New York State Assembly
1999 Annual Report
Sheldon Silver, Speaker
15 December 1999
Honorable Sheldon Silver
Dear Mr. Speaker:
It is with great pleasure that I forward the 1999 Annual Report of the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
1999 was an active year for the Committee. We are especially pleased to have passed the Veteran's Service Credit Act. We are optimistic that this legislation will pass both houses and be signed into law in the 2000 Session. The Committee is also happy to have updated the Veterans Bill of Rights and enact legislation that allows New Yorkers, who were killed in action, to receive the Conspicuous Service Cross. We also made it possible for recipients of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal to be eligible for the alternative veteran's real property tax exemption.
Other important measures enacted by this Committee include providing for the display of POW/MIA flags at state parks, historic sites and recreational facilities throughout New York and preserving the rights of veterans to continue to sell Memorial Day Poppies.
It is with great anticipation that we welcome the 2000 Legislative Session. Among the issues that the Committee will review are real property taxation exemptions for surviving spouses, and continued outreach to women veterans. Our ongoing efforts to deal with the health care needs of New York's veterans will, again, continue to be discussed with a focus on how best to provide these services.
I wish to extend my deepest appreciation and many thanks to the members of the Committee, the Committee staff and the veterans of New York State for their efforts. I would especially like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your continued support of New York's veterans.
Ronald C. Tocci
1999 ANNUAL REPORT
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
Honorable Ronald C. Tocci
Joanne Barker, Legislative Coordinator
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs evaluates legislation affecting 1.4 million New York State residents who selflessly served their nation in the United States armed forces. This number includes the nearly 60,000 women veterans who volunteered to serve in the military. Their jobs ranged from nurses to switchboard operators. The Committee's work is geared toward safeguarding programs and promoting legislation benefiting veterans and their families. In addition, the Committee maintains an ongoing dialogue with the veterans' community and addresses developing issues affecting the lives of New York State's veterans.
Veterans issues impact a number of titles of New York State statute, principally: Executive Law, Military Law, Real Property Tax Law, Education Law, Civil Service Law, and Retirement and Social Security Law. Amendments to the State Constitution that would affect veterans are also considered by the Committee. New York State currently offers a variety of veterans assistance programs, including a real property tax exemption program, educational assistance for certain veterans and their family members, and a state veterans nursing home program.
This past Legislative session, the Committee held six meetings and considered 93 bills. Eight of these bills passed both houses of the Legislature. Eight were enacted into law. The Committee was represented at the American Legion's 79th State Convention in Binghamton, New York, and the dedication of the Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, New York. The chair was a delegate to the Vietnam Veterans of America National Convention in California, where he received the New York State Vietnam Veterans of America Distinguished Service Medal.
While the Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs has jurisdiction over legislation that affects veterans benefits and programs that help veterans and their families, the Committee does not work alone. Some initiatives advanced by individual veterans and organizations are referred to other standing committees, such as Transportation, Energy, Health or Corporations. As a result, the Committee's chair, members, and staff must work closely with other committees to ensure that this unique population's needs are met. To meet this goal, the Committee may analyze legislation referenced to another Assembly standing committee or conduct joint public hearings with other committees.
A. Veterans Bill of Rights For Employment and Training Services of the Unit
In 1994, Chapter 553 of the Laws of 1994 was adopted. Under this legislation, veterans who meet eligibility requirements for any employment and training program administered by any State agency will be given preference in referral to those programs over non-veterans. Veterans will be referred according to the following list of priorities: special disabled veterans; Vietnam era veterans; disabled veterans; combat theater veterans; recently separated veterans; and other veterans.
This statute was amended in 1996 by Chapter 507, which required all State agencies that conduct employment and training programs to provide qualified veterans with preference and required all State agencies to conduct a survey of their employees to identify veterans and report to the Division of Veterans' Affairs.
In August 1998, the federal Workforce Investment Act was signed into law (P.L. 105-220), repealing the Job Training Partnership Act. The program provides funding for employment and training programs for economically disadvantaged adults, dislocated workers, and in-and out-of-school youth. The states have until July 2000, to implement the new program and can continue activities under JTPA through a period of transition. The implementation of the new federal program may provide opportunities to identify veterans as a target population.
As a result of the P.L. 105-220, the Veterans Bill of Rights was amended to reflect the changes adopted in the Workforce Investment Act.
The major change under the Act requires each local workforce investment plan developed under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to include a description of how the one-stop delivery system in the local workforce investment area specifically addresses the needs of veterans. Other changes include establishing March 1st of each year as the date the annual written reports from agencies administering employment and training programs are due. Also, information collected under this Act is personal and confidential thus protected under Article 6-A of the Public Officers Law and to be used only to determine the number of veterans who are employed by the State of New York.(Chapter 524 of the Laws of 1999, A 3084-A Tocci)
B. Women Veterans
Women have always played a vital role in the defense of our country, from the Revolutionary War in which they served as battlefield nurses to the present day when women are a vital component of the United States military services.
The role of women in the military is changing rapidly. During World War I, women were recruited as nurses and comprised less that 1% of the active duty force. Currently, women make up 14% of the active duty force. Women are serving in all branches of the military and are eligible for assignment in most military occupational specialties. Statistical projections indicate that by the year 2010 women will comprise well over 10% of the veteran population, an increase from 4%, which is the current figure.
During the last several years, officials on both the national and state level have begun to recognize that both the services required by these women and the issues they face as they return to civilian life are different from those of male veterans. The changing demographics of the veteran population will have a significant impact of how agencies and organizations provide services to veterans.
Using this background, Chapter 271 of the Laws of 1994 was written and signed into law. This was done in order to ensure that women veterans have equal access to the Division of Veterans' Affairs programs by requiring the appointment of a women veterans coordinator to serve as an advocate for women veterans. An amendment this year was adopted to clarify the law's original intent and add certain duties and responsibilities to the position of Women Veterans Coordinator.
This measure requires that the Women Veteran's Coordinator be a veteran and that preference be given to a qualified woman veteran. The bill also requires that the Coordinator be appointed by the Director of the Division of Veterans' Affairs and work under the direction of the Director. Each year the Women Veteran's Coordinator will submit a report to the Director, which will be included in full or as a synopsis in the annual report to the Governor. The report shall include the numbers of veterans served by the program. (Chapter 358 of the Laws of 1999, A1589-A Connelly)
New York State offers benefits not only to individual veterans and some eligibile spouses, but to not-for-profit veterans organizations, as well. Among the benefits are: a real property tax exemption on property owned by veterans organizations; an electric and/or gas rate charge at a residential rate rather than a commercial rate on posts and halls, and the ability to use an armory without payment or charge.
Section 64 of the Town Law authorizes towns to appropriate money for eligible not-for-profit veterans organizations to help defray the rental and/or maintainance of meeting facilities.
National Amputation Foundation
This measure adds the National Amputation Foundation to the list of veterans organizations which may receive monies from towns to help defray the cost of renting and/or maintaining their facilities. The National Amputation Foundation is an amputee veteran organization whose members lost limb or limbs in the service of their country. They have members still surviving from World War I all the way through the Persian Gulf Conflict. The National Amputation Foundation is incorporated under the Laws of the State of New York. (Chapter 78 of the Laws of 1999, A.2314 Weisenberg)
D. Real Property
The veterans' real property tax exemption has a long history in New York state. Veterans' tax exemptions are available to the men and women who served in the armed forces of this country since the time of the American Revolution. Essentially, the exemptions take the form of freedom from levy and freedom from taxes on property acquired through military service.
This benefit is a special way of recognizing the sacrifices of those men and women who served in the time of war.
Virtually all real property tax exemptions granted to veterans in New York State fall into two categories: the fixed-dollar amount "eligible funds" category (Section 458 Real Property Tax Law) and the percentage-of-exemption value "alternative" category (Section 458-A RPTL).
The "alternative exemption," enacted in 1984, is available only for residential property of war veterans. Each municipality was given the option of granting this exemption. However, a municipality that initially opted out may decide to change its decision and grant the exemption.
The alternative exemption provides a property tax exemption of 15% of assessed value to veterans who served during wartime, and an additional 10% exemption to those who served in a combat zone. The law also provides an additional exemption to disabled veterans equal to one-half of their service-connected disability rating.
Each county, city, town, and village has the additional option of using the maximum set of exemptions for the three categories or passing a local law to use either of the two sets of lower exemption levels.
Under prior law only those who earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal or the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal during conflicts in Lebanon (6/1/83-12/1/87, Grenada (10/23/83-12/1/83) and Panama (12/20/89-1/31/90) were eligible for the exemption.
Expansion of the Alternative Veterans Exemption Based On Receipt of the Expeditionary Medals
The legislation expands the definition of eligibility for the alternative veterans real property tax exemption by including all veterans who have received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, or the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.
There are specific criteria that must be met to be awarded any of the expeditionary medals. These medals are awarded to members of the different branches of armed forces who have engaged in operations against armed opposition on foreign territory or who have served in circumstances that merit recognition but for which no campaign medal is awarded.
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was authorized through Executive Order 10977 signed by President Kennedy on 4 December 1961 and amplified later by Executive Order 11231 on 8 July 1965. This medal can be earned through U.S. military operations, operations in direct support of the United Nations, and U.S. operations of assistance to friendly foreign nations.
The Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is awarded to the officers and enlisted men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps who actually land on foreign territory and enage in operations against armed opposition, or operated under circumstances which, after full consideration, shall be deemed to merit special recognition and for which service no campaign medal has been awarded. (Chapter 566 of the Laws of 1999, A.5774-A DiNapoli)
E. POW/MIA Flag
On 9 March 1989, a POW/MIA Flag, which flew over the White House on the 1988 National POW/MIA Recognition Day, was installed in the United States Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation. On 10 August 1990 Congress passed P.L. 101-355, which recognized the National League of Families POW/MIA Flag. According to this Act, "as a symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, it has been a symbol for POW/MIAs from all American wars."
The National POW/MIA Recognition Day Act of 1997 requires the display of the POW/MIA flag on certain holidays and on the grounds or public lobbies of several federal agencies and sites including federal national cemeteries, the national Korean and Vietnam memorials, and the United States Postal Service post offices.
The POW/MIA flag is black, bearing in the center, in black and white, the emblem of the National League of POW/MIA Families. The emblem is a white disk bearing in black silhouette the bust of a man, watch tower with a guard holding a rife, and a strand of barbed wire; above the disk are the white letters POW and MIA framing a white 5-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the white motto YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
The importance of the National League of Families POW/MIA flag lies in its continued visibility, a constant reminder of the plight of America's POW/MIAs.
Precedent was set for displaying the POW/MIA flag in New York State when the Governor ordered the flag be flown at all 27 Thruway travel plazas in the spring of 1997. Precedent was again set by the enactment of Chapter 89 of the Laws of 1998. This measure encourages municipalities outside the County of New York to display the POW/MIA flag when the American flag is flown outside the building that houses the municipality's legislative body.
This bill would add to the list of general functions, powers and duties of the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the ability to provide for the display of the POW/MIA flag wherever the flag of the United States is on display at State parks, historic sites and recreational facilities. (Chapter 79 of the Laws of 1999, A. 5773 DiNapoli)
1. Protect The Memorial Day Poppy Act
Prior to new legislation, there was no provision for protecting veterans' organizations that wish to sell poppies or other activities for patriotic purposes from limitations imposed by local law. The bill originated from a complaint by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.A. that all 140 of their chapters in the five boroughs of New York City were being forced by the city to fill out four-page applications before their members could go out and sell paper poppies. It further stated that each post was responsible for accounting for all the money when the sales concluded.
The Protect the Memorial Day Poppy Act would ban any local government infringement with respect to the sale of Memorial Day poppies, forget-me-nots, daisies, flags, and other articles for patrotic purposes by state-registered veterans' organizations. Local licensing, permits and fees would also be prohibited.(Chapter 401 of the Laws of 1999, A. 8574 Vitaliano)
2. Temporary Veterans Health Care Planning Council
Chapter 591 of the Laws of 1996 created a temporary veterans health care planning council for Long Island to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the scope, quality and feasibility of health care options for veterans on Long Island. The 1996 law did not specify when the reports were due. Legislation was needed therefore, to clarify the dates of when the preliminary and final report of the temporary veterans health care council are to be completed. The reports are now required to be submitted to the Governor, Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly no later than April 30, 2000 (preliminary) and no later than April 30, 2001 (final), pursuant to law enacted in the 1999 session. (Chapter 102 of the Laws of 1999, A 7396 Harenberg).
A. Conspicuous Service Cross
The Military Law allows for the distribution of the Conspicuous Service Cross to New Yorkers who were members of the U.S. armed services and who received one of a number of individual citations from the military signifying their outstanding service. The following New York citizens are currently the eligible recipients: a former prisoner of war or a veteran who served at Pearl Harbor, has been reported missing in action, has received certain citations, or has
received the Purple Heart. The law would allow the Governor of the State of New York, on behalf of the New York State Legislature to award the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross to a representative of a deceased member of the U.S. Armed Forces who was killed in combat action. (Chapter 93 of the Laws of 1999, A. 1838)
A. The Division of Veterans' Affairs
1. Veterans Counseling
The Division of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) operates four principal programs. The largest provides veterans counseling and claims services. A statewide network of approximately 60 state veterans counselors, all of whom are veterans, and support staff review eligibility and help veterans complete applications for benefits and services, obtain necessary documentation and file for federal, state and local veterans' benefits. Counselors also serve constituents through outreach to Veterans Affairs medical centers, senior centers, State veterans' homes and local nursing homes, public assistance officers, and correctional facilities.
State veterans counselors receive professional training in veterans' benefits counseling. When successfully completed, a certificate is awarded to allow these counselors to assist individual veterans to file claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs. Counselors receive on-going training, as well as technical information and manuals.
$50,000 was appropriated in the 1999-2000 State budget for this training.
2. New York State Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
Legislation was enacted in 1981 to establish the New York State Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. In 1984 it was dedicated as a "living memorial" that commemorates the military services of New York State residents in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia between 1961 and 1975.
In 1995, Governor Pataki transferred the operation of the Memorial from the Office of General Services to the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs. The Director of DVA reestablished the assignment of a state veterans counselor on the concourse level of the Empire State Plaza in 1996. The site is adjacent to the main gallery.
The 1999-2000 Budget appropriated $15,000 for expenses to support the Memorial.
3. Blind Veterans Annuity Assistance
Visually-impaired veterans in New York State are eligible for a $500 annuity that is administered by the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs. This benefit is paid in monthly installments. Its origins can be traced back to the post-World War I period. Chapter 233 of the Laws of 1998 declared all unremarried spouses of deceased blind veterans eligible for the program.
The Budget appropriated $1,700,000 to this program.
4. Veterans' Education Program
The Veterans' Education Program was previously under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education. In October of 1997, the Governor requested that this federally funded program be moved to the jurisdiction of the DVA. The Veterans' Education bureau approves and supervises educational institutions offering programs for veterans and other eligible persons. According to federal code, no veteran can receive G.I. educational benefits, such as the Montgomery GI Bill, unless the program in which the veteran is enrolled has been approved and is supervised by a state approving agency. Eleven personnel were transferred to DVA to operate the program.
The Budget included a $ 1,200,000 federal operating grant to operate the program.
B. County and City Veterans Service Agencies
County and City Veterans Service Agencies are mandated by state law to inform members of the armed forces, veterans and their families about education, retraining, medical, and other rehabilitative services and facilities and about federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to their rights as veterans and families of veterans.
In the budget for SFY 1999-2000, $575,000 was allocated for this program.
C. New York State World War II Memorial
Chapter 263 of the Laws of 1998 directed the Commissioner of the Office of General Services to erect a monument for World War II veterans in the Empire State Plaza or Capitol Park in the City of Albany.
In the 1999-2000 Budget, $100,000 was added by the Legislature for this project.
D. National World War II Memorial
Public Law 103-32 authorizes the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to establish the national World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. It will be located on 7.4 acres of the Mall, situated directly between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
In the 1999-2000 Budget, a one-time contribution from New York State of $1.7 million was added by the Legislature for this project.
E. Division of Military and Naval Affairs
1. Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program
Chapter 268 of the Laws 1996 established the Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program to provide eligible members of the New York Army National Guard, the New York Air National Guard, and the New York Naval Militia with a tuition benefit for undergraduate study.
In the adopted budget, $2.75 million was included for this vital project.
2. USS SLATER
The USS SLATER-DE-766 is a Cannon Class Destroyer Escort. Of the 565 destroyer escorts produced in World War II, USS Slater (DE-766) is the only one remaining afloat in the United States, and the only one with original battle armament and configuration. These trim but deadly warships had the duty of looking out for enemy submarines and kamikazes as they escorted ship convoys across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Visitors have a chance to see what life was like for the sailors who manned these vessels when they come aboard this Cannon class destroyer escort located on the Hudson River, at the foot of Madison Avenue, Albany, New York.
After World War II, the Slater was placed in reserve in 1947 by the Navy. In 1951 the Slater was transferred to the Hellenic Navy under the Truman Doctrine. Renamed Aetos-01, the ship served as a Hellenic Navy Officer Training Vessel until 1991 when Greece donated the ship to the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association. The ship had also been used in a number of movies including "The Guns of Navarone."
As a result of this, the USS Slater, owned by the Destroyer Escort Historical Foundation (DEHF), will be restored to its original condition during World War II to give visitors a more realistic experience of what happened on the ship during World War II.
The Legislature added $100,000 for the restoration project of the USS SLATER (DE-766).
F. Veterans Homeless Housing Assistance Program
In 1986, the Assembly initiated and secured funding for seven Homeless Veterans Assistance Programs, located throughout the State. These programs provide services, such as counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol and substance abuse. While these programs serve all veterans, the majority of the clients are Vietnam veterans.
In the FY 1998-99 adopted budget, the Governor vetoed the $300,000 set aside for these vital programs. The Committee, along with the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, successfully restored funding for many of these programs in the 1999-2000 budget. The programs funded are: Black Vets for Social Justice; Albany Housing Coalition; Care of People in Need (C.O.P.I.N) Foundation; Saratoga RPC; West New York Veterans Housing; 369th Veteran's Association, Inc.; Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Conference Community Safety Task Force; and the Military Women of New York City and Friends, Inc.
G. Community Based Counseling Services
Although the Division of Veterans' Affairs offers free counseling services for veterans, these tend to emphasize benefit counseling and referrals. Some veterans and their families need individual, family, and group counseling for special mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which are related to their military experience. Community organizations can provide such mental health servies and various types of life skills training including but not limited to education, employment, and age appropriate social adjustment.
There are a variety of not-for-profit community-based counseling services that assist veterans in continuing to make progress as they readjust to society as a civilian.
The Legislature added $250,000 for these programs.
H. Homeless Veterans Reunification
It is estimated that one out of every four homeless persons is a veteran. There is no single cause for being homeless. Studies have shown that one can become homeless due to several factors including illness, either mental and physical, unemployment or underemployment, or lack of affordable housing in the community one calls home. It could be a combination of all four.
There are several not-for-profit organizations that facilitate reunification of homeless veterans with their families in urban areas and surrounding counties. It has been shown that by placing emphasis on the family, a veteran who is trying to deal with the reasons he/she is homeless is able to achieve more progress in resolving his or her problems.
The Legislature added $250,000 for these programs.
I. Veteran's Demonstration Transportation Program
As the veterans population continues to age, with World War II veterans in their late seventies and eighties, getting from one place to another gets more difficult.
A demonstration project will be developed in Rockland County to help older veterans with transportation needs get to their medical and other appointments. Veterans organizations and other not-for-profits will provided the services.
$70,000 was appropriated for this demonstration project.
A. Veterans' Affairs Committee
1. Veterans Service Credit Act (Buyback)
This bill would allow up to three years of service credit for military service performed during certain periods of military conflicts for certain members with five years of credited service in public retirement systems in New York State. There would not be any payment required by the veteran to obtain such credit. (A.6888-C Tocci)
2. Speaker Education Program Within the Division of Veterans' Affairs
The purpose of this bill is to establish within the Division of Veterans' Affairs a speakers education program. New Yorkers, especially young people, should be aware of the contributions of the men and women who served our nation in the time of war. Veterans would volunteer to participate in this program. (A.1608-A Bragman)
3. Expanding Qualifications for Veterans Property Tax Exemption
This measure would allow a qualified veteran to apply for the veterans real property tax exemption within 30 days of the transfer of property when purchased after the taxable status date or after the levy of taxes. Guidelines would be established for a review and complaint process for such applications.
The bill would also establish a formula that assessors could use to determine the exemption in cases of property being purchased after the taxable status date but before the levy of taxes or when taxes are levied and allow municipalities to opt for this method of recomputing the exemption. (A.4244 Tonko)
4. Real Property Tax Exemption for Certain Military Operations
This bill would add the military operations of Lebanon, Grenada and Panama under the period of war section of the alternative veterans exemption, and redefine "veteran" to mean a person who served in "time of war."
The stipulation that for those who served in Lebanon, Grenada and Panama to be considered a veteran the person must have earned an armed forces, navy, or marine corps expeditionary medal would be retained. (A. 2980 Tocci)
5. Job Protections for Privately Employed Members of the Military
The Federal Government ensures protection for military service personnel who are called to active duty and must leave a private sector job. New York State provides job loss protection for public employees who are called to reserve military or National Guard duty. No statutes, however, protect those individuals who leave a private sector job to serve in a reserve or National Guard capacity.
This bill would provide private sector employees who are called to active duty as members of the organized militia or reserve force or reserve components of the United States Armed Forces with the same job loss protection as is currently provided to public employees. (A. 2995 Tocci)
6. Extend Memorial and Veteran's Day Holiday to Certain Public Employees
Current law allows employees of New York State and any subdivision who are veterans who served during a time of war to receive both Memorial Day and Veteran's Day off without reduction in vacation accrual or other benefits.
This measure would extend this privilege to those who are employed by public benefit corporations and public authorities. (A. 3085-A Tocci)
7. Increasing Cap for the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Award Program
The aggregate has not been raised since 1987. Chapter 488 of the Laws of 1997 increased awards for full-time study from five hundred to one thousand dollars and for part-time study from two hundred fifty to five hundred dollars. Also, the maximum award was increased from five thousand to ten thousand dollars.
This bill would increase the cap on the amount of money a recipient of the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Award Program can receive from $10,000 to $16,000. (A2963 Tocci)
8. Special District Taxes To Be Exempt For Seriously Disabled Veterans
In 1981, Section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law, which provides for veterans' real property tax exemptions, was amended to provide that seriously disabled veterans would be fully exempt from real property taxation, including school taxes. At the time, it was the intent of the Legislature that all taxes would be included. However, the Court of Appeals has ruled that the term "taxation" as used in establishing Section 458 exemption does not include special district charges, assessments, and ad valorem levies (Morris v County Board of Assessoars of Nassau County, (1974) 35 NY2d 624, 36 NYS3d 820, 324 NE2d 310). Therefore, veterans receiving exemptions under Section 458(3) are not exempt from special charges. This bill would clarify the scope of the exemption by providing that eligible veterans would be fully exempt from all real property taxation, as intended by the 1981 enactment. (A. 1816 Colman)
9. Long Island Power Authority Single-Phase Service
Chapter 82 of the Laws of 1998 was enacted to require electric utilities to charge lower rates (based on local residential rates) for service to posts and halls of not-for-profit veterans organizations. This measure furthers the beneficial goals of these organizations to support the men and women who have selflessly served their country in the time of war. The 1998 law was passed by both houses prior to the date when the Long Island Power Authority (LILCO) sold its electric distribution business to LIPA but was not signed until after that date. Chapter 82 was intended to benefit all of the veterans' organizations in the state, including those in the LILCO service territory, and it would have done so if it had been signed by the Governor prior to the date of the LILCO/LIPA transaction.
This bill would require the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to charge not-for-profit veterans' organizations the rates charged to domestic consumers, just as the other utilities in the state are required to do under Chapter 82 of the Laws of 1998. (A. 5588 Mazzarelli)
10. Former Prisoners of War Exempt From Motor Vehicle Registration Fees
This bill would exempt former prisoners of war age 62 or older who have obtained former prisoners of war license plates under Section 404-c of the Vehicle and Traffic Law from paying registration or renewal fees on motor vehicles. (A. 8740 D. Butler)
B. OTHER COMMITTEES
Governmental Operations Committee
Gold Star Mothers Day
This bill designates the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mothers' Day", as a day of commemoration. Public Resolution 123, 74th Congress, 49 (stat. 1895) established the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mothers Day." It is certainly fitting that New York State gives these moms the special recognition they deserve. (A. 6449 Carrozza)
Ways and Means
1. Income Tax Check-off for State Veterans' Homes
The bill would permit New York State taxpayers to voluntarily contribute a portion of their state tax refund to finance the operation of the State's veterans' homes. They are: the New York State Home for Veterans at Oxford, Long Island State Veterans Home, New York State Home for Veterans in the City of New York (Queens), the New York State Home for Veterans in Western New York (Batavia), and the soon to be completed New York State Veterans Home in the lower Hudson Valley (Montrose). (A. 1123 Harenberg)
2. Disability Tax Credit for Certain Disabled Veterans
Expands the state workers with disabilities employment tax credit program to include employers of veterans receiving vocational rehabilitation services and to individuals with disabilities employed on a part-time basis, and to otherwise ensure greater consistency with the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program. (A. 8076 Cook)
A. Ways and Means Committee
Section 696 (A) of the Tax Law provides relief, basically as extensions of time and suspensions of enforcement actions, for individuals in the armed forces serving in an area designated by the President as a "combat zone," individuals in support of the armed forces in such zone, and individuals in the armed forces outside such zone who are directly supporting the armed forces outside such zone and eligible for hostile fire pay. The time spent in the combat zone, plus a period of continuous hospitalization inside or outside the State as a result of combat zone related injuries, plus the next 180 days thereafter, may be disregarded for tax matters subject to time limits. Also, combat pay is excluded from taxable income (subject to a limit for commissioned officers).
On 13 April 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 99-04-14, which designated the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia/Montenegro), Albania, and the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea north of the 39th parallel as a combat zone and set 24 March 1999 as the date of commencement of combatant activities in such zone. Issuance of the executive order automatically triggered the armed forces relief provisions of the Tax Law section 696. However, the federal law also extends tax relief to individuals who are part of Operation Allied Force and who are anywhere outside the United States while deployed away from their permanent duty stations, and members of the armed forces of the United States who are entitled to special pay under section 310 of the Title 37 of the U.S. Code for services performed in the "qualified hazardous duty area defined above. Legislation was passed to extend the tax relief afforded under Section 696 of the Tax Law to such qualified individuals. (Chapter 34 of the Laws of 1999, A. 7974 Silver)
B. Governmental Employees Committee
1. Date For Membership in Retirement System
This measure would allow any person who was in the military when his or her name was reached for certification on an open competitive list to have the same date of membership in the retirement system as any eligible person who was lower on that open competition list. (Chapter 616 of the Laws of 1999, A. 1269-A Harenberg)
2. Transfer of Employees Retirement System for Division of Veterans' Affairs Employees
The Veterans' Education Program was previously under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education. In October of 1997, Governor Pataki requested that this federally funded program be moved to the jurisdiction of the Division of Veterans' Affairs. The Veterans' Education bureau approves and supervises educational institutions offering programs for veterans and other eligible persons.
This law allows any employee who, as a result of the transfer of funds of the veterans' education program, is required to transfer to the division of veterans' affairs to continue to remain in the same retirement plan in which he or she was enrolled prior to such transfer of funds. (Chapter 64 of the Laws of 1999, A. 4995 Englebright)
C. Governmental Operations Committee
1. Conspicuous Service Cross for D-Day Participants
This measure includes armed service personnel who directly participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy of 6 June 1944 in the list of individuals eligible to receive the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. (Chapter 272 of the Laws of 1999, A 3173 Tocci)
2. Battle of Plattsburgh Day
This law designates September eleventh of each year as "Battle of Plattsburgh Day",in commemoration of the naval victory on Lake Champlain, 11 September 1814. This was referred to by President Theodore Roosevelt as "the greatest naval battle of the War of 1812." (Chapter 348 of the Laws of 1999, A 3170 Ortloff)
D. Housing Committee
This law prohibits governing boards of condominiums from adopting rules restricting owners of units from hanging or displaying the U. S. Flag. (Chapter 437 of the Laws of 1999, A.8909 Carrozza)
1. Pearl Harbor Memorial Expressway
This law designates portions of the state highway system known as Route 440 from Outbridge Crossing to Route 278 (West Shore Expressway) in Richmond County as the "Pearl Harbor Memorial Expressway." (Chapter 421 of the Laws of 1999, A. 3750 Connelly)
2. POW/MIA Remembrance Bridge
This law renames the bridge in the Village of Herkimer and Mohawk as the POW/MIA Remembrance Bridge. (Chapter 68 of the Laws of 1999, A. 7429 M. Butler)
A. Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States--100th Anniversary
This resolution commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States for its outstanding contributions to the nation. The membership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is made up of men and women who have served their country honorably in overseas engagements for which a campaign badge or medal has been authorized by the U.S. government or who have served within the territorial limits for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days. No others may join, there are no honorary memberships. (AL 41, Silver)
B. Department of Veterans Affairs 10th Anniversary As A Cabinet Department
On March 15, 1999, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) celebrated its 10th Anniversary as a Cabinet Department, marking a decade of growth and profound change for the nation's second largest cabinet agency. This resolution commemorates this event. (AL 534, Tocci)
C. New York Air National Guard
This resolution commends the enlisted men and women of the New York Air National Guard in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their nation. The Year 1999 has been named "The Year of the Enlisted Force" in recognition of the many accomplishments of the enlisted men and women of the New York Air National Guard, so designated by Major General Paul A. Weaver, Jr., Director of the Air National Guard. (AL 824, Tocci)
D. The GI Bill of Rights--55th Anniversary of the Signing of the Law
This resolution commemorates the 55th Anniversary of the signing of The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, known as the GI Bill of Rights. This law was signed by President Harry S. Truman on 22 June 1944. This piece of legislation made the American dream an achievable reality, and resulted in the world's largest middle class and strongest economy. (AL 1261, McEneny)
E. Veterans Education Week
This resolution honors New York State veterans and memorializes Governor Pataki to proclaim May 24-31 as "Veterans Education Week" in New York State. The purpose of this educational week is not to glamorize war, but to remember and become more fully aware that United States servicemen and women did extraordinary things to guarantee freedom and prosperity, that all veterans fought for it, thousands were captured for it, and many lost their lives for it. (AL 639, Bragman)
F. AMVETS Charter Day
This resolution memorializes the Governor to proclaim July 23rd as AMVETS Charter Day in New York State. The American Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and those serving after (AMVETS) was incorporated as a national veterans organization by an act of Congress and signed by President Truman on 23 July 1947. Proclaiming July 23rd as AMVETS Charter Day would be a symbol of gratitude for the continuing service of the members of the AMVETS. (AL 881, Tocci)
G. National Airborne Day
This resolution memorializes the Governor to proclaim 16 August 1999 as National Airborne Day in New York State. August 16 is the date that the Parachute Test Platoon performed the first official Army parachute jump (16 August 1940). The success of the Parachute Test Platoon led to the formation of a large and successful airborne contingent serving from World War II to the present. (AL 956, Tocci)
H. Fly Flag On Pearl Harbor Day
All New York residents are urged in this resolution to fly the American flag on the 7 December of each year, known as Pearl Harbor Day. December 7 has been designated a day of commemoration in Section 168-a of the New York State Executive Law. President Franklin Roosevelt said on that fateful day in 1941 that it will be a day of infamy. (AL 1444, Pheffer)
I. Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999
This resolution calls upon Congress to pass H.R. 1568, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999. H.R. 1568 is a comprehensive approach to encouraging the aid through loans and a variety of support and technical assistance to veterans that they so richly deserve. This legislation would ensure that veterans are included in the full range of federal programs and services at SBA and would establish some key additional programs specifically for these deserving Americans. (AL 1118, Rules Destito)
J. The Purple Heart--Urging A U.S. Postal Stamp
The Purple Heart is an American Decoration the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first award made available to the common soldier. The Purple Heart is awarded to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces killed or wounded in an armed conflict. This resolution, on behalf of the New York, Long Island, and National members of The Military Order of the Purple Heart and all veterans organizations urges the United States Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp commemorating the Purple Heart and honoring the outstanding valor and merit of the common soldier in American combat. (AL 1158, Rules Harenberg)
A. Subcommittee on Women Veterans
The Subcommittee on Women Veterans observed the 51st anniversary of women's incorporation as full members of the armed forces by sponsoring Women Veterans Recognition Day in the Assembly. The event included words of welcome by Speaker Silver, the invocation given by Reverend Kathleen LaRocque, a veteran of the Women's Army Corps, an Army National Guard Color Guard unit, comments from Subcommittee Chair Destito and Chairman Tocci, and introduction of women veterans from around New York State. A resolution commemorating the day President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Women's Armed Forces Service Act of 1948 (P.L. 625-80th Congress) was adopted. This law ensured that women have a permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. (AL 1159, Rules Destito)
B. Conspicuous Service Cross Recognition Ceremony
After a regularly scheduled Veterans' Affairs Committee meeting, on 2 June 1999, a special ceremony was held for Mr. Emilio Da Bramo, a World War II veteran who was a Radio Operator Mechanic who served in Normandy. As the result of receiving the Air Medal, with 3 Oak Leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Mr. Da Bramo was qualified to receive the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. The ceremony included a New York Army National Guard Color Guard. It was conducted by Major Robert H. Von Hassein, the National Guard historian. It consisted of reading a citation accompanying the medal and the pinning of the medal on Mr. Da Bramo by Chairman Tocci.
C. National Commander Harold "Butch" Miller Speaks To The New York State Assembly
American Legion National Commander Harold "Butch" Miller was given the rare privilege of speaking before members of the New York State Assembly in the chamber on Flag Day. Commander Miller served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1974. His assignments included time with the Army Security Agency as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics. He served primarily in the Pacific theater including Vietnam. Following his military service, he joined the Department of Veterans Affairs and retired from the VA after more than 20 years. He is a member of the American Legion Post 364 in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Commander Miller's remarks consisted of thanking the Assembly for its generous support of the World War II National memorial. "I thank you not only for them (members of the American Legion) though, I thank you for a generation. You know, the Second World War generation veterans are the largest single group of veterans in this nation. They also represent the largest single group of veterans in the American Legion. Also, sadly, they represent 1,000 veterans, both men and women, who pass away each and every day. For some 54 years, far too long many would say, we, American citizens, have failed to recognize fully what those veterans did. We kind of built memorials in reverse order of the wars. But fifty-some years that it's taken us to get to this point, we have finally reached the point where we are going to build the memorial to their service....I would also like to thank the Speaker for allowing me this time."
D. Update on New York State Veterans Nursing Home in Montrose, New York
On 7 June 1999 a groundbreaking ceremony occurred for the construction of New York State's fifth veterans nursing home. Chapter 264 of the Laws of 1995 authorized the State's commitment for establishing, financing and construction of a veterans nursing home in the lower Hudson Valley (Montrose, Westchester County) and set forth admission criteria for veterans and certain spouses. Construction will begin this summer and the facility is expected to be open by the spring of 2001.
The Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs is looking forward to a productive year in 2000. The Committee will continue to work with the Division of Veterans' Affairs, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs other State agencies, veterans organizations and individual veterans throughout New York State to develop programs and services designed to assist the veterans of this state.
The issues that the Committee will pursue include:
The Committee will continue to strive to uphold its responsibility by addressing the needs of New York State's approximately 1.4 million veterans and their families.
1999 SUMMARY OF ACTION ON ALL BILLS
LIST OF BILLS THAT BECAME LAW