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SB-989 Veteran services: state agencies and departments. (2013-2014)

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SB989:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  April 22, 2014

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2013–2014 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 989


Introduced by Senator Galgiani

February 12, 2014


An act to add Section 722 to the Military and Veterans Code, relating to veterans.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 989, as amended, Galgiani. Veteran services: state agencies and departments.
Under existing law, the Department of Veterans Affairs has specified powers and duties relating to veterans.
This bill would state the intent of the Legislature that the Department of Veterans Affairs enter into memoranda of understanding or interagency agreements with other state agencies and departments, as specified, to ascertain the veteran status of all persons receiving services, benefits, or assistance from those state agencies and departments, as provided. This bill would authorize that the Employment Development Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles to Department, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to make available in their its field offices brochures, forms, and posters in order to inform veterans of benefits and services. This bill also would require the Employment Development Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles to collect and send any voluntarily completed forms to the Department of Veterans Affairs on at least a quarterly basis, and to add a link to their its Internet Web sites site that will direct parties to the Department of Veterans Affairs Internet Web site.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 722 is added to the Military and Veterans Code, to read:

722.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The United States Department of Veterans Affairs spent $7.1 billion in California in federal fiscal year 2008, $3.1 billion of which was for compensation and pension payments to veterans. These compensation and pension payments are directly paid to veterans and generate a significant contribution to California’s economy.
(2) Unfortunately, only approximately 11 percent of veterans who are eligible in California participate in these programs. California ranks 38th nationally in terms of participation rates. On a per capita basis, Texas and Florida collect 44 percent and 31 percent more respectively in disability benefits than California. This difference is primarily due to Texas and Florida having more veterans’ services representatives available to assist veterans in pursuing benefit claims.
(3) It is estimated that if California could increase the participation rate to the national average of slightly over 12 percent, over $330 million more could be returned to the state and local economy and paid to our resident veterans who need that money to support themselves and their families.
(4) County veteran service officers and veterans service organizations have assumed the primary responsibility to assist veterans in accessing these federal benefits, but the funding for this valuable service is scarce. Consequently, the California Department of Veterans Affairs and other state agencies and departments, as well as local government agencies, that come into regular contact with veterans and National Guard members returning from deployment must do a better job informing resident veterans and their dependents of their eligibility for these benefits so that veterans and their dependents can enroll and begin the application process sooner.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department enter into memoranda of understanding or interagency agreements with other state agencies or departments, as selected by the department, to ascertain the veteran status of all persons receiving services, benefits, or assistance from those state agencies and departments.
(c) The Employment Development Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles Department, in consultation with the department, may make available in their its field offices brochures, forms, and posters in order to inform veterans of available benefits and services. The Employment Development Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles shall collect and send voluntarily completed forms to the department on at least a quarterly basis and add a link to their its Internet Web sites site that directs parties to the department’s Internet Web site.