BILL FOR INTR W CLERK3
(By Mr. Speaker (Mr. Kiss)and Delegates Varner, Michael,
Leach, Kominar, H.K. White and L. Williams)
[Introduced February 11, 2005; referred to the
Committee on Finance.]
A BILL providing for the payment of the veterans bonus to
veterans of the Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq conflicts, and
for the administration thereof; designating the division of
veterans affairs to administer provisions of act; providing
powers and duties of the director of the division;
authorizing adoption of rules and regulations; authorizing
appointment of veterans advisory committee; setting forth
qualifications to receive bonus; providing definitions;
providing for payment of bonus to relatives of deceased
veterans; specifying amounts of bonus; setting forth periods
to apply and receive bonus; providing for determination of
validity of each claim for bonus by director; providing for
review of decision of director by board of review;
authorizing appointment of additional boards of review and
compensation for members; providing for judicial review of
decisions of board of review; creation of veterans bonus fund; exempting bonus from taxation; excluding bonus from
certain debt collection actions; prohibiting claim for bonus
from assignment; limiting charges for services provided in
connection with application for bonus; and prohibiting
certain acts and providing criminal penalties therefor.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
PAYMENT OF VETERANS BONUS.
§1. Division of veterans affairs to administer act; veterans
The West Virginia division of veterans affairs is hereby
designated as the state agency to administer the provisions of
this act. The director of the division of veterans affairs shall
do all things necessary for the proper administration thereof.
The director, with the advice and consent of the veterans
council, may adopt and promulgate such reasonable rules and
regulations, not inconsistent herewith, as may be necessary to
effect the purposes of this act, including regulations concerning
evidence or other data required to establish eligibility and
qualifications for the bonus as herein provided. The director
shall prepare and furnish all necessary forms which shall be
distributed by him or her through such veterans and other
organizations as he or she may deem most practicable.
The division of veterans affairs shall, insofar as possible,
utilize the personnel, supplies and equipment of the division in the administration of this act. The division may employ such
additional personnel as may be necessary for the proper
administration of this act, subject, however, to the approval of
the secretary of the department of military affairs and public
safety who must also approve the salaries and other compensation
for such personnel.
The governor may appoint a veterans advisory committee,
consisting of representatives of veterans organizations chartered
under acts of Congress and operating in this state, to advise and
counsel with the director in the administration of this act.
Such committee shall meet on the call of the director at such
times and places as he or she may specify.
§2. Veterans entitled to bonus.
In grateful recognition of their services in time of grave
national emergency, a cash bonus as herein provided shall be paid
to veterans of the Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq conflicts. The
bonus shall be paid to (1) Veterans of the armed forces of the
United States who served on active duty in areas of conflict in
Iraq, or were members of reserve components called to active duty
by the President of the United States under Title 10, United
States Code section 12301, 12302, 12303 or 12304 during the Iraqi
War, between the nineteenth day of March, two thousand three and
the date determined by the President or Congress of the United
States as the end of the involvement of the United States armed
forces in Iraq, both dates inclusive; or (2) veterans, active service members, or members of reserve components of the armed
forces of the United States, who served on active duty in one of
the military operations for which he or she received a campaign
badge or expeditionary medal during the periods hereinafter
described. For purposes of this act, periods of active duty in
a campaign or expedition are designated as: The conflict in
Kosovo between the twentieth day of November, one thousand nine
hundred ninety-five and the thirty-first day of December, two
thousand, both dates inclusive; and the conflict in Afghanistan,
between the seventh day of October, two thousand one and the date
determined by the President or Congress of the United States as
the end of the involvement of the United States armed forces in
Afghanistan, both dates inclusive. For purposes of this act, not
more than one bonus may be paid to or on behalf of the service of
a veteran. In order to be eligible to receive a bonus, a veteran
must have been a bona fide resident of the State of West Virginia
at the time of his or her entry into active service and for a
period of at least six months immediately prior thereto, and has
not been separated from service under conditions other than
The bonus shall also be paid to any veteran otherwise
qualified pursuant to this amendment, who was discharged within
ninety days after entering the armed forces because of a service-
As used in this act, "armed forces" means the army, navy, air force, marine corps and coast guard of the United States.
As used in this act, "active duty" means full-time active
service in the armed forces with full duty pay status, but shall
not include time absent from leave, absent over leave, while in
confinement or any other time classified by the respective
branches of the armed forces as "bad" or "lost" time.
For purposes of this act, "active service" shall mean the
person's active duty as a member one of the armed forces during
the periods of conflict referred to herein.
As used in this act, "bona fide resident" shall mean any
person who, at the time of his or her entry into active service
as such is defined herein, was a legal resident of the state of
West Virginia. Evidence of legal residence shall be shown by the
presentation of evidence that the person filed a West Virginia
personal income tax for the tax year immediately preceding his or
her entry into active service or proof that he or she maintained
a permanent place of abode in West Virginia at the time of his or
her entry into active service and for a period of at least six
months prior to entry into active service.
§3. Payment of bonus to relatives of deceased veterans.
The bonus to which any deceased veteran would have been
entitled, if living, shall be paid to the following surviving
relatives of the veteran, if the relatives are residents of the
State when the application is made and if the relatives are
living at the time payment is made: Any unremarried widow or widower, or, if none, all children, stepchildren and adopted
children under the age of eighteen, or, if none, any parent,
stepparent, adoptive parent or person standing in loco parentis.
The categories of persons listed shall be treated as separate
categories listed in order of entitlement and where there is more
than one member of a class, the bonus shall be paid to each
member according to his or her proportional share. Where a
deceased veteran?s death was connected with the service and
resulted from the service during the time period specified,
however, the surviving relatives shall be paid, in accordance
with the same order of entitlement, the sum of two thousand
dollars in lieu of any bonus to which the deceased might have
been entitled if living.
As used in this act, "unremarried widow" or "unremarried
widower" means the spouse of a deceased veteran, legally married
to the veteran at the time of his or her death, who has not
remarried at the time of making application.
As used in this act, "child" means the natural child,
adopted child or stepchild of the deceased veteran upon whose
service eligibility is derived and who has not attained the age
of eighteen years at the time of making application.
As used in this act, "parent" means either of the natural,
step, or adoptive father or mother of, or person standing in loco
parentis to, the deceased veteran upon whose service eligibility
§4. Amount of bonus.
The amount of the bonus shall be six hundred dollars per
eligible veteran who was in active service, inside the combat
zone in Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq as designated by the
President or Congress of the United States at anytime during the
dates specified hereinabove. In the case of the Iraqi War and
the conflict in Afghanistan, the amount of bonus shall be four
hundred dollars per eligible veteran who was in active service
outside the combat zone designated by the President or Congress
of the United States during the dates specified hereinabove. For
purposes of this act, not more than one bonus shall be paid to or
on behalf of the service of any one veteran. In the event any
veteran is eligible to receive more than one bonus, the veteran
shall receive the greater bonus.
§5. Limitation on time of filing application.
No bonus shall be paid to any person, otherwise entitled
thereto, unless application therefor shall be filed with the
division of veterans affairs on or before the thirtieth day of
June, two thousand five. Warrants for the payment of any bonus
shall be issued or reissued to any applicant on or before the
thirtieth day of June, two thousand six.
§6. Determination of director of the validity of claims.
Upon receipt of an application for benefits hereunder, the
director shall, as soon as may be practicable, determine the validity of the claim. As soon as such determination has been
made, the director shall mail to the applicant a warrant in the
amount of the bonus payment he or she finds to be due. If the
determination is made that no benefits hereunder are payable,
then the director shall mail to the applicant a notification
denying benefits and citing the reason or reasons for such
Any applicant who is aggrieved by any such determination of
the director may demand that his or her claim be reviewed as
hereinafter provided. Such demand for review shall be filed with
the director, in writing, within sixty days after the date on
which the warrant of award or notice of denial was mailed to the
applicant. Upon receipt of such demand for review, the director
shall certify the demand, together with all files and records
relating to the application, to a board of review. Unless such
demand for review is duly filed with the director, all findings
and orders of the director with reference to such claim shall be
final and conclusive upon the applicant.
§7. Review of board hearing.
For the purposes of this act, the veterans council of the
division of veterans affairs is hereby designated as the
"Veterans Bonus Board of Review." Under rules and regulations
adopted by the veterans council, any one or more members of the
board of review may conduct hearings on a demand by an applicant
for review of the determination of the director, and may report his or her or their findings thereon, together with the entire
record of the case, to the board of review for its final
determination and decision.
If the number of demands for review hereunder becomes too
numerous to be handled expeditiously by the veterans council, the
governor, upon the recommendation of the council, may appoint one
or more additional boards of review. Additional boards shall
consist of not more than five members, one of whom shall be a
lawyer, who shall have the same qualifications as the members of
the veterans council, and who shall serve at the will and
pleasure of the governor for such time as may be necessary for
the purposes of this act. Each such additional board of review
shall have the same authority and its final decision shall have
the same force and effect as that of the veterans council under
the provisions of this act.
Upon receipt from the director of the files and records
relating to any claim, the board, or a member or members thereof,
as the case may be, shall fix a time and place for a hearing
thereon. The applicant shall be notified of the time and place
fixed and shall be informed of his or her right to demand a
public hearing if he or she so desires. At the hearing the claim
shall be reexamined de novo and the submission of additional
evidence may be required or permitted. Upon the conclusion of
such hearing, the board of review, on the basis of the record and
the recommendations, if any, made by the member or members who conducted the hearing, shall enter its order reversing, affirming
or modifying the determination made by the director.
Any order so entered by the board shall be final and
conclusive upon the applicant and the director unless an
application is made for review to the West Virginia supreme court
of appeals as hereinafter provided. The board shall mail to the
applicant and to the director a copy of the order entered by it
in each case.
All notices and correspondence shall be directed to the
applicant at the address listed on his or her application and all
notices and correspondence to the director shall be addressed to
him or her at his or her office in the city of Charleston.
The director shall provide for each board of review such
clerical and stenographic assistants and such supplies as may be
necessary for the performance of its duties.
Each member of a board of review shall receive as
compensation fifty dollars per day for each day actually spent in
the performance of his or her duties under the provisions of this
act, and shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary
expenses actually incurred by him or her in the performance of
§8. Court review of final orders of review board.
Within thirty days after notification of the entry of any
final order of a board of review, the director or the applicant
affected may petition for review of such order by the West Virginia supreme court of appeals in the same manner and within
the same period of time as is provided by section fifteen,
article five, chapter twenty-three of the code, for judicial
review of final decisions by the workers' compensation board of
§9. Legislative appropriations paid into veterans bonus fund;
expenditures; investment thereof; unexpended balance.
All money as appropriated by the Legislature for the payment
of a cash bonus to veterans as provided in the Veterans Bonus
Amendment of 2004 shall be paid into the veterans bonus fund
which is hereby created in the office of the state treasurer and
such fund shall be expended solely for the payment of such
veterans bonus and the cost of administration necessarily
incident thereto. Except for such sums necessary for current
operating balances, such fund shall be invested and reinvested by
the West Virginia state board of investments in accordance with
the provisions of article six, chapter twelve of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended:
, That no such investment or reinvestment shall adversely
affect the current operating balances of such fund. Any
unexpended balance remaining in this fund after payment of all
legal bonuses and other expenses and costs have been made or
adequately provided for shall be available for appropriation by
§10. Penalty for making false statements.
Any person who shall knowingly make any false or misleading
statement or representation, oral or written, in support of any
claim for a bonus under the provisions of this act, shall be
guilty of a felony, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be
punished by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not
less than one nor more than five years.
§11. Penalty for filing more than one application.
Only one application shall be filed by any veteran or by any
person who claims to be entitled to a share of the bonus payable
in the case of any deceased veteran. Any person who, with intent
to defraud, violates the provisions of this section shall be
guilty of a felony, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be
punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more
than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a state
correctional facility for not less than one nor more than two
years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
§12. Bonus payment not subject to taxation or legal process;
claim therefor not assignable.
The bonus provided by this act is hereby declared to be a
gift or gratuity made as a token of appreciation for the service
rendered by the veteran to the people of West Virginia in time of
grave national emergency and is in no sense compensation for such
services. The money received as such bonus shall be exempt from taxation and such money, or any claim therefor, shall not be
subject to garnishment, attachment or levy of execution. A claim
for payment of a bonus under the provisions of this act shall not
be assignable for any purpose whatsoever.
§13. Collection of fees or charges; penalty.
No fee or charge shall be made by any person, attorney,
agent or representative for any service in connection with the
filing of an application for payment of a bonus hereunder, except
such fees as are provided by law for the performance of official
duties by a duly elected or appointed officer of this state or a
political subdivision thereof. No person shall, for a
consideration, discount or attempt to discount or advance money
upon any warrant issued for payment of any bonus provided for in
If an applicant shall employ an attorney to represent him or
her in connection with the prosecution of his or her claim before
a board of review, or before the supreme court of appeals, the
attorney shall file with the director an executed copy of his or
her contract of employment, and the total amount of the fee
therein provided shall not exceed twenty-five percent of the
amount under dispute.
Any person who violates any provision of this section shall
be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall
be punished by fine of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more
than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county or regional jail for not less than ten days nor more than twelve
months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Note: The purpose of the bill is to provide the
administrative procedure for the application for and payment of
the veterans bonuses authorized by the constitutional amendment
(HJR114) ratified on November 2, 2004.