Assembly Committee Approves Sen. Bates and Atkins' Bill to Build Specialized Veteran Medical Facilities

Monday, June 19, 2017

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 197 today by Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), which would lower the cost of constructing medical facilities in California that serve veterans and active duty troops afflicted with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and related conditions. The committee amended the bill to include a five-year sunset clause. It will next go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for its consideration.

“It’s encouraging to see more bipartisan momentum for legislation to help build needed medical facilities for veterans and military personnel,” said Senator Bates. “We still have a long way to go in the bill process, but Senator Atkins and I are hopeful that we can get our bill across the finish line in the weeks ahead.”

SB 197 would waive state and local sales and use taxes for charitable organizations that purchase building materials and supplies to construct and equip military and veteran medical facilities, and donate those facilities to the U.S. Department of Defense for operation on federal land in California. The facilities must be used for research and treatment of medical conditions prevalent in military personnel.

The federal government is responsible for taking care of the medical needs of service members and veterans. However, there remains a need for additional facilities to serve those suffering from PTSD and other conditions. Non-profits such as the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) are helping to meet that need by constructing and donating facilities to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Since the facilities are constructed with private funds, they provide a way for Americans to personally support those who have served. The IFHF has completed facilities located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

A facility has already broken ground at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and planned future sites for facilities include Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which is in Senator Bates’ 36th Senate district and is next to Senator Atkins’ 39th district.

Maryland, Texas and Virginia have granted sales tax exemptions to charitable organizations for purchases of tangible personal property used to construct the facilities. These exemptions help ensure that every dollar spent goes towards construction. The desire to build a medical and rehabilitation facility at Camp Pendleton, and possibly additional facilities in the state, is an opportunity that both Senators Bates and Atkins believe that California should seize.

In March 2016, the IFHF asked the California Board of Equalization (BOE) to grant an exemption from paying state sales tax on purchases to help build the Camp Pendleton facility. The BOE denied the request citing that a charitable organization that would construct and donate a facility is considered the consumer of the tangible personal property it purchases.

California law already exempts various items from taxes, including the storage, use, or consumption of meals and food products that are furnished or served by any nonprofit veterans’ organization for the purpose of fundraising.

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Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) represents the 36th Senate District in the California Legislature, which covers North San Diego County, South Orange County and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) represents the 39th Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.