|New York State||Assembly|
15 December 2002
Honorable Sheldon Silver
Dear Mr. Speaker,
It is with great pleasure that I forward the 2002 Annual Report of the Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Several significant measures became law this year. Among them were: the requirement that the division of veterans' affairs fund local veterans' service agencies; an act to broaden the real property tax exemption from the taxes imposed upon seriously disabled veterans; and a change regarding the eligibility requirements for admission to the New York State veterans' nursing homes to include those who served between times of war. Other important measures that affect veterans include a chapter that imposes liability on employers for discharging or discriminating against employees who display the American flag and a measure that provides protection for a veteran's estate when a veteran who is a state employee and who made payments for military service credit dies prior to retirement.
It is with anticipation that we welcome the 2003 Legislative Session. Among the issues the Committee will examine 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 veterans, which range from those infected with Hepatitis C and AIDS to those in need of long term care, will again be a focus.
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 especially thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your continued support of New York's veterans.
Member of Assembly
2002 ANNUAL REPORT
NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
Honorable Ronald C. Tocci
William L. Parment
Catherine T. Nolan
Audrey I. Pheffer
Robert K. Sweeney
Joseph E. Robach
Darryl C. Towns
Thomas P. DiNapoli
Amy R. Paulin
John W. Lavelle
Robert J. Prentiss,
Ranking Minority Member
Frances T. Sullivan
Daniel J. Burling
Joanne Barker, Legislative Coordinator
Joanne B. Martin, Principal Analyst
Elizabeth Hogan, Counsel
Caryn Canfield, Committee Assistant
Sharon L. Grobe, Committee Clerk
Kathleen Quackenbush, Program and Counsel Secretary
|I. COMMITTEE JURISDICTION AND SUMMARY|
The Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs evaluates legislation affecting 1.3 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, Public Health Law, Real Property Tax Law, Military 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 five meetings and considered 87 bills. Ten of these bills passed both houses of the Legislature and were signed into law. One was vetoed by the Governor. The Committee was represented at the American Legion's 82nd Convention in Albany, New York, and at the dedication of the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, New York.
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, and Corporations, Authorities and Commissions. 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 other Assembly standing committees or conduct joint public hearings with other committees.
|II. 2002 LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS|
Dioxin is a chemical contaminant that was contained in Agent Orange, a herbicide (plant killer) used for defoliation in Vietnam from 1962 until 1971, as well as along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea in 1968-69, and at Fort Drum, New York, in 1959.
Agent Orange received its name from orange painted on barrels containing the herbicide. Other herbicides were also named this way, e.g., Agents White, Blue, Green, and Purple. The barrels were color-coded to make identification easier for shippers and handlers.
Herbicide spraying operations were conducted to clear vegetation, denying the enemy camouflage or cover for ambush. Herbicides were also used to destroy enemy food crops and to clear base perimeters, landing zones, waterways, and communications lines. An estimated 11 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Southeast Asia.
Of the nearly 440,000 Vietnam veterans in New York State, roughly 131,000 engaged in active duty in Southeast Asia. Thus, the number of veterans in New York State who were exposed to Agent Orange is probably very high.
Since the time this statute of limitations was first enacted in 1981, additional diseases, such as Hodgkin's disease and prostate cancer, have been associated with Agent Orange. Recently it has been recognized as a presumptive cause for Type 2 adult diabetes. These diseases have been certified by the federal government, making veterans eligible to receive compensation due to the exposure to Agent Orange.
Agent Orange Extender
In 1981, legislation was enacted to allow former members of the armed forces to initiate action to recover damages for personal injury caused by exposure to phenoxy herbicides (Agent Orange) within two years from the date of discovery of the injury or within two years from the date such injury should have been discovered, whichever is later.
This Chapter extends to June 16, 2004, the deadline for filing suits against the producers of Agent Orange. Those persons whose injury or death was caused by contact with or exposure to phenoxy herbicides (Agent Orange) and served as members of the U.S. Armed Forces in Indo-China from December 22, 1961, through May 7, 1975, may file.
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 eligible funds exemption reduces the property's assessed value to the extent that eligible funds were used in the purchase, generally up to the maximum of $5,000.
Section 458 of the RPTL provides a partial exemption from real property taxation for property purchased with the proceeds of a veteran's pension, bonus, or insurance monies, dividends or refunds on such insurance, compensation paid to prisoners of war, or mustering-out pay. These types of payments are called "eligible funds."
This exemption is applicable to general municipal taxes (county, city, town or village), but not to school taxes or special district taxes.
Seriously Disabled Veterans
In 1981, section 458 of the Real Property Tax Law was amended (Chapter 981 Laws of 1981) to direct that seriously disabled veterans would be fully exempt from 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 Assessors of Nassau County (1974), 35 NY 2d 624, 36 NYS 2d 820, 342 NE 2d 310). Therefore, veterans receiving exemptions under section 453(3) were not exempt from special charges.
This measure clarifies the scope of the exemption by providing that eligible veterans shall be fully exempt from all real property taxation, as intended by the 1981 enactment.
A seriously disabled veteran under Section 458(3) would be defined as a veteran who has suffered from service-connected disability during wartime and participates under the Specially Adopted Housing for Disabled Veterans program under 38 USC Chapter 21, section 210 (a).
Section 2632 of the Public Health Law establishes requirements for admission to the four New York State Veterans Nursing Homes under the jurisdiction of the New York State Health Department. They are located in Oxford (Chenango County), St. Albans (Queens County), Batavia (Genesee County) and Montrose (Westchester County).
The statute prior to this year required the applicant, in order to be eligible for admission, to have been a New York State resident at time of entry into active duty or for one year prior to admission; to have an honorable discharge from the armed forces; and to have at least thirty days of service during a time of war. A spouse may be admitted to a home if the spouse was married to a qualified veteran for ten years prior to application. If the veteran dies, the spouse may continue to reside at the home provided he/she requires skilled nursing care.
Recent trends and future projections indicate a decrease in admissions to the Veterans Homes. Demographically, there will be a gap in nursing home census in the coming years due to the decreasing number of wartime veterans from World War II.
According to the Health Department, unless the veterans nursing homes expand admissions to allow veterans who served between war-time periods to enter, the fiscal viability of the homes will be seriously compromised.
Eligibility For Admission To New York State Veterans' Nursing Homes
The measure, introduced at the request of the Health Department, changes the eligibility requirement for admission to the New York State veterans nursing homes to include the military personnel who served between times of war.
Current law allows for funding of city and county veterans' service agencies by the division of veterans' affairs on an optional basis. Optional funding makes the planning and delivery of services difficult for veterans' service agencies. This bill requires the funding. The bill mandates the Division to reimburse fifty percent of the county and city veterans' service agencies' operation and maintenance costs subject to the allocation levels in statute.
This measure adds commodities and services produced by qualified charitable non-profit workshops for veterans approved for such purposes by the commissioner of education or incorporated by this state to the list of preferred sources state agencies may contract with.
|III. SPECIAL RECOGNITION|
While establishing needed programs and services for veterans is the main focus of the Veterans' Affairs Committee's legislative efforts, the Legislature in the past several years has designated portions of State highways to honor various State veterans organizations or events in the history of New York State.
This measure designates a portion of the state highway system known as the "Clearview Expressway" (Interstate 295) as the "U.S. Army 77th Infantry Division Expressway."
This bill designates a portion of the state highway system constituting state route 84, which lies within the county of Dutchess, as the "Dutchess County Veterans Memorial Highway."
The state highway system constituting state route 390, beginning at mile marker 55.7 through the towns of Henrietta and Rush in the county of Monroe and the town of Avon in the county of Livingston and continuing to mile marker 64.5, is designated as the "87th Infantry Division Memorial Highway" by this measure.
This bill designates a portion of the state highway system, currently known as the Bronx River Parkway, from Westchester County line to the Bruckner Expressway, as "The Bronx Veterans' Memorial Highway."
This measure designates a portion of the state highway system constituting state route thirty-six within the Village of Mount Morris, county of Livingston, as the "Mount Morris Veterans' Memorial Highway."
The highway law was amended under this proposal to designate a portion of the Harlem River Drive as the "369th Harlem Hellfighter's Drive."
This bill would have created a temporary state commission on veterans' employment within the Department of Civil Service. The mission of the commission would have been to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations concerning the scope, quality, cost, and effectiveness of services for veterans and disabled veterans.
Under current law, only qualified not-for-profit organizations may host games of chance or "Las Vegas Nights" as fundraisers for their organizations on their own premises or the premises of another not-for-profit organization. This legislation would have allowed a not-for-profit organization to hold a fundraiser event at a location which is not owned by another not-for-profit organization.
|V. BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS|
The Division of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) operates four principal programs. The largest provides veterans counseling and claims services. A statewide network of approximately 56 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 benefits. Counselors also serve constituents through outreach to Veterans' Affairs medical centers, senior centers, State veterans' nursing 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 2002-2003 State budget for this training.
Under Chapter 435 of the Laws of 2000 and effective October 1, 2000, visually impaired wartime veterans and their surviving spouses who have not remarried, are eligible for a $1,000 annual annuity. This benefit is paid in monthly installments. Its origins can be traced back to the post-World War I period. This annuity amount reflects an increase of $500 from prior years.
In September 2000 there were 3,184 recipients and in August 2001 the total number increased to 3,411.
The Budget appropriated $5,000,000 for this vital 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 law, no veteran can receive G.I. educational benefits, such as the Montgomery GI Bill benefits 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 this program.
The Budget included a $1,518,000 federal operating grant to operate this program.
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. As well, they are to inform veterans about federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to their rights as veterans and families of veterans.
In the budget for SFY 2002-2003, $575,000 was allocated for this program.
The Rochester Veterans' Outreach Center is a community program responding to the needs of the Vietnam era, Korean conflict, and World War II veterans and their families, as well as those who have served their country during peacetime and the Persian Gulf War. The primary objective of the community program is to work with veterans to help them resolve problems arising from war-related traumas. The program offers individual and group counseling and support groups. It deals with the needs of spouses, partners, children, other family members, employers, and co-workers, in hope of helping the veteran to a productive and healthy relationship with the community.
In the 2002-2003 budget, $150,000 was appropriated for this program in Rochester, New York.
The DVA will initiate a feasibility study for the establishment of a State veterans' cemetery at the former Sampson Naval Base in Romulus, Seneca County. The site served as a naval training station during World War II. After World War II, it was converted to Sampson State College for returning service men. The U.S. Air Force reopened it as a training station during the Korean Conflict and used it until 1955. In 1960, the State of New York purchased Sampson for use as a State Park. It encompasses the former Native American village of Kendaia, which was eventually settled and developed by farmers.
In the adopted budget, $300,000 was appropriated for the study.
A pavilion to be named to honor veterans will be constructed in either Rockland county or Orange county.
In the FY 2002 budget, $150,000 was allocated for the design and construction of a pavilion.
As the veterans population gets older, methods of transportation to a VA hospital or other medical services and appointments get more critical. Monies were allocated in the budget to continue funding for services and expenses of localities and counties to replace or purchase vans for this vital service.
$300,000 was allocated for this program.
The Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg contains more than 7,000 internments, including over 3,500 from the Civil War. On February 11, 1895, congressional legislation was signed to establish Gettysburg National Park as a memorial dedicated to the armies that fought the three-day battle. The Park incorporates nearly 6,000 acres with 26 miles of park roads and over 1,400 monuments, markers, and memorials.
There are 126 monuments, markers, and memorials honoring the contribution of soldiers from New York at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Under the National Heritage Trust Program, $250,000 is dedicated for the services and expenses to repair and restore New York State Division monuments in the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Community-based not-for-profit veterans organizations are designed to address the needs of veterans and their families with services such as crisis intervention and treatment for special mental health disorders related to military experience. Unlike the City and County Veterans Service Agencies, these centers provide direct services to veterans and their entire family.
In the adopted budget for FY 2002, $200,000 was allocated for these programs.
An admission program for the State University of New York Maritime College was established in the budget. Under the program, 284 four-year full-tuition scholarships covering in-state tuition costs of $3,400 are slated to be awarded per year. Students must meet SUNY Maritime's general admissions requirements, and must be nominated by a local elected state legislator. State officials with nominating power include the governor, majority leader of the Senate, speaker of the Assembly, and members of the Senate and Assembly.
The New York State Assembly Majority committed $81,081 in funding to meet one half of the State's match toward the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Renovation Project approved for the Long Island State Veterans Nursing Home. The Assembly share along with the Senate's share enabled the Home to secure $301,158 in federal funding available through a Veterans Administration Construction/Renovation grant.
|VI. BILLS THAT PASSED THE ASSEMBLY ONLY|
In 2000, Chapter 435 raised the New York State Blind Veterans' Annuity Program from $500 to $1,000 a year. The benefit was created in 1913, and this was the first time the benefit increased. A.5133-A would provide for regular adjustments of the blinded veterans' annuity in accordance with federal veterans' benefit increases so that the recipients would not see an actual decrease in the value of their benefit. Since the amount of the benefit is established by statute, action by the legislature is required each time an increase is desired.
This measure would change the date upon which the Vietnam war is deemed to have commenced from December 22, 1961, to February 28, 1961, in various sections of law.
Large numbers of unmarried military veterans and unremarried surviving spouses on Medicaid in nursing homes throughout New York State are not receiving the federal Veterans Administration pension to which they may be entitled. In many cases, there are no relatives or friends who can help veterans apply. This bill would require licensed nursing homes and health care facilities to identify and file applications for the Improved Pension Program on behalf of those veterans who are receiving Medicaid.
This measure amends Section 63 of the Public Officers Law to require an extra day of paid leave on Memorial Day and Veterans' Day for veterans who are employed by a school district, board of cooperative educational services (BOCES), or other educational institution that receives state funding.
This bill would authorize municipalities to adopt a local law or ordinance allowing the assessor to transfer and prorate a real property tax exemption granted a veteran when such veteran sells the property receiving the exemption and purchases property within the same municipality.
The purpose of this bill is to include in the category of those qualified for the eligible funds exemption under Section 458(3) of the Real Property Tax Law seriously disabled veterans who are eligible to receive pecuniary assistance from the federal government to acquire or adapt a home to their needs.
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 for property 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.
This bill would direct LIPA to charge not-for-profit veterans' organizations the rates charged to domestic consumers, just as the other utilities in the state are required under Chapter 82 of the Laws of 1998. The 1998 chapter was passed by both houses of the Legislature prior to the date when the Long Island Company (LILCO) sold its electric distribution business to Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) but was not signed until after that date. The 1998 statute was intended to benefit 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.
For more than one hundred years, the state of New York has been the custodian of an array of military memorabilia, some of which predates the American Revolution. A significant portion of this historical collection concerns the Civil War and the memorabilia of New Yorkers serving in the wars of the twentieth century. The collection constitutes an irreplaceable part of our State's and nation's military heritage.
The State of New York has the premier collection of battle flags in the country, covering over sixteen hundred flags carried by New Yorkers from every county of the state, from the War of 1812 to the Persian Gulf War.
New York State needs a place in or near the Capitol to rotate a display of artifacts. The personal sacrifices and dedication represented by these artifacts and battle flags otherwise remain unseen by much of the public. There is also a pressing need for a permanent display of replicas of the battle flags and suitable storage and conservation of the actual battle flags.
This measure would create a commission to recommend a site and develop a plan to create a place to rotate exhibits.
This bill would establish a New York State Veterans Cemetery in Seneca County on a site to be determined by the Division of Veterans' Affairs. Preference would be given to the former Army Depot or the former grounds of the Sampson United States Military Training Station. It would be operated by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the creation of a license plate for veterans who earned an honorable discharge and who served in the United States Naval Armed Guard. There would be a one-time service charge of ten dollars added on to the cost of such plate.
This bill would authorize the creation of a license plate for veterans who have earned the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. There would be a one-time service charge of ten dollars added on to the cost of such plate.
The bill would provide for the establishment of a temporary state commission to memorialize the fiftieth anniversary of the Korean Conflict.
This measure would amend Chapter 548 of the Laws of 2000 to allow honorably discharged veterans who are members of the public retirement system and who have earned an armed forces expeditionary medal, navy expeditionary medal, or marine corps expeditionary medal to be eligible to purchase additional service credit for up to three years military service.
This bill would provide that disabled veterans who are certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs or a military department may present such certificate as evidence of their disability and provides purple heart recipients a priority in the program.
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.
Financial Assistance to Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
The purpose of this bill is to provide financial assistance to small and medium-sized businesses that have been adversely affected by the loss of an owner, manager or key employee who has been called up on active military duty.
Proper Notice of Removal of Veterans' Bodies In Private
This bill would provide that, before the owners of a private cemetery may remove an interred body, they must provide notice to the county clerk and county historian, and if any of the deceased are known to be veterans, notice must also be given to the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs. Currently, notice must be given to the next of kin of the deceased, if known. The bill would also provide that notice must be given within 20 days before such removal, rather than the current 10 days. In the absence of kin, the bill would authorize the county clerk, county historian, or the Division of Veterans' Affairs to act as guardian to ensure proper reburial.
Vestal Central School District
This bill would authorize and direct the Vestal Central School District to grant a high school diploma to Mr. Charles A. Kneller, a resident of the district, in recognition of his service in the Armed Forces during World War II. Due to the fact that Mr. Kneller earned a General Equivalency Diploma, he was not eligible to receive an additional diploma under the "Operation Recognition Program" guidelines established by the State Education Department.
This measure would make military personnel stationed in New York State or the dependents of such personnel eligible for tuition assistance under the tuition assistance program.
Raffles Conducted by Charitable and Service Organizations
This bill would provide that charitable and service organizations may conduct certain raffles without complying with licensing, filing, or reporting requirements provided that the cumulative net proceeds during one occasion shall not exceed $10,000.
This measure would provide veterans who have retired from public service in the state with a veterans' pension benefit similar to that which active veteran public employees are entitled to receive.
The supplemental benefit would apply to the first $15,000 of a veteran worker's pension. Pursuant to this bill, a retired public worker who served one year in the military could receive an additional three percent of his or her pension, up to $450. A veteran who served two years could get six percent, up to $900, and a veteran with three years, could receive nine percent or up to $1,350.
The bill would authorize an additional thirty days military leave for public employees who are absent on military duty.
This measure would designate a portion of the state highway in the hamlet of Appalachian to be known as "Delmar D. Sibley S 1/c USN Memorial Bridge." Mr. Sibley was Tioga County's first World War II casualty.
This legislation creates a "Proud to Be An American" distinctive license plate. A $25 surcharge would be paid for the plates. One-third of the additional annual service charge would be deposited to the credit of the Division of Veterans' Affairs and made available to veterans organizations, and one-third of such additional annual charge would be deposited to the credit of the office of emergency management and made available to local emergency management organizations. The remaining third would be deposited to the credit of the dedicated highway and bridge trust funds established pursuant to section eighty-nine b of the state finance law and made available for costs of highways and bridge projects undertaken as a result of September 11, 2001, in cities with the population of one million or more.
This bill would authorize the creation of a license plate for veterans who earned an honorable discharge and who served in the United States armed forces during the Persian Gulf war. There would be a one-time service charge of ten dollars added to the cost of the plate.
The legislation would authorize the creation of a license plate for veterans who earned an honorable discharge and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. There would be a one-time service charge of ten dollars added to the cost of such plate.
This bill would authorize the creation of a license plate for members of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society. The Eighth Air Force Historical Society, founded in 1975 by an original Eighth Air Force pilot, serves as a central organization for its individual state chapters and wings. An additional annual service charge of fifteen dollars shall be charged, however, one year after the effective date: funds in the amount of five thousand dollars shall be allocated to the DMV to offset costs associated with the production of such a plate.
Under this bill, the Croton Reservoir Bridge would be designated the "AMVETS Memorial Bridge."
The bill would allow New York State taxpayers voluntarily to contribute a portion of their state income tax refund to finance the operation of the State's veterans' homes.
This measure would allow an individual in any taxable year to elect to contribute to the support of the New York State Veterans' homes. The bill also creates a fund in the custody of the state comptroller to help fund the nursing homes.
This bill would expand the state workers with disabilities employment tax credits program to include employers of certain disabled veterans.
The bill would allow a New York State taxpayer to voluntarily contribute a portion of their state income tax refund to the preservation and restoration of monuments dedicated to New Yorkers at the Gettysburg National Battlefield.
|VII. BILLS REPORTED BY OTHER COMMITTEES THAT BECAME LAW|
Employee Payments For Military Service Credit
Existing law provides that employee payments for military service credit are deposited in the amount designated for employer contributions and thus are non-refundable. This new statute provides two exceptions under which the employee contributions could be refunded: first, when the employee dies prior to retirement, and second when a person reaches his/her maximum pension additional benefit.
Onondaga County Nursing Homes Bed Need Assessment
State and local veterans organizations have called for the creation of a new long-term health care facility for veterans, serving the eighteen county Central New York Region (Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga, Tompkins, and Wayne counties) currently served by the Veterans' Administration in Syracuse. Under existing law, a "service needs assessment," which is an estimate of the projected demand for the facility, needs to be completed before a decision is made on whether such facility is needed. In August 1998, the Health Department promised veterans' advocates and elected officials from Central New York that a statewide study of health services needs and gaps in existing services would be completed within the year. The results of that study have never been published.
This chapter requires the State Health Department to complete a needs assessment for a long-term healthcare facility for veterans serving in the same eighteen-county region as the Syracuse Veterans' Administration Hospital. This report must be sent to the Legislature within ninety days after enactment.
VVTAP for Vietnam and Persian Gulf Veterans
This law extends the date of eligibility for qualifying Vietnam and Persian Gulf veterans to establish eligibility in the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Award Program and Persian Gulf Veterans Tuition Award Program to September 1, 2004.
This measure imposes liability on employers for discharging or discriminating against employees for displaying the American flag either on their person or work station and provides further for violators to pay a fine and be liable to the employee for damages, including reasonable attorney's fees and lost compensation.
This law adds the veterans' identification cards issued by the federal Department of Veterans' Affairs to the list of valid forms of proof of name and age when applying for a driver's license or non-driver identification. The commissioner of motor vehicles will decide how many points this identification would be worth.
Under federal law, every male from the ages of 18 to 25 must register for the military draft. This measure requires persons between the ages of 18 and 26 that are applying for a learner's permit, driver's license, renewal, or non-driver's identification card to have complied with federal law or consent to permit DMV to submit information to the Selective Service System so that such applicants can be registered for the draft. The measure provides notification to each applicant that by applying for a driver's license, such person is also consenting to sign up for the draft.
This bill renames Route 86 as the "Cattaraugus County Veterans Memorial Highway."
This measure renames the bridge crossing the Allegheny river on Church street between Parkway Drive and Wildwood Avenue in the city of Salamanca as "Seneca Nation of Indians City of Salamanca Veterans Memorial Bridge."
This bill renames route 104 from the Wayne County line to Orleans County line as the "Monroe County American Legion Highway."
|VIII. HONORING VETERANS THROUGH LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTIONS|
This resolution urges members of the New York State Congressional delegation to sponsor legislation to exempt the New York State Blind Veterans Annuity payments from the category of income when calculating the VA pension award payments. (AL 2808, Sweeney)
Admiral Walter F. Doran, native of Albany, New York, became the 30th commander-in-chief of the world's largest naval command. The resolution commends the Admiral on his achievement of leading the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (AL 2865, McEneny)
The resolution commemorates the 66th anniversary of the enactment of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. This law created the United States Merchant Marine and the United States Maritime Service to serve as a naval or military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. (AL 3042, Lavelle)
In 1942, twenty-nine Navajo Marines completed boot camp at the Marine Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. They were sent to Camp Elliot (modern day Marine Air Corps Station Miramar) where they developed the code based on the Navajo language that was used for secure military communications in the Pacific arena of World War II. The Navajo Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions, and Marine parachute units, by transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language, a code that the Japanese never broke. This resolution honors those special Navajo veterans. (AL 3027, Tocci)
Tri-County Council Vietnam Era Veterans was founded in 1982 by veterans located in the Albany, Troy, and Schenectady area. It is an unaffiliated veterans' organization offering membership to those who served on active duty in the U.S. military from May 1, 1959, to May 7, 1975, and who, for subsequent service, earned the National Defense Service Medal (Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm). As well, associate memberships are available to other veterans and individuals who are concerned with the needs and problems of veterans. This resolution commemorates their 20th anniversary and honors this organization for its many good works in the community. (AL 1986, Canestrari)
Vietnam Veterans of America has a mission to actively participate in issues of concern to veterans and to advocate for those veterans who struggle today with homelessness or the after-effects of Agent Orange and other medical and psychological problems. The resolution honors this organization on its 20th anniversary. (AL 2721, DiNapoli)
This resolution commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Vietnam Memorial is a 493 footlong black granite wall, rising from the ground to 10.1 feet in height, and meeting at the center in a 125.12 degree angle. On its polished center are engraved the names of more than 58,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died or remain missing in Vietnam. In the words of the jury that selected the design: "It is a place of quiet reflection and a tribute to those who served their Nation in difficult times; all who were here can find it a place of healing." (AL 2063, Tocci)
This resolution memorializes the Governor to proclaim May 11, 2002, as a "Day of Honor" in New York State. The Day of Honor would recognize the valiant military service of minority veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces during World War II. (AL 2517, DelMonte)
This resolution memorializes the Governor to proclaim September 17, 2002, as "Citizenship Day" in New York State. The purpose of Citizenship Day is to honor both native-born citizens who have reached voting age and naturalized foreign-born citizens. The day celebrates our supreme law of the land as the oldest working Constitution in the world. (AL 3036, Nolan)
|IX. OTHER ACTIVITIES BY THE COMMITTEE|
The Subcommittee on Women Veterans sponsored the eighth annual Women Veterans Recognition Day in the Assembly. This year the Subcommittee honored women veterans who served during World War II. Also honored were Helen Jacob, who served in the Women's Army Corp, and Eileen Yager, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. (AL 2890, Eddington)
The subcommittee also sponsored three additional resolutions.
This resolution honored World War I veteran Corrine Alton Gillick on her 105th birthday. Mrs. Gillick, after receiving her RN certification, enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and was stationed at Debarkation Hospital in New York City. She served from September 1918 to September 1919. (AL 2236, Eddington)
Charity Earley became the first black commissioned officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942. The Corps became the Women's Army Corps (WACs). She was among 40 black and 400 white women in the Corp's first class, whose platoons were separated by race. At the end of the officer candidate training, Earley was made 3rd Officer, the equivalent of a 2nd Lieutenant, and became a Commanding Officer of a training unit. After being deployed to Europe, Early set up and administered the 6,888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, whose mission was to deliver mail to all Americans stationed in the European theater. She was honored by the United States Postal Museum Hall of Fame in 1996. This resolution honors her life and accomplishments. (AL 1745, Eddington)
The Women's Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established to work with the Army "for the purpose of making available to the national defense the knowledge, skill, and special training of the women of the nation." Women joined the WAACs for a variety of reasons, but nearly all professed the desire of aid their country by "releasing a man for combat duty." WAACs worked as file clerks, typists, stenographers, and drivers. The Army Air Force used WAACs as weather observers and forecasters, cryptographers, radio operators and repairmen, sheet metal workers, parachute riggers, aerial photograph analysts, and control tower operators; a few were assigned flying duties as radiomen, mechanics, and photographers. This resolution commends the WAACs on their many accomplishments. (AL 2898, Eddington)
Each year for the past forty-seven years, the New York State Legislature has set aside a day to pay tribute to the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Superintendent of West Point has the privilege of addressing the Assembly each year.
Among the West Point alumni was Lieutenant Colonel William C. Warren, USA (Retired). After high school, Mr. Warren enlisted in the United States Army and served a 3 1/2 year tour of duty before he entered West Point. He graduated in 1942 and was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry. He served in the United States Army for 30 years. Colonel Warren served during World War II with the 301st Infantry Regiment, 94th Infantry Division, and he commanded a rifle company in combat. He received many military decorations and honors: the Combat Infantry Badge; three Bronze Star medals with V for valor; two Purple Hearts; four Battle Stars; and a Presidential Unit Citation for the 3rd Battalion of the 301st Infantry Regiment. The citation was awarded for service in breaking through Siegfried Lane to create an opening for Allied Troops to enter Germany. The citation was never presented. During the luncheon after session, Col. Warren was presented with the citation by the Superintendent of West Point.
During session, Mr. Warren was presented by Chairman Tocci with the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross and the New York State Conspicuous Service Star.
On May 30th, the traditional date for Memorial Day, the Assembly Veterans' Affairs Committee participated in dedication ceremonies of the New York State World War II Memorial. One million, seven hundred thousand New Yorkers participated in the war. The Memorial's centerpiece is an eagle, symbolizing freedom, liberty, and the strength of the United States, perched on top of a large pedestal. The pedestal is surrounded by two pools of water encased with granite walls inscribed with the names of significant places, battles, and dates from the European and Pacific theaters of war. Granite tablets bear the names of the major campaigns of the war, along with quotations from President Franklin Roosevelt and Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur. Water jets create turbulence in the pools, symbolizing the lack of peace and harmony in the world during World War II. It is located on Madison Avenue next to the New York State Museum in Albany, New York.
In 1995, Governor Pataki transferred the operation of the Memorial from the Office of General Services (OGS) to the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs. In 2002, the Memorial was transferred back to OGS.
|IX. OUTLOOK FOR 2003|
The Assembly Standing Committee on Veterans' Affairs is looking forward to a productive year in 2003. The Committee will continue to work with the Division of Veterans' Affairs, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the Department of Health, other state agencies, veterans organizations, and individual veterans throughout New York State to develop programs and services 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 1.3 million veterans and their families.
2002 SUMMARY OF ACTION ON ALL BILLS REFERRED TO THE ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
|Bills Reported With or Without Amendments|
|Bills Having Committee Reference Changed|
|Senate Bills Substituted or Recalled|
|Bills Defeated in Committee||0||0||0|
|Bills Never Reported, Held in Committee|
|Bills Never Reported, Died in Committee||50||3||53|
|Bills Having Enacting Clauses Stricken|
|Motion To Discharge Lost||0||0||0|
|Total Bills in Committee||79||8||87|
|Total Number of Committee Meetings Held||5|
LIST OF BILLS THAT BECAME LAW
|A.9917||Tocci||88||Extends the filing of Agent Orange suits to June 16, 2004.|
|A.1632||Colman||179||Broadens real property tax exemption for taxes imposed upon primary residence of a seriously disabled veteran.|
|A.9766-A||Carrozza||267||Designates Clearview Expressway, Interstate 295 as the "U.S. Army 77th Infantry Division Expressway."|
|A.10244||Errigo||444||Designates a portion of State Route 36 within the Village of Mount Morris, Livingston County, as the "Mount Morris Veterans Memorial Highway."|
|A.10559-B||Errigo||452||Designates a portion of the Interstate 2390 as the "87th Infantry Division Memorial Highway."|
|A.11639||Tocci||455||Changes the eligibility requirements for admission to the New York State veterans' nursing homes to include those military personnel who served between times of war.|
|A.11427||Dinowitz||523||Designates the Bronx River Parkway from Westchester County to the Bruckner Expressway as "The Bronx Veterans' Memorial Highway."|
|A.1061||Luster||603||Requires the Division of Veterans' Affairs to reimburse 50% of the city and county veterans service agencies operation and maintenance costs.|
|A.10000-A||Kirwin||648||Designates a portion of state Route 84 in Dutchess County as the "Dutchess County Veterans Memorial Highway."|
|A.11775||Wright||693||Designates a portion of the Harlem River Drive as the "369th Harlem Hellifighter's Drive."|
LIST OF VETOES
|Bill No.||Sponsor||Veto #||Description|
|A.7063-A||Tocci||14||This bill would have created a temporary commission on veterans' employment within the Department of Civil Service.|