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Dutch DeGrootDutch DeGroot Department Legislative Chairman

Convention Legislative report June 2024


Approaching the end of our term at the time of this writing many items are in the works and maybe updated by the time we present at the convention. We had many  Legislative items that we supported for the 103rd Illinois general assembly in this report shall highlight our major accomplishments.  A brief on the  important Illinois Veterans Advisory Council (IVAC).  Also a short report on the Veterans Assistance Commission of Cook County, which as the largest population of Illinois veterans. 

Of special mention is success of the Veterans Legislation Day Wednesday 13 March in Springfield which Department Adjutant/Quartermaster Joe Bartley orchestrated. It has made our voice stronger with our legislative partners in Illinois and hopefully shall be an annual event.

State Legislative

SB3479 Our number one priority which at the time of this report, awaits the Governors signature. The entire veterans community was instrumental is getting this done. There were well over 900 witness slips submitted that moved this historic bill through  both the Senate (6 March) and House (1 May) Judiciary Committees unanimously. Passed the Senate (9 April) & the House (20 May) again unanimously. An unprecedented  victory for the veterans of Illinois, despite the fact that claim sharks employed 8-9 lobbying firms to fight us spending a small fortune. We move on to the house Our gratitude to our legislators for their unwavering support. This bill has national implications and has been followed closely by the veterans community and naturally the opposition. 

State Claims Sharks provision is in the works which we hope is introduced in the next session. This would be a simple amending of our current stature 815 ILCS 505 Sec 2YYY with language that could find those taking illegal advantage of veterans accountable to penalties under Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act - Reliefs and Penalties Section - 815 ILCS 505 7. We are very thankful for the outstanding support of our legislative partners and the Attorney Generals Military and Veterans Rights Bureau staff. As we submit this report legislation is being drafted and shall be introduced.

Please keep in mind that those that feel defrauded must themselves file a complaint to the Attorney Generals Military and Veterans Rights Bureau. 1-800-382-3000 MVRB@ilag.gov

Veterans Homestead Tax Exemption It got even more complex as we moved into the 103rd GA. Now five major items are being addressed (one which we are hesitant to support in the current political atmosphere), the definition clarification of honorably discharged and those with a general discharge under honorable conditions. The assessment cap of $250,000 which if over that the veteran will loose the benefit. The addition of surviving WWII veterans being exempt. The current bills are SB2315-SB2700-SB2317-HB0612 we are looking to consolidate SB2315 HB0612 & SB2700 but feel SB2317 which ask for a 60% service connected disability to forgives real estate taxes may muddy the waters at this time. Nether of the bills consider that surviving spouses must reapply for the benefit each year which we feel is burdensome. 

HB0612 at the time of this report awaits the Governors signature. This went through Committees and both House & Senate at light speed thanks to over 250 witness slips and our legislators. It addresses the Honorable discharges as well as makes WWII veterans eligible for the benefit. We are addressing the other issues with a comprehensive trailer bill, but felt it important to get something passable done. 

• There  are many other bills which we support an they can be found on www.vfwil.org under news/legislative news. 

• Witness slips have been vital for getting SB3479/HB0612 an other bills passed . We thank all of our members and their family members that submitted slips. We have also developed a "quick reaction force”, these are advocates familiar with the witness slip process and don’t mind with short notice to pitch in. This has been incredibly effective with minor but important bills.  Get to know your local legislators County, State & Federal. Please if you haven’t before, become familiar with witness slips https://vfwil.org/di/vfw/v2/default.asp?pid=116303 this is a vital tool that only takes a moment to fill out and goes a long ways to get bills introduced.

Illinois Veterans Advisory Council

The VFW Department of Illinois is an active member of the IVAC as are the other major veteran service organizations as well as key legislators & representative from the Attorney Generals Military and Veterans Rights Bureau. There was going to be meeting of the IVAC 13 March but because of legislative day it was postponed. 

Veterans Assistance Commission of Cook County

Although we have many VAC’s in Illinois and this is VAC Chairman Doug Jamison’s mission the VACCC services the largest veterans population in Illinois (est 175,000-over 200,00) and has it’s own perplexities so that will be part of this report. 

The VACCC is continuing to make progress and with the help of the veterans service organizations and other VAC’s has been having success. Their last meeting 26 March they had 41 delegates and alternates attend the quarterly business meeting representing 32 of 35 registered organizations besides quest.

This 25 June for the upcoming meeting they shall have a pre-meeting presentation by the Illinois Attorney Generals Military and Veterans Rights Bureau. The Veterans community as well as all the Cook County Commissioners and other distinguished legislators have been invited.

28 June Commander Nila and Comrade DeGroot attended an announcement by Congresswoman Delia Ramirez who announced as part of her request for Illinois district 3 funding that $2,000,000 be allotted to the VACCC for a building in district 3. We look forward to this appropriation being passed in the upcoming budget. The VACCC currently is housed in the basement of the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Illinois Recognition

As one of my closing acts as Legislative Chairman to save the best for last and one that pleases me immensely. Legislative and civil awards to superstars for our veterans community. Senator Mike Porfirio, CMD, USNRRepresentative Daniel M. Swanson, LTC, USA (ret)Senior Assistant Illinois Attorney General Randall L. Tyner, GySgt, USMC (ret).

I wish to give my sincere appreciation to Commander Nila for the honor of serving as Chairman during this year and past Commanders Edwards & Walsh for having me on the committee. It has been an incredible adventure and experience.

Our goal Illinois the #1 veteran friendly state

Questions? dutch23mp@comcast.net  or service_officer@vfw1337.us

Other items/updates are posted on the department site www.vfwil.org

Our goal Illinois the #1 veteran friendly state

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