Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
Nov 17, 2011

Veterans Employment Legislation Clears Senate

The Senate passed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which creates a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for up to $5,600 for companies who hire veterans unemployed for at least 6 months and expands the Wounded Warrior Tax credit up to $9,600 for companies who hire disabled veterans.

Senator Nelson cosponsored the legislation which also extends GI benefits to older-generation veterans, increases vocational rehabilitation, and will help all service members with their transition back to civilian life.

For more information
Lynn Bannister: Director of Outreach
111 North Adams St
Tallahassee, FL  32301
850-942-8415 / 850-942-8450 (fax)

Senate Repeals Three Percent Withholding

 Last week, Senator Nelson voted for H.R.674, a bill to repeal a 2005 tax withholding law that requires federal, state, and local governments to withhold three percent of payments to contractors providing certain goods or services. The requirement was originally intended to reduce tax evasion among contractors, but many local governments and businesses agree that the 2005 law was overly broad and poorly crafted. Specifically, many businesses lack the cash flow to operate if three percent of their revenue is automatically withheld and transmitted to the IRS. Furthermore, local governments may lack the resources to track and process the withholdings properly. For these reasons, implementation of the law has been continually delayed. A full repeal of the law would provide more certainty for local governments and the businesses community.

The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Burn Pit Registry

Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor of S. 1793, a bill that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a national registry of veterans and service members who may have been exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, the bill mandates a public information campaign to inform individuals about the registry, and requires periodic updates to members of the registry on any significant health developments associated with burn pit exposure.  

Foreign Oil Pollution Act

Senator Nelson cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would discourage Cuban oil drilling by holding drillers liable for potential spills. S.1836 would amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to clarify that the act applies to incidents that occur in water beyond the exclusive economic zone of the United States.

An oil spill in these waters could be devastating to American fisherman, coastal communities, and tourism businesses. The legislation, also supported by Senators Menendez and Rubio, would ensure that US claimants can sue foreign spillers directly.

Protect Our Disabled Heroes Act

Senator Nelson teamed up with Senator Rubio to introduce legislation that will protect veterans from being taken advantage of by companies or individuals that illegally charge fees for the preparation of VA disability claims. This legislation would give teeth to existing law by reinstating criminal penalties for bad actors who charge veterans before a claim is received or disputed by the VA. Veterans will still be able to seek assistance from attorneys or representatives approved by the VA, and most Veterans Service Organizations will help prepare and file disability claims free of charge.

Federal Charter for Military Retirees Group

Senator Nelson introduced legislation to grant a Federal Charter to the American Military Retirees Association (AMRA). The AMRA works to protect rights and benefits of military retirees and their families.

Montford Marines

The Senate passed a House bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines of WWII.

Senator Nelson was an original cosponsor of the Senate companion legislation. The Montford Point Marines were the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corp. They were trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina and played important roles in decisive WWII battles, including Iwo Jima and D-Day. The Montford Point Marines served with honor, even as they were treated like second-class citizens in the U.S. Five surviving Montford Point Marines live in Florida.

Identity Theft-related Tax Fraud

Senators Nelson and Durbin wrote to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), asking him to clarify why SSA regularly publishes more information than is required under law for deceased individuals.

Recent reports have shed light on the growing trend of identity thieves using the information SSA publishes to file fraudulent tax returns. Senator Nelson uncovered this problem earlier this year in a hearing he held on identity theft-related tax fraud. In the hearing, a father explained how a thief stole his tax refund using the stolen identity of his departed daughter.

The findings that emerged from that hearing led Senator Nelson to introduce legislation to protect victims from this crime and prevent further abuse. Many Americans must file tax returns for their loved ones who died in the past year if they file jointly, or if they claim them as dependents.

Since 1980, SSA has had to publish the records of deceased individuals because of a court order that ruled privacy concerns didn't apply after an individual has died.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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