2017 Veterans Legislative Day
Tennessee’s Capitol Hill
February 8, 2017
Table of Contents
Topic Section page
Purpose of Legislative Day 3
Operational Plan for Feb 17, 2016 3-6
Security Scan & In-processing
Tips for in-person visits with elected officials
Detailed bill topics you will be lobbying for
1) Restoring Property Tax Exemption For Disabled Vets 7-8
2) Hiring Preferences for Veterans/Spouses/Survivors 8-9
Hand Bill/Leave Behind Document 10
Attachment 1 Car/bus/van parking map location 11
Attachment 2 Bus/Shuttle/Van Drop-off 12
Attachment 2a Bus/Shuttle/Van Drop-off 13
Attachment 3 WMB Entrance Access Viewpoints 14
Purpose of Legislative Day
Most active duty and veterans are aware of the numerous proposed laws originated at the national level. Pay, medical, base services and many other issues are debated annually in the halls of Congress. However, state governments consider and pass laws each year that affect this same population.
Similar to Congress, state capitols are full of lobbyists, special interest groups and regular citizens that work to support/reject laws that impact them. Many laws are affected by the “financial pot”, from which all revenue is poured into, and portioned out for funding. The “pot” is finite in size and in order for one group to get a slightly bigger portion; some else’s portion may shrink. Groups with interest in the legislative actions at the state capitol, such as educators, farmers and cities, set one day each year in which they make a concentrated effort to meet with legislators on issues and their possible funding. While they may not always be successful in getting the support they want one year, they build communication links to address issues in future years.
Last year was the first effort to bring members from ALL veterans groups to the Capitol to voice their concerns with legislators. Past years have seen individual veteran groups work the legislative process and be successful. Much is owed to their efforts. However, recent history and efforts in other states shows that a joining of ALL veterans groups is now needed to increase the possibility of legislative success. In 2016, about 200 veterans from across the state came and spent the day in meetings with legislators and attended legislative committee meetings. Legislative Day is ONLY one part of the effort to work the issues of our veterans. Weeks afterwards, groups of veterans continued to attend and speak before legislative committees on the veteran bills of interest/need. These efforts were rewarded with the income means test ($60,000 income limit install during the 2015 legislative session) being removed from 100% disabled veterans (permanent and total) on property tax exemptions. This year will see an effort to restore a FULL property value tax exemption of $175,000 for those same veterans. This exemption was reduced to $100,000 two legislative sessions ago. Many legislators vowed to work with veterans this year and restore the full amount. We will also be working for passage of veteran-hiring preference legislation for private business, which is a law that approximately three-dozen other states already authorize. These are reasons why you need to attend Legislative Day.
As veterans you have served your country to protect the rights and freedoms we have. It is your right and freedom to participate in the legislative processes you defended. We look forward to seeing you in Nashville.
Operational Plan For February 8, 2017
Dress. It will be a long day so dress comfortably. However, first impressions count! We suggest as a minimum, slacks and shirt and if you wish to wear a suit and tie, sports coat, or nice dress and jacket…please do so. We will operate primarily out of the War Memorial Hall, which is adjacent to the legislative offices you will be visiting. However, there is no secure area to leave briefcases, purses, coats or umbrellas. So please take into consideration what you may have to carry around as you conduct your visit.
Also, we want the legislators to easily recognize the veterans that come to visit. If your organization has outer wear such as hats, vests, name/organizational tags or pins or if you have the baseball type hats that proclaim you are a veteran of a particular group, war(s) or retired Army, AF, etc…then wear them to this event. Legislators with past military backgrounds/experience encourage this. Being seen as a veteran in the halls of Legislative Plaza will be just as important as talking with our elected leaders.
Arrival/Check-in. We know that many of you will drive/ride some distance to attend this event. Therefore, we have tried to be flexible in getting you in and on your way to visit legislators. Here is how it will operate:
1) Arrive at the War Memorial Bldg. (WMB) between 8am – 9:30am on Feb 8.
If you drive: We have arranged FREE parking at Titan football (Nissan) stadium. See attachment 1 for a map/directions to the stadium, using Lot D to park in. Upon arrival at Lot D you will be given a parking pass to place on your car dash. From the stadium you will be shuttled to WMB for check-in. Shuttles will be running on schedules during the day to provide you with access to and from your vehicle and WMB. It may take 5-10 minutes to shuttle you from the parking area to the entrance of WMB when the doors open at 8am. Traffic is heavy going into the Nashville in the mornings. Please take this into consideration in making your travel plans by adding 15-20 minutes to get our parking via any Interstate (I-24/40). You may start parking at 7:30am at stadium Lot D. At approximately 7:45am the first shuttle will arrive to take you to WMB. We plan on the morning shuttle service to end NLT 10am and restart by 2pm.
IF you ride a bus or van: Buses/Vans will drop riders directly at the WMB entrance on 7th Ave N. first (see attach 2 & 2a) and then proceed to the same Nissan Stadium parking lot (D) as the car drivers were instructed above (attach 1). Buses/vans need to add 15-20 minutes to any schedule to get you through the morning rush at Nashville. The address for the WMB is 301 Sixth Ave. N. Nashville TN 37243. Parking meters will be covered to allow a zone for bus/van passenger unloading on 7th Ave.N. You will enter WMB for in-processing from the 7th Ave.N. access steps (see attach #3). Buses/van shall reload riders between 3:30-4pm for your return trip at the 7th Ave.N access steps. BE SURE TO GET ATTACHMENTS 1, 2, 2a & 3 TO YOUR DRIVER
2) In-processing, Security Scan.
BRING SOME FORM OF PICTURE ID!!! Your military ID or Drivers License will do. Upon arrival/entering the War Memorial Bldg., you will go directly to in-processing. You will see tables setup to in-process you. Here are the steps to get you in-processed:
- A) You will be directed to tables (Station 1) where you will line-up to fill out a form to aid us in getting you to your legislator meeting. You will provide full name, address and the names of your senate and house legislator on this form. Please research who your state elected senator and house representative are before arriving.
- B) If you are still unsure who are your elected representatives upon arrival, we will direct you to a table with computers and assistants that can look up that information for you and post it to your form (Station #2).
- C) After your elected officials have been confirmed you will be directed to the last table (Station #3). Here you provide your form to the desk volunteer and the time and room location of where your legislator meeting will take place will be written on your form. You will keep the form as a reminder of who, when and where your meeting will take place. We will have maps of the Legislative Plaza and the War Memorial Bldg. and volunteers/guides to help you find the meeting rooms.
After in-processing, you will have some free time to sit, get coffee, donuts, fruit and catch your breath. At approximately 9:35am we will make any needed announcements. You will enter WMB without having to go through security. When you go downstairs/elevator to attend your meetings in the attached Legislative Plaza, the Tennessee State Troopers will “wand” you for security purposes as you exit the stairs or elevator from the WMB Hall. Unlike last year, you will not have to enter/wait outside the building for a security scan.
3) Legislative Scheduling
We have been informed that the Senate and/or House may hold a full membership meeting in their Capitol chambers that morning. Veterans will be invited to attend if this occurs. We will be flexible on this event, as any such chamber meeting may not be scheduled until a day or two before our event. We will work to keep you posted through your veteran organization and our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Veteransdayonthehill/). We fully expect that sub-committee or committee conferences will take place throughout the day and you are welcome to sit in and observe. We will not know those meetings times or room locations until your arrival. It is possible that a committee meeting could be talking about veteran or military issues. Being seen at any of these meetings lets legislators know you are “in the house” and observing the process. Veterans sitting in and watching these meetings can have a very influential effect.
4) Legislator-Veteran Meetings….Starting at 10am
The whole purpose of “Veterans Day On The Hill” is to allow you to meet your House and Senate member and ask him/her for support on the two primary veteran bills that are being sponsored this legislative session. Your veteran organization leaders approved support of two specific bills several months ago. You will find information on these bills on pages 7-9 of this package. Please study these bills and the associated information provided. Legislators will have a copy of the bills and should be prepared to answer any questions you have or get back to you if additional research is needed for an answer.
Meetings will start at 10am and continue throughout the day. The in-processing form you completed upon arrival will have your legislators’ names, meeting times and room locations. Unlike last year, where we asked you to set up a meeting with your legislators, we have set them up for you this year. The meetings are set up by senate district. There will be 33 meetings scheduled for that day, as there are 33 state senate districts. Thus, all veterans living within a particular senate district will all attend the same meeting. Your house representative and any other representatives whose districts fall within your senator’s district will also be in that same meeting. So the meeting you attend will have your senator and likely three (3) house members in attendance; one of which should be your house representative. For most veterans to meet both their senator and house representatives will require attending only one meeting. It is possible, due to how house district boundaries are drawn that you may have to attend two meetings to meet both your senator and house member. Thus, you may meet two senators and several house representatives and many others, if you wish.
As regular legislative business is taking place that day, plus there may be an additional group or two visiting legislative plaza for political purposes, some legislators may be pressed for time and unable to make the meeting we scheduled. Usually in these instances the legislator will send a representative (staffer) from their office to attend. These staffers are the “eyes and ears” of the legislator. They have good information and are excellent at being a conduit for communications. So, if your legislator is unable to attend a meeting due to circumstances beyond his/her control, be assured you are in good hands with their legislative staffer.
Meetings will be NO longer than 20 minutes with 5 minutes allowed between meetings for people to leave and enter the room for the next legislative meeting. Remember we have 33 meetings to conduct on a limited timeline. If you want to talk more with your legislator, please do so outside the meeting room or at their office.
5) Lunch. Due to donations provide to our Legislative Day on the Hill (We thank the Tennessee Dept. of Veteran Services and Senator Mark Green for providing this) lunch will be provided for up to 500 attendees. Lunch will be in the WMB Hall from 11:00am – 1:00pm. During lunch we may have several dignitaries stop by and speak to veterans along with members of the legislature sitting down with you for lunch. Feel free to talk about the veteran bills or any other topics of legislative interest to you. This will be “free” time to just get to talk and know the legislators that may join us.
6) Other Activities. We are planning to have two guided tours of the Capitol and Legislative Plaza for those who may have never been to the Capitol. We also hope to have some photo opportunities with veterans and the governor and Commissioner of Veteran Services. If schedules work out, we will announce those at the morning session. A traveling version of the “Tennessee Vietnam Memorial Wall” will also be at this event. The “Wall” will be at the Capitol/Legislative Plaza/WMB area for several days before and after our event.
7) Departure. Most, if not all, legislative/veteran meetings will be finished no later than 3:30pm. Due to travel considerations we will be scheduling those whose legislators represent the mid-state area toward the beginning of the day’s meetings. This will allow those traveling from further away in East and West Tennessee a bit more time in case traffic is bad or other conditions delay your arrival. However, we still need everyone to strive to arrive between 8-9:30am central time. We need to free our in-processing volunteers to help with other duties in making your visit and meeting the best possible.
8) Tips for personal visits with elected officials
- If the legislator is unavailable, you will meet with staffer. Sometimes meeting with a staffer is almost as good as meeting with a legislator. (We can vouch that these staffers are excellent)
- Be courteous but don’t apologize for expressing your viewpoint. You have a right to meet and try to influence your elected officials and other government officials.
- Remember you are building a relationship and a representative for our veterans. Unless you really are a close friend, introduce yourself every time you meet and when possible wear group identification.
- If you already know the elected official or at least have met them, make sure you tell them and remind them of how you know them.
- Tell them if you are a constituent. (Since we arranged the meeting, you are likely a constituent)
- For our groups we have a spokesperson to facilitate and keep the meeting moving. The spokesman will get introductions started, provide a handout sheet to legislators on bills of interest, and open the discussions for all to join in. The spokesman will stop the meeting after 20 minutes, if needed.
- Provide short, clear information –not jargon or technical terms! Best points only, written and oral.
- Don’t threaten, burn bridges, attack the legislator for his/her record, or disparage government or politics. (PLEASE READ AND HEED THIS). The legislator that may not agree with you this year may be your strongest supporter next year. The legislature meets every year and there will be future “Veterans Day On The Hill” meetings and you want to leave each in a cordial working atmosphere.
- Ask for a vote (or general support if that is more appropriate) for your position. But remember it’s legitimate for elected officials to reserve judgment on a bill until they have had time to consider.
- Thank the legislator for meeting with you and follow oral thanks with a written note or email.
Legislative Bill Topics You Will Discussing With Legislators
- 1. Title: Veterans – property tax relief – restore $175,000 property exemption for disabled Vets
Issue: During 2015’s legislative session, income limitations of $60,000 were established (there were no limitations before) and lower market value home property exemptions (from $175,000 to $100,000) were instituted in calculating property tax relief by the state for disabled veterans. These changes resulted in previously qualified disabled veterans having to pay hundreds of additional dollars a year in property taxes. In the 2016 legislative session and during our first Veterans Day On The Hill reversing these changes were among our priorities. We were successful in eliminating the income limits and fought for restoring the $175,000 property tax exemption up to the last day of the session, but failed. However, we did gain legislative support and return this year to restore the $175,000 exemption.
Bill Number(s) and Sponsors supporting restoring $175,000 exemption:
SB0023/HB0020 – Sen. Green & Rep. Pitts; SB0021/HB0023 – Sen. Green & Rep. Hill; SB0025/HB0005 – Sen. Green & Rep Ragan
Abstract: As introduced, these bills reestablish the first portion of home value for which real property tax relief will be reimbursed to disabled veteran homeowners from $100,000 to $175,000. Amends Tennessean Code Annotated (TCA) Title 67, Chapter 5, Part 7
Below are two examples of the bills being sponsored to restore the $175,000 for disabled veterans:
HOUSE BILL 20
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 67, Chapter 5, Part 7, relative to tax relief.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE: SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-5-702, is amended by deleting the
language “twenty-three thousand five hundred dollars ($23,500)” wherever it appears and substituting instead the language “twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000)”.
SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-5-703, is amended by deleting the language “twenty-three thousand five hundred dollars ($23,500)” wherever it appears and substituting instead the language “twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000)”.
SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-5-704(a), is amended by deleting the language “one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000)” wherever it appears and substituting instead the language “one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($175,000)”.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
HOUSE BILL 5
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 67, Chapter 5, Part 7, relative to tax relief.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE: SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 67-5-704(a), is amended by deleting
the language “one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000)” wherever it appears and substituting instead the language “one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($175,000)”.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
- 2. Title: Veterans – Hiring Preferences for Veterans, Spouses and widows/widowers
Issue: Veterans that honorably retired or finish their enlistment have high numbers of unemployment. The military has encouraged states to offer programs/legislation to promote and aid veteran employment and that of spouses and widows/widowers. In 2015 Rep. Pitts and Sen. Green sponsored bills to allow/authorize private employers to establish hiring preferences without running into issues with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The bill would aid honorably discharge veterans, spouse of a veteran with service-connected disability, un-remarried widow or widower of a veteran that dies of a service-connected disability or died in the line of duty.
The effort to pass this law died in committee in 2015 and was not brought forth during the 2016 legislative session. ( http://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/local/clarksville/2015/03/03/state-committee-kills-veteran-hiring-preference-bill/24348053/ )
States that have veteran hiring preference*: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.
* List is not 100% inclusive as some states may be still in consideration of such legislation
Bill Number(s) and Sponsors: (Awaiting Bill number assignment) Sen. Green & Rep Pitts
Abstract: State Law Affected: TCA Title 4, Chapter 21, Part 4; Title 50; Title 58. The eligible veteran or member of a veteran would submit a copy of the DD214 form of the veteran to the employer that provides a veteran’s preference employment policy as proof.
Below is the example of the bill that is being sponsored to provide veteran hiring preferences:
AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 50, Chapter 1, Part 1, relative to hiring preferences.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 50, Chapter 1, Part 1Error! Bookmark not defined., is amended by adding the following as a new section:
(a) A private employer may adopt an employment policy that gives preference in hiring to:
(1) An honorably discharged veteran;
(2) The spouse of a veteran with a service-connected disability;
(3) The unremarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability; or
(4) The unremarried widow or widower of a member of the United States armed forces who died in the line of duty.
(b) A private employer adopting a veterans preference shall have the policy in writing and may require submission of a certificate of release or discharge from active duty, department of defense form 214 (DD 214), as proof of eligibility for the veterans preference employment policy.
(c) A policy adopted pursuant to subsection (a) must be applied uniformly to employment decisions regarding hiring and promotion.
(d) The preferences authorized by this section are not considered violations of any state or local equal employment opportunity law.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
On the following page you will see the handout that will be provided to legislators as to why you are visiting with them and as a reminder sheet of the two bills that veterans are placing emphasis on this year in the legislative session. This does not preclude that other important military and veteran bills will also be considered during the session, but we want to ensure these pieces of legislation are very important for veterans.
VETERANS OF TENNESSEE – LEGISLATIVE VISIT FEB. 8, 2017
VETERAN REPRESENTATIVES VISITING TODAY ARE FROM THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS/CHAPTERS AND REPRESENT THE MEMBERSHIP OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VETERANS ACROSS TENNESSEE
MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, MONTGOMERY COUNTY CONSOLIDATED VETERANS ORGANIZATION, DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS, VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS, WOMEN VETERANS OF AMERICA, VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA, AMERICAN LEGION, GOLDSTAR WIVES, CENTERSTONE, PURPLE HEART, OPERATION STANDDOWN, 19TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, TEAM RED WHITE & BLUE, UNIFORMED SERVICES DISABLED RETIREES, ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY, BUFFALO SOLDIERS ASSOCIATION, MARINE CORP LEAGUE, TRIPLE NICKEL ASSOCIATION, COUNTY VETERAN SERVICE OFFICES, MASONIC SERVICES ASSOCIATION
Tennessee has a long tradition of recognizing and honoring the duty and sacrifice of those who served the United States military. We thank the honorable members of the Tennessee legislature in these efforts and ask for your continued support of legislation that recognizes the sacrifice of Tennessee veterans and their families.
Veterans respectfully ask for your consideration and support for the following bills:
- Legislation/Issue: Veteran – Restoration of Full Property Tax Relief for Disabled Veterans
- Request your favorable consideration and vote to restore the $175,000 property tax exemption for 100% disabled veterans. This action is referenced in TCA Title 67 and cited in cosponsored bills such as SB0023/HB0020 – Sen. Green & Rep. Pitts; SB0021/HB0023 – Sen. Green & Rep. Hill; SB0025/HB0005 – Sen. Green & Rep Ragan
- 2015 legislative action revised property tax relief laws affecting qualified 100% disabled veterans.
- TCA Title 67, Ch. 5, Pt. 7 sections were amended lowering property market value from $175,000 to $100,000 in calculations utilized for property tax relief.
- Tennessee County Trustees cite hundreds of dollars in increased tax burden upon these veterans.
- Legislation/Issue: Veteran – Veteran Hiring Preference Options For Private Employers
- Request your favorable consideration and vote to authorize private business owners to establish veteran hiring preferences, if they should desire to do so. This action is referenced in several sections of TCA and cited in cosponsored bills such as (at the time of publishing this prep package the bill number had not been assigned) – Sen. Green & Rep. Pitts
- Unemployment among all categories of veterans continues to be issue within the United States.
- Almost three dozen states (five that border Tennessee) have passed or in the process of passing various preferences or tax incentives to assist/encourage private employers to hire veterans
- An effort to provide such preferences was attempted in 2015 and died in the Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee committee.
- TCA Title 50, Ch. 1, Pt. 1, would be amended to reflect such preferences.
Car/Bus/Van Parking Lot Map
If you come via I-24/40 look for the Shelby Street exits, which will take you to S. 2nd St and the Lot D entrance. You will be given a parking permit, as you enter the lot, that should be placed on the dash of your car so security will know you are there for Veterans Day On The Hill.
For the Google Map view load the following website address in your broswer to aid you in finding the stadium and parking: