A pair of bills were unanimously passed through the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
House Study Bill 65 was proposed by the Department of Public Defense. Currently the injured veterans grant program provides grants to veterans recovering from an injury received in the line of duty in a combat zone or in a zone where the veteran was receiving hazardous duty pay after Sept. 11, 2001.
This bill eliminates the requirement that the veteran be injured in a combat zone or zone where the veteran is receiving hazardous duty pay in order to qualify for the program.
It would also establish an expedited licensing process for spouses of active duty members of the U.S. military who are stationed in Iowa pursuant to military orders.
Representative John Wills gave an example of a spouse who is a nurse and moves to Iowa from Mississippi. This bill would open the door to an expedited licensing chance in Iowa.
Veterans injured in a contingency operation would be eligible for the injured veterans grant program. Rep. Wills said with combat zones becoming fewer and fewer, more troops are being deployed to contingency operations. He cited Kuwait as a former combat zone but now a place with contingency operations.
“What’s happening is when a veteran gets injured in those areas, family goes through the expense of going to visit the veteran as they recuperate in the hospital,” he said. “This is an attempt to kind of broaden the scope of this law and include contingency operations. It does not include things like training operations.”
The bill was amended to direct the commission and the National Guard to develop a report that explains how the program can be sustained in the future. That report is due Dec. 31, 2019. Rep. Wills thanked fellow Representatives Phil Thompson and Timi Brown-Powers for their work on the amendment in subcommittee.
“It was a bipartisan discussion,” Wills said. “Without us talking together we may not have arrived at the amendment that we did.”
House Study Bill 67 also passed. That’s an act that distributes gambling game receipts for charitable purposes. It would allow 501 (c)(19) organizations to access gambling game receipts. In order to be exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501 (c) (19), an organization must be either a post or organization of past or present members of the United States Armed Forces, an auxiliary unit or society of such post or organization or a trust or foundation for such post or organization.
“It was probably the quickest subcommittee I’ve ever been on in my life,” said Rep. Skyler Wheeler. “It was one that was pretty much unanimous as far as everyone was concerned. It was great.”