Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D – Santa Ana) announced that two of his measures impacting California veterans were approved by Assembly policy committees yesterday.
Senate Bill 665, which allows private employers to establish, and maintain, a written veteran’s preference employment policy and hiring program, passed out of the Assembly Labor and Employment committee by a vote of 7-0. In early June, Senate Bill 665 was also approved by the Senate 32-0 with bipartisan support.
“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, a retired Colonel in the United States Army. “I would like to thank chairman, Assemblymember Ash Kalra and committee staff for working with us to make this piece of legislation stronger for our California veterans.”
Human resource professionals are constantly developing workplace policies in the best interest of employees and their employers. Assisting veterans to gain employment is an effective way for employers to practice voluntary hiring preference for honorably discharged veterans. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “a total of 39 states have enacted legislation allowing private employers to give preference to veterans in hiring, promotion and retention decisions. Of these, 15 states extend the preference to the spouse of a disabled veteran or to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.”
Similar efforts to create a Veterans Hiring Preference in California passed the State Assembly with bipartisan support [AB 1383 (2015), AB 160 (2016), & AB 353 (2017)]. Senate Bill 665 boasts a large coalition of support from organizations such as the American Legion-Department of California, California Association of County Veterans Service Officers, California State Commanders Veterans Council, Military Officers Association of America-California Council of Chapters, and the Vietnam Veterans of America-California State Council, Orange County Veterans & Military Families Collaborative, Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce, Veterans Legal Institute, Council of California Goodwill Industries, and many 2others.
“SB 665 honors and recognizes the sacrifices of our veterans. Transitioning from service to civilian workforce is not always easy. By offering a voluntary hiring preference for veterans to the private sector serves as a tool to help young men and women who served and assist in building a career.”
SB 498, which impacts legal services for veterans, was also approved on Consent by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. SB 498 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. Currently, an entire population of California veterans is excluded from free and low-income legal assistance as a result of their disability benefits.
Both SB 498 and SB 665 will next be heard in Assembly Military and Veterans Committee in the coming weeks. Organizations and veterans interested in supporting either measure are encouraged to contact Lisa Tran at [email protected] or 916-651-4034.