HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

April 7, 2005 Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M.  Tapes 58 - 60

 

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 2933 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3334 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2844 – Public Hearing

                                                 HB 2846 - Public Hearing

                                                HB 2945 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3095 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3308 – 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 58, A

002

Chair Nelson

Calls the meeting at to order at 8:40 a.m. and makes general announcements.

011

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Discusses the details of upcoming field hearings. Submits and summarizes New York Times newspaper article titled “Bills in the Knapsack” (EXHIBIT A).

090

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department. Introduces members of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

124

Bill Doctor

Chair, ESGR. Summarizes the activities of the ESGR.

157

Robert Elliott

Executive Director, ESGR. Describes the contents of a package of information provided to the members. Discusses the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and refers to the ESGR web site.

265

Chair Nelson

Asks about those whose job was eliminated while they were away.

270

Elliott

Provides a brief background on a City of the Salem case and the resulting efforts.

326

Rep. Farr

Asks how employers can get engaged in this process. Discusses promotional issues.

339

Elliott

Responds by noting what efforts are made to educate employers.

378

Col. Caldwell

Clarifies that the mission of the ESGR is not to find a job for returning guardsmen and reservists. Notes the efforts in this regard by the State of Oregon.

400

Chair Nelson

Notes there are efforts being done by private industry as well.

408

Rep. Boquist

Asks who is supported by the ESGR.

413

Doctor

Responds it is referred to as the 7 seals: two army components, two air components, navy reserve, marine core reserve and the coast guard reserve.

420

Ron Cannon

Director, US Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training. Explains they administer USERRA. Notes that the poster is downloadable from www.dol.gov/vets for free.

TAPE 59, A

015

Chair Nelson

Confirms that USERRA protects every soldier. Inquires what is considered a veteran.

030

Cannon

Answers that a veteran is a person who has service at least 180 days as of active military service. Reservist and National Guard are those committed to state or reserve guard components. Adds that under federal guidelines, one day in combat is considered a veteran. Notes that USERRA protects those who try to join and are discouraged by their employer.

047

Chair Nelson

Asks about using public announcements to provide updates.

070

Col. Caldwell

Comments on the activities ESGR does in this regard.

105

Chair Nelson

Asks if an employer has an obligation to help find a position for a soldier that has been impacted by an injury.

108

Cannon

Responds that the employer is required to make every effort possible to find a position that will work with the abilities of the employee.

116

Rep. Boquist

Asks about legal representation.

124

Elliott

Responds there is protection under USERRA.

155

Chair Nelson

Recaps meeting discussions, accomplishments of the panel, notes that 50% of the soldiers that have returned do not have jobs and reviews USERRA. Discusses the interest cap for soldiers and expresses concerns about soldiers returning from war have had foreclosures on homes and repossessed automobiles.

251

Elliott

Responds that JAG and the state bar association will help these service members.

333

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if the Cambers of Commerce have been considered an avenue to help with communicating information to small businesses.

340

Elliott

Answers affirmatively and notes other efforts to provide information.

430

Chair Nelson

Opens a public hearing on HB 2933.

HB 2933 – PUBLIC HEARING

450

Jim Stembridge

Explains HB 2933, provides that outstanding income tax liabilities of active duty military personnel shall be held in abeyance until six months after active duty service ceases and shall be discharged if taxpayer is killed in action.

TAPE 58, B

021

Rep. Donna Nelson

House District 14. Testifies in support of HB 2933. Discusses the impact that deployment has on a soldiers’ financial stability.

053

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Explains the rights of a soldier under the Servicemembers Civil Service Relief Act (SCRA). 

096

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of HB 2933.

109

Vice-Chair Barnhart

Closes the public hearing on HB 2933.

111

Chair Nelson

Opens a public hearing on HB 3334.

HB 3334 – PUBLIC HEARING

132

Rep. Jeff Kropf

House District 17. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 3334 (EXHIBIT B).

192

Rep. Kropf

Clarifies the language and meaning of several sections of the bill.

207

Rep. Boquist

Verifies that the sponsor supports changing 30 day active duty requirement to 45 day active duty requirement to be eligibility for property tax exemption.

223

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Indicates that concern regarding 30 days versus 45 days on active duty is clarified by the language already in HB 3334.

254

Rep. Farr

Asks if the OMD keeps information or data on how many Oregon National Guard and Reservists own homes or property.

257

Caldwell

States that the OMD does not collect homeownership data, but explains why the bill could be an important retention tool for young and maturing soldiers. 

296

Chair Nelson

Questions the lack of applicability of the exemption to the children of deceased soldiers.

313

Caldwell

Addresses the current length of a tour for Oregon National Guard or Reserves soldiers.

349

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 3334. Opens a public hearing on     HB 2844.

HB 2844 – PUBLIC HEARING

360

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2844, which limits interest that may be charged on delinquent property taxes imposed on property of members of organized militia called into active service.

369

John Phillips

Representative, Oregon Department of Revenue. Submits and summarizes written testimony that is neutral on HB 2844            (EXHIBIT C).

TAPE 59, B

002

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Identifies the similarities between HB 2844 and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

013

Rep. Boquist

Confirms that the cap on interest rates for Oregon National Guard and Reserve soldiers is a part of SCRA, yet that HB 2844 should be made a part of the Oregon Revised Statutes to prevent the state from claiming sovereign immunity.

034

Rep. Barnhart

Clarifies that SCRA does not apply to state and federal military service, noting how HB 2844 is an extension of a soldiers’ rights under the law because it would apply to state service.

066

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2844. Opens a public hearing on      HB 2846.

HB 2846 – PUBLIC HEARING

075

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2846, which permits a veteran who is eligible for veterans homestead property tax partial exemption and who is at least 70 percent disabled.

084

Harley Ray

Representative, Oregon American Legion. Testifies in support of        HB 2846.

106

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. States concern that all of the tax exemptions being asked for in various veterans bills are “unfair to the State of Oregon.”

179

John Phillips

Representative, Oregon Department of Revenue. Submits and summarizes written testimony that is neutral on HB 2846           (EXHIBIT D).

231

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2846. Opens a public hearing on        HB 2945.

HB 2945 - PUBLIC HEARING

239

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2945, which modifies property tax exemption for veterans’ residences.

251

Rep. Dave Hunt

House District 40. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 2945 (EXHIBIT E).

306

Rep. Komp

Verifies that 40 percent disability rating was carried over from current Oregon Revised Statutes.

319

Michelle Diester

Senior Staff Associate, League of Oregon Cities (LOC). States that LOC supports an estimated cost of living adjustment (ECOLA); however questions why ECOLA should be applied to actual amount being exempted since property tax rate is limited to three percent increase.

334

Rep. Hunt

Explains why it is necessary to apply ECOLA adjustment to actual amount being exempted.  

350

Diester

Urges consulting with county property tax assessors to determine the difficulty associated with applying ECOLA to just the veteran population.

377

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of        HB 2945.

TAPE 60, A

006

Kevin O’Reilly

Government Relations/Advocacy Director, Oregon Paralyzed Veterans’ of America. Testifies in support of HB 2945. Submits written testimony on behalf of Jerry O’Ryan in support of HB 2945 (EXHIBIT F).

016

Rep. Farr

Asks how many paralyzed veterans currently reside in Oregon.

018

O’Reilly

Identifies the number of paralyzed veterans in Oregon.

025

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2945. Open a public hearing on HB 3095 and HB 3308.

HB 3095/HB 3308 – PUBLIC HEARING

027

Jim Stembridge

Explains HB 3095, which permits individual ordered to active military service to elect to defer property taxes for period of time individual, is performing active military service. Explains HB 3308, which expands eligibility for property tax exemption for veterans to include homesteads of all war veterans, without regard to disability or income level, and their surviving spouses.

035

Rep. Hunt

Affirms the need to provide tax relief to soldiers, but explains that the committee needs to decide whether too pursue either HB 3095 or HB 2945.  

051

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Concurs with Rep. Hunt.

053

John Phillips

Representative, Oregon Department of Revenue. Submits written testimony that is neutral on HB 3095 (EXHIBIT G).

062

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of HB 3095.

072

Caldwell

States that OMD maintains a neutral position on HB 3308.

076

John Phillips

Points out potential implications of the language “any war veteran” in HB 3308 and how it could be interpreted to include “any war veteran, from anywhere, any country.”

084

MacDonald

Testifies in support of HB 3308.

086

Michelle Diester

Senior Staff Associate, League of Oregon Cities (LOC). States the need to consider the totality of all the property tax bills under consideration and how the bills would affect the overall ability of municipalities to meet all the needs of all veterans. Submits written testimony on behalf of Susan Roberts in opposition to HB 3308 (EXHIBIT H).

140

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearings on HB 3095 and HB 3308.

The following written testimony is submitted for the record without public testimony:

 

John Phillips

Representative, Oregon Department of Revenue. Submits Oregon Department of Revenue Veterans Property Tax Bills Report (EXHIBIT I).

 

Debra Buchanan

Legislative Coordinator, Oregon Department of Revenue. Submits written testimony that is neutral on HB 2910 (EXHIBIT J).

 

Debra Buchanan

Legislative Coordinator, Oregon Department of Revenue. Submits written testimony that is neutral on HB 3096 (EXHIBIT K).

149

Chair Nelson

Adjourns the meeting at 10:43 a.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. Veterans’ Issues, New York Times Newspaper Article, staff, 1 p
  2. HB 3334, written testimony, Rep. Jeff Kropf, 1 p
  3. HB 2844, written testimony, John Phillips, 2 pp
  4. HB 2846, written testimony, John Phillips, 1 p
  5. HB 2945, written testimony, Rep. Dave Hunt, 1 p
  6. HB 2945, written testimony of Jerry O’Ryan, Kevin O’Reilly, 1 p
  7. HB 3095, written testimony, John Philips, 1 p
  8. HB 3308, written testimony of Susan Roberts, Michelle Diester, 1 p
  9. Veterans’ Issues, Oregon Department of Revenue Veterans Property Tax Bills Report, John Phillips, 4 pp
  10. HB 2910, written testimony, Debra Buchanan, 1 p
  11. HB 3096, written testimony, Debra Buchanan, 1p