Legislative Affairs Officers - Phone Conference Oct 31 2017
DATE: Tuesday 31 Oct 2017
WHAT : Audio Conference / 2017 SC Legislative Affairs Audio Conference
TIME: 10:30 - 11:45
Telephone Conference with Council Vice President for Legislative Affairs Col Tom Robillard USAF Ret and the Legislative Officers for the various MOAA Chapters in South Carolina. This Nov 2017 Capsule Update will serve as an agenda for the audio conference for Tuesday 31 Oct at 10:30.
Call in no later than 1030 HRS
Dial 1-712-775-7085 then enter code 650063 followed by the # key
1. SC MOAA State Council Meeting / All Chapter Members welcome/ Sat 4 Nov Fort Jackson Officer's Club
Many Thanks to COL Warren Bensen and COL Bill Kohler for all their hard work in putting together an outstanding program for ALL our SC chapter members. Strongly encourage you to attend this meeting for a fantastic update to national and local issues from key speakers. If you haven’t signed up or registered yet you can notify Jean Remley ( 803 319-8969 ) by phone and pay at the door. A link to the State MOAA page and highlights are provided below. Don’t miss this one!!!
for more info.
- In all cases, registration must be made before 30 Oct for this 4 November event.
- A registration form (a completed version of this document) must be submitted to Mrs Jean Remley, 1778 Hwy 21, Swansea, SC 29160 via regular mail or email at email@example.com. If unable to submit a completed form you may make a reservation by phone with Mrs Jean Remley. She may be reached at 803-319-8969.
- If viewing this form as a pdf while on a computer, one should be able to fill in the blanks in your pdf reader software such as Adobe Reader and then printed for regular mailing or saved for emailing to Jean Remley.
- Payment can be made either by mail with a check or at the door with either check or cash.
- If desired, checks, made payable to “Columbia MOAA Chapter”, can be mailed ahead to Mrs Jean Remley, 1778 Hwy 21, Swansea, SC 29160 • 803-319-8969. Please write “November Council Conference” in the memo area of the check.
- If registration is made, with or without prior payment, the charge will be due if the registration is not cancelled by 30 Oct 2017, even if the member or guests did not attend. Refunds will not be made if cancellation is not received by 30 October 2017. A buffet lunch is included in the price of the registration. 8. If you have any questions please call Jean at 803-319-8969.
2. SC MILITARY TASK FORCE UPDATES: Local SC State Issues
The SC Military Base Task Force has just completed two important documents. The 2017 Fiscal Economic Impact and the 2017 Strategic Plan. The strategic Plan sets forth the goal of uniting military organizations throughout the state. The Task Force is in the process of uniting the military bases in SC and veteran’s groups to speak more or less as one voice. That is the goal of their first strategic plan. The link below contains the primary reference with a synopsis of each below the link for each topic. The Military Task Force has become the focal point of leadership in coalescing the multiple Veterans groups throughout the state. This is a long overdue effort and SC MOAA is proud to be major supporter of this effort.
2017 Economic Impact = Executive Summary
This is a 65 page document filled with Hard Data. Well worth the Read. Will be used for future SC legislative efforts for the 2018 session ]
The annual economic impact of the military community on South Carolina is $24.1 billion. This translates to 181,847 jobs that are supported (either directly or indirectly) by the military community along with $9.9 billion in labor income for South Carolinians.
The Palmetto State is home to eight major military installations and numerous other facilities throughout the state supporting 62,520 Department of Defense personnel, of all branches of Service, with $2.6 billion in payroll. Additionally, $2.1 billion in Department of Defense (DoD) contracts is currently being executed among 752 firms within the state.
The $4.7 billion that the DoD spends on payroll and contracts in South Carolina (#23 in the Nation) is 2.7 percent of the state’s GDP (#17 in the Nation) providing $1,079 per South Carolina resident.
There are 56,969 military retirees among the state’s 417,515 veterans. Military retirees bring in $1.6 billion in DoD-funded retirement income. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides veterans another $1.9 billion in VA-funded compensation and pension. The VA spends another $1.6 billion to provide medical care and veteran benefits across South Carolina.
South Carolina has the 10th highest total DoD personnel and the 9th highest military retiree population. The strategic importance of South Carolina’s military community as part of the broader United States military is critical. South Carolina’s military community provides a variety of resources that the nation regularly draws from for training, combat, and support services. These include: - Force generation for the long-term sustainability of the U.S. Armed Forces - Active engagement in the defense of national interests - Direct support of combat operations
While these are tremendous figures for the Palmetto State, it is hard to project what the impact would have been without the effects of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which forced significant cuts in defense spending and the corresponding 16.6 percent spending reduction nationwide since fiscal year 2011.
2017 SC Military Task Force Strategic Plan
The strategic plan is a very powerful document that seeks to unite the veteran’s groups in the state in ONE UNIFIED VOICE. To me this is so very important in SC. Individually going in varied directions confuses and dilutes the impact of our numerous veteran’s groups. United and consistent is much more powerful when moving our common efforts forward for active and retired military in SC to our legislators and various committees through the legislative process.
Objective 1: Establish a new operational structure for the SC Military Base Task Force.
Objective 2: Protect and grow South Carolina’s military assets
Objective 3: Improve the quality of life for military families and retirees.
Objective 4: Support Veterans and Retiree services and benefits through a unified and cohesive administrative structure.
- Develop a means through which veterans’ service and retired military organizations can offer a more united voice, with advice of the SC Veterans Policy Advisory Committee.
- Support legislation to expand the income tax exemption of military retirement pay to 100%
3. COLA for 2017 for military, retirement, Social Security ( $25/mo.= Avg.) = 2.0% Impacts 1 in 5 Americans
The September CPI is 240.939, 2.5 percent above the FY 2016 COLA baseline.
The CPI for October 2017, the first month of the fiscal year, is scheduled to be released on November 15, 2017.
The number that matters most for you: 2.0 percent. Our prediction of 1.8 percent fell just short because of an unexpected sharp rise in oil prices in September. That is the final COLA for the 2017 fiscal year, meaning retired pay will be increased by 2 percent starting in January of 2018. In other words, you will see a $20 increase for every $1000 of retired pay received. The final COLA is determined by comparing the average CPI of the final three months of the fiscal year to the same quarter of the prior year.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers from around the country for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The market basket includes the prices of food, clothing, shelter, and fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors' dentists' services, drugs, and other things people buy for day-to-day living. Prices are collected from about 50,000 housing units and approximately 23,000 retail establishments - department stores, supermarkets, hospitals, filling stations, and other types of stores. All taxes directly associated with the purchase and use of items are included the index. Prices of most goods and services are obtained by personal visits or telephone calls of the Bureau of Labor and Statistics' (BLS) trained representatives.
Our SC Representatives have been slow to support our people.
179 Co-Sponsors for Rep Wilson's SBP / DIC offset repeal and S.339 has 33. Rep Jeff Duncan is the ONLY Co-Sponsor for the SC for the House Bill and Rep Scott for the Senate versions. The link below contains those Representatives who have said YES. The attachment to this e-mail has an updated status of our other SC representatives who have said NO or have not supported the bills. Please remember these SC Senators and Representatives who have and have not opted to support this legislation when voting time comes around. If we ALL do not get behind it, the issue will never be resolved for surviving spouses involved in these programs. We need everyone to contact their Senators and Congressmen!
Subject: OP-ED in the Hill Magazine by Lt.Gen. Dana Atkins
(After reading this opinion piece, we hope that you will choose to share the article with your Chapter members and ask that they follow the link at the bottom of the page and contact their elected officials to demand action on this issue!)
War is costly. This conclusion is often expressed in terms of lives lost and money spent. But the cost of war is much more complicated than this, especially for nearly 65,000 surviving military spouses.
Their loss might have happened during war or day-to-day operations; their loved one might have died from other service-connected causes. In either case, within a few days of their loss, a surviving spouse is overwhelmed by the inequity of their Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) annuity and Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC), compounded by what is known as the SBP-DIC offset, or “widows tax.”
Under current law, survivors eligible for both SBP and DIC must forfeit a dollar of their SBP annuity for every dollar of DIC received from the VA. The offset often entirely wipes out the SBP annuity — an annuity the military retiree paid for out of their retirement pay. In such cases, the survivor receives a proportional refund of SBP premiums, with no interest. No other federal employee’s surviving spouse is required to forfeit his or her federal annuity because military service caused their sponsor’s death.
A separate law, validated by the courts, terminates the SBP-DIC offset for those who remarry at age 57 or older. By absence of any clarification, the law continues to punish survivors who at age 57 or older don’t remarry, by maintaining the SBP-DIC offset. To add to the confusion and inequity, a survivor who remarries before age 55 forfeits both SBP and DIC eligibility.
The SBP-DIC offset became personal to me April 27, 2011 — the day Maj. David Brodeur was killed in Afghanistan when a rogue Afghan colonel entered an operations center in Kabul and summarily killed 10 individuals. Before David’s deployment, my wife and I promised him we would take care of his family while he was deployed, not knowing that promise would become a lifetime commitment. David’s wife, Susie, is the new face of these widows — young, financially challenged, and with the responsibility of raising their two children David left behind.
Congress knows this inequity needs to be fixed. Over the past few years, both the House and the Senate have introduced bills to eliminate the offset. As a mitigating strategy in 2008, Congress authorized a modest Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) for SBP-DIC widows to begin phasing out the offset. The following years saw the same support for this strategy, increasing SSIA monthly payments to $310 in FY 2017. However, time is running out and, barring an additional law change, SSIA expires May 2018.
Solutions are few as the costs seem insurmountable — especially with budget caps and complicated spending rules. Noticeably absent is the political will to find the estimated $9 billion for a complete resolution. Suggested alternatives have surfaced: extend SSIA with a possible modest increase, find a funding offset within the current budget, or raise funds by increasing government health care costs borne by our service members and retirees.
I hope the last option got your attention. There are a few in Congress who believe, because the military is good at taking care of their own, the solution is to have the military pay for the offset by increasing military beneficiaries’ pharmacy copayments. One example says the increase would be only $4 over nine years, but what they fail to include is the entire schedule of increases — up to $41, in some cases, over the same period.
This logic of letting the military take care of its own is flawed at its inception. The nation demands plenty from its service members and their families, and plenty in Congress remain supportive.
The association I lead has consistently championed, on behalf of surviving military spouses across the nation, fixing the financial inequities resulting from the SBP-DIC offset.
It is time for our Congress to weigh in and lead. Less than 1 percent of our country serves in uniform, less than 6 percent have ever served. The solution to this inequity must be borne by all citizens — with the service members sharing in that responsibility, not going it alone.
The real ID issue is now in the rear-view mirror. We successfully kicked it down the road and there has been local SC action and resources applied to this effort. Specifics on the current details are at the following website.
6. STEM Grants for Military Children // Big deal for SC // Good cause to advocate for our military bases // Haven't we all been there with PCS moves! // Kids sometimes don't always handle our PCS move well!
National Math and Science Initiative Presents Richland Two With $1.3 Million STEM Grant
Columbia, SC – Key military, education and state elected leaders gathered today at the South Carolina Military Base Task Force to celebrate a $1.3 million grant from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). The grant, funded by the US Department of Defense, provides Richland School District Two with the resources to implement NMSI’s College Readiness Program in two high schools with the majority of children from military families serving at Fort Jackson. Implementation of the program began with the start of the 2017-18 school year.
SC Military Base Task Force Chairman, Mr. Bill Bethea said, “The education offered to military children directly impacts family quality of life and the vibrancy of the installation community. Moreover, the availability of high-quality education has been repeatedly identified by the nation’s most senior military and civilian DoD leadership as core to overall mission readiness. We must always do more to ensure we’re providing the very best education, and highly successful partners like NMSI are precisely what we need for all military families stationed here in South Carolina.”
7. VA Updates for Columbia Charleston / Fisher Houses / Choice Program / Expanded parking
Over $80M Approved for new Construction at Dorn
Parking Garage / Prosthetics Center / Police Headquarters/ Behavioral Health / Rehab Center - Replacement CBOCs / Fisher House
NATIONAL Dir Shulkins 5 Priorities
http://vasocialworkers.org/Documents/May - VA top5 priorities.pdf
- Greater Choice
- Modernize Systems
- Improve Timeliness
- Suicide Prevention