2021 State MOAA Legislative Report
Article by : COL Michael Padgett, USA (Ret) WNC MOAA State Legislative Affairs Chair
Since our last report in 2020, the NC Council of Chapters (NCCOC) Legislative Affairs committee has been attempting to clarify the critical times required for contacts with our 10 State Representatives and 4 State Senators from Western NC.
As far as timing, the critical thing is to get our WNC MOAA state legislative priorities to our respective state Representatives and Senators before their yearly duties begin in January of each new year, especially following an election year. The second year, the nonelection year, all we need to do is to update the legislators of the progress for the previous year and inform the legislators of what our new priorities are in light of whatever progress was made the previous year.
Prior to that, though, we need to determine what our WNC MOAA priorities are. WNC MOAA President, Donna Culp sent out an email describing how we did this last year, stating that Michael Padgett, as our chapter lead for State Legislative matters, determined those priorities. That is only part of the process. A more detailed discussion follows:
First, in coordination with the NCCOC Legislative Affairs committee, Michael, Donna, and WNC MOAA Federal Legislative Affairs chair Vivianne Wersel reviewed the national priorities. Next, we reviewed recommendations provided to us by the State MOAA Legislative folks, led by Iggi Husar. Then, Michael recommended we focus our priorities on three areas, two of which matched the State and National priorities. The third priority, exemption from NC State income tax on retired military pay, was initially advocated by our State MOAA and many of our state MOAA Chapters, but for some reason, the State MOAA Legislative folks dropped it from the State priorities. Several NC MOAA Chapters voiced strong objection to the omission, which resulted in the State MOAA President, Jim Brumit, declaring that each State MOAA Chapter would decide whether to include the taxation issue as a priority for itself. Thirty-three other States already have passed similar legislation. Michael consolidated all of the information into a briefing, with the three priorities for our Chapter, and sent it to Vivianne and Donna for review and approval. Both approved, and the packages for our priorities were sent to all State Legislators representing WNC in March 2021. Due to our earlier efforts to establish personal meetings with each of the 14 Legislators over the summer (with around 8 of the 14 meetings accomplished), 6 of the 14 responded with positive notes indicating their intent to support our priorities in this year’s Legislature. We believe the rest took note as well, but just did not respond directly to us.
Follow ups are planned for the rest of this year.
Donna then decided on a second action that we hope will help us achieve the MOAA priorities for WNC Veterans. She requested Michael draft a letter that she could send to all of our Chapter members so that they could use it as a format for their own State Representative and Senator. This was done in March and April. The belief is the more of our membership to encourage making NC a military-friendly state the better.
For the remainder of the year, we will continue to try to reach all 14 State Legislators to discuss the priorities and progress toward the same. The virus stopped us in our tracks with face-to-face meetings and most other direct contacts other than email, but we are getting back to normal now for the remainder of the year!