Date: June 6, 2019
To: NJSAL Adjutant
Re: Final Legislative Report for the 2018-19 Admin Year
In June of last year I was approached by Det Commander Hicks and asked if I would be interested in chairing the NJSAL Legislative Committee If I accept, my role as a dual member of the American Legion would to be an observer and report back to the SAL Leadership and its members on the legislative matters the New Jersey and National Legionaries are lobbying for.
Without hesitation, I accepted the position and asked Chris Camp of my squadron to sit on the committee. During this admin year Chris and I met several times and discussed the issues our state legionnaires were lobbying for in Trenton and what National was lobbying for in Washington. It was an eye-openingexperience.
We soon learned that hundreds of bills are introduced or re-introduced every session of congress. This year was unique because we went from the 115th congress to the 116th congress, and it being a mid-term election year in Washington, the demographics changed in the house and senate. We spent hours researching the Congress.gov website and under the search menu “veterans” you can see all the current bills that were introduced, in committee, or passed the house and senate.
Listed are a few of the bills we were interested in:
Veterans Posttraumatic Growth Act (first introduced in the early part of 115th Congress)
The bill, if passed and signed, will enable non-profits to apply for grants and use a holistic approach to aide veterans with PTSD.
This bill has 14 co-sponsors // ZERO from New Jersey
HR 955 and S 319
Women Veterans & Family Health Services Act 2019
The bill would improve the reproductive assistance to woman veterans severely wounded or injured and provide pre-natal care.
30 co-sponsors of the bill//ONE from NJ
Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act 2019
The bill is to develop and maintain veteran treatment court IE: Drug Courts
112 co-sponsors// (3) from NJ
Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act 2019
The bill will establish criminal offenses against those who attempt or execute a scheme to defraud a Vet of benefits. Consequences are fines and subsequent jail time of up to 10 years.
23 co-sponsors/ZERO from NJ
And more importantly
115th Congress and carried forward to the 116th
BLUE WATER NAVY VIETNAM VETERANS ACT
VA Benefits to those sailors of that era who suffer from the effects of Agent Orange
333 co-sponsors/12 from NJ
These are some of the bills introduced or in committee.
I was invited to attend the “Day on the Hill” in Washington DC in February with my NJ American Legion family. Our group met with Congressman Norcross staff and gave them a copy of the American Legion Pamphlet listing the 14 bills, we as a veteran’sorganization, are lobbying for passage.
During this past year I was able to network with several county veteran’s agencies and veteran county advisory boards.
As for our Department Legislative Committee, chairman Joe G provided the committee with emails with information on what state bills are being legislated.
This will complete my report for our annual convention
For God and Country
Douglas W. Catts
NJSAL Legislative Chairman
addition to my report,,
We received no application for the George B Evans award,, Grassroots politics
We need your help contacting members of Congress
The American Legion must continue to serve as a powerful voice for veterans in our nation's capital. The power of our voice is only as strong as our membership allows us to be. The American Legion’s Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, and Sons of The American Legion are the heart and soul of our organization.
Today, we need your help in contacting your members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Please reach out to your assigned Senator and Representative and ask them to Co-Sponsor S. 504 and H.R. 1641, respectively. Your member needs to encourage congressional leadership to bring the LEGION ACT (S. 504) and the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act (H.R. 1641) to the floor for a vote, and to promise to vote for this legislation, to ensure all veterans are able to be recognized for their contributions and sacrifice in service to this country.
Because The American Legion’s membership periods are congressionally chartered, the organization is prevented from expanding membership eligibility without an act of Congress. These acts expand membership eligibility to honorably discharged veterans that have served on federal orders in unrecognized times of war since World War II.
Since the end of World War II, the Federal Government has designated specific periods of war, the dates of which are important for qualification for certain benefits or membership in veterans organizations established by Congress. In between those recognized periods of war, during so-called peacetime eras, the US military has been involved in not fewer than 12 known eras, which are unrecognized by the US Government as periods of war, resulting in numerous US combat casualties. In the spirit of our 100th celebration, we need Congress to take immediate action so we may welcome and recognize through membership all of our fellow veteran brothers and sisters. A select number of members of Congress have come together in bipartisan fashion to introduce S. 504 and H.R. 1641.
Contact your Senator and Representative today to tell them to support S. 504 and H.R. 1641 today!
“These veterans are unable to receive some of the benefits and recognition available to their counterparts who served during official wartime periods. Because The American Legion is congressionally chartered, we are unable to welcome many of these veterans as members of the nation’s largest veterans organization. It is fitting that during the 100th anniversary of the founding of The American Legion, Senators Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Thom Tillis (NC) are introducing the LEGION Act, bipartisan legislation that will recognize all veterans who served honorably since the start of World War II, while also fostering growth within the veteran community ... We hope that the American people will encourage all members of Congress to support the LEGION Act. It is an appropriate ‘thank you’ to those who served.” - Brett P. Reistad, National Commander
April 15th 2019
NJSAL Legislative Report for bi monthly meeting for April 20th 2019
The Committee has met twice since our last Detachment meeting,, we discussed the visitations to our congress and senate in Washington DC.
Since our our last meeting I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend the Washington Conference and to visit with our local congressman Mr. Norcross, though he was not in his office that day, we were able to meet with A member of his staff , DEC Steve Fisher and Det VC Henry Hasslehan and I were present
DEC Fisher explained all of the issues and topics the American Legion is working on with local and national leaders for our veterans and presented a brochure of the Legions Legislative goals for this 116th Congress.
As a follow up to our meeting with Congressman Norcross staff, I attended a non Legion function the following weekend, at the cocktail hour I was introduced to the congressman, he and I spoke briefly and I re emphasized what DEC Fisher had stated a few days earlier.
Going forward,, please advised your Sqd and Post members the importance of networking
Once I receive the updated list of items the Department Legislative Committee is working on , i will up date my report.
For God and Country
NJ Detachment Legislative Chair
February 4th, 2019
Detachement Legislative Committee Report.
Good Evening Comrades
The Legislative Committee met twice since our last Detachement Meeting. We discussed the Government shut down and its affects on our active military members, reservist , Coast Guard , and delay in veteran services. We made calls to all of the New Jersey legislators representing us in Washington DC. Voicing our concerns over this shut down and its effects on our veterans.
Though our active duty military were being paid, the Coast Guard was not. As the American Legion, VFW, and other veteran organizations were pushing for them to be paid, the shut down was ended. All Coast Guard members and families were paid, but not until after a 35 day shut down of the government was resolved.
BLUE WATER NAVY Act
in a previous report, I discussed the Blue Water Navy Act. The bill was passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. The bill was eventually rejected. On January 29th a federal court of appeals ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot deny disability benefits to thousands of Vietnam Vets who were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals simply because those vets served in waters off the country's coastline. The decision was 9-2 by a US Court of Appeals.
In in the month of January, after the 116 th Congress was sworn in, several ranking members of congress and senate met with representatives from National American Legion Legislative Committee to discuss the Legions legislative priorities. Meetings were held the week of January 15-17th
The American Legion Eastern Conference will be held in our Nations Capitol February 24-27. It will be at this conference that New Jersey American Legion Legislative Committee will make a scheduled visit to "The Hill" on Tuesday the 26th. As a dual member of the American Legion and your Legislative Chair, I have been invited to meet with our legislators who represent our state in Washington.
In closing, I do not receive the matters to be discussed at the Departments Legislative Committee meeting until the bi-monthly meeting (today). Once received , I will update this report.
For God and Country,
NJ SAL Detachement
NJ SAL LEGISLATIVE REPORT
for NJ SAL DETACHMENT bimonthly meeting
drafted by Chairman Douglas Catts Sqd 262
US Senate and House of Representatives are currently in the "Lame Duck" session. No bills moving forward at this time.
The Department Legislative Committee Chairman did not have an up to date list of bills that the NJ Legislators are working on.. also due to "lame duck" session.
The American Legion is continuing its efforts to protect the American Flag in the 115th congress. Rep Steve Womack (AR) re-introduced a flag protection constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution (H.R. Res. 61) The measure currently boast 31 co-sponsors.
Washington Conference 2019 is scheduled for 2/24 thru 2/27 No date has been listed as to when the delegation from NJ will visit with Congress on "The Hill"
George B. Evans Grassroots Legislative Vetervan Advocate in the SAL nominations are now open,, if your Squadron has a member who is involved in the legislative process please nominate them
In my first Legislative Report , I set a link for George B Evans information
COMMUNICATING WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS
Tips on Telephoning Your Elected Representatives: To find your senators' and representative's phone numbers, you may use our searchable online congressional directory or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask for your senators' and/or representative's office.
Remember that telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.
After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R.___)."
You will also want to state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Ask for your senators' or representative's position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your telephone call.
Tips on Writing Congress: The letter is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. If you decide to write a letter, this list of helpful suggestions will improve the effectiveness of the letter:
1. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.
2. Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position.
3. Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name) __(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name) __(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building United States House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:
Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:
Dear Madam Speaker or Mr. Speaker:
Tips on E-Mailing Congress: Generally, the same guidelines apply as with writing letters to Congress. You may find and e-mail your senators and representative directly from this Web site.
VISITING CAPITOL HILL
Meeting with a member of Congress or congressional staff is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. Below are some suggestions to consider when planning a visit to a congressional office.
Plan Your Visit Carefully: Be clear about what it is you want to achieve; determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to achieve your purpose.
Make an Appointment: When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler. Explain your purpose and who you represent. It is easier for congressional staff to arrange a meeting if they know what you wish to discuss and your relationship to the area or interests represented by the member.
Be Prompt and Patient: When it is time to meet with a member, be punctual and be patient. It is not uncommon for a Congressman or Congresswoman to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to the member's crowded schedule. If interruptions do occur, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself, continue your meeting with a member's staff.
Be Prepared: Whenever possible, bring to the meeting information and materials supporting your position. Members are required to take positions on many different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about the pros and cons of a particular matter. It is therefore helpful to share with the member information and examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.
Be Political: Members of Congress want to represent the best interests of their district or state. Wherever possible, demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member's constituency. If possible, describe for the member how you or your group can be of assistance to him/her. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.
Be Responsive: Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information, in the event the member expresses interest or asks questions. Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional information and materials requested.
THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS
Introduction: Anyone may draft a bill; however, only members of Congress can introduce
legislation, and by doing so become the sponsor(s). There are four basic types of legislation: bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions. The official legislative process begins when a bill or resolution is numbered - H.R. signifies a House bill and S. a Senate bill - referred to a committee and printed by the Government Printing Office.
Step 1. Referral to Committee: With few exceptions, bills are referred to standing committees in the House or Senate according to carefully delineated rules of procedure.
STEP 2. Committee Action: When a bill reaches a committee it is placed on the committee's calendar. A bill can be referred to a subcommittee or considered by the committee as a whole. It is at this point that a bill is examined carefully and its chances for passage are determined. If the committee does not act on a bill, it is the equivalent of killing it.
STEP 3. Subcommittee Review: Often, bills are referred to a subcommittee for study and hearings. Hearings provide the opportunity to put on the record the views of the executive branch, experts, other public officials, supporters and opponents of the legislation. Testimony can be given in person or submitted as a written statement.
STEP 4. Mark Up: When the hearings are completed, the subcommittee may meet to "mark up" the bill, that is, make changes and amendments prior to recommending the bill to the full committee. If a subcommittee votes not to report legislation to the full committee, the bill dies.
STEP 5. Committee Action to Report a Bill: After receiving a subcommittee's report on a bill, the full committee can conduct further study and hearings, or it can vote on the subcommittee's recommendations and any proposed amendments. The full committee then votes on its recommendation to the House or Senate. This procedure is called "ordering a bill reported."
STEP 6. Publication of a Written Report: After a committee votes to have a bill reported, the committee chairman instructs staff to prepare a written report on the bill. This report describes the intent and scope of the legislation, impact on existing laws and programs, position of the executive branch, and views of dissenting members of the committee.
STEP 7. Scheduling Floor Action: After a bill is reported back to the chamber where it originated,
it is placed in chronological order on the calendar. In the House there are several different legislative calendars, and the Speaker and majority leader largely determine if, when, and in what order bills come up. In the Senate there is only one legislative calendar.
STEP 8. Debate: When a bill reaches the floor of the House or Senate, there are rules or procedures governing the debate on legislation. These rules determine the conditions and amount of time allocated for general debate.
STEP 9. Voting: After the debate and the approval of any amendments, the bill is passed or defeated by the members voting.
STEP 10. Referral To Other Chamber: When a bill is passed by the House or the Senate it is referred to the other chamber where it usually follows the same route through committee and floor action. This chamber may approve the bill as received, reject it, ignore it, or change it.
STEP 11. Conference Committee Action: If only minor changes are made to a bill by the other chamber, it is common for the legislation to go back to the first chamber for concurrence. However, when the actions of the other chamber significantly alter the bill, a conference committee is formed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions. If the conferees are unable to reach agreement, the legislation dies. If agreement is reached, a conference report is prepared describing the committee members recommendations for changes. Both the House and the Senate must approve of the conference report.
STEP 12. Final Actions: After a bill has been approved by both the House and Senate in identical form, it is sent to the President. If the President approves of the legislation he/she signs it and it becomes law. Or, the President can take no action for ten days, while Congress is in session, and it automatically becomes law. If the President opposes the bill he/she can veto it; or, if he/she takes no action after the Congress has adjourned its second session, it is a "pocket veto" and the legislation dies.
STEP 13. Overriding a Veto: If the President vetoes a bill, Congress may attempt to "override the veto." This requires a two thirds roll call vote of the members who are present in sufficient numbers for a quorum.
JOSEPH M. GUGLIUZZA
Department Legislative Chairman
Call To Action!!!!
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 is in trouble and your help is needed.
Please call Senator Mike Enzi, (R) Wyoming at 202 224-3424 or 888 250-1879 and Senator Mike Lee, ® Utah 202 224-5444
Here’s a sample message:
I am calling in support of HR229, “The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017”. (Leave your name and telephone number.) This bill has been hot lined by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and is currently on hold by the Senator. I respectfully request that the Senator lift his hold on this bill so that 90,000 Blue Water Navy and Marine Veterans, can get the benefits they are entitled to receive. Thank you.
Please share this request with your fellow veterans and advocates. Act now as time is running out.
2018/19 New Jersey Detachment Sons of the American Legion
October 20th, 2018
The Legislative Committee held a conference call on October 3rd
We discussed the following Legislative matters
US Congress Bill HR 299
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act
Sailors exposed to agent orange who were on vessels within a 12 nautical miles of the Vietnam coastline.
Despite opposition from VA admins,, billed passed 382-0
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Chairman Phil Roe M.D. (R-TN)
Housed passed S3479
Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act 2018
This act assures that several VA Programs are continued into the next fiscal year.
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Chairman Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia)
In a press release September 2018 stated , " that the 115th Congress has passed 18 bills that directly impact our Veterans"
All of this information can be located at
At the National Convention in August , Resolution # 1 of the 2018/19 year was introduced. That resolution deals with opening up membership eligibility to all veterans since 1941. Not just the current eligibility requirements, this resolution, if passed, must be approved by Congress.
On Monday September 24th, 2018
I attended the Camden County Veterans Advisory Board Meeting. Camden County Freeholder William Moen was in attendance and spoke briefly of legislative matters at the county level. Also in attendance was State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez.
As soon as possible , I will update this report to reflect matters spoken about at the Department Legislative meeting scheduled for 0900 on the 20th of October
For God and Country
Douglas W. Catts AL, SAL
Detachment Legislative Chair
Goals and Objectives for the 2018-19 New Jersey SAL Legislative Committee
Douglas Catts , Chairman
Christopher Camp , Vice Chairman
( looking for a 3rd member, preferably an SAL member from North or Central New Jersey )
Objective: As an SAL Legislative Committee member(s) we will observe, document, and report to our Detachment and Squadron members what the National and State Legislative Committees are lobbying for to improve the life's of our veterans.
Hold informal meetings , via face to face or conference calls 4 times throughout the admin year.
Attend the Washington Conference in February of 2019 and do a "Day on the Hill" with our SAL and AL members and meet with New Jersey congressional representatives.
Monitor and review US Congress and state assembly for bills and resolutions directed towards veterans and families.
Legislative Committee will network with all NJ County Veterans Affairs Offices in an effort to sit in on or receive minutes from their respected Veteran Advisory Committee meetings.
Disseminate to all Squadrons information and nomination forms for the George B. Evans "Grassroots" Veterans' Advocate of the Year Award.
H.R. 2345 National Suicide Improvement Act
was signed by President Trump on 8/14/18
@The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the VA lobbied for this act
Purpose : to study the effectiveness of the National Suicide Hotline and determine the feasibility of utilizing a 3 digit phone # for a National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hot Line.
H.R. 2787 Veterans-Specific Education for Tomorrows Health Professionals Act (aka VET MD Act)
Purpose: A three year pilot program directed towards undergraduate students in a pre med major. The goal is to increase awareness , knowledge , and empathy of future medical professionals common to veterans.
Increase the diversity of the recruitment pool of future VA physicians.
H.R. 5693 Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act
Purpose: the bill will authorize the VA , to transfer upon request, a VET from whom the VA is required to provide nursing home care to , to a medical foster home that meets VA standards.
H.R. 5938 Veterans Serving Veterans Act of 2018
(name change from VA Choice & Quality Employment Act)
Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs Recruitment Data Base
Purpose: to certify veterans who served as basic health care technicians in the armed forces to work for the VA as Intermediate Care Technicians
Currently, I have nothing to report on the NJ Department Legislative Committee matters
Respectfully Submitted and For God and Country
Douglas W. Catts
NJSAL Legislative Committee Chairman
George B Evans award information
Partisan Politics and Legion Family responsibilities