Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our Testimony Supporting Senate Bill 16-147 (28 Apr 2016)

Statement of Wes Carter, Major USAF Retired
National Chairperson, The C-123 Veterans Association
also speaking for the united veterans committee of colorado

Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee,

I’m Wes Carter, National Chairperson of the C-123 Veterans Association. Today I also represent 450,000 Colorado veterans whose voice is the United Veterans Committee. Before you today is the terrible issue of suicide in Colorado and our hope that Senate Bill 16-147 can help.

I want to share some personal experiences with this issue. My town of Fort Collins lost thirteen children last year. Four were suicides. Four…over 30% if you want simple statistics. We don’t know all the causes, but we certainly know the tragedies our families were left with.

Military suicides are something I became familiar with 26 years service in the Army and then the Air Force. For twelve years I was a hospital administrator. Marvin, one of the officers who nominated me for my commission, faced demons he felt could only be driven away by ending his life. I flew medevac for several years with Diane, a flight nurse. I have a happy memory of her rushing from work to attend my wedding, without time to change from her hospital scrubs. I have been to her parent’s Massachusetts home only twice…each time for the funeral of one of her brothers, both of whom ended their lives while on active duty.

Military and veterans’ suicides. I can speak for the accumulation of life’s burdens in the military…extremely difficult technical and physical training, frequent deployments, injuries, career disappointments, loss of friends, family strife, relocations, financial stress. And then there’s all those people bombing and shooting at you. Life’s tough. We have an evolving understanding that it takes a warrior to call in help. I wish more warriors would reach out, but we see an average of one veteran’s suicide per hour, each and every day. 8000 a year, almost an Army division. Last year in our county, the 80 adults who ended their lives were 3.8% of all adult deaths, but remember what I said about the children…30% of all children’s deaths were by their own hand.

Senate Bills won’t solve everything but, along with recent action in the US Senate, they’ll help. I join Colorado’s 450,000 veterans in urging unanimous approval of Senate Bill 16-147. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Unanimous vote moves disabled veteran property tax legislation forward in Colorado legislature


Yesterday after the two hour wait for a previous bill to be defeated, the Colorado House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs approved House bill 16 – 1444. And the vote was all in favor of the proposed legislation.

Our thanks are due to Committee Chair Sue Ryden who not only sponsored the legislation but testified on its behalf as did Representative Terri Carver (Colonel, USAF, Ret.)  And also to the outstanding leg work done by the United Veterans Committee of Colorado, Senator John Kefalas, and other leaders behind this issue.

Next up? The House Appropriations Committee, to address the modest cost of bringing the laws of Colorado into alignment with our state's Constitution Article 10, Section 3.5.

Friday, April 22, 2016

House Veterans Committee Disabled Military Retirees Property Tax Hearing April 25 (HB16-1444)

The legislative process begins April 25 at the Colorado Statehouse, when the House Veterans  Committee takes up HB16-1444, the bill to put military disabled retirees into the state's disabled veteran property tax laws.

Committee Chair Sue Ryden, herself a sponsor, will call the committee to order at 1:30PM, and HB16-1444 is first on the schedule.

I will be presenting the basic argument as the first witness, speaking as chair of our own C-123 Veterans Association. The United Veterans Committee of Colorado will also have me represent their 450,000 members in supporting the bill. Even the state's Division of Veterans Affairs is behind this bill!

Although the state's constitution covers both VA 100% disabled veterans and military personnel retired by their service for total disability, only VA-rated veterans were specified in the law, so the new bill aligns the constitution with the law by adding the totally disabled military retirees.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Things are happening...our bill is now before the Colorado House Veterans Committee

Fix HB6-1251 to match the constitution's Article X Section 3.5
In his effort to align the constitution with legislation, Colorado's state senator for Fort Collins has a "late bill" now being worked on in Denver. It was a miracle that, so late in the Legislature's crowded final thirty days, this issue still got attention from leaders in both parties and both chambers.

Senator John Kefalas crafted the bill and with bipartisan support now has it before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and in the Senate awaiting committee assignment.

Bill Detail: HB16-1444

TitleDefinition Qualifying Disabled Veteran Prop Tax
StatusIntroduced In House - Assigned to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs (04/15/2016)
House SponsorsS. Ryden (D)
T. Carver (R)
Senate SponsorsJ. Kefalas (D)
L. Garcia (D)
House CommitteeState, Veterans, & Military Affairs
Senate Committee
Date Introduced04/15/2016
The bill aligns the statutory definition of qualifying disabled
veteran, as it relates to a property tax exemption for qualifying seniors
and disabled veterans, with the language established in section 3.5 of
article X of the Colorado constitution.
Amendments out of CommitteeNone
Link to Full TextFull Text of Bill
Link to Bill VersionsBill Versions  
Link to Fiscal Notes
Link to HistoryHistory  
Link to Lobbyists(no lobbyist data)
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VotesHouse and Senate Votes
Vote TotalsVote Totals by Party
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Friday, April 8, 2016

Colorado's Curious Management of its Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption

 • Colorado Legislative Council, in describing the disabled veteran property tax exemption on the 2006 ballot:
"Veterans are rated 100-percent permanently disabled when a mental or physical injury makes it impossible for the average person to hold a job and the disability is lifelong."
• Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs:
VA "unemployability' total and permanent disability awards (TDIU, but only permanent and total) not acceptable for disabled veteran property tax exemption."
• Is there a disconnect somewhere in CDMVA? Are we stuck with this Catch-22 situation? Why does only Colorado treat TDIU differently than VA's other total disability rating (100% schedular?)