Bill Text: NH HB636 | 2018 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Establishing a department of military and veterans services.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Republican 4-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-09-10 - Executive Session: 10/23/2018 10:00 am Legislative Office Building306 [HB636 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2018-HB636-Amended.html

HB 636-FN - AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE

 

9Jan2018... 2441h

2017 SESSION

17-0163

09/04

 

HOUSE BILL 636-FN

 

AN ACT establishing a department of military and veterans services.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. R. Ober, Hills. 37; Rep. Baldasaro, Rock. 5; Rep. Ladd, Graf. 4; Rep. Theberge, Coos 3; Sen. Carson, Dist 14

 

COMMITTEE: State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs

 

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AMENDED ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes the department of military and veterans services, an agency of the state.  The bill also repeals the state office of veterans services and the state veterans advisory council.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

9Jan2018... 2441h 17-0163

09/04

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seventeen

 

AN ACT establishing a department of military and veterans services.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  New Chapter; Department of Military and Veterans Services.  Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 21-U the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 21-V

DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS SERVICES

21-V:1  Purpose.  The purpose of this chapter is to improve the administration of military and veterans services.  Recognizing that service members, veterans and their families require dedicated, strategic, collaborative outreach, that current service delivery model is not structured to provide coordinated, high quality services, and that the welfare of service members, veterans and their families can best be enhanced if a single entity coordinates many efforts, the department of military and veterans services is established to address system gaps and coordinate, consolidate and provide unified direction of policies, procedures and programs in conjunction with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as well as other federal, state, local and private organizations.

21-V:2  Definitions.  In this chapter:

I.  "Commissioner" means commissioner of the department of military and veterans services.

II.  "Department" means department of military and veterans services.

21-V:3  Establishment; General Functions.

I.  There is hereby established a department of military and veterans services, an agency of the state.

II.  The department, through its officials, shall be responsible for:

(a)  Promoting the welfare of military service members, veterans, and their families.

(b)  Enhancing, coordinating, and overseeing the benefits and services offered by organizations within the state of New Hampshire and directing veterans to appropriate benefits and services offered by such organizations.

(c)  Serving as a clearinghouse for research, data, and analysis, to initiate and support public education and awareness campaigns.

(d)  Providing guidance and training regarding military and veterans issues to civilian organizations.

21-V:4  Internal Organizational Units.  The department shall include the following internal organizational units performing the following major functions:

I.  The division of veterans services, under the supervision of a director of veterans services:

(a)  Shall assist veterans who are residents of this state or their dependents to secure all benefits or preferences to which they may be entitled under any state or federal laws or regulations.  The office shall employ such assistance as may be necessary, within the limits of the appropriation made therefor, subject to the rules of the state division of personnel.

(b)  Biennially, beginning July 1, 2019, shall publish and distribute to the entities listed in subparagraph (1), a state veterans handbook which shall include the following information:

(1)  Points of contact for all federal, state, local, and nonprofit veterans agencies, departments, councils, hospitals, clinics, and other organizations offering services, benefits, and programs to New Hampshire veterans, including addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.

(2)  A description of the services, benefits, and programs offered by each entity listed under subparagraph (1).

(c)  May accept and expend for purposes of publishing and distributing the state veterans handbook, any donations, grants, bequests, and contributions which become available for such purposes.  

II.  The division of community military programs, under the supervision of a director of community military programs which shall facilitate military and civilian partnerships by collaborating, coordinating, and communicating with military and civilian provider groups in the delivery of health care services to New Hampshire veterans, service members, and their families.

21-V:5  Commissioner; Directors; Compensation.  

I.(a)  The commissioner of the department shall be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the council, and shall serve for a term of 4 years.  The commissioner may succeed himself or herself. A vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired term.

(b)  The commissioner shall be:

(1)  A resident of New Hampshire for 2 years preceding his or her appointment.

(2)  Qualified to hold the position by reason of education and experience.

(3)  Honorably discharged or separated from service in the armed forces of the United States; provided that Title 10 training for active duty by a member of a national guard or reserve shall be included as service under this subparagraph.

(4)  Have experienced no less than 90 days on active service in the armed forces of the United States in:

(A)  The Vietnam Conflict' between December 22, 1961 and May 7, 1975; or

(B)  The Vietnam Conflict between July 1, 1958 and December 22, 1961, if the resident earned the Vietnam service medal or the armed forces expeditionary medal; or

(C)  Any other war or armed conflict that has occurred since May 8, 1975, and in which the resident earned an armed forces expeditionary medal or theater of operations service medal.

II.  The commissioner shall nominate each division director for appointment by the governor, with the consent of the council.  Each division director shall serve for a term of 4 years.  Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term.  The directors shall be qualified to hold their respective positions by reason of education and experience.

III.  The salaries of the commissioner and the division directors shall be as specified in RSA 94:1-a.

21-V:6  Powers and Duties of the Commissioner.  The commissioner shall:

I.  Represent the public interest in the administration of the department and be responsible to the governor, the general court, and the public for such administration.

II.  Advocate for the welfare of military service members and veterans in New Hampshire and be responsible for the operations of the department.

III.  Seek the advice of the military leadership team and the state veterans advisory committee.

IV.  Enter into memoranda of understanding with other executive branch agencies to coordinate services to veterans and military service members as may be appropriate.

V.  Review, investigate, and assess the provision of any services to and for veterans and military service members in New Hampshire.

VI.  Represent the department on boards, commissions, committees, and professional associations, or shall designate a designee.

VII.  Serve as a liaison between the federal government and the governor on issues relevant to the department’s mission, and represent the department at various state and national conventions, conferences, and public functions and provide supervision to the department public relations program.

VIII.  Identify and develop legislative proposals to improve the delivery of services to and for veterans and military service members, review and monitor legislation introduced by the general court, testify at hearings, and prepare legislative fiscal note work sheets.  The commissioner shall coordinate, implement, and administer programs mandated by the general court.

IX.  Assume the duties set forth in RSA 115-C relative to the veterans’ legal aid advocacy project.  The commissioner shall also assist in the development, coordination, and oversight of programs for justice involved veterans in the state court system.

X.  Assume the duties set forth in RSA 115-A regarding aid for veterans' programs.

XI.  Prepare the department budget pursuant to RSA 9 and administer and monitor expenditures for the department.

XII.  Apply for, accept, and expend funding from federal and other grant sources.

XIII.  Have the authority to adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, necessary to assure the continuance or granting of federal funds and to adopt all rules necessary to implement the specific statutes administered by the department or by any division within the department.

XIV.  Have the authority, subject to the approval of the governor and council to accept gifts, contributions, and bequests of unrestricted funds from individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations or institutions for the purpose of furthering the policy objectives of the department.

XV.  Delegate authority to subordinates as he or she deems necessary and appropriate, except that rulemaking authority shall not be delegated.  The commissioner shall provide by delegation for the deputy commissioner to exercise authority in the commissioner’s absence.  Such delegation shall be made in writing, shall be disseminated to all division directors, shall clearly delineate the authority delegated and the limitations thereto, and shall be kept on file in the commissioner’s office.

21-V:7  Deputy Commissioner.  

I.  The commissioner shall nominate a deputy commissioner who shall meet the qualification requirements set forth in RSA 21-V:5, I(b).

II.  The deputy commissioner shall perform such duties as are assigned by the commissioner. The deputy commissioner shall assume the duties of the commissioner in the event that the commissioner is unable for any reason to perform such duties.

III.  The salary of the deputy commissioner shall be as specified in RSA 94:1-a.  

21-V:8  Military Leadership Team.

I.  There is hereby established a military leadership team which shall serve as an advisory council and shall provide advice and guidance to the commissioner regarding the delivery of services to veterans and military service members in New Hampshire.  The military leadership team shall consist of the following members:

(a)  The director of the division of veterans services.

(b)  The director of the division of community military programs.

(c)  Representatives of organizations which provide services to veterans and military service members in New Hampshire, appointed by the commissioner.

II.  The military leadership team shall choose a chairman, vice-chairman, and a secretary from their membership.  The team may, by a majority vote of its members, adopt bylaws governing the management and operation of the team.  

21-V:9  State Veterans Advisory Committee.

I.  There is hereby established a state veterans advisory committee, consisting of the following members:

(a)  Two members of the house of representatives, one of whom shall be from the committee with jurisdiction over military or veterans affairs, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.

(b)  Two members of the senate, appointed by the senate president.

(c)  Twenty representatives of veterans organizations in the state of New Hampshire, appointed by the governor.

II.  Legislative members of the committee shall receive mileage at the legislative rate while attending to the duties of the committee.  Legislative members of the committee shall serve a term coterminous with their term in office.  Each non-legislative member of the state veterans' advisory committee shall serve a 2-year term of office from the date of the member's appointment, and may be reappointed.  The committee members shall choose a chairman, vice-chairman, and a secretary from their membership.  The committee may, by a majority vote of its members, adopt bylaws governing the management and operation of the committee.

III.  The committee shall provide advice and guidance to the commissioner regarding the welfare and needs of veterans and military service members in New Hampshire.

IV.  The committee shall issue biannual reports of its actions, findings, and recommendations on May 1 and November 1 of each year to the commissioner, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the governor and council, and all veterans organizations in the state.

21-V:10  Administrative Attachment.  The New Hampshire veterans' home and the New Hampshire state veterans' cemetery shall be administratively attached to the department in accordance with RSA 21-G:10.  

2  New Subparagraph; Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery; Membership  Amend RSA 12-J:1, III(a) by inserting after subparagraph (11) the following new subparagraph:

(12)  The commissioner of the department of military and veterans services, or designee.

3  New Paragraph; Aid for Veterans' Programs; Definitions.  Amend RSA 115-A:2 by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraph:

III-a.  "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the department of military and veterans services.

4  Veterans' Legal Aid Advocacy Project; Duties.  Amend RSA 115-C:3 to read as follows:

115-C:3  Duties.

I.  The veterans' legal aid advocacy project shall work to improve the lives of New Hampshire veterans through legal aid advocacy on behalf of veterans in civil matters.

II.  The [state veterans council] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services shall serve as the veterans intake coordinator for the veterans' legal aid advocacy project.

III.  New Hampshire Legal Assistance shall provide legal representation to veterans in a manner consistent with the purpose outlined in RSA 115-C:1 and the New Hampshire Rules of Professional Conduct.

IV.  The [state veterans council] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services and New Hampshire Legal Assistance shall do outreach with veterans' service organizations and homeless shelters to reach the veteran homeless population that may need legal aid advocacy services.

V.  The [state veterans council] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, and the pro bono section of the New Hampshire Bar Association shall coordinate with the veterans' service organizations, the New Hampshire National Guard, and other veterans' service providers, in the efficient provision of veterans' legal aid advocacy services.  The [state veterans council]commissioner of the department of military and veterans services and New Hampshire Legal Assistance shall create general guidelines on case acceptance and priorities, reviewing those guidelines and priorities every 2 years.

VI.  The [state veterans council] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, and the [Pro Bono Section] pro bono section of the New Hampshire Bar Association shall work to increase the number of private attorneys for referrals of veterans' cases, including, but not limited to, veterans' family law cases.

VII.  The [state veterans council] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, and the [Pro Bono Section] pro bono section of the New Hampshire Bar Association shall work to provide information sessions and legal advice for veterans and their families.

VIII.  The veterans' legal aid advocacy project shall provide legal aid training to veterans' advocates.

IX.  The veterans' legal aid advocacy project shall report annually to the governor, the general court, and the [state veterans council] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services on the number of veterans served, the results, and the number of veterans that could not be served.

5  Commission on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury; Membership.  Amend RSA 115-D:2, I(e) to read as follows:

(e)  The [director of the state office of veterans services] commissioner of the department of military and veterans services, or designee.

6  New Subparagraph; New Hampshire Council on Suicide Prevention; Membership.  Amend RSA 126-R:3, I by inserting after subparagraph (w) the following new subparagraph:

(x)  The commissioner of the department of military and veterans services, or designee.  

7  Repeal.  The following are repealed:

I.  RSA 115, relative to the state office of veterans services.

II.  RSA 115-A:2, VI and VII, relative to the definitions of state veterans' advisory committee and the office of veterans services.

III.  RSA 115-A:8, relative to the state veterans' advisory council.  

8  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.

 

LBAO

17-0163

Amended 1/30/18

 

HB 636-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE (AMENDMENT #2017-2441h)

 

AN ACT establishing a department of military and veterans services.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill establishes a new Department of Veterans Affairs with a commissioner, deputy commissioner, and two division directors.  The bill allows for the possibility of additional positions within the two newly-created divisions, but does not specifically identify or establish them.  In addition, the amendment administratively attaches the Veterans Home and Veterans Cemetery to the new Department.

 

In response to a request for the fiscal impact of the bill as amended, the Office of Veterans Services submitted a report entitled "Improving Veterans Services: Proposed Options to Governor Sununu."  Option 3 in that report aligns closely with the proposal contained in this amendment, and was projected to cost between $500,000 and $525,000 annually.  This projected cost is similar to the following estimates prepared by the Department of Administrative Services:

 

 

FY 19

FY 20

FY 21

FY 22

Program Assistant II

 $    58,000

 $    68,000

 $    71,000

 $    74,000

Accountant II

 $    56,000

 $    66,000

 $    69,000

 $    72,000

Director (1) - New Hire

 $    79,832

 $    97,624

 $  103,530

 $  109,452

Director (2) - Incumbent

 $  112,513

 $  112,513

 $  112,513

 $  112,513

Deputy Commissioner

 $    82,920

 $  101,724

 $  107,875

 $  112,525

Commissioner

 $  103,566

 $  107,185

 $  113,627

 $  120,086

 

 

 

 

 

Position Total:

 $  492,831

 $  553,046

 $  577,545

 $  600,576

 

 

 

 

 

Total Less Incumb. Dir. Position:

 $  380,318

 $  440,533

 $  465,032

 $  488,063

 

 

 

 

 

Related Expenses:

 $    57,300

 $    38,800

 $    38,800

 $    38,800

 

 

 

 

 

Total:

$437,618

$479,333

$503,832

$526,863

 

As noted in the above table, one of the two division director positions is an existing, funded position in the form of the Director of the Office of Veterans Services, and should result in no additional cost.  The Program Assistant II and Accountant II positions are not explicitly provided for by the bill.

 

The Adjutant General's Department states that in order to properly serve the Veterans Cemetery, the following five new positions would need to be added to the proposed department:  

 

 

FY 19

FY 20

FY 21

FY 22

Business Administrator I

 $     68,346

 $     71,588

 $     75,156

 $     78,717

Senior Accounting Tech.

 $     56,152

 $     58,833

 $     61,677

 $     64,607

HR Assistant III

 $     56,152

 $     58,833

 $     61,677

 $     64,607

Administrative Secretary

 $     56,152

 $     58,833

 $     61,677

 $     64,607

Grants & Contracts Tech.

 $     57,600

 $     60,492

 $     63,476

 $     66,546

 

 

 

 

 

Position Total:

 $   294,402

 $   308,579

 $   323,663

 $   339,084

 

 

 

 

 

Related Expenses

 $     44,500

 $     20,500

 $     14,000

 $     11,400

Office Space

 $   150,000

 $   150,000

 $   160,000

 $   165,000

 

 

 

 

 

Total:

 $   488,902

 $   479,079

 $   497,663

 $   515,484

 

The above cost breakout includes office space for the entire proposed department.  The Adjutant General's Department states that, although its budget includes approximately $800,000 per year for Veterans Cemetery support, the employees funded by that sum perform other necessary functions beyond Veterans Cemetery assistance.  The Department therefore does not propose any cost savings from moving the Veterans Cemetery to the new department.  The bill itself neither funds the new positions identified in the table above, nor amends the Adjutant General's budget for Veterans Cemetery support.     

 

The Department of Health and Human Services states that since 2008, it has operated a Bureau of Community-Based Military Programs (BCBMP), and notes that although the bill does not eliminate the BCBMP, the bill's purpose statement does emphasize the coordination and consolidation of programs related to veterans' issues under a single entity.  The Department notes that the BCBMP has two employees: a director at labor grade FF, step 5, and a program assistant at labor grade 12. step 1.  If these positions were to be abolished, the cost savings would be $192,047 in fiscal year 2019, $194,047 in fiscal year 2020, $197,047 in fiscal year 2021, and $200,047 in fiscal year 2022.  The bill itself is silent on what to do with these positions.

 

Despite the cost estimates proposed above, the bill does not contain an appropriation, and so any cost will ultimately be determined through the budget or other legislative process.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Administrative Services, Office of Veterans Services, and Adjutant General's Department

 

 

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