SB726 (2020) Detail

Relative to programs to aid veterans' access to employment, entrepreneurship, housing, health care and college degrees.


SB 726-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2020 SESSION

20-2793

01/10

 

SENATE BILL 726-FN

 

AN ACT relative to programs to aid veterans' access to employment, entrepreneurship, housing, health care and college degrees.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Morgan, Dist 23; Sen. Sherman, Dist 24; Sen. Bradley, Dist 3; Sen. Birdsell, Dist 19; Sen. D'Allesandro, Dist 20; Sen. Rosenwald, Dist 13; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Chandley, Dist 11; Sen. Morse, Dist 22; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Rep. Woodcock, Carr. 2; Rep. Allard, Merr. 21

 

COMMITTEE: Education and Workforce Development

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill

 

I.  Requires the commissioner of the department of health and human services to develop and operate a veteran health navigator training program for the existing veterans service officers under the department of military affairs and veterans services to help veterans and their families to increased access to health care and mental health services.

 

II.  Requires the business finance authority to make loans available to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled veterans.

 

III.  Requires the commissioner of the department of employment security to publish a monthly workforce needs assessment report for veterans.

 

IV.  Requires the adjutant general to take steps to increase veterans' awareness of the military skills test waiver program; increase acceptance of military training and experience towards the licensing requirements in certain occupations and professions; and establish an end veterans homelessness program.

 

V.  Requires the university system and community college system of New Hampshire to award college credit for military training courses completed and to increase flexibility in application and course registration procedures for veterans.

 

VI.  Requires the adjutant general to expand training and apprenticeship programs for providing job training for veterans.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

20-2793

01/10

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty

 

AN ACT relative to programs to aid veterans' access to employment, entrepreneurship, housing, health care and college degrees.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Name of Act.  This act shall be known as the Veterans Bill of Rights.

2  New Subdivision; Access to Health Care and Mental Health Services for Veterans.  Amend RSA 126-A by inserting after section 80 the following new subdivision:

Access to Health Care and Mental Health Services for Veterans

126-A:81  Access to Health Care for Veterans; Navigator Training Program.

I.  In this subdivision, "veteran" means veterans as defined in 15 U.S.C. section 632(q)(2) and (3).

II.  The commissioner, in coordination with the adjutant general, shall develop and operate a veteran health navigator training program to increase access to health care coverage and services for veterans.  The commissioner shall identify, train, and deploy veteran health navigators who have direct knowledge of the veteran communities they serve.  For the purposes of the training program, the commissioner shall use the veterans service officers currently employed by the department of military affairs and veterans services.  The veteran health navigators shall help identify all federal and other health benefits, coverage, and services available to veterans and their families.  Veteran health navigators shall coordinate with relevant departments, health care providers, and health insurance programs to help veterans and their beneficiaries apply for coverage under such programs, including helping veterans overcome barriers within the health care system to ensure enrollment in health plans and effective delivery and coordination of health services.  The activities under this program shall use existing resources and structures where veterans and their families are likely to be found.

III.  Using the veteran health navigator training program under paragraph I as a source of information about the needs, coverage, and treatment gaps faced by veterans and their families, the commissioner shall examine all existing programs designed to increase access to affordable quality health care and to evaluate whether the needs of veterans and their families are met by those programs or whether further coordination with the veteran health navigators or other steps would better meet such needs.  The commissioner shall execute any necessary steps identified under this paragraph.

126-A:82  Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans.

I.  The veteran health navigators shall identify all federal and other mental health benefits, coverage, and services available to veterans and their families, including for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide prevention.

II.(a)  In coordination with local, state, and federal governmental agencies, in consultation with nonprofit corporations, service providers including Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, localities, and cities that have an effective prevention and treatment system for mental health, the commissioner shall develop and implement a strategy to reduce barriers to access to mental health services and treatment for veterans and their families by:

(1)  Identifying structural and logistical barriers to accessing treatment, including perceived stigma, long out of state travel distances to receive care, and any other barriers.

(2)  Resolving all barriers identified in subparagraph (1) that can be resolved without legislative or budgetary action, including through increased coordination between departments, nonprofit providers, and the federal government, application for and use of private and federal grants, and other actions.

(b)  The commissioner shall submit an annual report containing additional legislative or budgetary steps that would resolve the barriers under subparagraphs (a)(1) and (2) to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the governor, and the chairpersons of the house and senate committees having jurisdiction over public health issues on or before each November 1, commencing on November 1, 2021.  The report shall also be posted on the department's Internet website.

III.  The commissioner shall in coordination with local, state, and federal government agencies, and in consultation with nonprofits corporations, service providers including Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, localities, and cities that have effective prevention and treatment systems for mental health, enhance and strengthen suicide prevention programs in keeping with proven best practices and research, by:

(a)  Identifying and applying for federal and private grants focused on veteran suicide prevention;

(b)  Coordinating local, state, federal, and nonprofit programs that include community-based approaches for at-risk veterans and veterans at large;

(c)  Providing technical assistance to communities to develop strategic plans to reduce veteran suicide, including through coordination and participation by local leaders, faith communities, schools, workplaces, and other stakeholders; and

(d)  Evaluating community strategic plans within the state and disseminating learnings and best practices to optimize the impact of efforts by all partners and stakeholders.

IV.(a)  The commissioner shall create a centralized provider database, identifying by region mental health providers with expertise and ability to assist veterans and their families, including highlighting providers with training or experience in the prevention and treatment of veteran suicide.

(b)  Using existing resources, and incorporating best practices and research from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and state and nonprofit services providers in New Hampshire, the commissioner shall develop a continuing education course for mental health providers in New Hampshire to obtain expertise in veteran suicide assessment, prevention, treatment, and risk management and make that program available for free to providers in regions of New Hampshire identified in subparagraph (a) as lacking sufficient trained providers.

(c)  From existing or appropriated resources, the commissioner shall identify evidence-based best practices to increase awareness of any veteran suicide prevention hotline in New Hampshire or nationally, and other crisis resources with proven effectiveness to reduce veteran suicide.

3  Report Required.  On or before November 1, 2020, the commissioner of the department of health and human services shall produce a report of the findings, including the impact that Medicaid expansion has had to date for the veterans and their families, recommendations and any additional legislative action or budget actions required relative to RSA 126-A:81, II as inserted by section 2 of this act to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the governor, and the chairs of the senate and house committees having jurisdiction over public health issues.

4  New Section; Business Finance Authority; Loans to Small Business Concerns Owned and Controlled by Veterans.  Amend RSA 162-A by inserting after section 9-a the following new section:

162-A:9-b  Loans to Small Businesses Concern Owned and Controlled by Veterans.  The authority shall provide direct loans and loan guarantees to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans or service-disabled veterans as defined in 15 U.S.C. section 632(q)(2) and (3), and shall ensure that, within 2 years of the effective date of this section, 7 percent of funds loaned in a fiscal year shall be to small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans.

5  Business Finance Authority; Capital Access Program.  Amend RSA 162-A:12, II to read as follows:

II.  The amount of the authority's contribution to a CAP fund shall not exceed 10 percent of the principal amount of the CAP loans to be secured by the CAP fund.  As a condition of the authority making a contribution to a CAP fund, the authority may require the borrower or the participating state bank or state credit union to make a contribution to the CAP fund and may impose such other conditions or requirements as the authority may deem necessary or desirable; provided that any veteran-owned business borrower shall not be required to pay a fee or contribution into the CAP fund.  All moneys contributed to a CAP fund shall be held in the name of the authority.  Investment earnings on the CAP fund shall be credited to the fund, and such earnings shall be periodically paid to the authority unless the CAP participation agreement otherwise provides.

6  New Sections; Department of Employment Security; Workforce Needs Projections for Veterans; Training and Apprentice Programs.  Amend RSA 282-A by inserting after section 117-a the following new sections:

282-A:117-b  Workforce Needs Projections for Veterans; Report.  The commissioner shall produce a monthly, written report, which shall also be published on the department's public Internet site, detailing the state's workforce needs projections, by industry, job type, geography, and needed credential.  The report shall include comparisons of projected workforce needs with existing workforce needs and availability of in-demand fields in this state and shall highlight, on a county-by-county basis, the industries, job types, and credentials which are most in demand in the state.  The report shall also identify and map, on a county-by-county basis, those in-demand positions and credentials that are best suited to the skills, experience, and credentials possessed by veterans.  The commissioner shall forward the report every month to all appropriate military placement offices, recruitment centers, education centers, nonprofit programs, and any other state or local agency working to connect veterans with jobs.

282-A:117-c  Training and Apprentice Programs for Veterans; Report.  The adjutant general in cooperation with the commissioners of the departments of labor and employment security shall annually review and submit a report detailing all apprentice, training, and other vocational programs in this state focused on providing job training and placement to returning military service members and veterans.  The annual report shall evaluate the costs and results of such programs and propose legislation to expand or revise such programs, an estimate of the benefits to the state to be gained from program expansion, and recommendations for sources of funding.  The initial report shall be submitted to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the chairpersons of the senate and house committees with jurisdiction in veterans issues and in professional licensing issues, the senate clerk, the house clerk, and the governor within one year of the effective date of this section.

7  New Sections; Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services; Programs and Report Added.  Amend RSA 110-B by inserting after section 73 the following new sections:

110-B:73-a  Military Skills Test Waiver Program.  The adjutant general shall take necessary steps to increase veterans' awareness of and participation in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Military Skills Test Waiver Program.  The adjutant general shall include information about the program and a link to the program's website on department's public Internet site and shall coordinate with military placement and training programs to disseminate information on the program to veterans with relevant experience newly locating in New Hampshire.  

110-B:73-b  Acceptance of Military Training and Experience in Professional Licensing; Report.  The adjutant general and the executive director of the office of professional licensure and certification shall jointly conduct a review of all state licenses for which military veterans may have relevant training or experience and identify any steps that can be taken without further legislation; develop recommendations and proposed legislation designed to increase the acceptance of military training and experience toward professional licensing; and submit a report to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the chairpersons of the senate and house committees with jurisdiction in veterans issues and in professional licensing issues, the senate clerk, the house clerk, and the governor within one year of the effective date of this section, and annually thereafter.  

110-B:73-c  End Veterans Homelessness Program.

I.  The adjutant general shall establish a program to end veterans homelessness in 3 years.  The term "end veterans homelessness" shall have the same meaning as in the most recently released report by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

II.  In coordination with local, state, and federal government agencies and nonprofits, and in consultation with states and cities that have achieved an end to veterans homelessness in accordance with the above criteria, the adjutant general shall develop and implement strategies including but not limited to:

(a)  Coordinating a community outreach and a common assessment tool to identify homeless veterans and assess the types and severity of risk and vulnerability being faced by homeless veterans.

(b)  Developing a comprehensive listing of the names of veterans who are experiencing homelessness, prioritized based on degree of vulnerability.

(c)  Sharing data between all relevant veterans' service providers, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and VA medical centers.

(d)  Increasing coordination and streamlining processes for appropriate veterans' housing placements.

(e)  Connecting veterans experiencing homelessness to health, mental health, employment, entrepreneurship, and training resources through the services described under RSA 126-A:81, RSA 126-A:82, RSA 162-A:9-b, RSA 282-A:117-b, RSA 282-A:117-c, RSA 110-B:73-a, RSA 110-B:73-b, RSA 153-A:20, XXV, RSA 187-A:20-d, RSA 188-F:16-b, RSA 326-B:9, XIII and RSA 328-D:10, I(j).

(f)  A commitment to the principles of Housing First, as developed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

(g)  Identification of and application for funding, as needed from private, foundation, and other partners.

8  New Paragraph; Emergency Medical Care Providers; Rulemaking.  Amend RSA 153-A:20 by inserting after paragraph XXIV the following new paragraph:

XXV.  Implementing strategies and procedures necessary to increase the acceptance of military training and experience towards licensure for military veterans seeking to be licensed as an emergency medical care provider.

9  New Section; State College and University System; Credit for Military Experience and Training.  Amend RSA 187-A by inserting after section 20-c the following new section:

187-A:20-d  Academic Credit and Course Registration for Veterans.  

I.  A veteran who enrolls as a student at an institution within the university system shall be granted academic credit without limitation towards his or her degree for the completion of courses that were part of such veteran's military training or service if the such courses meet the standards of the American Council on Education, or its equivalent, for the awarding of academic credits.  No fee, tuition, or other charge shall be assessed against a veteran who qualifies for such credit pursuant to this section.

II.(a)  Institutions within the state university system that offer an early course registration period shall also offer early course registration to students who are veterans or national guard members.

(b)  A student who is called to active duty in the armed forces of the United States, after having attended regularly for 13 or more weeks of class or having completed 85 percent of the term's work, shall be given an opportunity to complete necessary course work within 12 months utilizing the Internet or United States Postal Service correspondence or other available communication methods for each course in which such student has attained a grade of C or better.

(c)  Students called to active duty in the armed forces of the United States who do not meet the institution's attendance requirements sufficient to earn a grade as a result of being called to active duty service shall be entitled to a full refund of tuition and fees.

(d)  A veteran with no previous college experience shall be permitted to file an admission application up to the end of the regular course registration period, and shall be permitted to begin classes pending completion of their application and provision of supporting documents.

(e)  Upon return from active duty, a veteran may register for courses after normal registration period ends without late fees or other penalties until the latest allowable registration date.

III.  The board of trustees shall adopt rules pursuant to RSA 541-A necessary to implement this section.

10  New Section; Community College System of New Hampshire; Academic Credit and Course Registration for Veterans.  Amend RSA 188-F by inserting after section 16-a the following new section:

188-F:16-b  Academic Credit and Course Registration for Veterans.  

I.  A veteran who enrolls as a student at an institution within the community college system shall be granted academic credit without limitation towards his or her degree for the completion of courses that were part of such veteran's military training or service if the such courses meet the standards of the American Council on Education, or its equivalent, for the awarding of academic credits.  No fee, tuition, or other charge shall be assessed against a veteran who qualifies for such credit pursuant to this section.

II.(a)  Institutions within the community college system that offer an early course registration period shall also offer early course registration to students who are veterans or national guard members.

(b)  A student who is called to active duty in the armed forces of the United States, after having attended regularly for 13 or more weeks of class or having completed 85 percent of the term's work, shall be given full credit for each course in which he or she has attained a grade of C or better.

(c)  Students called to active duty in the armed forces of the United States who do not meet the institution's attendance requirements sufficient, as a request of such service, to earn a grade shall be entitled to a full refund of tuition and fees.

(d)  A veteran with no previous college experience shall be permitted to file an admission application up to the end of the regular course registration period, and shall be permitted to begin classes pending completion of their application and provision of supporting documents.

(e)  Upon return from active duty, a veteran may register for courses after normal registration period ends without late fees or other penalties.

III.  The board of trustees shall adopt rules pursuant to RSA 541-A necessary to implement this section.

11  New Paragraph; Nurse Practice Act; Rulemaking.  Amend RSA 326-B:9 by inserting after paragraph XII the following new paragraph:

XIII.  The implementation of strategies and procedures necessary to increase the acceptance of military training and experience towards licensure for military veterans seeking to be licensed as a nurse.  

12  Physician Assistant; Rulemaking.  Amend RSA 328-D:10, I(j) to read as follows:

(j)  The implementation of strategies and procedures necessary to increase the acceptance of military training and experience towards licensure for military veterans seeking to be licensed as a physician assistant.

(k)  Except as provided in paragraph II, any other matter which is consistent with the legislative intent of this chapter and which is necessary to the administration of this chapter.

13  Recognition of Military Training and Experience; Reports.  The adjutant general, the commissioner of the department of safety, the executive director of the office of professional licensure and certification, and the licensing authorities for nursing under RSA 326-B, physician assistants under RSA 328-D, and emergency medical care providers under RSA 153-A:11, shall jointly conduct a review of all licensing procedures for each profession listed in this section and develop recommendations and proposed legislation designed to increase the recognition of military training and experience toward licensing in such professions, and shall submit a report to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the chairpersons of the senate and house committees with jurisdiction in veterans issues and in professional licensing issues, the senate clerk, the house clerk, and the governor within one year of the effective date of this section.

14  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

20-2793

1/9/20

 

SB 726-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to programs to aid veterans' access to employment, entrepreneurship, housing, health care and college degrees.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other - USNH, CCSNH operating expenses.

 

The Department of Employment Security was contacted for a fiscal note worksheet on December 6, 2019, which they have not provided as of January 9, 2020.  

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill establishes a variety of provisions intended to improve veterans' access to health care, employment, entrepreneurship, and higher education.  In particular, the bill:

  1. Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and operate a Veteran Health Navigator Training Program, which shall identify all federal and other health benefits, coverage, and services available to veterans and their families.  For purposes of the training program, the Department shall use veterans service officers currently employed by the Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services.
  2. Requires the Business Finance Authority to make loans available to businesses owned and controlled by veterans, ensuring that 7 percent of funds loaned in each fiscal year shall be to businesses owned by veterans.
  3. Requires the NH Department of Employment Security to publish and make available online a monthly report on workforce needs projections for veterans.
  4. Requires the Adjutant General, in consultation with the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security, to annually review and submit a report detailing all apprentice, training, and other vocational programs in the state with a focus on providing training and placement for returning veterans.
  5. Requires the Adjutant General to take necessary steps to increase awareness of and participation in the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Military Skills Test Waiver Program.
  6. Requires the Adjutant General, along with the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification, to conduct a review of all state licenses for which veterans may have relevant training or experience, and develop recommendations to increase acceptance of military training and experience toward professional licensing.
  7. Establishes the End Veterans Homelessness Program, to be administered by the Adjutant General, with the goal of ending veterans homelessness in three years.
  8. Requires the University System of NH and the Community College System of NH to award credit for military training courses, and to allow for increased flexibility in application and registration procedures for veterans.

 

With respect to (1), the Department of Health and Human Services states that it would be responsible for, among other things, creating a centralized provider database to identify mental health providers by region, submitting recommendations for additional legislative or budget actions to overcome barriers to enrollment in mental health and other services, and submitting a report on the impact of Medicaid expansion on veterans and their families.  The Department is unable to estimate the costs associated with its various responsibilities, but notes that its existing Suicide Prevention Coordinator position may be able to fulfill many of the functions related to suicide prevention for veterans.  The Department states that it may need to hire additional staff if it is expected to meet all of the obligations of the Veteran Health Navigator Program internally.

 

With respect to (2), the Business Finance Authority (BFA) states that the cost of developing a substantial direct lending program is indeterminable.  Factors that would be involved include hiring an unknown number of specialized staff in the areas of credit analysis, loan servicing, finance department personnel, compliance officers, and outreach personnel.  Additional costs would include information technology infrastructure and additional office space.  Finally, the BFA states that it would need to obtain the capital necessary to fund loans administered under the program.

 

With respect to its various responsibilities included in items (1) and (4-7), the Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services states that it would need three additional positions.  One position (Program Specialist II) would administer the Military Skills Test Waiver Program and work to implement the strategies and procedure to increase the acceptance of military training toward licensure.  One position (Program Specialist II) would administer the End Veterans Homelessness Program.  One (Grant Program Coordinator) would work in cooperation with the Department of Health and Human Services to identify and apply for federal grants in support of veterans, as well as assist in the administration of the health navigator program.  Costs for these positions are shown below.

 

 

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

Program Specialist II (LG 21)

 

 

 

Salary

$43,100

$44,800

$46,800

Benefits

$27,700

$29,100

$30,500

Other

$4,000

$4,000

$4,000

     Position Total

$74,800

$77,900

$81,300

     x 2 Positions

$149,600

$155,800

$162,600

 

 

 

 

Grants Program Coordinator (LG 23)

 

 

 

Salary

$46,800

$48,800

$51,000

Benefits

$28,400

$29,800

$31,300

Other

$2,000

$2,000

$2,000

     Position Total

$77,200

$80,600

$84,300

 

 

 

 

Total Position Costs:

$226,800

$236,400

$246,900

 

With respect to (8), the University System of New Hampshire states that all of its institutions currently award credit to enrolling veterans who, as part of the standard application process, provide an official Joint Services Transcript or Community College of the Air Force transcript which combine military education and experience with college credit recommendations developed by the American  Council on Education (ACE).  ACE-validated credits are generally accepted, with some limitations imposed by the institution in alignment with accreditation and federal aid requirements.  The University System states that it interprets the bill to prevent any limitation from being imposed on the acceptance of ACE equivalent-validated military credit, and that this provision, among others, may potentially conflict with federal Title IV financial aid requirements, potentially resulting in a significant loss of revenue.  For the purposes of its fiscal note estimate, the University System assumes that this conflict will be addressed as the bill progresses through the legislative process.  Assuming the conflict is resolved, the University System assumes that the bill's provisions could be accommodated without significant additional expense.  A potential fiscal impact may result from the full tuition/fee refund provision for students whose attendance is disrupted by a call to active duty and who are not eligible to complete their course work.  The extent of any such expense is indeterminable.

 

The Community College System states that, with respect to (8), the bill may result in increased workload to ensure compliance and to provide training at campus offices.  The System anticipates a need to hire a part-time academic counselor at one or more college, at a per-position cost of $52,000, including salary and benefits.  The System also anticipates an expense related to the full tuition/fee refund provision cited by the University System above.  Likewise, the Community College System also notes potential conflicts with federal Title IV financial aid requirements.      

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Health and Human Services, NH Employment Security, Business Finance Authority, Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services, University System of NH, and Community College System of NH

 

Links

SB726 at GenCourtMobile
SB726 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 18, 2020 Senate Hearing

Bill Text Revisions

SB726 Revision: 8053 Date: Jan. 16, 2020, 12:53 p.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and Referred to Education and Workforce Development; SJ 2
Feb. 18, 2020 Hearing: 02/18/2020, Room 103, LOB, 09:30 am; SC 6