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NGAI Alert #17-2: 2017 NGAI Legislative Report

The NGAI legislative efforts in the Indiana General Assembly culminated with a call to action to support the Governor’s retired military pay tax exemption and to restore/increase the active military pay deduction…by the end of session, the current $5000 deduction was restored and a new $6250 deduction was created for retired pay. Although total exemptions did not pass, this session was still one of the biggest ever for Hoosier Veterans and set the stage for more substantial wins in the next General Assembly (100% exemption for Guard income and retirement.) We are already laying the groundwork for the next legislative session and will begin the process of engaging all of our Guardsmen to be ready for our next battle. Our members answered the call and made a difference this year; A total exemption will require a MASSIVE grassroots effort, so encourage your fellow Guardsmen now to be active in NGAI!

Last year, NGAI succeeded in their efforts to pass legislation that incorporated “Hoosier Veterans” in the definition of “Veteran,” in the Indiana Code, insuring that our National Guard and Reserve members were included in the recognition and benefits bestowed upon those who have served. The term, “Hoosier Veteran” also includes all Guardsmen that have completed their specialty training to reward and incentivize those in the National Guard who are on call 24/7 for both for military service abroad and aiding in emergencies at home.

BY ENGAGING THE NGAI MEMBERSHIP, WE WERE ABLE TO MAKE DIFFERENCE FOR GUARDSMEN:

  • Giving priority to our Guardsmen, both present and future, in State hiring and training opportunities;
  • Creating a formal link between the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Veteran Affairs to coordinate and expand high-value job and training opportunities for Hoosier Veterans;
  • Establishing statutory mandates to expedite professional licenses for Guardsmen and their spouses (including teacher’s licenses in a separate bill);
  • Building educational support for new enlistees seeking their GED’s;
  • Codifying the assurance that Guardsmen who work for the State will not lose seniority and income when activated;
  • Increasing State financial support for Veteran Service Organizations and Veteran Service Officers;
  • Adding 6 new Regional Veteran Service Officers to increase support for Hoosier Veterans in need;
  • Saving the $5000 tax deduction for military pay; and creating a $6250 tax deduction for military retirement pay, in addition to eliminating the minimum age requirement of 60.

TELL YOUR FELLOW GUARDSMAN TO BE ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE NGAI!

Below is the NGAI “tracking list” from this recently past legislative session; there are links included, if you are interested in reading more about issues impacting our Guardsmen. Visit the NGAI website for more details on all of our legislative successes and initiatives for next year.

HB1001 STATE BIENNIAL BUDGET (BROWN T) Appropriates money for capital expenditures and for the operation of the state. The current military pay deduction was “inadvertently” omitted from one version and then reduced in another; NGAI worked to restore the deduction. NGAI also pushed for the exemption of ALL retired military pay from State taxation in this bill, which resulted in a separate $6250 deduction. (NGAI objective is to eventually exempt ALL military pay from taxation.) The budget also contains funding for veteran service organizations, which was supported by NGAI.  State Bill Page: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1001

HB1007 EDUCATION COURSE ACCESS PROGRAM (COOK A) Allows the department of education (department) to authorize course providers to offer course access program courses that provide for the delivery of instruction through any method, including online technologies, in the course access program (program). Allows the state board of education to adopt emergency and nonemergency rules. This bill includes provisions for enlisted members of the Indiana National Guard.  State Bill Page: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1007

HB1308 VARIOUS PROFESSIONAL LICENSING MATTERS (ZENT D) Requires the boards under the authority of the agency to expedite the issuance or renewal of licenses,

certificates, registrations, or permits to military spouses. (Current law requires the boards to adopt rules to expedite the issuance or renewal of licenses, certificates, registrations, or permits to military spouses.)   State Bill Page: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1308

HB1324 ACTIVATION OF STATE EMPLOYEES (FORESTAL D) Provides that a state employee who is a member of the Indiana National Guard or a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States is entitled to: (1) a leave of absence without loss of time while on active duty; and (2) compensation in an amount that is equal to the difference between the member’s active duty military pay and the salary the member would have received if the member was not called to active duty.  State Bill Page: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1324

HB1396 TEACHER LICENSING FOR MILITARY SPOUSES (MCNAMARA W) Requires the state board of education to adopt rules, including emergency rules, that establish procedures to expedite the issuance, renewal, or reinstatement of a teacher license to a military spouse whose husband or wife is assigned to a duty station in Indiana. (Current law allows, but does not require, the state board to adopt such rules.)  State Bill Page: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/house/1396

SB307 VETERAN PREFERENCE FOR EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING (HERSHMAN B) Requires the department of workforce development (department) to give a veteran or the spouse of a veteran priority for placement in any federal or state employment or training program administered by the department. Note: this Bill includes all Guardsmen with 100 days of continuous active duty. State Bill Page: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/bills/senate/307

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NGAUS Legislative Alert; Fiscal 2017 Budget Signed

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 

The omnibus spending agreement reached by Congress to fund the government through Oct. 1 was signed by President Donald Trump Friday.

In total, the law provides $593 billion in defense spending, an increase of $19.9 billion over fiscal year 2016 spending levels. This includes:

$516.1 billion in base discretionary funding and $76.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding

Bill Highlights

  • $132.3 billion for 1,305,900 active-component troops and 813,200 National Guard and Reserve troops, as well as $123.3 billion for equipment and upgrades
  • $750 million for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account
  • $247.5 million for the Army National Guard
  • $247.5 million for the Air National Guard

Additional military construction funding for the National Guard, which adds to the full-year MILCON appropriations passed in December. Those amounts include:

  • $12 million for the Army National Guard
  • $13 million for the Air National Guard
  • $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research and development

Joint Programs

  • $234 million for the National Guard Counterdrug program
  • $20 million for National Guard Counterdrug Training Centers
  • $8 million for the National Guard State Partnership Program
  • $30 million for STARBASE
  • $10.339 million for National Guard Youth Challenge
  • $20 million for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon

Army Guard

  • $1.2 billion for 62 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Army, with no less than 15 for the Army Guard.
  • $774 million for 52 remanufactured AH-64 Apache helicopters, $262 million for seven new Apaches and $72 million to support advanced procurement needs for additional 10 aircraft for the Army.
  • To maintain four Apache battalions in the Army Guard, the bill fully funds the modernization of existing Apaches, provides $262 million for seven new Apaches and supports the annual operating costs of the four battalions.
  • $210 million for Humvee modernization for active Army, Army Guard and Army Reserve
  • $60 million for Humvee ambulances for Army Guard and Army Reserve
  • $171.8 million for 28 UH-72 Lakotas for the Army
  • $9.9 million for Army Guard Cyber Protection Teams

Air Guard

  • $8.2 billion for 74 F-35 aircraft for Air Force
  • $15.9 million for Air Guard F-16 AESA radar
  • $2.6 billion for 15 KC-46 tanker aircraft for Air Force
  • Continues prohibition of retirement of A-10 aircraft and appropriates funding to keep aircraft in service
  • $160 million for two C-130J aircraft for Air Guard
  • $17.455 million for C-17 modernization across the Air Force
  • $24.8 million for F-16 simulators
  • $440 million for procurement of the MQ-9 and $275 million for 20 MQ-1 unmanned aerial vehicles for the Air Force

$97.5 million for C-130H Modernization for Air Guard:

  • $16 million for C-130H propeller upgrades;
  • $13.5 million for Electronic Propeller Control System;
  • $1.5 million for Inflight Propeller Balancing System;
  • $41.5 million for C-130 engine enhancement program; and
  • $25 million for C-130H modernization efforts
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NGAI Alert#17-1; Governor’s Military Tax Reform; 8 April 2017

GOVERNOR HOLCOMB’S MILITARY TAX PROPOSAL:

Governor Eric Holcomb has proposed making military pensions fully exempted from state taxation. We as the National Guard Association of Indiana (NGAI) believe this is an important policy to take Indiana to the next level for many reasons; not the least of which are:

  • It is important to encourage retired veterans to set their roots in Indiana where they can grow their lives and families for years to come.
  • Attracting and keeping retired veterans in the state has an important economic impact in terms of growing Indiana’s workforce with talented individuals who value their communities and will contribute on many levels.
  • Indiana is lagging behind our neighbors in incentivizing veterans and retirees to return home or choose Indiana to relocate. Three of our surrounding states have complete exemption of all military income from state taxation:
    • Michigan
    • Ohio
    • Illinois
  • Kentucky has (1) a full exemption for those that retired before 1997 or (2) an exemption up to $41,110 in annual income.

Governor Holcomb said it best in his State of the State when he said exempting veteran’s pensions from state income tax, “will make it easier for them (veterans) to stay here and attract other patriots to our great state in their post-military careers.”

We strongly encourage the Indiana General Assembly to join many other states across the country and adopt this policy.

FROM OUR STATEHOUSE ADVOCATE, CHARLIE HILTUNEN:

I think we need to emphasize the Governor’s initiative as an important tool to boost the Indiana economy by activating an incredible, but under-utilized economic force – Our Hoosier Veterans.  Most important, the Governor is giving veterans a seat at the table during the most critical time of the legislative process – the Budget Conference Committee. This opportunity can be leveraged to boost our other initiatives – support for our Veteran Service Organizations, Veteran Service Officers and other essential veteran services.

The Governor has given us a GREAT opportunity to be at the table, BUT we need to engage EVERY veteran to back the Governor’s efforts to give us the leverage he (we) needs. The Legislature has already denied him once; they won’t be able to do it again if every legislator hears from their veterans.

EVERY Hoosier veteran needs to call, write or email their legislator and encourage them to commit to support this issue. Use the message below, or send your own personal message.

Representative or Senator (click to find your state legislators),

I fully support Governor Holcomb’s military, veterans and retiree initiatives, and ask you to do the same. I’m requesting your urgent strong support by doing the following:

1. Urge your representative on the Budget Conference Committee to support the Governor’s retired military pay state income tax exemption initiative

2. To grow the Indiana Economy, while fully supporting the efforts of the Veteran Service Organizations and their mission in support of Veterans; and

3. Provide the critical infrastructure needed by our Veteran Service Officers in every county.

With the utmost respect,

Signed (your name)

Ask them to report back to you on the success of their efforts.

Thank you for your support in this critical matter.

Mike Sturm
Executive Director

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NGAUS Legislative Alert; 30 March 2017

NGAUS strongly supports S. 697 and H.R. 1687, the Tax Relief for Guard and Reserve Training Act.  S. 697 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Tom Udall (D-NM), as well as in the House as H.R. 1687 by Representative Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), on March 22nd.

This legislation would increase the maximum reimbursement amount authorized for travel expenses incurred by members of the Reserve Component to attend training outside of normal commuting distances.  Specifically, it would modify existing law by allowing Guardsmen or Reservists to deduct from their adjusted gross income mileage, meal, and lodging expenses incurred while traveling to/from their duty location farther than 50 miles.

The passage of this important bill will provide Guardsmen and Reservists the same tax treatment offered to other federal employees for their commutes and ensure they are not unduly penalized while serving their country.  Thank you, as always, for your continued support of our Armed Forces.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Matt Pincus
(202) 408-5897
matt.pincus@ngaus.org

Take action: Click here

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EANGUS Call to Action; 2017-02

EANGUS Call To Action 2017-02

Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1379 to amend Title 38 United States Code to provide for the entitlement to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs for members of the Armed Forces awarded the Purple Heart. H.R. 1379 extends benefits under the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program to all honorably discharged, Purple Heart recipients regardless of duration of service. Currently, Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits are only available if a veteran completes at least 36 months of active duty service or is medically retired; however, some Purple Heart recipients are honorably discharged before either of those qualifications are attained, making them ineligible for full payments. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that each year, between 1,200 and 1,500 Purple Heart recipients are unable to receive full educational benefits because of the 36-month active duty service requirement. A large number of those individuals deployed with the Guard and Reserves. This bill would allow Purple Heart recipients to access the benefits they earned. Please contact your Member of Congress and request they support H.R. 1379.

Take Action: Click here

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EANGUS Legislative Call To Action: 10 March 2017

H.R. 1384 “Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act of 2017″
Take Action: EANGUS Call To Action 2017-01
The House of Representatives’ National Guard and Reserve Caucus Co-Chairs, Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS) and Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced H.R. 1384 “Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act of 2017″ to fix the disparity created by the 12304b duty status.

Current Law

12304b mobilization authority was established in the 2012 NDAA to allow DOD to deploy reserve forces for preplanned missions in support of combatant commanders. However, 12304b created a benefit disparity among the components. Reserve forces are compelled to leave behind family, friends, careers, and education pursuits to provide: life-saving humanitarian aid across the globe, security forces and logistical support in Sinai, Kosovo, Eastern Europe, and around the world. Unlike the active component, reserve forces are not provided: pre- and post-mobilization TRICARE; Post-9/11 Montgomery GI Bill Benefits; reduction in retirement age; credit for time spent deployed.

If passed by Congress and signed by the President, H.R. 1384 would provide:

Pre- and post-mobilization TRICARE to service members and their families; Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility to support personal and professional development; and greater predictability for operational deployments in order to protect time with families.

The EANGUS National Office requests that members please take a few minutes out of your day to message your delegation in Washington, D.C. to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1384, and support the bill should it come to the floor.

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Thank you for your support!!!

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NGAUS Legislative Alert; 8 March 2017

Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 1384.

NGAUS strongly supports H.R. 1384, the Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act, introduced on March 8th by Representatives Steven Palazzo of Mississippi’s 4th District, Tim Walz of Minnesota’s 1st District, Trent Franks of Arizona’s 8th District, and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire’s 1st District.

The legislation will eliminate the benefits disparity created by the 12304b mobilization authority, which was created in 2012 to allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to deploy reserve forces for pre-planned missions in support of combatant commanders.  However, unlike the active component, those reserve forces are not provided pre- and post-mobilization TRICARE, post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, reduction in retirement age, and credit for time spent while deployed.

The Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act will provide:

  • Pre- and post-mobilization TRICARE to service members and their families.
  • Post-9/11 G.I. Bill eligibility to support personal and professional development.
  • Greater predictability for operational deployments in order to protect time with families.

NGAUS Point of Contact:

Matt Pincus
(202) 408-5897
matt.pincus@ngaus.org

Take action: Click here

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NGAUS Alert; 1 March 2017

Please contact your Senators and urge them to co-sponsor and support S. 473.

“NGAUS applauds the introduction of the Educational Development for Troops and Veterans Act, which would provide numerous protections and opportunities for our members,” said the NGAUS President, MG (Ret) Gus Hargett.  “We appreciate Senator Tester’s efforts to correct the benefit disparity for members of the National Guard who mobilize for pre-planned missions across the globe. This important bill will help ensure the men and women of the National Guard accrue Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits in the same manner as their active-duty brothers and sisters. This is not just a benefit-parity issue; it is a question of fairness.”

  1. 473, the Educational Development for Troops and Veterans Act was introduced on March 1st by Senators Jon Tester of Montana, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

This legislation will:

  1. Provide protections and benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve who deploy by ensuring they receive the same G.I. Bill education benefits as their active duty counterparts for time deployed overseas.
  2. Allow service members to defer student loan payments during training for an upcoming deployment.  Service members train for months before a deployment, often have to relocate to do so, and shouldn’t face financial hardship due to their student loan payments while serving our country.
  3. Establish a grant program to build, maintain, and improve college veteran education centers to help student veterans maximize their benefits, receive academic aid, and connect with their peers on campus.
  4. Keep tuition assistance for members of the National Guard and Reserve competitive; G.I. Bill tuition assistance for Guardsmen and Reservists should not continue to lose value.
  5. Protect Reservists’ monthly housing allowance during training by correcting a discrepancy that denies Reservists who train on active duty status from receiving the full housing allowance to which they should be entitled, with many who are students that greatly rely on the allowance to further their education.

Passing this bill will help ensure the men and women of the National Guard accrue Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits in the same manner as their active duty counterparts and will further support the soldiers who protect our nation.  Thank you, as always, for your continued support of our veterans and Armed Forces.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Matt Pincus
(202) 408-5897
matt.pincus@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

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NGAUS Legislative Alert; 15 February 2017

NGAUS strongly supports S. 307, the Department of Defense Emergency Response Capabilities Database Enhancement Act of 2017, introduced on February 7 by Senators Christopher Coons of Delaware, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

The bill would update current law and require the Department of Defense to track cyber capabilities important to national security and domestic response found in the National Guard and Reserve forces within one year. Additionally, S. 307 would allow the Department of Defense to update or utilize existing systems to track the capabilities if it’s faster and more cost effective.

A 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that “National Guard units have developed capabilities that could be used, if requested and approved, to support civil authorities in a cyber-incident; however, the Department of Defense does not have visibility of all National Guard units’ capabilities for this support.” GAO recommended that it was crucial for the Secretary of Defense to maintain a database to identify the cyber capabilities in the National Guard to support civil authorities in a cyber-incident.

The Coons-Ernst-Fischer-Gillibrand bill aims to implement GAO’s recommendations and further utilize the skills and training of National Guard cyber units in responding to future cyber incidents. The passage of this crucially important bill will ensure increased coordination between the Department of Defense and the National Guard to protect and respond to a myriad of cyber threats facing our nation. Thank you, as always, for your continued support of our Armed Forces.

NGAUS Point of Contact:
Matt Pincus
(202) 408-5897
matt.pincus@ngaus.org

Take Action: Click here

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NGAUS Call to Action; 18 November 2016

NGAUS strongly supports S. 3476 and H.R. 6377, the National Guard Bonus Repayment & Financial Relief Act, introduced on November 17th in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and in the House of Representatives by Representative Adam Schiff of California’s 28th Congressional District.  Contact your Senators and Members of Congress:  Ask them to support and co-sponsor the National Guard Bonus & Repayment Financial Relief Act.

This legislation contains provisions that will waive efforts of the Department of Defense (DoD) to reclaim bonuses that were improperly awarded to members of the Army National Guard from 2004-2010.  Upon reviewing all bonuses that were awarded within that time period, the bill will require the Secretary of the Army to:

  • Waive repayment of bonuses for affected service members who completed their service requirements and acted in good faith.
  • Reimburse service members who repaid bonuses and/or interest to the Department of Defense.
  • In cases where service members fell into financial hardship due to the repayment of bonuses, the Department of Defense will offer some financial assistance to those members.
  • Submit a report to Congress detailing the number of bonuses, incentive pays, or similar benefits identified through the review as being provided erroneously; the number of members of the Army National Guard against whom the Department of Defense proceeded with recoupment for erroneous provision, set forth by basis for recoupment and amount recouped; and the number of members of the Army National Guard for whom the Department waived recoupment for erroneous provision, set forth by basis of waiver, amount waived, and amount repaid to members whose waiver occurred after recoupment by the Department.

Original co-sponsors of the Senate bill include Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Original co-sponsors of the House bill include Representatives Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Ed Royce (D-Calif.), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Norma Torres (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), John Delaney (D-Md.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.).

Take action now and please forward this message to your family, friends, and co-workers to ask them to take action, too.  Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,
Gus Hargett
Major General (Ret.)
President, NGAUS
Take Action: Click here