There shall be a special commission to study and make recommendations pursuant to chapters 13 and 115 of the General Laws. The Commission shall study and evaluate current laws, regulations and practices related to providing services and other support to military veterans and to make recommendations to improve the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of state and local programs.
The committee shall consist of 11 members: 1 member of the senate who shall be the chair of the joint committee on veterans and federal affairs or a designee; who shall serve as co-chair of the commission; 1 member of the house of representatives who shall be the chair of the joint committee on veterans and federal affairs or a designee, who shall serve as co-chair of the commission; the secretary of the department of veterans’ services or a designee; the undersecretary of the office of consumer affairs and business regulation or a designee; the Secretary of Administration and Finance or a designee; the president of the Mass. Veterans’ Service Agents Association, Inc. or a designee; the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association or a designee; the president of the Local Officials Human Services Council or a designee; the veterans’ benefits and services commissioner in and for the city of Boston; and two unaffiliated veterans, acting as private citizens not employed by a city, town, or group providing services to veterans, appointed by the Governor with consideration to veterans disabled in combat since 2001.
The Commission shall study and evaluate all veterans within the Commonwealth, and analyze the current system for identifying veterans in need of services, providing, administering and financing services and access to services, and coordinating the actions of federal, state and local government agencies in a manner that is effective and efficient.
The Commission shall compare the services available to veterans with the number of identified veterans in need of services.
The Commission shall oversee two sub commissions. One sub commission shall be specifically dedicated to the study and evaluation of the resources available at public institutions of Higher Education for veterans and the graduation rate for veterans at public institutions of Higher Education within the Commonwealth. The second sub commission shall be dedicated to studying the experiences of veterans in the court system of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as related to diversion programs as defined by Section 10 of Chapter 266 of the General Laws. This commission shall study the success rate of diversion programs and how many veterans are served by these programs.
The Commission shall evaluate the fiscal impact on local government of the current system of municipal financing of veterans’ benefits subject to reimbursement through the state budget and of the rules governing state and local administration of the program. The Commission shall consider alternative methods of financing and administration, including regionalization, that would improve services to veterans, and be more efficient.
The Commission shall file the report of the study with recommendations for legislation no later than December 1, 2015 with the clerks of the house of representatives and senate who shall forward the same to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on veterans and federal affairs.
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