Topic:
LEGISLATION; MILITARY PERSONNEL; VETERANS' AFFAIRS;
Location:
MILITARY; VETERANS;

OLR Research Report


VETERANS AND THE MILITARY

2008-R-0385

Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst

June 25, 2008

NOTICE TO READERS

This report provides brief highlights of public and special acts enacted during the 2008 session affecting veterans and the military.

Not all provisions of the acts are included; readers are encouraged to obtain the full text of acts that interest them from the Connecticut State Library, the House Clerk's office, or the General Assembly's website (http: //www. cga. state. ct. us/default. asp). Complete summaries of all public acts passed in 2008 will be available in the fall when OLR's Public Act Summary book is published; some are now available on the OLR website (http: //www. cga. state. ct. us/olr/publicactsummaries. asp)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

employment 4

Leave Time and Military Service 4

Unemployment Benefits 4

Education 4

Education Compact 4

Graduate Tuition Waivers for National Guard Members 5

Tuition Waiver for Dependents of Service Members 5

Health Insurance 5

Veterans' Home and cemetery 5

Awards and ribbons 5

Motor Vehicle 6

Vehicle Operation 6

Property Tax Exemption 6

Vehicle Fines and Fees 6

Gold Star Family License Plate 7

“Support Our Troops!” License Plate 7

EMPLOYMENT

Leave Time and Military Service

A new law extends the deadline by which certain National Guard members and reservists returning from state or federal active service must use leave accumulated while in such service. It gives such service members in teaching or professional positions in the Department of Correction's Unified School District #1 one year, rather than 120 days, after leave accrual to use “equivalent leave time.” Equivalent leave time includes “recess time,” which is paid time off available to teachers for designated dates on a school calendar. Recess time cannot be carried forward except for specific reasons related to military service. The law applies to employees called to duty for (1) federal or state post-September 11, 2001 anti-terrorism or homeland security-related duty or (2) the Iraq or Afghanistan war (PA 08-15, effective upon passage).

Unemployment Benefits

A new law makes permanent a military spouse's eligibility for unemployment compensation when he or she voluntarily leaves a job to accompany a spouse required to relocate for active-duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Prior law applied to spouses who left their jobs between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008 (PA 08-40, effective July 1, 2008).

EDUCATION

Education Compact

A new law (1) enacts and commits Connecticut to the terms of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and (2) creates an interstate commission to administer and enforce the compact.

The compact provides a legal mechanism and creates uniform standards for schools and school boards to use to facilitate placement, enrollment, graduation, data collection, and other decisions involving children in kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) when they move to other states because their parents are activated for federal service.

The compact applies to children of (1) active-duty armed forces members, including National Guard members and reservists on active duty under Title 10 of federal law; (2) veterans severely injured and medically discharged or retired, for one year after discharge or retirement; and (3) service members who die while on active duty or from active-duty injuries, for one year after death.

The compact has the force and effect of statutory law and binds all member states. It supersedes conflicting laws in member states (PA 08-57, effective upon passage).

Graduate Tuition Waivers for National Guard Members

A new law requires UConn and the Connecticut State University to waive tuition for National Guard members in graduate programs. The schools already must waive undergraduate tuition. As is currently required for the undergraduate waiver, the student must be (1) certified by the adjutant general, or his designee, to be in good standing and (2) enrolled in or accepted for admission to a degree-granting program (PA 08-57, effective July 1, 2008).

Tuition Waiver for Dependents of Service Members

A new law requires UConn, the Connecticut State University system, and regional community-technical colleges to waive tuition for certain survivors of service members who lived in Connecticut. A student is entitled to the waiver if he or she lives in the state and is a dependent child or surviving spouse of a state resident killed in action while performing federal active military duty on or after September 11, 2001 (PA 08-71, effective July 1, 2008).

HEALTH INSURANCE

The legislature has added TriCare supplement coverage to the types of coverage that a health insurance policy may include. TriCare is a federal health benefit program for military personnel and their dependents (PA 08-147, effective October 1, 2008).

VETERANS' HOME AND CEMETERY

A new law modifies the eligibility criteria for admission to the Veterans' Home. On the one hand, it appears to restrict veterans' admission by linking eligibility to federal criteria. But it extends eligibility to resident armed forces members and former members entitled to retirement pay under a specified federal law.

The new law also extends eligibility for burial in the state's veterans' cemeteries to these members and former members (PA 08-87, effective July 1, 2008).

AWARDS AND RIBBONS

A new law removes the ban on the Connecticut National Guard's adjutant general and veterans' affairs commissioner awarding ribbons and medals posthumously to resident wartime veterans, specifically allowing posthumous awards after June 30, 2005.

The new law also requires the adjutant general to issue an achievement ribbon to the soldier, airman, and noncommissioned officer of the year in the guard (PA 08-87, effective upon passage for posthumous awards; July 1, 2008 for the other provision).

MOTOR VEHICLE

Vehicle Operation

A new law allows Connecticut National Guard members qualified to operate military or commercial motor vehicles (CMV) for federal military purposes without a commercial drivers license (CDL) to also operate them without a CDL while performing state military duty. By law, military personnel (including National Guard members) operating CMVs solely in connection with their federal military duties may do so without a CDL (PA 08-121, effective July 1, 2008).

Property Tax Exemption

A new law allows more U.S. Armed Forces members to qualify for an existing motor vehicle local property tax exemption. Under prior law, the exemption applied to one motor vehicle owned or leased by, or held in trust for, a member and garaged out-of-state. The act allows members to claim the exemption regardless of where they garage the vehicle. By law, claims must be made in writing by December 31 following the property tax due date (PA 08-121, effective July 1, 2008).

Vehicle Fines and Fees

A new law modifies an exemption from certain motor vehicle fines and fees currently available to certain armed forces members who did not renew their driver's license or vehicle registration or test their vehicle's emissions within deadlines. Prior law applied to active-duty personnel (including National Guard members called to active duty) who (1) lived in Connecticut and (2) were on federal active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield from August 7, 1990 until the end of hostilities, as determined by the President or state law. The act, instead, applies the exemption to service members performing state active service, instead of federal service. Specifically it exempts the armed forces of any state (i.e., the state's National Guard) called to active service in a state's armed forces. It similarly exempts members of any U.S. Armed Forces reserve component, but the act's legal effect in this case is unclear.

The act potentially shortens the time during which the exemption applies by setting the deadlines at 60 days after the service member is released from service instead of 60 days after he or she returns to Connecticut (PA 08-121, effective upon passage).

Gold Star Family License Plate

The legislature has eliminated the fee for the Gold Star Family license plate, which it authorized in 2007 for immediate relatives of state residents killed in action while performing active federal military duty. The Department of Motor Vehicles had set the fee at $10 (PA 08-104, effective upon passage).

“Support Our Troops!” License Plate

A new law establishes a “Support Our Troops!” license plate, beginning January 1, 2009, for purpose of expressing support for our troops. The plate must bear the words “Support Our Troops!” and the image adopted by the national association, Support Our Troops, Inc.

DMV must charge a $60 fee for the plate, in addition to any other regular registration fee. It may establish a higher fee for Support Our Troops! plates that (1) contain letters and numbers from a previously issued license plate, (2) contain letters in place of numbers (so-called “vanity” plates), or (3) are low-number plates designated by statute.

The new law also establishes a Support Our Troops commemorative account as a separate nonlapsing General Fund account. The account must be used by Support Our Troops, Inc. for programs to help troops, their families, and veterans (PA 08-150, 24 and 25, effective October 1, 2008).

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