The Hearing – Veterans Affairs – US Senate
Today I went to the Dirksen Building for the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. There was a good size group of men and women, wearing buttons saying – Military Spouses, We Deserve a Home State Too. After lots of testimony on a long list of bills and questions from the VA reps, AmVets, The American Legion, The VFW spoke. And all three gave their support for Senate Bill 475. Then a Legislative Attorney, American Law Division, in the Congressional Law Service gave an opinion on the MSRRA – and brought up constitutional questions. The last line in his written presentation was:
Any inquiry on the constitutionality of the question would likely hinge on whether exempting the spouse from taxation outside of his or her home state assists the servicemember to “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation?”
The quote comes from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dameron v Brodhead, a case concerning the SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act). Well DUH!! Of course it does!
Here’s the link to the video – minute 88 is Rebecca’s testimony, minute 98 is Senator Burr’s support – which is guaranteed to give you a warm feeling.
Rebecca Poynter was the last speaker, and put the case for the MSRRA very well. Personal property rights, taxation and voting in our “home of record” are the points that the MSRRA is seeking to change. She gave examples of spouses who have been badly affected by tax/home state problems; a military spouse who almost lost her clearance and job when a tax nightmare erupted with three states all arguing over where she owed taxes, the IRS got involved as did her employer – talk about an expensive and long dragged out mess!
Attached to her testimony was also a letter from a spouse trying to get her degree, but cannot find an online course in the new state she just PCSed to, but her “home of record” state has one. We all know spouses who need to take classes, but can’t afford the non resident tuition – a hardship many of us can empathize with, since most of us can’t afford to finish a degree in just one assignment cycle – when you move, and if you can keep taking classes in that program online – you are suddenly now a non resident!
Voting – do we want to vote in our current state, or the state we plan to retire in, where some of us own property already? As for me, we still own a house in our home state, the local elections are important to us. After all, we worry about the town the house is in, the state of the local roads, the water tower, the police department.
Senator Richard Burr (R.NC) questioned the Legislative Attorney – wondering why there was a constitutional question, since military spouses have already been given certain rights concerning contracts and leases, that can be adjusted due to military moves. I can’t wait for the answer, which is supposed to be given to Senator Burr soon.
NOW is the time to make phone calls. If your Senator is one of those who is a co-sponsor, please call and say thank you. If your Senator isn’t a co sponsor, please call. Call the Senator of your “home” state, the Senator of the state you live in now, the one from the state you just PCSed from. Ask your family members to call their Senator as well. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is coming up – let’s make sure we show our elected officials how we’d like to be appreciated!