Update: PNGAS Seeks Senate and House Passage Votes
Wednesday, June 10th 2020
Updated-June 11, 2020
PNGAS Seeks Senate Final Passage Votes for HB 233, HB 408, HB 630, HB 1050, HB 2082
PNGAS Seeks House Final Passage Votes for SB276, SB1076, SB 976
PNGAS Seeks Final Passage on HB1338 (Barrar)
Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Members of the Pennsylvania House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness: Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness:
Thank you again for your strong support of the members, veterans of the Pennsylvania National Guard, their spouses, and families. We greatly appreciate your prompt passage of SB 952 (Regan) to clarify the definition of veterans in the Commonwealth, thank you!
On behalf of veterans, members of the National Guard, military spouses, and their families, we seek your quick and full support of these important veteran and national guard issues before June 30, 2020:
- House Bill 233 (O’Neal, Owlett) –
- Amends Second-Class County Code, to require cemeteries to remove flags when they become unsightly or weatherworn after Veteran’s Day, and for the flags to be American made, ensure greater communication between cemeteries, local veterans’ organizations, and county commissioners, who are currently required to provide the flags. Similar provisions were enacted this past session for a First-Class County and 3rd through 8th Class Counties. Passage of this proposal will ensure that these provisions are applicable in every county.
- House Bill 408 (Staats)
- Requires funeral directors, pre-need or cemetery companies to provide veterans and families of veterans with complete VA burial benefit’s information, and provide notice to counties of the planned internment of a deceased veteran so that the county may provide the families with the burial benefits each county has the responsibility to provide.
- House Bill 630 (Day)
- Extends current employment protections to Pennsylvania citizens who are members of another state’s National Guard to protect the reemployment rights of members of the National Guard.
- House Bill 1050 (Burns)
- Ensures military families are guaranteed the in-state tuition as soon as a student submits the enrollment deposit.
- House Bill 2082 (Gregory)
- During FY 2017-18, the Blind Veterans Pension Program benefited 103 individuals while the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program served 1,908. The legislation increases the monthly pension amounts for the Blind Veterans Pension Program and the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program from $150 per month to $200 per month, for the first increase since 1999. Companion Bill SB276
- Senate Bill 276 (Ward)
- During FY 2017-18, the Blind Veterans Pension Program benefited 103 individuals while the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program served 1,908. The legislation increases the monthly pension amounts from $150 per month to $180 per month for both programs, for the first increase since 1999. Companion Bill HB2082
- Senate Bill 1076 (Baker)
- Act 66 of 2014 broadened the Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP) created in 2005 and administered by the Department of Military & Veterans’ Affairs. In addition to better serving the needs of more service men and women and their families, Act 66 also extended the program’s sunset date to June 30, 2020. Given the success of the MFRAP, it is time to preserve this program and eliminate the sunset date. This important program is generously supported by Pennsylvanians’ charitable donations to the Veterans’ Trust Fund and serves as a financial security blanket for our service men and women. Senators Mensch, Iovino, Sabatina and Baker are prime sponsors.
- Senate Bill 976 (Regan and Mastriano)
- Legislation to statutorily establish Veterans Courts.
Of our 67 counties, 25 have a Veterans Court. These courts, which are optional for Veterans, emphasize a team-focused approach. Veterans come before judges on a regular basis, receive mentorship from fellow Veterans, are supervised by specialized probation officers, and receive treatment and support from the Veterans Administration to address underlying problems often caused by post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). These courts have seen great success with extremely low recidivism rates here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
However, one of the issues that has been raised during recent Veterans Suicide Roundtables held across the state by Senator Regan is the lack of access to Veterans Courts and assistance for those Veterans who find themselves in trouble with the law as a result of service-related issues such as PTSI. Therefore, together we want to empower additional counties to establish Veterans Courts or related alternatives.
Our legislation will codify Veterans Courts into law, allow Veterans Courts to permit participation by Veterans from adjacent counties, and allow county common pleas courts that have other problem-solving courts to establish “Veterans Tracks” – programs that utilize some components of a Veterans Court.
- Legislation to statutorily establish Veterans Courts.
- House Bill 1338 (Barrar)
- Act 51 of 2018 established the framework for the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a community-based program that leads, trains, and mentors 16 to 18-year-old high school dropouts, soon to open as the Keystone State Challenge Academy. This needed legislation establishes the Keystone State Challenge Academy Special Fund as a special non-lapsing fund in the State Treasury.
The Pennsylvania National Guard Associations, the only organization exclusively promoting the highest levels of readiness, modernization, and quality of life for our 19,438 members and 67,500 veterans of the Pennsylvania National Guard, their spouses, and families, while making sure our men and women have the very best equipment and resources. Over the next 12-months, the Pennsylvania National Guard must recruit more than 2,300 new members to replace Guard members that have completed their commitments and/or retired. As a direct result, PNGAS legislative, budget, and mission priorities reflect the critical need to attract, train and retain qualified women and men in the Guard and recognize institutions that help optimize recruitment, retention, and procurement strategies of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The PNGAS mission helps members, veterans, spouses, and their family’s access and get the benefits they have earned.
We stand ready to assist any member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and your staff with any matters relating to veterans, Guard members, military spouses, and their families.