2010 Executive Committee Policy

8/17/2010

Executive Committee Policy of the Task Force on Veterans and Military  Affairs

Policies passed at the 2010 Legislative Summit, Louisville, Kentucy


Since its creation in 2008, the NCSL Executive Committee Task Force on Military and Verterans Affairs has addressed a number of issues facing military personnel, veterans, dependants, and communities. The following is a brief summary of the resolutions adopted by the Task Force.

REPI Policy 

  • Many military installations across the country face encroachment from surrounding cities. This encroachment can limit the ability of the base to conduct training and troop readiness exercises.
  • The Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) enables DoD to work with partners to protect valuable habitat and avoid land use conflicts near military installations.
  •  REPI allows the DoD to enter into agreements with non-Federal governments and private organizations to leverage funds in order to purchase land adjacent to military installations.
  •  Under this policy, NCSL supports the REPI and recognizes the need for the program to be funded at $150 million over 10-12 years.


Federal Impact Aid Policy

  • For the last 60 years, Congress has provided financial assistance called Impact Aid to school districts which contain federally-owned land that have been removed from the local tax rolls by the Federal Government, including Indian lands. 
  • School districts with military installations are potentially disadvantaged since they don’t have the ability to levy taxes against the federal government. Impact Aid helps off-set the “loss” ofthis tax revenue.
  • Impact aid can help manage relationships between base commanders and the local communities. 
  • This program was fully-funded for the first two decades and then dropped off to 60 percent of funding since 1970.  
  • Under this policy, NCSL recognizes the importance of Federal Impact Aid and asks that the funding be restored to 100 percent


Veterans Affairs Policy

  • The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) provides benefits and services to veterans of America's armed forces. Those responsibilities include, but are not limited to: Health and mental health services, education, training and employment services, telehealth and telemedicine services, burial and memorial services. The VA also has a number of specialized programs which include programs for disabled, minority, homeless and women veterans.
  • The budget requested by the President for the VA in 2010 is $112.8 billion. This is a 15 percent increase over the appropriated budget for 2009 and the single largest increase by a
  • President in over 30 years. 
  • Under this policy, NCSL supports this increase and urges the Congress and the President to maintain this increased funding.


U.S. Department of Defense Matching Funds Land Protection Programs 

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farmland Protection Program (FPP) provides matching funds to State, Tribal and Local Governments, as well as non-governmental organizations to purchase the evelopment rights to farm and ranchlands with the purpose of maintaining the agricultural uses of those lands.
  • DoD has been able to use FPP to provide matching funds in recent years for a number of easements on lands that abut military installations in states such as: South Carolina, Kansas and Oklahoma. 
  • Preserving these agricultural lands and limiting the residential and commercial development on these properties allows the DoD was able to achieve mutual objectives of land conservation and preventing development of critical open areas without acquiring any new land through DoD ownership. 
  • Inadvertent changes made to the program in the 2008 Farm Bill resulted in an inability to accept matching funds from the DoD. 
  • Under this policy, NCSL believes that all federal conservation programs should be allowed to accept matching funds from the Department of Defense for the purpose of preserving lands
  • and the areas surrounding military installations.



Conservation Easement Policy 

  • Conservation easements are a legal transfer of "limited rights" to use all or part of a property to a nonprofit conservation organization or government agency. These easements provide a tax incentive for land owners wishing to reduce their current tax burden by lowering fair market value of the property and thus property tax assessments 
  • Governments and conservation organizations are also interested in easements as a way of preserving historically important land areas, threatened ecological habitats, for use as public outdoor recreation or education areas, or for preservation of open space that will clearly yield public benefit. These easements also can benefit military installations by protecting land surrounding bases and creating a buffer. 
  • The tax deduction for conservation easements expired following the 2009 tax year. 
  • Under this policy, NCSL supports H.R. 1831 and its companion S.812 and urges Congress to enact this legislation and make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes.


Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits Policy
 

  • The Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act--better known as the Post 9/11 GI Bill--extends financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. 
  • The National Guard has been essential to the national security efforts since September 11, 2001, with tens of thousands of Guardmembers serving abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect the interests of the United States. 
  • National Guard troops mobilized under Title 32 of the U.S. Code for homeland security activities are not recognized for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill—affecting more than 30,000 National Guard servicemembers. 
  • Under this policy, NCSL supports H.R. 3554 “The National Guard Education Equality Act” and its companion S.1668 and urges Congress to enact this legislation and extend the education benefits provided by the Post 9/11 GI Bill to these troops.

Policies passed at the 2010 Legislative Summit, Louisville, Kentucy