LEGISLATIVE

2019-2020 Legislative Program:  A few things ~  First, you will receive points for All-State only. One (1) point will be awarded each month a Post submits a legislative report or response letter with your monthly Community Activity report. ➤ Please send to both Comrade Director Bob Lutz via activity@vfwmi.org. and please send a copy of your legislative activity only via leg@vfwmi.org.


Second, please be certain to sign-up for the VFW Action Corps Weekly for timely and informative email updates on current federal legislation. The Action Corps link as well as several others are provided below.

Last, much thanks for your efforts to serve others!  

 

RECENT 

  • Per VFW Action Corps Weekly (13 September 2019):
 VFW Statement on Wolfe v. Wilkie: "The VFW is applauding the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, who in a 2-1 decision Monday, correctly ruled for the plaintiffs in Wolfe v. Wilkie. The class action lawsuit was the result of the Department of Veterans Affairs failing to fully reimburse veterans for the emergency room care they received from non-VA facilities, an issue the VFW had thought solved in 2016 when the same court ruled in favor of Staab v. Shulkin. But a report released last month by the VA Office of Inspector General found that the non-VA emergency room claims of some 17,400 veterans were denied or rejected primarily due to a VA work culture that favored speed over accuracy, a number that accounts for nearly a third of the 60,800 claims examined during the IG’s six-month nationwide audit in 2017. "The first thing the VA tells people to do when calling is to hang up and dial 911 if it’s an emergency,” said VFW National Commander William J. "Doc” Schmitz. "So the VA must reimburse the actual cost of emergency medical care, regardless of whether the veteran has secondary insurance or not,” he said. "VA Secretary Robert Wilkie must make these veterans financially whole again, correct its policies and practices regarding non-VA emergency room billing immediately, and fully adopt the IG report’s 11 recommendations to improve the accuracy of the non-VA emergency room claims processing.”


Senate Passes Veterans COLA and TSA Pre-Check Bills:  "Yesterday, the Senate passed the VFW-supported H.R. 1200, Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2019, which would authorize a cost-of-living increase for certain VA benefits, equal to the same increase granted for Social Security benefits. H.R. 1200 was passed by the House earlier this year and now heads to the president’s desk. The Senate also passed S. 1881, Veterans Expedited TSA Screening Safe Travel Act, which would make Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Pre® available for certain severely disabled veterans at no cost. TSA Pre® is already offered to active duty, reserves, and National Guard service members at no cost. S. 1881 now heads to the House.”

  • Per VFW Action Corps Weekly (9 August 2019):

Potential Changes Coming to the Montgomery GI Bill:  "This week Representatives Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) introduced the VFW-supported GI Bill Planning Act of 2019 [H.R. 4162] This bill would change the time to enroll in the Montgomery GI Bill from the first week of recruit training to after a service member has served six months on active duty. "The first few days of recruit training is a chaotic period, and it is not the time to discuss the specific differences between the Post 9/11, and the Montgomery GI Bill,” said VFW National Legislative Service Deputy Director Pat Murray. "Many VFW members have stated if they knew more about the Montgomery GI Bill they may not have opted to pay $1,200 for a program they would never use. This proposal would allow service members additional time to understand the nuances between the two chapters of the GI Bill, if both are still needed, and how to best utilize their education benefits.” The VFW thanks Representatives Bergman and Rice for their continued bipartisan work to ensure the best outcomes for our service members, veterans and their families."  

  •  Per VFW Action Corps Weekly (2 August 2019): 


Fight to End Widow’s Tax in Jeopardy:
"The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA) includes several VFW-supported provisions. One such provision would eliminate the Widow’s Tax, which is a dollar for dollar offset of earned benefits for the surviving spouses of about 65,000 service members and veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. In the coming weeks, Senate leadership will meet in conference to resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions and debate final passage. Since the provision to end the Widow Tax is not in the Senate version of the NDAA, it is in jeopardy of being left out of the final conference agreement." Contact your Senators and urge them to #AxeWidowsTax this year.

 

2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Application is Open:  "The 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is now accepting applications! The program, which is in its sixth year, is for VFW members who attend an accredited institute of higher learning. Ten student veterans will be selected for the semester-long program that focuses on real policy issues faced by veterans, service members, and their families. The highlight of the program is participation in the VFW Legislative Conference, which in the past has included meetings at the White House and with senior officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress. Those selected also spend time with their VFW Department members on Capitol Hill pushing the VFW’s legislative priorities. Alumni of the program have become more active in all levels of the VFW and changing laws to improve care and benefits for veterans." Learn more and apply for the fellowship.

 

 New! STATE of MICHIGAN BILL:  

MI HB 4325:  The scope of proposed Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) policy changes would threaten the ability of private mental health clinicians to be reimbursed by private insurance companies. Veterans could lose alternatives (vs. VA counselors) if these mental health professionals lose their licenses, ability to diagnose patients, or ability to receive payment from their insurance… A number of our Comrades get mental health services from private clinicians in addition to VA mental health or instead of it. MI HB 4325 (Rep. Aaron Miller, District 59 [R]) addresses this matter and prevents the policy change; please support this bill.

 

 
Helpful Links:


VFW Legislative Priorities (including VFW Priority Goals)
:
https://www.vfw.org/advocacy/national-legislative-service


VFW Action Corps Weekly
https://www.vfw.org/actioncorpsweekly


State of Michigan Senators, Representatives, and Bills:  www.michiganlegislature.org

   House Clerk Phone:  517-373-0135
   Secretary of the Senate Phone:  517-373-2400

Federal Bills:  https://www.congress.gov//

   U.S. Senators:  www.senate.gov
   U.S. Representatives:  www.house.gov




Jennifer L. Smith,
Veterans of Foreign Wars
  Dept. of MI Legislative Director

420 W. Kilborn Street

Lansing, MI  48906
Phone:  (517) 819-3551

Email:  

leg@vfwmi.org