featured graphic for Thomas Umberg, California State Senator for District 34, during COVID-19

Senator Thomas J. Umberg introduces veterans legislative package, advances measure enhancing veteran legal aid

Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) announced that his Senate Bill 498, which expands legal services to veterans on disability, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a unanimous, bi-partisan vote. The Senator used the opportunity to debut his Veterans Legislative Package for the year, as well.

“We have a moral obligation to treat our veterans with dignity because they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our Constitution,” said Senator Umberg. SB 498 advances that imperative by raising the qualifying income for legal aid services to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and excluding veteran disability compensation from the calculation of qualifying income. “Never again should a California family worry about their ability to afford access to our legal and judicial system because of their rightfully-earned federal and/or state benefits.”

In addition to SB 498, Senator Umberg has introduced and co-authored a package of veteran-related measures in the 2021 Legislative Session. This includes six bills and three resolutions to provide a hiring preference, provide services to, and honor California’s two million veterans.

“As a veteran and a member of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans’ Affairs, I feel strongly that we must provide returning veterans and their family members the tools they need to succeed in civilian life,” said Senator Umberg.

The Senator’s Legislative Veterans Package consists of:

Authored Legislation
SB 43 – Veterans Cemetery: Requires the California Department of Veterans Affairs to work with local government entities in Orange County to develop the Southern California Veterans Cemetery.

SB 399 – Sports License Plates for Veterans Services: Requires Calvet to create special interest license plates for professional sport franchises in California. Funds generated from the specialized license plates will be allocated to support the projects and programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SB 498 – Legal Aid for Indigents Veterans: Expands the definition of “indigent person” to determine eligibility for free legal services by increasing one measure of income eligibility from 125% to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and by exempting veteran disability benefits from household income.

SB 665 – Veterans Hiring Preference: Allows private employers to establish, and maintain, a written veteran’s preference employment policy and hiring program.

SCR 3 – Vietnam Armed Forces Day: Recognizes June 19th as Veterans of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Day, in memory of the Vietnamese gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War.

Co-Authored Legislation

SB 614 – (Archuleta) Veteran Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Programs: Ensures that California provides morale, welfare, and recreation programs to military families seamlessly by allowing for state funds to pass through to nonprofit military or veteran foundations, military organizations, or other entities.
SB 661 – (Newman) CalVet Home Loans: Enhances and modernizes CalVet’s Home Loan Program by allowing the department to provide loans with less than a 30-year payback, to refinance existing home loans at competitive market rates. These changes will ensure that CalVet’s Home Loan Program will be able to compete in the market and assist California’s veterans to stay in their homes for years to come.

ACR 12 – (Seyarto) Purple Heart Day: Encourages all Californians to honor those who have served in the Armed Forces, especially who have been wounded and received the Purple Heart.

ACR 13 – (Seyarto) Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

“This year I am proud to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to honor our California veterans and to bring resources and ease the burdens faced by our military families. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional burdens on our veteran population, I am privileged to stand on behalf of the strong men and women who have sacrificed for our country.”

SB 498 will next be heard by the Senate Committee on Military & Veterans Affairs, of which Senator Umberg is also a member.

For questions about SB 498 or any other measure included in his Veterans Legislative Package, please feel free to contact his Capitol Office at (916) 651-4034.

This article was released by the Office of Senator Thomas J. Umberg.