WHEREAS, the State of Delaware has no single State Commission established by statute, to represent and advise Veterans of the Armed Services, their dependents and survivors, on matters pertaining to education, employment, health, and financial support and to assist them in securing the benefits and privileges authorized them under State and Federal law; and
WHEREAS, previous measures such as SIR 26* 129th General Assembly and Executive Order No. 67 were directives of a transitory nature; and
WHEREAS, the Veterans of Delaware are desirous of a permanent body to represent their interest in State government.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Title 29 of the Delaware Code. Chapter 87 by adding new sections 8720 through 8725 to read as follows:
"§8720. Delaware Commission on Veterans' Affairs - Establishment, Composition, Powers
(a) There is hereby established The Delaware Commission of Veterans' Affairs, hereafter referred to as the 'Commission'.
(b) The Commission shall be composed of II members, who shall be veterans appointed by the Governor for four year terms, except that initial appointments to the Commission shall consist of four veterans to serve four year terms, four veterans to serve three year terms, and three veterans to serve two year terms. Thereafter, all terms shall be for four years. During the course of a member's term. they must remain members in good standing of the nominating organization. If a vacancy occurs. the new appointment shall be for the balance of the original term. The Governor shall make all appointments to the Commission from lists containing at least three name* of members recommended by each of the statewide veterans membership organizations incorporated in the State of Delaware, chartered by Congress, or authorized under Title 38 United States Code, to represent veterans in Delaware. The Governor shall select one member from each list submitted by the statewide veterans membership organizations. For purposes of this Section, a veteran h any person who has served honorably on active duty in the U. S. Army. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp or the Coast Guard for a minimum period of two years and has been honorably discharged or relieved from active duty. The minimum period of two years of active duty may be waived it: (1) Earlier release was granted because the individual was wounded or injured in the line of duty and rendered unfit for further service: or (2) the individual was released prior to two years of active duty for the convenience of the government.
§8721. Duties and Responsibilities
(a) The Commission shall assume all duties and responsibilities of the current appointed Veterans Affairs Committee.
(b) With the concurrence of the Secretary of State, the Commission shall hire through the State Merit System employment process and employ an Executive Secretary and a clerical assistant to perform those duties prescribed by the Commission. All employees of the Commission, including the Executive Secretary, shall be veterans as defined in 58720 (b) of this Title. Said employees shall report to the Secretary of State on all administrative matters and shall report to the Commission on all substantive matters.
(c) The Commission shall consult with and advise the Department of State with respect to establishment and administration of the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
(d) The Commission shall establish a repository for all Veterans' Statement of Service' or similar documentary verification of Active Armed Service.
(e) The Commission shall represent the State of Delaware in concert with other States' Veterans Agencies and the U. S. Veterans Administration on matters of mutual interest and concern.
(1) The Commission shall coordinate with and, if requested, advise all departments and agencies of the State of Delaware on all matters pertaining to education, training, employment, medical, and financial benefit programs for veterans, their dependents, and survivors.
(g) The Commission shall initiate, review, and/or sponsor State legislation pertaining to veterans.
(h) The Commission and/or its executive secretary shall augment, not replace, nor infringe upon the functions of the service officers (representatives) of Veterans Organizations.
(I) The Commission shall submit to the Governor and to the General Assembly an annual report of the Commission's activities and recommendations.
The Commission is hereby authorized to develop and promulgate bylaws, rules and regulations not inconsistent with the law, which are necessary for the enforcement and implementation of the provisions of this Act and all applicable Federal rules and regulations.
§8723. Organization and Operation
(a) Any veterans organization as defined in Section 8720 (b) of this Title may petition the Governor to remove from the Commission, a member which said organization recommended, provided the reasons for said removal are clearly stated in said petition.
(b) In the event any Commissioner falls to attend three successive scheduled meetings without just cause such failure shall be sufficient grounds for the representative of the particular Veterans Organization to be removed by the Governor.
(c) Prospective members of the Commission shall be recommended by the respective veterans organizations and appointed by the Governor as vacancies occur.
(d) The names of prospective members of the Commission shall be submitted to the Governor by letter from the senior official of each respective statewide veterans organization.
(e) The members of the Commission shall elect one of their members to serve as Chairperson and one as Vice-Chairperson who shall not serve consecutive terms. Such elections shall be held annually in September.
(f) The Chairperson and Vice Chairperson shall serve as voting members of the Commission.
(g) The Executive Secretary shall attend all meetings of the Commission, keep a full and true record of its proceedings, preserve at its general office all its books, documents, and papers, and perform such other duties as the Commission may prescribe.
(h) The Commission shall hold monthly meetings at such time and location as prescribed by the Chairperson. Special meetings may be called by the Chair or a majority of the Commission membership.
(i) A quorum shall consist of a simple majority of the Commission members.
U) Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation except that they may be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary travel expenses incident to their duties as members of the Commission to the extent that funds are available and in accordance with State law.
(k) The Commission's Executive Offices shall be located in Dover. Delaware. §8724. Fur jding
Annually, the Commission shall submit a proposed budget to the Department of State for review and approval by that Department. The Department of State shall then recommend to the General Assembly that the Commission's budget be included as a line Item within said Department's funding.
§8725. Relationship to Other State Agencies
(a) Unless otherwise indicated, the duties, responsibilities and authority set forth in the preceding Sections 8721 and 8723 of this Chapter are reserved specifically to the Commission.
(b) The Commission may request the advice, opinion, or assistance of other appropriate State agencies as necessary to properly discharge its duties and responsibilities.
(c) The Department of State shall provide reasonable office and meeting facilities and other logistic support as requested by the Commission.
(d) The Department of State shall maintain an overview of the Commission's operation in order to insure proper use of, and accountability for, State funds appropriated for that purpose."
Section 2. This Act shall take effect immediately upon its enactment into law.