Select Committee on Veterans' Affairs

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5438

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING MAKING PERMANENT THE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR MILITARY SPOUSES.

Vote Date:

3/4/2008

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Change of Reference to Labor and Public Employees

PH Date:

3/4/2008

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Introduced by: Select Committee on Veterans' Affairs

REASONS FOR BILL:

To make permanent the unemployed military spouse exemption.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal: Many veterans, especially our reservists and National Guard Members have sacrificed financially, often losing significant earnings while called up for duty. This legislation will make permanent the unemployment benefit extension that was approved last year by the General assembly for a one year period. This benefit, obtained through the leadership of this committee, provides unemployment compensation to spouses of military personnel who voluntarily leave their jobs when their spouses are required to relocate while on active duty in the armed forces. This benefit is only provided to qualified spouses who leave employment between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008. The financial impact of relocating because of active service will hardly diminish after June 30, 2008. Nor should we reduce the state's commitment to our veterans' families. I urge the committee's favorable consideration of this bill.

John D. Monahan, Administrator, State of CT Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Fund: This legislation seeks to mitigate the effect of relocations of military personnel by providing Unemployment compensation for military spouses who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without employment, owing to the requirements of military service.

Without unemployment insurance benefits, military families often lose income at a time when financial resources are drained by relocation. Unemployment compensation checks allow spouses time to find a job in their career field and in the same pay range rather than settling for the first low-paying job they otherwise might accept in order to survive financially.

We must realize that in order to recruit and retain the best and brightest military personnel, “quality of life” issues matter. For many military families, the ability of the spouse to supplement family income and develop a career of their own is a key factor in deciding whether or not to stay in the military. It is often said, and I believe it is true, the “We recruit service members but we retain families”. I strongly urge the favorable consideration of this legislation as a means of partially repaying the enormous debt we owe our service personnel and their families.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Gary E. Waterhouse, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Post 10251, South Windsor, CT: Relocation is stressful not just for the individual being called to serve, but also to the family being left behind or relocated. The loss of employment (and income) to family caused by the relocation can and often does contribute to stress in the family unit. This bill would provide the family with relief from some of the financial concerns involved at the most critical time of relocating. Under current estimates, less than 50 military spouses from Connecticut would file claims annually. I urge you to strongly support this bill and that you give it favorable consideration.

Mary-Ann Roczynski, American Legion: I am a veteran and from my personal experience, I would like to see this bill making unemployment benefits for military spouses permanent. I was issued orders for Vicenza, Italy and my husband and I decided that he would accompany me to my new assignment for three years. He was in a management position in New Haven. It took over six months of numerous applications and interviews for him to obtain a job. During this period of his unemployment, and living only on my income as an enlisted soldier, our financial obligations that we had in the states became distressed. That small amount that he may have gotten from unemployment would have made those obligations much easier to deal with. Please support this bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None.

Reported by: David G. Kaplan

Date: March 10, 2008

Assistant Clerk