HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

March 22, 2005   Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M.  Tapes 42 - 44

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Donna Nelson, Chair

Rep. Phil Barnhart, Vice-Chair

Rep. Debi Farr, Vice-Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist

Rep. Scott Bruun

Rep. Dave Hunt

Rep. Betty Komp

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Jim Stembridge, Committee Administrator

Erin Seiler, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:

                                                HB 2737 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2845 - Public Hearing

                                                HB 2860 - Public Hearing

                                                HB 2864 – Public Hearing 

                                                HB 2602 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2684 – Public Hearing

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 42, A

001

Chair Nelson

Opens the meeting at 8:33 a.m. Opens the public hearing on HB 2737.

HB 2737 – PUBLIC HEARING

028

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2737, which creates Oregon Military Family Relief Program in Oregon Military Department.

037

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Testifies in support of HB 2737, stating the importance of helping the soldiers’ families.

062

Chair Nelson

Asks what the fiscal impact would be for the OMD to administer the fund.

065

Caldwell

States that the administrative costs would have a “very minimal” impact on the OMD budget.

080

Chair Nelson

Asks how the OMD defines the “immediate family of a soldier.”

086

Caldwell

Explains that immediate family refers to spouse, children, or parents, but can be whomever the soldier designates as next of kin.

098

Chair Nelson

Asks how to resolve the conflict between the language used to define eligible veteran as having to be on “federal duty for more than 30 days” and the new definition established in HB 2687 (2005).

111

Caldwell

Explains why the requirement of being on “federal duty for more than 30 days” should be deleted.

122

Chair Nelson

Asks if there is a committee or board to administer monies donated to the OMD temporary relief fund.

124

Caldwell

States that the OMD has a board that reviews requests, determines need, and distributes grant and loan money to families.

158

Chair Nelson

Asks if qualifying language should be established or if “need” should remain at the discretion of the OMD.

170

Caldwell

Explains that determining “need” should remain at the discretion of the OMD because of the knowledge that the OMD has of the familial situation.  

191

Chair Nelson

Asks about including Reserve soldiers in program.

204

Caldwell

Explains that the OMD is not adept at tracking the Reserve because there is no database.

213

Chair Nelson

Asks if the language relating to deployment hardships is appropriate.

217

Caldwell

Recommends the deletion of any reference to hardship related deployments because hardships that soldiers’ and their families experience are not necessarily related to deployment, it comes at all times throughout the year.

253

Debra Buchanan

Legislative Coordinator, Department of Revenue. Submits copies of Oregon Individual Income Tax Return Form 40S (EXHIBIT A).  In reference to the charitable check-off portion of the tax form, explains that the bill would require the Department of Revenue to redesign the form and remove other entities from the form.

330

Chair Nelson

States the need to redesign Oregon tax forms to include more entities in the charitable check-off section.

384

Buchanan

Submits and summarizes Oregon Department of Revenue Charitable Check-Off History chart (EXHIBIT B).

399

Chair Nelson

Points out that entities on front page of the Oregon tax form receive more donations then those listed in the tax instruction manual.

TAPE 43, A

016

Buchanan

Addresses the importance that the Department of Revenue maintain the ability to meet all statutory requirements, while trying to meet requests to add more entities to tax form.

052

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organization. Testifies in support of HB 2737, adding that Reserve soldiers need to be included.

091

Chair Nelson

Asks how fund would be administered if Reserve soldiers were included.

099

Rep. Barnhart

States how the original intention of the bill was to assist in the transition of returning soldiers and the suggested changes would “clearly change the focus of the bill, but in a positive direction.”

112

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2737. Opens the public hearing on HB 2845.

HB 2845 – PUBLIC HEARING

116

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2845, which creates Oregon Military Childcare Grant Program.

125

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Testifies to the merits of creating a childcare grant program.

138

Caldwell

Identifies the potential for the program to have a high fiscal component, stating that the “intent is good, but it is outside our budget.”

189

Chair Nelson

Asks who should administer the grant program.

191

Caldwell

Explains why appropriated funds would need to be administered by the OMD.

206

Caldwell

Recommends the deletion of the phrase “while on active duty for a period of 30 days or more.”

212

Rep. Farr

Asks how many families the childcare grant program would apply too.

222

Caldwell

Speaks to the applicability of the grant program.

242

Rep. Farr

Points out how the program will only apply to a certain percentage of soldiers on active duty.

255

Caldwell

Explains the salary structure of active-duty, non-active duty, and National Guard soldiers.

363

Rep. Farr

Asks if there will be income criteria for distributing the grants.

398

Caldwell

Explains the criteria that the OMD used as the basis for estimating the cost of the program.

TAPE 42, B

021

Chair Nelson

Asks if it necessary to have separate funds; one for veterans and one for National Guard.

034

Caldwell

Explains why the OMD only has the ability to deal with active guard soldiers.

079

Rep. Barnhart

Speaks to intent to assist in increasing enlistment numbers and encouraging soldiers to reenlistment.

090

Caldwell

States that the two reasons most commonly cited for not reenlisting is family and employment.

114

Rep. Barnhart

Asks what percentage of soldiers are new enlistments and what percentage are reenlistments.

119

Caldwell

States that the average of reenlistments in Oregon is eighty percent after deployment, but recently there has been a significant decrease as a result of their deployments.

164

Rep. Barnhart

Comments that discussion about Reserve soldier is less significant in regards to this bill.

176

Harlay Ray

Legislative Chair, American Legion. Addresses the issue of Reserve soldiers versus National Guard soldiers.

190

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organization. Speaks to the need to include activated Reserve soldiers in all programs.

239

Rep. Hunt

Asks if the fiscal impact of the childcare grants would be reduced if the money was made a part of a broader family relief program.

256

Caldwell

States how it would be better to have the money in a broader relief fund, which would allow the OMD to provide a multitude of assistance to families.

370

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2845. Opens the public hearing on HB 2860.

HB 2860 – PUBLIC HEARING

400

Jim Stembridge

Explains HB 2860, which creates Oregon Military Transition Assistance Program.

TAPE 43, B

006

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). States that the program is not included in the OMD official budget and cannot officially support the program.

025

Caldwell

Comments that HB 2860, HB 2737, and HB 2845 all address similar needs and that it would be best to collapse into a single assistance fund.

032

Chair Nelson

Expresses concern about the inability to assess soldiers sooner then ninety days after return from deployment.

038

Caldwell

Speaks to the physical and psychological issues returning soldiers are experiencing. 

058

Chair Nelson

Asks about funding for “drilling” soldiers after ninety days so to assess mental and physical well-being.

062

Caldwell

Explains that the OMD has sought permission from the Governor to have soldiers voluntarily come to “drill” after thirty days.

081

Caldwell

Speaks to how the OMD has established a temporary transition team to assist returning soldiers and their families.

118

Rep. Boquist

Asks if the OMD will retain their battalion and command leaders in position after ninety days.

133

Caldwell

States that their intention is to keep battalion leadership in place for at least ninety days and up to six months.

154

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of HB 2860.

167

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2860. Opens the public hearing on HB 2864.

HB 2864 – PUBLIC HEARING

174

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2864, which creates Veterans’ Discharge Stipend Program to provide temporary income to veterans when discharged from active federal service.

195

Val Conley

Veterans’ Services Division Administrator, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA). Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 2864 (EXHIBIT C).

215

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of HB 2864.

228

Harley Ray

Legislative Chair, American Legion. Testifies in support of HB 2864.

261

Chair Nelson

Verifies the three different types of military discharge that would permit the issuance of a stipend and that having a stipend would not permit a soldier to “jump” service units.

297

Conley

States that ODVA would support any program that provides additional benefits to veterans’.

314

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2864. Opens the public hearing on HB 2602 and HB 2684.

HB 2602 & HB 2684 – PUBLIC HEARING

336

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2602/HB 2684, which create Oregon Military Emergency Financial Relief Program.

347

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Speaks to fiscal impact of the program and administrative costs.

387

Chair Nelson

Asks how much is the average amount of a grant or loan made to a soldier.

389

Caldwell

States that average grant is $1200 dollars and that program should not be limited to active duty guardsmen.

TAPE 44, A

009

Rep. Farr

Verifies that definition of veteran needs to be deleted.

030

Chair Nelson

Asks if grant or loan programs are set up as 501(c) 3 entities there will be a greater tax benefits for donors.

034

Caldwell

Concurs that 501(c) 3 would provide a greater state and federal tax benefit to a donor.

047

Rep. Farr

Verifies that there is not a similar relief program for Reservists at the federal level.

060

Rep. Farr

Inquires whether or not it would make more sense to seek assistance for Reserve soldiers through the federal government with the assistance of the federal delegation.

065

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if OMD has the authority to establish non-profit corporations that work in conjunction with monies appropriated through the state General Fund, but are administered separately for tax purposes.

081

Caldwell

Explains the statutory authority that the OMD has to establish specific relief funds, noting that said funds are not 501(c) 3 entities. 

118

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearings on HB 2602 and HB 2684. Adjourns meeting at 10:32 a.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. HB 2737, Oregon Individual Income Tax Return Form 40S, Debra Buchanan, 2 pp
  2. HB 2737, Oregon Department of Revenue Charitable Check-Off History Chart, Debra Buchanan, 1 p
  3. HB 2864, written testimony, Val Conley, 2 pp