Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 6855

January Session, 2015

 

LCO No. 3489

 

*03489_______PRI*

Referred to Committee on PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS

 

Introduced by:

 

(PRI)

 

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE REGARDING RESIDENTIAL SERVICES AT THE VETERANS' HOME.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 27-102l of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(a) There shall be a Department of Veterans' Affairs. The Veterans' Home shall be within the department and shall be located in Rocky Hill. The department head shall be the Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs, who shall be appointed by the Governor in accordance with the provisions of sections 4-5 to 4-8, inclusive, with the powers and duties prescribed therein.

(b) The commissioner may appoint a unit head to administer a veterans' advocacy and assistance unit for the aid and benefit of veterans, their spouses and eligible dependents and family members. Such unit shall conduct an annual training course for any city or town employee designated a veterans' service contact person pursuant to subsection (b) of section 27-135. The unit shall have a staff of not less than eight men and women, including six service officers, and clerical personnel. The unit head and the service officers shall be veterans, as defined in section 27-103, or veterans who were awarded the armed forces expeditionary medal for service by the armed forces. At least one of the service officers shall be a woman having a demonstrated interest in the concerns of women veterans, who shall be responsible for addressing those concerns, and, effective upon the next opening of a service officer position occurring on or after July 1, 2010, at least two of the service officers shall be individuals having bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish, within existing authorized positions. Each service officer shall successfully complete a course in veterans' benefits within one year of commencement of employment and shall be assigned to one of the five congressional districts of the state.

(c) In addition to the powers and duties prescribed under section 4-8, the commissioner shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) To prepare studies and collect information concerning facilities and services available to members of the armed forces, veterans, their spouses or eligible dependents, including facilities and services for veterans who may have been exposed to a Vietnam herbicide during their periods of military service;

(2) To conduct interviews in the nursing homes or hospitals throughout the state to determine the number of veterans admitted and ascertaining which benefits such veterans are currently receiving and are entitled to receive;

(3) To cooperate with service agencies and organizations throughout the state in disseminating and furnishing counsel and assistance of benefit to residents of this state who are or have been members of the armed forces, their spouses or eligible dependents, which will indicate the availability of: (A) Educational training and retraining facilities; (B) health, medical, rehabilitation and housing services and facilities; (C) employment and reemployment services; (D) provisions of federal, state and local laws affording financial rights, privileges and benefits; and (E) other matters of similar nature;

(4) To assist veterans, their spouses and eligible dependents and family members in the preparation, presentation, proof and establishment of such claims, privileges, rights and other benefits accruing to them under federal, state and local laws;

(5) To cooperate with all national, state and local governmental and private agencies securing or offering services or any benefits to veterans, their spouses or dependents;

(6) To develop and prepare a long-range plan and mission statement for the Veterans' Home and the veterans' advocacy and assistance unit; [and]

(7) To review all appeals made by veterans, their spouses or eligible dependents or family members and render the final decision thereon regarding the denial of admission to any program or the refusal to render any service or benefit which is administered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the discharge or transfer from any such program or any disciplinary action taken while participating in any such program; [.] and

(8) To provide, not later than January 1, 2016, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing within the Veterans' Home.

(d) The commissioner shall adopt, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, and enforce, such regulations and procedures for the operation, administration and management of the department and all programs and services under the jurisdiction of the department, including, but not limited to, procedures relating to admission and discharge or transfer of veterans in the Veterans' Home, a per diem fee schedule for programs, services and benefits provided by the Veterans' Home, and the participation of eligible family members in programs or services provided by the home.

Sec. 2. (Effective from passage) The Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs shall submit two reports, one not later than September 1, 2015, and one not later than November 2, 2015, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to veterans' affairs and to the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee, on the progress made in implementing (1) transitional housing and permanent supportive housing as required pursuant to section 27-102l of the general statutes, as amended by this act; and (2) recommendations approved by the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee, dated December 19, 2014, relating to: (A) Appropriate staffing for such transitional housing and permanent supportive housing; (B) housing needs and preferences assessment of residents of the Veterans' Home and new applicants to the Veterans' Home; (C) admission of persons with psychiatric history; (D) provision of semi-private or private rooms to residents; (E) elimination of the veteran worker and detail programs and the transition of necessary positions therefrom, including the establishment of workforce readiness positions for transitional housing residents; (F) residential care fees; (G) provision of life and vocational skills classes for residents; (H) recruitment of volunteers and efforts to encourage residents to volunteer in the community; (I) safety and security rules and procedures for residents; (J) procedures for addressing rule violations by residents; (K) providing transitional housing that facilitates successful discharge to independent living and encourages personal responsibility; (L) providing permanent supportive housing that recognizes long-term stays and encourages independence; and (M) improvement of substance use treatment services.

Sec. 3. Section 27-106 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(a) The commissioner shall adopt and enforce such rules as may be necessary to ensure order, enforce discipline and preserve the health and ensure the comfort of the [patients] residents in the Veterans' Home, and shall discipline or dismiss any officer or [patient] resident of the home who disobeys or infringes upon such rules. The commissioner shall appoint, subject to the provisions of chapter 67, such officers and employees as are necessary for the administration of the affairs of the home, shall prescribe the relative rank, if any, of such officers and employees, and shall commission each such officer, who shall wear such uniform, if any, as is prescribed by the commissioner.

(b) The chief fiscal officer shall submit a semiannual plain language report to each resident of the Veterans' Home detailing the manner in which the institutional general welfare fund was used over the previous six months to directly benefit veterans or the Veterans' Home. Such report shall include a prominently displayed statement encouraging residents to submit suggestions for projects to be funded by the institutional general welfare fund and shall include a form for such submissions.

[(b)] (c) The chief fiscal officer shall submit an itemized list of expenditures made from the institutional general welfare fund to the commissioner at intervals not greater than two months. Such list shall include all such expenditures made during the two-month period preceding its submission. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4-56, the commissioner shall prescribe procedures to limit and specify the uses for which expenditures may be made from the institutional general welfare fund so that only expenditures which, in the opinion of the commissioner and the board of trustees for the department appointed pursuant to section 27-102n, as amended by this act, directly benefit veterans or the Veterans' Home are permitted.

[(c)] (d) In addition to the estimate of expenditure requirements required under section 4-77, the commissioner shall submit an accounting of all planned expenditures for the next fiscal year from the institutional general welfare fund to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to appropriations and the budgets of state agencies at the time such estimate is submitted.

Sec. 4. Section 27-102n of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2015):

(a) There shall be a Board of Trustees for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The board shall be comprised of the [commissioner] Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs, three residents of the Veterans' Home, one of whom shall be from transitional housing, one of whom shall be from permanent supportive housing and one of whom shall be from the health care facility, each of whom shall serve as a nonvoting member and be elected annually by the residents of their respective programs, and sixteen members who by education or experience shall be qualified in health care, business management, social services or law and who shall have a demonstrated interest in the concerns of veterans. A majority of the members of the board shall be veterans, including veterans of armed conflicts authorized by the President of the United States. Members shall be appointed as follows: Ten by the Governor, two of whom shall be representatives of two different Connecticut veterans' organizations, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and one member each by the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the majority leader of the Senate, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the Senate and the minority leader of the House of Representatives, whose terms shall be coterminous with the term of the appointing authority. The Governor shall appoint annually, from the board's members, a chairperson who shall not be the Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs. Members shall be sworn to the faithful performance of their duties. They shall receive no compensation for their services but shall be reimbursed for their reasonable expenses in the performance of their duties. On and after January 1, 2016, any board member absent from (1) three consecutive meetings of the board, or (2) fifty per cent of such meetings during any calendar year shall be deemed to have resigned from the board, effective immediately.

(b) The board shall meet at least quarterly and upon the call of the commissioner, chairperson or a majority of the board members. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum.

(c) The board shall advise and assist the commissioner in the operation of the Veterans' Home, the veterans' advocacy and assistance unit, the administration, expansion or modification of existing programs and services of the department and the development of new programs and services.

(d) The board shall review and approve any regulations prior to adoption by the commissioner concerning: (1) Procedures relating to admission and discharge or transfer of veterans in the home; (2) a per diem fee schedule for programs, services and benefits provided therein; and (3) the participation of eligible family members in programs or services provided by the home.

(e) The board shall request from the department information necessary to monitor the progress made by the Veterans' Home in implementing its mission. The department shall provide such information to the board in a timely manner.

(f) All board meeting notices, minutes and reports bearing a date of January 1, 2012, or later shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the department's Internet web site. Minutes from board meetings held on or after the effective date of this section shall be posted to such Internet web site not later than seven days after each such meeting is held. If applicable, minutes shall contain a statement that such minutes are considered draft minutes until approved by the board.

[(e)] (g) The board shall submit an annual report not later than February fifteenth to the Governor [,] and the joint standing [committees] committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to [public safety,] veterans' and military affairs, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, on its activities during the previous calendar year, progress in fulfilling its mission based on programmatic outcomes and [with its] recommendations, if any, for improving the delivery of services to veterans and the addition of new programs.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2015

27-102l

Sec. 2

from passage

New section

Sec. 3

July 1, 2015

27-106

Sec. 4

July 1, 2015

27-102n

Statement of Purpose:

To implement the recommendations of the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee regarding residential services provided at the Veterans' Home in Rocky Hill.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]