three Republicans and two Democrats, will primarily focus on conducting oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) implementation of the new electronic health record system from Cerner. Chaired by Rep. Banks (IN), the committee will be composed of Rep. Coffman (CO), Rep. Bergman (MI), Rep. Lamb (PA) and Rep. Peters (CA).

 

The committee also reported ten bills to the full House, most of which dealt with health care issues. One bill would allow the VA to pay for medical foster homes for veterans choosing to live in that setting rather than a nursing home.  That bill would also create a new administration within the VA focused on veterans’ economic opportunity and transition to civilian life.  The new administration is a particular pet project of committee chairman Rep. Roe (TN).

 

According to the chairman, over the last 18 months, the committee has reported 82 pieces of legislation to the full House.  Of those, 22 have been signed into law.

 

Soon after the committee created the new subcommittee, the VA issued a press release touting its new Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM), established last month.  This office will manage the preparation, deployment and maintenance of the new EHR system.  Genevieve Morris will lead the office. She will be working on details from the Department of Health and Human Services, where she has been serving as principal deputy national coordinator.

 

The full committee marked up the following pieces of legislation and reported them out to the full House.  The Health Subcommittee had considered all of them previously.

 

Legislation

·        HR 2409, by Rep. Costello (PA): to allow service members to terminate their cable, satellite television, and Internet accounts while deployed.

·         HR 2787, Veterans-Specific Education for Tomorrow’s Medical Doctors (VET MD) Act, by Rep. Kaptur (D-OH): creates 3-year pilot program in at least five VA medical centers to provide undergraduate students a clinical observation experience

·         HR 5538, by Rep. Peters (CA): concerning VA educational benefits and accounting for service

·         HR 5649, Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Bill” Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act of 2018, by Rep. Arrington (TX): to improve the transition assistance program by the VA

·         HR 5693, Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act, by Rep. Higgins (LA): creates a 3-year pilot program allowing veterans to choose to transfer from a nursing home to a medical foster home

·        HR 5864, VA Hospitals Establishing Leadership Performance (VA HELP) Act, by Rep. Bost (IL):  VA to establish qualifications for human resources positions within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

·         HR 5882, Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act, by Rep. Bustos (IL): to allow a spouse to terminate a lease under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act when the military spouse dies while on duty

·         HR 5938, Veterans Serving Veterans Act of 2018, by Rep. Gonzalez-Colon (PR): create a database of VA vacancies to help service members find a job in the VA upon separating from the military

·         HR 6066, to improve the productivity of the management of VA health care, by Rep. Wenstrup (OH): requiring the VA to use relative value units (RVUs) to track provider productivity in VA medical centers

·        HR 5974, VA Creation of On-Site Treatment Systems Affording Veterans Improvements and Numerous General Safety Enhancements (VA COST SAVINGS) Act, by Rep. Denham (CA): requiring the VA to use on-site regulated medical waste treatment systems

 

These bills were all considered and reported out of committee en bloc.  No amendments or objections were made to any of them.

 

Next steps

All of these bills are now eligible for consideration on the House floor.  Some of them might actually receive such a vote.

 

As the hearing concluded, Roe noted that, over the last 18 months, this committee has reported out 82 bills.  Of those, 22 have been signed into law.  He commended his colleagues for doing “as about a good a job as you’re gonna’ get,” to wide applause.

 

 

 

 

H.R.299 Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 Latest Action: Senate - 06/28/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. (All Actions) Tracker:

 

H.R.2345 National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2017 Latest Action: Senate - 07/24/2018 Received in the Senate.

 

H.R.2409 To allow servicemembers to terminate their cable, satellite television, and Internet access service contracts while deployed. Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.2648  Veterans Transition Improvement Act Latest Action: House - 07/16/2018 Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. H. Rept. 115-825, Part I.

 

H.R.2787 Veterans-Specific Education for Tomorrow's Health Professionals Act Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.3696 Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act Latest Action: House - 06/27/2018 Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote .

 

H.R.5515 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 Latest Action: Senate - 07/26/2018 Cloture motion on the conference report to accompany H.R. 5515 presented in Senate.

 

H.R.5538 To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the inclusion of certain additional periods of active duty service for purposes of suspending charges to veterans' entitlement to educational assistance under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs during periods of suspended participation in vocational rehabilitation programs.  Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.5649  Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William `Bill' Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act of 2018.  Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.5693  Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act Latest Action: Senate - 07/26/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.5864  VA Hospitals Establishing Leadership Performance Act Latest Action: Senate - 07/26/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.5882 Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.5938 Veterans Serving Veterans Act of 2018Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.5974 VA COST SAVINGS Enhancements Act.  Latest Action: Senate - 07/25/2018 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.6066 To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the productivity of the management of Department of Veterans Affairs health care.  Latest Action: House - 07/12/2018 Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote

 

H.R.6147  Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019 Latest Action: Senate - 07/26/2018 Cloture motion on the measure presented in Senate.

 

H.R.6157 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019 Latest Action: Senate - 06/28/2018 Received in the Senate. Read twice. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 500.

 

H.R.6263 United States Army Rangers Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act  Latest Action: House - 06/28/2018 Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee

 

H.R.6271   Fulfilling Obligations to Families of the Fallen Act Latest Action: House - 06/28/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.6281 Veterans FAIR Act of 2018 Latest Action: House - 06/28/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services

 

H.R.6285 VETS Act Latest Action: House - 06/28/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.6343 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) INPATIENT Act of 2018 Latest Action: House - 07/12/2018 Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee

 

H.R.6409 Honoring Veterans' Families Act Latest Action: 07/23/2018 Sponsor introductory remarks on measure.

 

H.R.6419 Justice for ALS Veterans Act of 2018 Latest Action: House - 07/18/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.6420   To permit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program.  Latest Action: House - 07/18/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.6539 To require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a program to increase efficiency in the recruitment and hiring by the Department of Veterans Affairs of health care workers that are undergoing separation from the Armed Forces, to create uniform credentialing standards for certain health care

professionals of the DepartmentLatest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee.

 

H.R.6566 To amend title 38, United States Code, to remove the manifestation period required for the presumptions of service connection for chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda, and acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents. Latest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

H.R.6572 To amend title 38, United States Code, to include Federally qualified health centers and primary care associations in efforts to assist homeless veterans,  Latest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee.

 

H.R.6581 To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to adopt certain strategies for preventive colorectal screenings for veterans, Latest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

 

H.R.6582 To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish presumptions of service connection for illnesses associated with open burn pits, to direct the Comptroller of the United States to establish the Open Burn Pit Advisory Commission.Latest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.  

 

H.R.6603 To amend the FAST Act to ensure that certain veteran small businesses are eligible for funding as small business concerns.  Latest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Committee on Small Business, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker

 

H.R.6637 To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to study and report on the prevalence of cholangiocarcinoma in veterans of the Vietnam era  Latest Action: House - 07/26/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

S.899 Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act Latest Action: Senate - 07/17/2018 Message on House action received in Senate and at desk: House amendments to Senate bill.

 

S.3130 SIT-REP Act of 2018 Latest Action: Senate - 06/25/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

S.3159 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019 Latest Action: Senate - 06/28/2018 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 498.

 

S.3166 United States Army Rangers Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act Latest Action: Senate - 06/28/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

 

S.3175 Thailand Veteran Agent Orange Parity Act of 2018 Latest Action: Senate - 06/28/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

S.3181 Burn Pits Accountability Act Latest Action: Senate - 06/28/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

 

S.3184 A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to modify the requirements for applications for construction of State home facilities to increase the maximum percentage of nonveterans allowed to be treated at such facilities, and for other purposes. Latest Action: Senate - 07/09/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

S.3201 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 Latest Action: Senate - 07/12/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

 

S.3235 Veterans Hearing Benefits Act of 2018 Latest Action: Senate - 07/18/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

S.3241 Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act Latest Action: Senate - 07/19/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

 

 

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

 

 

2018-2019 Bills

 

 

Active Bills Since Last Report

 

A3447/S2789 Directs DOE to develop Veterans in the Schools Program to teach students about military experiences of local veterans. Latest Action: 3/5/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee; S2789, 6/25/2018 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Education Committee

 

A4140/S1305 Permits certain applicants to submit personal statement of veteran status, in lieu of determination of veteran status, prior to issuance of civil service eligible list; requires submission of determination of status prior to employment. Latest Action: 6/11/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee; S1305, 7/30/2018 Received in the Assembly, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

 

A4158/S2800Qualifies certain disabled veterans for toll rate exemptions and exemptions from motor vehicle registration fees. Latest Action: 6/11/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee; S2800 6/27/2018 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

A4233/S2106 Requires Adjutant General of DMVA to issue State flag to resident enrolling in federal service academy. Latest Action: 6/25/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee; S2106, 6/14/2018 Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

 

A4237/S2796 "Military Priority Registration Act"; grants priority course registration to military service members and veterans attending public institutions of higher education. Latest Action: 6/25/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Higher Education Committee.

A4275/S2574 Authorizes creation of Woman Veteran license plates. Latest Action: 6/27/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.

A4276/S2452 Provides for increase in allowance paid to war veterans with certain service-connected disabilities. Latest Action: 6/27/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

 

A4277/S2493 Authorizes DMVA to grant preference in awarding contracts to vendors that employ veterans. Latest Action: 6/27/2018 Introduced, Referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

 

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

 

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