Senators Bates and Atkins Join Forces to Author Legislation to Help Wounded Service Members

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Senators Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) have announced that they have authored Senate Bill 197 to encourage the construction of 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 Senate Governance and Finance Committee will hear SB 197 on Wednesday, March 29, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 112 of the State Capitol.

SB 197 would grant the state the authority to 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.

“Our country’s wounded warriors deserve world-class medical and research facilities to ensure that they receive proper treatment,” said Senator Bates. “California should do everything within its power to encourage the construction of such facilities within its borders, especially when there’s minimal cost to the state. I’m pleased to be working with Senator Atkins on this endeavor and I hope our bill will earn the support of the entire Legislature and Governor Brown.”

Senator Atkins said, “We can and should do more to help American service members who have made sacrifices that most of us can’t even imagine. SB 197 provides an innovative way to spur growth in badly needed medical care for our heroes. I look forward to working with Senator Bates on this sensible bipartisan bill.”

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 adjacent 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 (approximately $1 million) on purchases to help build the Camp Pendleton facility. The BOE denied the request citing that charitable organizations that would construct and donate a facility are considered the consumer of the tangible personal property it purchases. Charities would have to pay sales tax reimbursement to its vendors or report use tax on its purchases of tangible personal property for use in California.

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.

Confirmed co-authors of SB 197 include Senators Richard Roth, Jim Nielsen, Joel Anderson, Tom Berryhill, Bill Dodd, Jean Fuller, Ted Gaines, Janet Nguyen, Andy Vidak and Scott Wilk; and Assembly Members Bill Brough, Rocky Chávez, Jordan Cunningham, Matthew Harper, Tom Lackey, Brian Maienschein, Devon Mathis, Randy Voepel and Marie Waldron.

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Senator 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.