H.R. 117 (112th): HELP Veterans Act of 2011

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Jan 05, 2011 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 117

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 5, 2011

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Housing, Employment, and Living Programs for Veterans Act of 2011 or the HELP Veterans Act of 2011.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. References to title 38, United States Code.

Sec. 3. Modification of standard of visual acuity required for eligibility for specially adapted housing assistance provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 4. Authorities regarding housing loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 5. Assistance for flight training.

Sec. 6. Seven-year increase in amount of assistance for individuals pursuing internships or on-the-job training.

Sec. 7. Extension of authority for certain qualifying work-study activities for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 8. Expansion of work-study allowance to include certain outreach services conducted through congressional offices.

Sec. 9. Temporary reduction of required amount of wages for on-the-job training programs.

Sec. 10. Reauthorization of Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Education.

Sec. 11. Review and evaluation of new technology.

Sec. 12. Child care; President’s Budget.

Sec. 13. Increase in amount of reporting fee payable to educational institutions that enroll veterans receiving educational assistance.

Sec. 14. Modification of advance payment of initial educational assistance or subsistence allowance.

Sec. 15. Increase in amount of subsistence allowance payable to veterans participating in vocational rehabilitation program.

Sec. 16. Expansion of availability of employment assistance allowance for veterans using employment services.

Sec. 17. Veterans entrepreneurial development summit.

Sec. 18. Increase in the maximum amount of specially adapted housing assistance authorized to be provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 19. Department of Veterans Affairs housing loans for construction of energy efficient dwellings.

Sec. 20. Pilot program on specially adapted housing assistance for veterans residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member.

2.

References to title 38, United States Code

Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or a repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of title 38, United States Code.

3.

Modification of standard of visual acuity required for eligibility for specially adapted housing assistance provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

(a)

In general

Section 2101(b)(2)(A) is amended by striking with 5/200 and all that follows through the period and inserting the following: with central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of standard correcting lenses (for purposes of this subparagraph, an eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be treated as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less)..

(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to specially adapted housing assistance provided on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

4.

Authorities regarding housing loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs

(a)

Covenants and liens in response to disaster-Relief assistance

Paragraph (3) of section 3703(d) is amended to read as follows:

(3)
(A)

Any real estate housing loan (other than for repairs, alterations, or improvements) shall be secured by a first lien on the realty. In determining whether a loan is so secured, the Secretary may either disregard or allow for subordination to a superior lien that—

(i)

is created by a duly recorded covenant running with the realty in favor of—

(I)

a public entity that provides assistance in response to a major disaster as determined by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.); or

(II)

a private entity to secure an obligation to such entity for the homeowner’s share of the costs of the management, operation, or maintenance of property, services, or programs within and for the benefit of the development or community in which the veteran’s realty is located; and

(ii)

the Secretary determines will not prejudice the interests of the veteran borrower and of the Government by the operation of such a covenant.

(B)

In respect to a superior lien described by subparagraph (A) that is created after June 6, 1969, the Secretary’s determination must have been made prior to the recordation of the covenant.

.

(b)

Extension of authority to pool loans

Paragraph (2) of section 3720(h) is amended by striking 2011 and inserting 2016.

5.

Assistance for flight training

Subsection (e)(1) of section 3032 is amended by striking 60 percent and inserting 75 percent.

6.

Seven-year increase in amount of assistance for individuals pursuing internships or on-the-job training

During the seven-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall apply—

(1)

section 3032(c)(1) of title 38, United States Code—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by substituting 80 percent for 75 percent;

(B)

in subparagraph (B), by substituting 60 percent for 55 percent; and

(C)

in subparagraph (C), by substituting 40 percent for 35 percent;

(2)

section 3233(a) of such title—

(A)

in paragraph (1), by substituting 80 percent for 75 percent;

(B)

in paragraph (2), by substituting 60 percent for 55 percent; and

(C)

in paragraph (3), by substituting 40 percent for 35 percent;

(3)

section 3687(b)(2) of such title—

(A)

by substituting $603 for $574;

(B)

by substituting $450 for $429; and

(C)

by substituting $299 for $285; and

(4)

section 16131(d)(1) of title 10, United States Code—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by substituting 80 percent for 75 percent;

(B)

in subparagraph (B), by substituting 60 percent for 55 percent; and

(C)

in subparagraph (C), by substituting 40 percent for 35 percent.

7.

Extension of authority for certain qualifying work-study activities for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Paragraph (4) of section 3485(a) is amended by striking June 30, 2013 each place it appears and inserting June 30, 2020.

8.

Expansion of work-study allowance to include certain outreach services conducted through congressional offices

Section 3485(a)(4) is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(K)

The following activities carried out at the offices of Members of Congress for such Members:

(i)

The distribution of information to members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their dependents about the benefits and services under laws administered by the Secretary and other appropriate governmental and non-governmental programs.

(ii)

The provision of assistance in ascertaining the status of claims (including appeals) for benefits under laws administered by the Secretary, as well as other constituent services for veterans as the Secretary determines appropriate.

.

9.

Temporary reduction of required amount of wages for on-the-job training programs

(a)

In general

(1)

Reducing requirement

Section 3677(b)(1)(A)(ii) is amended by striking 85 per centum and inserting 60 percent.

(2)

Effective date

The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall take effect on October 1, 2010, and shall apply to a veteran who enrolls in a program of training on the job approved under section 3677 of title 38, United States Code, on or after such date.

(b)

Sunset

(1)

Reversion

Effective October 1, 2013, section 3677(b)(1)(A)(ii) of such title, as amended by subsection (a) of this section, is amended by striking 60 percent and inserting 85 percent.

(2)

Application

The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall apply to a veteran who enrolls in a program of training on the job approved under section 3677 of title 38, United States Code, on or after October 1, 2013.

(c)

GAO Report

Not later than October 1, 2013, the Comptroller General shall submit to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate a report on the effects of eliminating the requirement under section 3677(b)(1)(A)(ii) of title 38, United States Code, for a private employer to provide wage increases to veterans enrolled in a program of training on the job approved under section 3677 of such title.

10.

Reauthorization of Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Education

Section 3692(c) is amended by striking December 31, 2013 and inserting December 31, 2020.

11.

Review and evaluation of new technology

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a team of individuals from appropriate disciplines to be responsible for reviewing new technologies, processes, and products and for determining which such technologies, processes, and products may be beneficial to the Department of Veterans Affairs or to the veterans served by the Department. Upon completion of the review under this subsection, the team shall submit the review to the Secretary, who shall disseminate the review within the Department, as appropriate.

12.

Child care; President’s Budget

(a)

In general

Chapter 31 is amended by adding at the end the following new sections:

3123.

Child care assistance for single parents

(a)

In general

Pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary to carry out this section, the Secretary shall provide reimbursements for the actual cost of child care provided by a licensed provider to a veteran who—

(1)

is participating in a vocational rehabilitation program under this chapter;

(2)

is the sole caretaker of a child; and

(3)

would not otherwise be able to afford such child care.

(b)

Amount and duration

The amount of the reimbursement for the actual cost for child care under this section shall be not more than $2,000 per month for each month the veteran is participating in a vocational rehabilitation program under this chapter.

3124.

Information included in support of President’s budget

The Secretary shall include in documents submitted to Congress by the Secretary in support of the President’s budget for each fiscal year submitted under section 1105 of title 31, United States Code, the following:

(1)

For the calendar year preceding the submission—

(A)

the percentage of veterans receiving assistance under this chapter who became employed; and

(B)

the percentage of veterans receiving assistance under this chapter who achieved independence in daily living.

(2)

Any changes made by the Secretary in measuring or calculating the performance of the department under this chapter.

.

(b)

Clerical Amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter 31 is amended by adding at the end the following:

3123. Child care assistance for single parents.

3124. Information included in support of President’s budget.

.

13.

Increase in amount of reporting fee payable to educational institutions that enroll veterans receiving educational assistance

(a)

Increase in amount of fee

Subsection (c) of section 3684 is amended—

(1)

by striking $7 and inserting $16; and

(2)

by striking $11 and inserting $16.

(b)

Technical correction

Subsection (a) of such section is amended by striking the second comma after 34.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on January 1, 2011.

14.

Modification of advance payment of initial educational assistance or subsistence allowance

(a)

Modification

Section 3680(d)(2) is amended by inserting after the third sentence the following new sentence: For purposes of the entitlement to educational assistance of the veteran or person receiving an advance payment under this subsection, the advance payment shall be charged against the final month of the entitlement of the person or veteran and, if necessary, the penultimate such month. In no event may any veteran or person receive more than one advance payment under this subsection during any academic year..

(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to an advance payment of educational assistance made on or after September 1, 2010.

15.

Increase in amount of subsistence allowance payable to veterans participating in vocational rehabilitation program

(a)

Increase in subsistence allowance

Section 3108(b)(1) is amended by striking the table and inserting the following new table:

Column
I
Column
II
Column
III
Column
IV

Column V
Type of
program
No
dependents
One
dependent
Two
dependents
More than
two dependents
The amount in column IV, plus the following for each dependent in excess of two:
Full-time$576.01$714.50$841.98$61.37
Three-quarter time$432.80$536.65$629.50$47.19
Half-time$289.59$358.81$421.77$31.49.
(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to a payment made for the third month beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act and each subsequent month.

16.

Expansion of availability of employment assistance allowance for veterans using employment services

Paragraph (2) of section 3108(a) is amended to read as follows:

(2)

In the case of a veteran with a service-connected disability who the Secretary determines has reached a point of employability and who is participating only in a program of employment services provided under section 3104(a)(5) of this title, the Secretary shall pay the veteran a subsistence allowance as prescribed in this section for three months while the veteran is satisfactorily pursuing such program.

.

17.

Veterans entrepreneurial development summit

(a)

In general

Subchapter II of chapter 81 is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

8120.

Veterans entrepreneurial development summit

(a)

Veterans entrepreneurial development summit

The Secretary may hold an event, once every year, to provide networking opportunities, outreach, education, training, and support to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans, veterans service organizations, and other entities as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

(b)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection $1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011 and 2021.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end of the items relating to subchapter II the following:

8120. Veterans entrepreneurial development summit.

.

18.

Increase in the maximum amount of specially adapted housing assistance authorized to be provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

(a)

In general

Section 2102 is amended—

(1)

in subsection (b)(2), by striking $12,000 and inserting $13,756; and

(2)

in subsection (d)—

(A)

in paragraph (1), by striking $60,000 and inserting $65,780; and

(B)

in paragraph (2), by striking $12,000 and inserting $13,756.

(b)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to assistance furnished after the date of the enactment of this Act.

19.

Department of Veterans Affairs housing loans for construction of energy efficient dwellings

(a)

Loans authorized

Section 3710(d) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)—

(A)

by striking The Secretary and inserting (A) The Secretary;

(B)

by striking for the acquisition of and all that follows through the end and inserting for any of the following purposes:;

(C)

by adding at the end the following new clauses:

(i)

The acquisition of an existing dwelling and the cost of making energy efficiency improvements to the dwelling.

(ii)

The construction of a new dwelling and the cost of making energy efficiency improvements to the dwelling.

(iii)

Energy efficiency improvements to a dwelling owned and occupied by a veteran.

; and

(D)

by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs:

(B)

Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a loan may be guaranteed under this subsection only if it meets the requirements of this chapter.

(C)

The Secretary shall determine appropriate energy efficiency standards for purposes of this subsection and shall require that dwellings purchased, constructed, or improved using a loan guaranteed under this subsection meet such standards.

; and

(2)

in paragraph (2), by striking subparagraphs (A) and (B) and inserting the following new subparagraphs (A) and (B):

(A)

five percent of the total established value of the property, dwelling, and improvements; or

(B)

$6,000, or a higher amount specifically provided by the Secretary.

.

(b)

Guidance

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue guidance on appraising the value of energy efficiency improvements for purposes of section 3710(d) of title 38, United States Code, as amended by this Act.

(c)

Regulations

(1)

Interim policy guidance

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall prescribe interim policy guidance on energy efficiency audits and the conditions under which the performance of such audits may be included in the amount guaranteed by the Secretary under section 3710(d) of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a).

(2)

Regulations

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out the amendments made by subsection (a).

(3)

Energy efficiency audit defined

For purposes of this subsection, the term energy efficiency audit means a measurement of the effects of an improvement made to a dwelling for the purpose of reducing energy consumption or increasing energy efficiency that is carried out by a certified professional auditor, as determined by the Secretary.

(d)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall apply with respect to a loan secured on or after January 1, 2011.

20.

Pilot program on specially adapted housing assistance for veterans residing temporarily in housing owned by a family member

(a)

Treatment of Certain Limitations

Notwithstanding subsection (d) of section 2102 of title 38, United States Code, and subject to subsection (b), a grant under section 2102A of such title shall not count toward the dollar amount limitations specified in that subsection.

(b)

Termination

Subsection (a) shall apply only to the first 25 grants made during fiscal year 2012.