On January 16, 2019 the Department of Virginia Legionnaires descended upon the Virginia Capital to participate in the annual Day on the Hill. The purpose of the event is to provide time for Legionnaires to meet with their elected representatives and address the issues of interest for Veterans within the Commonwealth as well as addressing issues formulated by the Veterans Joint Leadership Council (JLC).
The entire Legion Family was represented as Legionnaires, Auxiliary Members, and Sons met at the Department Headquarters in Richmond. They were provided a briefing on the 2019 JLC Policy Initiatives by Rick Oertel. They then proceeded by bus to the Virginia Capital.
Once at the Capital the Legion Delegation met with their elected representatives from 10:00 am till about 11:30 am in their offices. The Legion Delegation had the opportunity to express to their Delegates and Senators their concerns on Veteran issues throughout the Commonwealth.
The Legion Delegation was then seated prior to the noon opening of the General Session and watched as the Senate completed their normal opening prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and then the members in the Gallery were introduced to the body. The Legion Delegation boarded the bus to return to the Department of Virginia Headquarters at 1:00 PM.
The 2019 JLC Policy Initiatives presented were:
- Increased State Active Duty (SAD) Pay – That the Governor and General Assembly appropriate $50,000 to ensure that all Virginia National Guardsmen are paid at least at the E6 rate. (HB 1968, HB 2626, and S 1246)
- Income Tax Subtraction for Certain Low-Income 100% Disabled Veterans – That the Governor and General Assembly approve an individual income tax subtraction for 100% service-connected disabled veterans with a federally adjusted gross income, not exceeding 150% of the federal poverty level for a four-person household, who have not already claimed another exemption. (HB 1756)
- Electronic Ballot Return – That the Governor and General Assembly enact legislation and provide budget support of a pilot program at the Virginia State Board of Elections for $100,000 and funding for one FTE, for a limited pilot program for the electronic of absentee ballots by Virginia’s deployed military service members. (HB 2588, HJ 670, and HJ 291)
- Personal Property Tax Relief for Certain Disabled Veterans – That the Governor and General Assembly approve legislation creating a standardized statewide personal property tax exemption for one vehicle for 100% service-connected, total or permanent veterans. (HJ 676)
- Free Tuition for Virginia National Guardsmen – That the Governor and General Assembly provide budget support of approximately a $1 million increase in the annual State Tuition Assistance program for a pilot program to cover the estimated 3.5% of Guardsmen seeking a degree who are not currently completely covered by federal and state tuition assistance. (HB 2455 and SB 1412)
- VMSDEP – That the Governor and General Assembly remove the requirement that a veteran’s disability rating be combat related. Instead, a permanent service-connected disability rating of at least 90%, plus the satisfaction of the other requirements currently in the Code, would qualify a veteran’s spouse or child for VMSDEP benefits. (HB 2685, S 1173, and S 1665)
- Phased-in System for Partial State Tax Exemption for Military Retirement Income – That the Governor and General Assembly support changes to the current Virginia tax laws for a phased in system to reduce state tax on military retirement income up to $40,000. (HJ 674)