Veterans Affairs Committee – Week 4, 2021


HF 200 Coast Guard members defined as ‘federal active duty’

HF 200 provides that “federal active duty” includes full-time duty performed by the United States Coast Guard. Employers must treat Coast Guard members the same as National Guard and other military members in regards to unemployment, payments and benefits. An employer must provide a leave of absence to regular, reserve or auxiliary members of the Coast Guard when called to military duty. This includes state active duty, National Guard duty, federal active duty or Civil Air Patrol duty, without loss of status or efficiency rating, and without loss of pay during the first 30 days of the leave of absence.

It also adds similar protections relating to discrimination against a person because of military service, prohibits employers from discharging a person due to that service and prohibits an employer from terminating group health insurance coverage for a leave of absence for military duty. The bill also adds “space forces” as a component of the military in Iowa Code. It passed the House on a vote of 99-0.
[2/3: 46-0 (Excused: Hogg, Lykam, Nunn; 1 vacancy)]


SSB 1052 – IDVA notification requirements to discharged veterans

SSB 1052 requires the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) to include in its roster of information concerning discharged veterans the address of the military member both at the time of entrance and separation from active duty. It also sets a deadline of 30 days following the date the IDVA received a certificate of release or discharge from active duty to create the roster.

On a monthly basis, the IDVA must provide a roster to each county commission of veteran affairs listed on that month’s roster. Within 30 days, the county commission of veteran affairs must then send a letter to the discharged veteran at the mailing address located in their county to notify the individual of various veterans benefits and programs that may be available. The Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs and the Iowa State Association of Counties support the bill. There is no House companion.
[2/3: short form]

SSB 1080 ­ Smoking restrictions at Iowa Veterans Home

SSB 1080 requires IDVA to adopt administrative rules relating to smoking among residents of the Iowa Veterans Home (IVH). The rules will provide that the accommodations are subject to reasonable restrictions regarding the times and places that smoking is permitted, and that members may smoke only in posted areas where proper facilities are provided; smoking by a member determined to be careless is prohibited except when the member is under direct supervision provided by the IVH; and smoking is prohibited in member bedrooms and in all rooms where oxygen is being administered or stored.

Under Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act, the IVH is exempt from the smoking prohibitions in public places, outdoor areas and places of employment. U.S. Veterans Administration facilities, such as rehabilitation centers, have moved to non-smoking. Because the IVH receives substantial federal funding, opponents are concerned that rules allowing limited smoking at the IVH may jeopardize those funds.
[2/3: 7-4 (No: Giddens, Dotzler, Mathis, Ragan)]

SSB 1098 – Public Defense Omnibus

SSB 1098 is a Public Defense departmental bill. It allows properties to be leased to use for armory purposes for terms not to exceed 30 years, rather than the current 20 years. It amends the Iowa Code of Military Justice so that military commanders [Grade Colonel/06] can hold accountable service members who commit offenses while off duty when there is a nexus between military service and the offense (e.g., sexual harassment, sexual assault involving two service members). It allows the Adjutant General to include in the annual report on certain offenses the number of sexual abuse cases reported to the U.S. Department of Defense that are not otherwise required to be reported.

It also enhances the popular education benefits that help the Guard recruit and retain members. The bill:

  • Requires the Adjutant General to submit an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31 listing the science, technology, engineering and math-related career fields the Iowa National Guard plans to focus on in providing educational incentives using funds available for that fiscal year.
  • Creates a new Code section 261.86A that establishes two recruitment and incentive programs to recruit or retain individuals who have completed or are pursuing training in science, technology, engineering and math-related military occupational specialties or Air Force specialty codes. The Adjutant General may expend appropriated funds which remain unencumbered or unobligated at the close of a fiscal year in the following fiscal year for recruitment and retention programs. 
  • Allows the Adjutant General to expend unencumbered or unobligated funds in the Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship programs [Code 261.86, subsection 6] to recruit or retain individuals by offering either a student loan repayment program or a master’s degree scholarship award program that is in compliance with the federal Edith Nourse Rogers STEM scholarship program.
  • Establishes a National Guard student loan repayment program to be administered by the College Student Aid Commission, and sets requirements for applicants and for loan repayment awards.
  • Sets requirements for the master’s degree scholarship program.
    [2/3: short form]