We have no Action Items today.
Summary of Issues
At Issue 1. we see COLA DIPS AS ENERGY PRICES DIVE. Consumer Price Index continues to fall amid energy crash, Relief at the gas pump means the Consumer Price Index fell sharply again in December. (See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 2. we see WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2016? The clock starts now, With two weeks to go until the president releases his proposed budget, MOAA looks ahead to when key events will occur. (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 3. we see STOLEN VALOR MAKES HEADLINES AGAIN. Overturned conviction rankles veterans, Freedom of speech protects liars too, unfortunately.. (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF)
Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference
FOR ALL, Please feel free to pass these Weekly Legislative Updates on to your group of Veteran Friends –
don’t be concerned with possible duplications – if your friends are as concerned as we are with Veteran issues, they probably won’t mind getting this from two or more friendly sources
Issue 1. COLA DIPS AS ENERGY PRICES DIVE
A deeper dive into red.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is following the trend of the past few years by dropping significantly at the beginning of the fiscal year. In order for a positive gain next year, COLA has to make pretty significant gains.
The December CPI is 230.791, declining to 1.5 percent below the FY 2014 COLA baseline. Because there was not a positive COLA in FY 2015, the FY 2014 baseline is used.
The CPI for January 2016 is scheduled to be released on February 19, 2016.
Note: Military retiree COLA is calculated based on the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), not the overall CPI. Monthly changes in the index may differ from national figures reported elsewhere.
Related content: Retired Pay vs Active Duty Pay Adjustments
(Click on Retired Pay vs Active Duty Pay Adjustments here or above for the details. GF)
Issue 2. WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2016? Defense Bill Budget Timeline
January 22, 2016
The White House announced that the president’s budget request will be delivered to Congress on Feb 9. Once the budget request is received, the ball gets rolling on the defense bill.
Below is MOAA’s estimated timeline of the FY 2017 defense bill process:
Feb 9: The president submits his annual budget proposal to Congress. MOAA expects to see another military pay raise cap, more Basic Housing Allowance cuts, and proposals to significantly overhaul military health care.
MOAA will begin analyzing the impact of the proposals on currently serving and retired members and families and begin preparing fact sheets and brochures to articulate MOAA’s positions to Congress and the public.
Late March: Six weeks after the president delivers his budget to Congress, congressional committees are required to submit their “views and estimates” of spending and revenues within their respective jurisdictions to the House and Senate Budget Committees. In essence, these represent requests for the budget levels needed to provide for the nation’s defense.
April 11-13: In the middle of the defense bill process, MOAA will invite Chapter and Council leaders from across the country to Storm the Hill to meet with their elected officials on military personnel and benefits issues.
April – May: The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are expected to begin work drafting their respective versions of the FY 2017 defense bill.
May – June: Full House and Senate pass their respective versions of the defense bill.
July – October: House and Senate negotiators work to resolve differences between their respective versions.
July-August: MOAA provides its members detailed information to use when visiting their elected officials as they return home to do district work during the August recess.
October-December: Final defense bill passed by House and Senate and becomes law.
MOAA will periodically send you action alerts urging you to send your elected officials MOAA-suggested messages. We will need your help contacting Congress and urging them to do the right thing by servicemembers and their families.
Specifically, the February issue of Military Officer Magazine, which you’ll receive soon, contains tear-out letters we hope you’ll sign, stamp and mail to elected officials.
Issue 3. STOLEN VALOR MAKES HEADLINES AGAIN
January 22, 2016
Earlier this month a federal appeals court overturned the 2007 conviction of a veteran found guilty of violating the Stolen Valor Act for wearing several unearned military medals.
Many MOAA members have asked where we stand on the issue.
MOAA worked with Congress in 2006 to pass the original Stolen Valor Act. The legislation made it a federal misdemeanor to lie about receiving military awards and decorations.
In 2012, the Supreme Court heard a case to determine whether the law violated the First Amendment. MOAA, along with over 20 other military and veterans service organizations, filed a petition with the court on the constitutionality of the law. MOAA believed this was “a case about theft, not freedom of expression.”
Despite MOAA’s and others’ efforts, the Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional in a 6-3 decision. While such lies are reprehensible, the court ruled, they are protected speech under the Constitution.
In response to the decision, MOAA worked with Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), now chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, to sponsor an updated version of the Stolen Valor Act. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) led the effort in the Senate.
The revised and more narrowly constructed legislation made it a crime to gain money, property, or other tangible benefits by fraudulently claiming to have received military awards or decorations.
MOAA felt the updated legislative language struck the proper balance between preventing unscrupulous gain from false statements while protecting the individual freedoms that generations of uniformed servicemembers have fought to preserve.
“By barring any profit from such misrepresentation, rather than criminalizing the false statement itself, the new legislation avoided the First Amendment problems cited in the Supreme Court’s decision,” said MOAA’s Director of Government Relations, Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF (Ret).
Congress quickly passed the legislation, and President Obama signed it into law in 2013. This version of the Stolen Valor Act is still valid.
In the recent court case, the individual’s original conviction was based on the 2006 law that has since been repealed and modified, so the federal court had no choice but to overturn the conviction.
That’s it for today- Thanks for your help!