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SB-745 California Veterans Board.(2021-2022)



Current Version: 03/10/21 - Amended Senate         Compare Versions information image


SB745:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 10, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 745


Introduced by Senator Umberg Newman

February 19, 2021


An act to amend Section 642.1 Sections 64, 72, and 86 of the Military and Veterans Code, relating to the military. veterans.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 745, as amended, Umberg Newman. Military: decorations: the Order of California. California Veterans Board.
Existing law establishes the California Veterans Board, composed of 7 members with specified qualifications who are appointed by the Governor and subject to the confirmation of the Senate, to advise the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on policies for operations of the department. Existing law authorizes a veteran who has applied to the department for benefits to appeal a decision by the department to the board, as specified. Existing law requires the board to grant a hearing if requested. Under existing law, the decision of the board is final, with the exception of judicial review.
This bill would state that the board is a separate and independent entity from the department. The bill would require the board to independently advise the department and secretary on policies for operations of the department. The bill would authorize the board, in conducting an independent hearing of a veteran appeal of a decision from the department, to be supported by department staff, as specified. The bill would require the board to be assisted by independent counsel during the hearing.

Existing law authorizes decorations for members of the National Guard, State Guard, and Naval Militia including the Medal of Valor, Military Cross, and Order of California. Existing law authorizes the Order of California for officers and enlisted members of the National Guard or Naval Militia who have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the state or the United States in a position of great responsibility, as specified. Under existing law, the Order of California may also be awarded to civilians and members of other military services.

This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to this provision.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 64 of the Military and Veterans Code is amended to read:

64.
 There shall be is a California Veterans Board. The board is a separate and independent entity from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SEC. 2.

 Section 72 of the Military and Veterans Code is amended to read:

72.
 The California Veterans Board shall independently advise the department and secretary on policies for operations of the department. The department shall respond to all proposed policy changes offered by the California Veterans Board prior to the next scheduled meeting of the board.

SEC. 3.

 Section 86 of the Military and Veterans Code is amended to read:

86.
 (a) Any A person deeming himself or herself themselves a veteran and who applies for benefits may appeal any decision made by a division of the department to the California Veterans Board. Upon receipt of the appeal, the board shall grant a an independent hearing, if requested, and shall render its decision in writing to the appellant not later than the second meeting of the board following the receipt of the appeal or of the hearing if one is held. In conducting the hearing, the board may, if necessary, be supported by department staff acting in an administrative or advisory capacity. The board shall be assisted by independent counsel. An appeal shall be deemed to have been received by the board on the date of the first meeting of the board subsequent to delivery of the appeal to the executive officer of the board. Except for judicial review, the board’s decision is final and the board shall have the power to change or modify with good cause any decision that is adverse to the appellant. Except as described in subdivision (b), all hearings of appeals may be delegated by the board to the undersecretary or a deputy secretary of the department. Hearings shall be held in the department office nearest to the appellant’s home unless the appellant requests otherwise.
(b) Hearings of appeals related to the Veterans’ Farm and Home Purchase Act may be delegated by the board only to the Office of Administrative Hearings to be conducted by administrative law judges of the Office of Administrative Hearings pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 11370) and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. The administrative law judges shall submit their proposed decisions to the board for final decision. The administrative law judges shall make all reasonable efforts to hold hearings at neutral locations, however, if no other facilities are available without incurring excessive costs, the hearings may be held at the department office nearest to the appellant’s home.

SECTION 1.Section 642.1 of the Military and Veterans Code is amended to read:
642.1.

The Order of California may be presented to an officer or enlisted member of the National Guard or Naval Militia who has distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the state or the United States in a position of great responsibility. The performance of duty shall have merited recognition of service rendered in a clearly exceptional manner within the scope of a special requirement or of an extremely difficult duty performed in a clearly outstanding manner. Performance of duties normal to the grade and branch, specialty or assignment, and experience of an individual is not an adequate basis for this decoration, except that justification of the award may accrue by virtue of outstanding meritorious service in a succession of important positions.

The accomplishment of the duty or period of service for which the decoration is recommended should have been completed prior to submitting a recommendation. However, if the person being recommended is transferred or will retire prior to completion, the action or accomplishment shall have reached a point of progression that will clearly establish the individual’s contribution to be outstanding or represent significant accomplishment.

The Order of California may also be awarded to civilians and members of other military services who distinguish themselves as indicated in this section.