Senator William DeSepth (R) - Senator Cosgrove (R) - Senator John Bell (D) - Senator Joseph Morrissey (D) 

Del Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D) - Del Elizabeth Guzman (D) - Del William Wiley (R)- Del Emily Brewer (R)

Del. Bill Wiley (R-Frederick County) has supported and introduced a number of bills in the Virginia General Assembly this session aimed at boosting military veterans and enticing them to remain in the Commonwealth after retirement.

The bills were influenced by veterans like Winchester-area resident Jay Marts, a retired Army colonel and Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Services member. Marts has testified at hearings in Richmond and visited with lawmakers to advocate for veteran legislation aligning with the council's priorities.

"Delegate Wiley was one of our patrons who put in these bills for us and move some of these bills through the General Assembly. He's been an advocate," said Marts.

"He's done a great job of shepherding legislation and getting legislation in place," Wiley said of Marts. "I think we've done a good job so far. Each year, I try to allocate a part of my bill submission list to veteran's issues after my conversations with veterans."

Bills he has introduced or patroned aim to waive burial fees for military spouses (HB 2362); provide exemptions for disabled veterans and surviving spouses (HB 1470); state income tax subtraction for National Guard members (HB 2373), and free entry and parking at state parks for Virginia National Guard veterans (HB 1388). All four of these bills have passed in the House of Delegates.

Wiley also introduced HB2361, which is still working its way through the house and also seeks real property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and surviving spouses.

But for Marts and some other veterans, the top priority for this year's session is getting HB 1436 signed into law. This bill, which Wiley patroned, also passed in the House and seeks to remove the 55 or older age restriction on veterans receiving a military benefits income tax subtraction. This would give younger veterans the benefit of income tax subtractions of up to $40,000 in military benefits in the coming years. 

The bill would lift the age restriction that was a part of a pair of bills signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) last year. Those bills gave a state income tax subtraction of up to $10,000 in military benefits for taxable year 2022, up to $20,000 in 2023, $30,000 in 2024 and $40,000 in 2025 for veterans 55 and older.

Marts believes HB1436 will be the toughest to push through the Senate and then earn the governor's signature because of the cost associated — $37.8 million from the general fund, according to a financial impact statement. The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on finance and appropriations. 

"That's a tough one but one we really want," Marts said. "If we want to keep veterans in the state of Virginia, we need that bill."

The Virginia General Assembly, scheduled to last 45 days, is known for the rapid pace at which legislation is introduced.

Veteran-related legislation can generally rely on more bipartisan support than other proceedings in Richmond this year — namely 2nd Amendment rights, abortion and voting laws.

Virginia has a high number of military retirees, especially in the Hampton Roads-Virginia Beach region known for its Navy bases, but Wiley and Marts are concerned with the number of veterans who leave for lower-tax states like North Carolina and West Virginia.

"We are actually competing with other states. Military retirees, when they get to that age, might not stay in Virginia because it is not competitive to take care of them in their retirement years," Wiley said. "We have major military presence in Virginia, and we want to make sure those people stay here."

"When you do these types of incentives and offer ways to take care of veterans, they will want to enjoy retirement in the Commonwealth,' he continued.

Marts echoed Wiley's comments.

"It's important that we keep all of those transitioning service members in Virginia because they do make a choice on where they are going to start their second career after twenty years of service," Marts said. "They could move right up the road to West Virginia and not have their pension taxed by the state."



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