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SENATE DOCKET, NO.                 FILED ON: 3/21/2012

SENATE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2193

 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand Twelve

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An Act relative to veterans' access, livelihood, opportunity, and resources.
 

              Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide benefits to certain veterans and servicemembers, therefore, it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

                          SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as "The VALOR Act".            

                          SECTION 2. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 15D the following chapter:-

                                                  Chapter 15E

                          Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

                          Section 1. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

                          “Active duty”, full-time duty status in the active uniformed service of the United States, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders pursuant to 10 U.S.C. section 1209 and 1211.

                          “Children of military families”, a school-aged child, enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12, in the household of an active duty member.

                          "Compact commissioner”, the voting representative of each compacting state appointed pursuant to section 7 of this compact.

                          “Deployment”, the period 1 month prior to the service members’ departure from the members’ home station on military orders to 6 months after returning to the members’ home station.

                          “Education records”, those official records, files and data directly related to a student and maintained by the school or local education agency, including, but not limited to, records encompassing all the material kept in the student's cumulative folder such as general identifying data, records of attendance and of academic work completed, records of achievement and results of evaluative tests, health data, disciplinary status, test protocols and individualized education programs.

                          “Extracurricular activities”, a voluntary activity sponsored by the school or local education agency or an organization sanctioned by the local education agency. Extracurricular activities include, but are not limited to, preparation for and involvement in public performances, contests, athletic competitions, demonstrations, displays and club activities.

                          “Interstate commission on educational opportunity for military children” or “interstate commission”, the commission that is created under section 9 of this compact.

                          “Local education agency”, a public authority legally constituted by the state as an administrative agency to provide control of and direction for kindergarten through grade 12 public educational institutions.

                          “Member state”, a state that has enacted this compact.

                          “Military installation”, a base, camp, post, station, yard, center, homeport facility for any ship or other activity under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense, including any leased facility, which is located within any of the several states, the District of Columbia, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas Islands and any other U.S. territory. Such term does not include any facility used primarily for civil works, rivers and harbors projects or flood control projects.

                          “Non-member state”, a state that has not enacted this compact.

                          “Receiving state”, the state to which a child of a military family is sent, brought or caused to be sent or brought.

                          “Rule”, a written statement by the interstate commission promulgated under section 12 of this compact that is of general applicability, implements, interprets or prescribes a policy or provision of the compact or an organizational, procedural or practice requirement of the interstate commission and has the force and effect of statutory law in a member state, and includes the amendment, repeal or suspension of an existing rule.

                          “Sending state”, the state from which a child of a military family is sent, brought or caused to be sent or brought.

                          “State”, a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas Islands and any other U.S. territory.

                          “Student”, the child of a military family for whom the local education agency receives public funding and who is formally enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.

                          “Transition”, the formal and physical process of transferring from school to school or the period of time in which a student moves from one school in the sending state to another school in the receiving state.

                          “Uniformed services”, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, including the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Public Health Services.

                          “Veteran”, a person who served in the uniformed services and who was discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.

                          Section 2. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b), this compact shall apply to the children of:

                                      (1) active duty members of the uniformed services;

                                      (2) members or veterans of the uniformed services who are severely injured and medically discharged or retired, for a period of 1 year after medical discharge or retirement; and

                                      (3) members of the uniformed services who die on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained on active duty, for a period of 1 year after death.

                          (b) This interstate compact shall only apply to local education agencies.

                          (c) This compact shall not apply to the children of:

                                      (1) inactive members of the national guard and military reserves;

                                      (2) members of the uniformed services now retired, except as provided in subsection (a)

                                      (3) veterans of the uniformed services, except as provided in subsection (a); and

                                      (4) other U.S. Department of Defense personnel and other federal agency civilian and contract employees not defined as active duty members of the uniformed services.

                          Section 3. (a) If official education records cannot be released to the parents for the purpose of transfer, the custodian of the records in the sending state shall prepare and furnish to the parent a complete set of unofficial education records containing uniform information as determined by the interstate commission. Upon receipt of the unofficial education records by a school in the receiving state, the school shall enroll and appropriately place the student based on the information provided in the unofficial records pending validation by the official records, as soon as possible.

                          (b) Simultaneous with the enrollment and conditional placement of the student, the school in the receiving state shall request the student’s official education records from the school in the sending state. Upon receipt of this request, the school in the sending state shall process and furnish the official education records to the school in the receiving state within 10 days or within such time as is reasonably determined under the rules promulgated by the interstate commission.

                          (c) Compacting states shall give 30 days from the date of enrollment or within such time as is reasonably determined under the rules promulgated by the interstate commission for students to obtain any immunizations required by the receiving state. For a series of immunizations, initial vaccinations shall be obtained within 30 days or within such time as is reasonably determined under the rules promulgated by the interstate commission.

                          (d) Students shall be allowed to continue enrollment at the grade level in the receiving state that is equal with the grade level from the local education agency in the sending state at the time of transition, regardless of age. A student that has satisfactorily completed the prerequisite grade level in the local education agency in the sending state shall be eligible for enrollment in the next highest grade level in the receiving state, regardless of age. A student transferring after the start of the school year in the receiving state shall enter the school in the receiving state at the level validated by an accredited school in the sending state.

                          Section 4. (a) When a student transfers before or during the school year, the receiving state school shall initially honor placement of the student in educational courses based on the student’s enrollment in the sending state school or educational assessments conducted at the school in the sending state if the courses are offered and space is available. Course placement shall include, but not be limited to, honors, international baccalaureate, advanced placement, vocational, technical and career pathways courses. Continuing the student’s academic program from the previous school and promoting placement in academically and career challenging courses should be paramount when considering placement. This shall not preclude the school in the receiving state from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement and continued enrollment of the student in the courses.

                          (b) The receiving state school shall initially honor placement of the student in educational programs based on current educational assessments conducted at the school in the sending state or participation or placement in like programs in the sending state. Such programs shall include, but not be limited to: (i) gifted and talented programs; and (ii) English as a second language programs. This shall not preclude the school in the receiving state from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement of the student.

                          (c) In compliance with the federal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C.A. section 1400 et seq, the receiving state shall initially provide comparable services to a student with disabilities based on the student’s: (i) current individualized education program; (ii) in compliance with the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.A. Section 794; and (iii) in compliance with title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. sections 12131-12165. The receiving state shall make reasonable accommodations and modifications to address the needs of incoming students with disabilities, subject to an existing 504 or title II plan, to provide the student with equal access to education. This shall not preclude the school in the receiving state from performing subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement of the student.

                          (d) Local education agency administrative officials shall have flexibility in waiving course or program prerequisites or other preconditions for placement in courses or programs offered under the jurisdiction of the local education agency.

                          (e) A student whose parent or legal guardian is an active duty member of the uniformed services, and has been called to duty for, is on leave from or immediately returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting, may be granted additional excused absences at the discretion of the local education agency superintendent to visit with that parent or legal guardian on leave or preparing for or returning from deployment.

                          Section 5. (a) The following shall be required to be eligible for enrollment in the receiving state’s school:

                                      (1) Special power of attorney, relative to the guardianship of a child of a military family and executed under applicable law, shall be sufficient to enroll or take any other action requiring parental participation and consent under this compact.

                                      (2) A local education agency shall not charge local tuition to a transitioning military child placed in the care of a non-custodial parent or other person standing in loco parentis who lives in a jurisdiction other than that of the custodial parent.

                                      (3) A transitioning military child placed in the care of a non-custodial parent or other person standing in loco parentis who lives in a jurisdiction other than that of the custodial parent, may continue to attend the school in which the child was enrolled while residing with the custodial parent.

                          (b) State and local education agencies shall facilitate the opportunity for transitioning military children’s inclusion in extracurricular activities, regardless of application deadlines, to the extent the children are otherwise qualified.

                          Section 6. To facilitate the on-time graduation of children of military families, state and local education agencies shall incorporate the following procedures:

                          (a) Local education agency administrative officials shall waive specific courses required for graduation if similar course work has been satisfactorily completed in another local education agency or shall provide reasonable justification for denial. Should a waiver not be granted to a student who would otherwise qualify to graduate from the sending school, the local education agency shall provide an alternative means of acquiring required coursework so that graduation may occur on time.

                          (b) Receiving states may accept exit or end-of-course exams required for graduation from the sending state or national norm-referenced achievement tests or alternative testing, in lieu of testing requirements for graduation in the receiving state; require the student to take scheduled exit test in the receiving state, if the student is able to take the tests prior to the end of grade12; or accept evidence or information from the sending or receiving district that demonstrates that the student has met the receiving state’s graduation standard, either through a transcript of courses taken and grades received from the sending and or receiving district; a portfolio of work samples for the student that addresses the required high school standards; standardized norm-referenced test results in the subject required by the receiving state for graduation; or other relevant information.

                          (c) Should a military student transferring at the beginning or during grade 12 be ineligible to graduate from the receiving local education agency after all alternatives in subsection (b) have been considered, the sending and receiving local education agencies shall ensure the receipt of a diploma from the sending local education agency, if the student meets the graduation requirements of the sending local education agency. In the event that either the transferring or receiving state is not a member of this compact, the member state shall use best efforts to facilitate the on-time graduation of the student under subsections (a) and (b).

                          Section 7. (a) Each member state shall, through the creation of a state council or use of an existing body or board, provide for the coordination among its agencies of government, local education agencies and military installations concerning the state’s participation in and compliance with this compact and interstate commission activities. While each member state may determine the membership of its own state council, the membership shall include at least: (i)the state secretary of education; (ii) a superintendent of a school district with a high concentration of military children; (iii) a representative from a military installation; (iv) 1 representative from the legislature; (v) 1 representative from the executive branch; and (vi) other offices and stakeholder groups that the state council deems appropriate. A member state that does not have a school district deemed to contain a high concentration of military children may appoint a superintendent from another school district to represent local education agencies on the state council.

                          (b) The state council of each member state shall appoint or designate a military family education liaison to assist military families and the state in facilitating the implementation of this compact.

                          (c) The compact commissioner responsible for the administration and management of the state's participation in the compact shall be appointed by the governor or as otherwise determined by each member state.

                          (d) The compact commissioner and the military family education liaison designated under this compact shall be ex-officio members of the state council, unless either is already a full voting member of the state council.

                          Section 8. The compacting states hereby create the interstate commission on educational opportunity for military children. The activities of the interstate commission are the formation of public policy and are a discretionary state function. The interstate commission shall:

                          (a) be a body corporate and joint agency of the member states and shall have all the responsibilities, powers and duties set forth in this compact, and such additional powers as may be conferred upon it by a subsequent concurrent action of the respective legislatures of the member states under the terms of this compact;

                          (b) consist of 1 interstate commission voting representative from each member state who shall be that state’s compact commissioner;

                          (c) entitle each member state represented at a meeting of the interstate commission to 1 vote;

                          (d) require a majority of the total member states to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, unless a larger quorum is required by the by-laws of the interstate commission;

                          (e) prohibit the delegation of a vote from 1 member state to another member state; provided, that in the event the compact commissioner is unable to attend a meeting of the interstate commission, the governor or state council may delegate voting authority to another person from their state for a specified meeting;

                          (f) allow the by-laws to provide for meetings of the interstate commission to be conducted by telecommunication or electronic communication;

                          (g) consist of ex-officio, non-voting representatives who are members of interested organizations. Such ex-officio members, as defined in the by-laws, may include, but shall not be limited to, members of the representative organizations of military family advocates, local education agency officials, parent and teacher groups, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Education Commission of the States, the Interstate Agreement on the Qualification of Educational Personnel and other interstate compacts affecting the education of children of military members.

                          (h) meet at least once each calendar year; provided, that the chairperson may call additional meetings and, upon the request of a simple majority of the member states, shall call additional meetings;

                          (i) establish an executive committee, whose members shall include the officers of the interstate commission and such other members of the interstate commission as determined by the by-laws. Members of the executive committee shall serve a 1-year term. Members of the executive committee shall be entitled to 1 vote each. The executive committee shall have the power to act on behalf of the interstate commission, with the exception of rulemaking during periods when the interstate commission is not in session. The executive committee shall oversee the day-to-day activities of the administration of the compact including enforcement and compliance with the compact, its by-laws and rules and other such duties as deemed necessary. The U.S. Department of Defense shall serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the executive committee;

                          (j) establish by-laws and rules that provide for conditions and procedures under which the interstate commission shall make its information and official records available to the public for inspection or copying. The interstate commission may exempt from disclosure the information or the official records that would adversely affect personal privacy rights or proprietary interests;

                          (k) give public notice of all meetings and all meetings shall be open to the public, except as set forth in the rules or as otherwise provided in the compact. The interstate commission and its committees may close a meeting, or a portion of a meeting, when the commission or committee determines by a two-thirds vote that an open meeting would likely:

                                      (1) relate solely to the interstate commission’s internal personnel practices and procedures;

                                      (2) disclose matters specifically exempted from disclosure by federal and state statute;

                                      (3) disclose trade secrets or commercial or financial information which is privileged or confidential;

                                      (4) involve accusing a person of a crime or formally censuring a person;

                                      (5) disclose information of a personal nature where disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

                                      (6) disclose investigative records compiled for law enforcement purposes; or

                                      (7) relate specifically to the interstate commission’s participation in a civil action or other legal proceeding;

                          (l) cause its legal counsel or designee to certify that a meeting may be closed and shall reference each relevant exemptible provision for any meeting or portion of a meeting which is closed under this clause. The interstate commission shall keep minutes which shall clearly describe all matters discussed in a meeting and shall provide an accurate summary of actions taken and the reasons for those actions, including a description of the views expressed and the record of a roll call vote. All documents considered in connection with an action shall be identified in the minutes. All minutes and documents of a closed meeting shall remain under seal, subject to release by a majority vote of the interstate commission;

                          (m) collect standardized data concerning the educational transition of the children of military families under this compact, as directed through its rules which shall specify the data to be collected, the means of collection and data exchange and reporting requirements. Such methods of data collection, exchange and reporting shall, as much as reasonably possible, conform to current technology and coordinate its information functions with the appropriate custodian of records as identified in the by-laws and rules;

                          (n) create a process that permits military officials, education officials and parents to inform the interstate commission of alleged violations of the compact, its rules or when issues subject to the jurisdiction of the compact or its rules are not addressed by the state or local education agency. This section shall not be construed to create a private right of action against the interstate commission or any member state.

                          Section 9. The interstate commission may:

                          (a) provide for dispute resolution among member states;

                          (b) issue, upon request of a member state, advisory opinions concerning the meaning or interpretation of the interstate compact, its by-laws, rules and actions;

                          (c) enforce compliance with the compact provisions and the rules promulgated by the interstate commission and in the by-laws through the use all necessary and proper means, including, but not limited to, the use of the judicial process;

                          (d) establish and maintain offices, which shall be located within 1 or more of the member states;

                          (e) purchase and maintain insurance and bonds;

                          (f) borrow, accept, hire or contract for services or personnel;

                          (g) establish and appoint committees including, but not limited to, an executive committee as required by paragraph 9 of subsection (a) of section 8;

                          (h) elect or appoint officers, attorneys, employees, agents or consultants and fix the compensation, define the duties and determine the qualifications for those positions;

                          (i) establish the interstate commission’s personnel, policies and programs relating to conflicts of interest, rates of compensation and qualifications of personnel;

                          (j) accept any and all donations and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials and services and to receive, utilize and dispose of it;

                          (k) lease, purchase, own, hold, improve, use or accept contributions of or donations of any property, real, personal or mixed;

                          (l) sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, abandon or otherwise dispose of any property, real, personal or mixed;

                          (m) establish a budget and make expenditures;

                          (n) adopt a seal and by-laws governing the management and operation of the interstate commission;

                          (o) report annually to the legislatures, governors, judiciary and state councils of the member states concerning the activities of the interstate commission during the preceding year and the reports shall include recommendations that may have been adopted by the interstate commission;

                          (p) coordinate education, training and public awareness regarding this compact and its implementation and operation for officials and parents or guardians impacted by this compact;

                          (q) establish uniform standards for the reporting, collecting and exchanging of data;

                          (r) maintain corporate books and records in accordance with the by-laws;

                          (s) perform the functions necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of this compact; and

                          (t) provide for the uniform collection and sharing of information between and among member states, schools and military families under this compact.

                          Section 10. (a) The interstate commission shall, by a majority vote of the members present and voting and within 12 months after the first interstate commission meeting, adopt by-laws to govern the conduct that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this compact, which shall include, but not be limited to:

                                      (1) establishing the fiscal year of the interstate commission;

                                      (2) establishing an executive committee and other committees as may be necessary;

                                      (3) providing for the establishment of committees and for governing any general or specific delegation of authority or function of the interstate commission;

                                      (4) providing reasonable procedures for calling and conducting meetings of the interstate commission and ensuring reasonable notice of each meeting;

                                      (5) establishing the titles and responsibilities of the officers and staff of the interstate commission;

                                      (6)providing a mechanism for concluding the operations of the interstate commission and the return of surplus funds that may exist upon the termination of this compact after the payment and reserving of all of its debts and obligations;

                                      (7) providing start-up rules for initial administration of the compact.

                          (b) The interstate commission shall, by a majority of the members, elect annually from among its members a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a treasurer, each of whom shall have the authority and duties specified in the by-laws. The chairperson or, in the chairperson’s absence or disability, the vice-chairperson, shall preside at all meetings of the interstate commission. The elected officers shall serve without compensation or remuneration from the interstate commission; provided that, subject to the availability of budgeted funds, the officers shall be reimbursed for ordinary and necessary costs and expenses incurred by them in the performance of their responsibilities as officers of the interstate commission.

                          (c) The executive committee shall have such authority and duties as may be set forth in the by-laws, including, but not limited to: (i) managing the affairs of the interstate commission in a manner consistent with the by-laws and purposes of the interstate commission; (ii) overseeing an organizational structure within the interstate commission and establishing appropriate procedures for the interstate commission to provide for the creation of rules, operating procedures and administrative and technical support functions; and (iii) planning, implementing and coordinating communications and activities with other state, federal and local government organizations in order to advance the goals of the interstate commission.

                          (d)The executive committee may, subject to the approval of the interstate commission, appoint or retain an executive director for a period, during which the terms, conditions and compensation shall be set by the interstate commission . The executive director shall serve as secretary to the interstate commission, but shall not be a member of the interstate commission. The executive director shall hire and supervise other personnel when authorized by the interstate commission.

                          (e)The interstate commission’s executive director and its employees shall be immune from suit and liability, either personally or in their official capacity, for a claim for damage to or loss of property, personal injury or other civil liability caused by, arising out of or relating to an actual or alleged act, error or omission that occurred, or that such person had a reasonable basis for believing occurred, within the scope of interstate commission employment, duties or responsibilities; provided, that such person shall not be protected from suit or liability for damage, loss, injury or liability caused by the intentional or willful and wanton misconduct of such person.

                          (f)The liability of the interstate commission’s executive director, employees or representatives for acts, errors or omissions that occur while acting within the scope of employment and within such person’s state may not exceed the limits of liability set forth under the constitution and laws of that state for state officials, employees and agents. The interstate commission is considered to be an instrumentality of the states for the purposes of any such action. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to protect such person from suit or liability for damage, loss, injury or liability caused by the intentional or willful and wanton misconduct of such person.

                          (g)The interstate commission shall defend the executive director and its employees and, subject to the approval of the attorney general or other appropriate legal counsel of the member state represented by an interstate commission, shall defend interstate commission representatives in any civil action seeking to impose liability arising out of an actual or alleged act, error or omission that occurred within the scope of interstate commission employment, duties or responsibilities, or that the defendant had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of interstate commission employment, duties or responsibilities; provided, however, that the actual or alleged act error, or omission did not result from intentional or willful and wanton misconduct on the part of such person.

                          (h)To the extent that representatives and employees of the interstate commission are not covered by the state involved, the member state or the interstate commission, that representative or employee shall be held harmless in the amount of a settlement or judgment, including attorney’s fees and costs, obtained against such persons arising out of an actual or alleged act, error or omission that occurred within the scope of interstate commission employment, duties or responsibilities, or that such persons had a reasonable basis for believing occurred within the scope of interstate commission employment, duties or responsibilities; provided, however, that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from intentional or willful and wanton misconduct on the part of such persons.

                          Section 11. (a) The interstate commission shall promulgate reasonable rules in order to effectively achieve the purposes of this compact. In the event the interstate commission exercises its rulemaking authority in a manner that is beyond the scope or the powers granted in this act, then such an action by the interstate commission shall be invalid and have no force or effect.

                          (b) Rules shall be made pursuant to a rulemaking process that shall substantially, or as much as possible, conform with the Model State Administrative Procedure Act of 1981, uniform laws annotated, vol. 15, p.1 (2000) as amended.

                          (c) Not later than 30 days after a rule is promulgated, any person may file a petition for judicial review of the rule; provided, that the filing of such a petition shall not stay or otherwise prevent the rule from becoming effective unless the court finds that the petitioner has a substantial likelihood of success. The court shall give deference to the actions of the interstate commission consistent with applicable law and shall not find the rule to be unlawful if the rule represents a reasonable exercise of the interstate commission's authority.

                          (d) If a majority of the legislatures of the compacting states reject a rule by enactment of a statute or resolution, then such rule shall have no further force and effect in any compacting state.

                          Section 12. (a)  All courts shall take judicial notice of the compact and the rules in any judicial or administrative proceeding in a member state pertaining to the subject matter of this compact which may affect the powers, responsibilities or actions of the interstate commission.

                          (b) The interstate commission shall be entitled to receive all service of process in any such proceeding and shall have standing to intervene in the proceeding for all purposes. Failure to provide service of process to the interstate commission shall render a judgment or order void as to the interstate commission, this compact or promulgated rules.

                          (c) If the interstate commission determines that a member state has defaulted in the performance of its obligations or responsibilities under this compact, the by-laws or the promulgated rules, the interstate commission shall:

                                      (1) provide written notice to the defaulting state and other member states, of the nature of the default, the means of curing the default and any action taken by the interstate commission. The interstate commission shall specify the conditions by which the defaulting state must cure its default;

                                      (2) provide remedial training and specific technical assistance regarding the default; and

                                      (3) terminate a defaulting state from the compact if the defaulting state fails to cure the default and upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the member states, all rights, privileges and benefits conferred by this compact shall be terminated from the effective date of termination. A cure of the default shall not relieve the offending state of obligations or liabilities incurred during the period of the default.

                          (d) Suspension or termination of membership in this compact shall be imposed only after all other means of securing compliance have been exhausted. Notice of intent to suspend or terminate shall be given by the interstate commission to the governor and the majority and minority leaders of the defaulting state's legislature and each of the member states.

                          (e) The state which has been suspended or terminated shall be responsible for all assessments, obligations and liabilities incurred through the effective date of suspension or termination including obligations that require performance beyond the effective date of suspension or termination.

                          (f) The interstate commission shall not bear any costs relating to any state that has been found to be in default or which has been suspended or terminated from the compact, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon in writing between the interstate commission and the defaulting state.

                          (g) The interstate commission shall attempt, upon the request of a member state, to resolve disputes which are subject to the compact and which may arise among member states and between member and non-member states. The interstate commission shall promulgate a rule providing for both mediation and binding dispute resolution for disputes as appropriate.

                          (h)The interstate commission, in the reasonable exercise of its discretion, shall enforce this compact.

                          (i) The remedies in this section shall not be the exclusive remedies of the interstate commission. The interstate commission may avail itself of any other remedies available under state law or the regulation of a profession.

                          Section 13. (a) The interstate commission shall pay, or provide for the payment of, the reasonable expenses of its establishment, organization and ongoing activities.

                          (b) The interstate commission may levy on and collect an annual assessment from each member state to cover the cost of the operations and activities of the interstate commission and its staff which must be in a total amount sufficient to cover the interstate commission’s annual budget as approved each year. The aggregate annual assessment amount shall be allocated based upon a formula determined by the interstate commission, which shall promulgate a rule that is binding upon all member states.

                          (c) The interstate commission shall not incur obligations of any kind prior to securing the funds adequate to meet that obligation; nor shall the interstate commission pledge the credit of any of the member states, except by and with the authority of the member state.

                          (d) The interstate commission shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements. The receipts and disbursements of the interstate commission shall be subject to the audit and accounting procedures established under its by-laws. All receipts and disbursements of funds handled by the interstate commission shall be audited yearly by a certified or licensed public accountant and the report of the audit shall be included in and become part of the annual report of the interstate commission.

                          Section 14. (a) Any state shall be eligible to become a member state.

                          (b) The compact shall become effective and binding upon legislative enactment of the compact into law by no less than 10 states. The effective date shall be no earlier than December 1, 2007. Thereafter it shall become effective and binding as to any other member state upon enactment of the compact into law by that state. The governors of non-member states or the designees of non-member states shall be invited to participate in the activities of the interstate commission on a non-voting basis prior to adoption of the compact by all states.

                          (c)The interstate commission may propose amendments to the compact for enactment by the member states. No amendment shall become effective and binding upon the interstate commission and the member states unless it is enacted into law by unanimous consent of the member states.

                          Section 16. (a) Once effective, the compact shall continue in force and remain binding upon each and every member state; provided that a member state may withdraw from the compact by specifically repealing the statute that enacted the compact into law.

                          (b) Withdrawal from this compact shall be by the enactment of a statute repealing this compact, but shall not take effect until 1 year after the effective date of such statute.

                          (c) The withdrawing state shall immediately notify the chairperson of the interstate commission in writing upon the introduction of legislation repealing this compact in the withdrawing state. The interstate commission shall notify the other member states of the withdrawing state’s intent to withdraw within 60 days of receiving notice.

                          (d) The withdrawing state is responsible for all assessments, obligations and liabilities incurred through the effective date of withdrawal, including the performance of obligations which extend beyond the effective date of the withdrawal.

                          (e) Reinstatement following withdrawal of a member state shall occur upon the withdrawing state reenacting the compact or upon such later date as determined by the interstate commission.

                          Section 15. (a) This compact shall dissolve effective upon the date of the withdrawal or default of the member state which reduces the membership in the compact to 1 member state.

                          (b) Upon the dissolution of this compact, the compact becomes null and void and shall be of no further force or effect. The business and affairs of the interstate commission shall be concluded and surplus funds shall be distributed in accordance with the by-laws.

                          Section 17. (a)This compact shall be severable and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision is deemed unenforceable, the remaining provisions of the compact shall be enforceable.

                          (b) This compact shall be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes.

                          (c) Nothing in this compact shall be construed to prohibit the applicability of other interstate compacts to which the states are members.

                          Section 19. (a) Nothing in this compact shall prevent the enforcement of any other law of a member state that is not inconsistent with this compact.

                          (b) All member states' laws conflicting with this compact are superseded to the extent of the conflict.

                          Section 20. (a) All lawful actions of the interstate commission, including all rules and by-laws promulgated by the interstate commission, shall be binding upon the member states.

                          (b)All agreements between the interstate commission and the member states shall be binding in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

                          (c) In the event any provision of this compact exceeds the constitutional limits imposed on the legislature of any member state, such provision shall be ineffective to the extent of the conflict with the constitutional provision of that member state.

                          SECTION 3.  Section 40N of Chapter 7 of the general laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended, in line 11, after the word “business”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place thereof: “,”

                          SECTION 4. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended in line 11, by inserting after the word “businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 5.   Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 14, by inserting after the word “market”, the following: “; (6) minority, women and veterans business enterprises frequently face special handicaps and problems in achieving viable economic status; (7) the commonwealth is committed to creating a culture of inclusion that values and promotes non-discrimination, equal opportunity and diversity in all aspects of Commonwealth employment, business, programs, activities, and services”

                          SECTION 6. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 14, by inserting after the word “end,”, the following: “and in accordance with the powers and duties of the supplier diversity office, as set forth in section 61 of chapter 7,”

                          SECTION 7.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 14, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place thereof: “businesses,”

                          SECTION 8. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 15, by inserting after the word “businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 9.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended,  in line 21, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place thereof: “,”

                          SECTION 10.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended,  in line 21, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 11.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 58, by inserting after the word “project.”, a new paragraph as follows: ““Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business”, a business that is verified by the federal government’s Department of Veterans Affairs pursuant to the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, Pub. L. 109-461, the procurement program for verified service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses or veteran-owned small businesses, and determined to be a service-disabled veteran-owned small business concern in accordance with 38 CFR Part 74 and Pub. L. 111-275.”

                          SECTION 12.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 64, by inserting after the word “commonwealth;”, a new paragraph as follows: ““Supplier diversity office” or “SDO”, shall have the same meaning as found in section 58 of chapter 7.”

                          SECTION 13.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 75, after the words “director of the”, by striking out the words “state office of minority and women business assistance, may” and inserting in place thereof: “supplier diversity office, shall”

                          SECTION 14. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 77, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “businesses,”

                          SECTION 15. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 78, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 16. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 80, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “businesses,”

                          SECTION 17.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 80, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 18.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 81, by inserting after the words “building projects”, the following: “; and, in no case shall the participation goals established for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses be lower than the greater of the participation goals established for minority-owned and women-owned businesses”

                          SECTION 19. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 82, after the words “minority-owned business”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 20.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 83, by inserting after the word “business”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 21.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 84, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 22. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 84, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 23.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 89, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 24. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 89, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses; however, in no case shall the participation goals established for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses be lower than the greater of the participation goals established for minority-owned and women-owned businesses”

                          SECTION 25. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 89, after the word “the”, by striking out the words “state office of minority and women business assistance” and inserting in place thereof: “supplier diversity office”

                          SECTION 26. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 92, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 27. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, and further, in line 92, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 28.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 94, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 29. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 94, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”;

                          SECTION 30.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 95, after the word “of”, by striking out the word “SOMWBA” and inserting in place thereof: “SDO”

                          SECTION 31. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 100, after the word “of”, by striking out the words “state office of minority and women business assistance” and inserting in place thereof: “the supplier diversity office”

                          SECTION 32.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 101-102, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 33. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 102, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 34.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 108, by inserting after the word “year.”, the following: “The participation goals established for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses shall be no less than the greater of the participation goals established by the supplier diversity office for minority-owned and women-owned businesses for contracts awarded for capital facility projects and state assisted building projects in the calendar year.”

                          SECTION 35.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended,  in line 110, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the words “and for” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 36.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 110, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 37.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 112, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 38.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 113, by inserting after the word “businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 39.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 115, after the words “minority owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 40.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 115, by inserting after the words “women owned businesses,”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 41.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 119, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 42. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 120, by inserting after the word “businesses,”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 43.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 121, after the words “director of the”, by striking out the words “state office of minority and women business assistance” and inserting in place thereof: “supplier diversity office”

                          SECTION 44.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 124, after the words “minority-owned business”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 45. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 125, by inserting after the word “business,”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 46.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 125-126, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 47. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 126, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 48. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 134, after the words “program, the”, by striking out the words “state office of minority and women business assistance” and inserting in place thereof: “supplier diversity office”

                          SECTION 49. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 147, after the word “the”, by striking out the words “state office of minority and women business assistance” and inserting in place thereof: “supplier diversity office”

                          SECTION 50.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 155, after the words “minority owned business”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 51. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 155, by inserting after the words “women owned business”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 52.  Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 156, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “or” and inserting in place there of: “business,”

                          SECTION 53. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 156, by inserting after the words “women-owned business”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 54. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 159, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “businesses,”

                          SECTION 55. Said section 40N of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 159, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”.

                          SECTION 56. Section 61 of Chapter 7 of the general laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended, in line 29, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 57. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 29, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veteran”

                          SECTION 58. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 33, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 59. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 33, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veteran”

                          SECTION 60. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 37, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 61. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 37, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veteran”

                          SECTION 62. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 41-42, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 63. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 42, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veteran”

                          SECTION 64. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 42, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 65. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 42, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veteran”

                          SECTION 66. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 57, after the word “persons”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 67. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 57, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veterans”

                          SECTION 68. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 64, after the word “minority”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 69. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 64, by inserting after the word “women”, the following: “and veteran”

                          SECTION 70. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 80, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “businesses,”

                          SECTION 71. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 80, by inserting after the word “businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 72. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 82-83, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “business,”

                          SECTION 73. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 83, by inserting after the word “business”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 74. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 84-85, after the word “minority-owned business”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 75. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 85, by inserting after the words “women-owned business”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 76. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 86, after the word “businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 77. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 87, by inserting after the word “businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 78. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 104, after the words “minority owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 79. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 104, by inserting after the words “women owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 80. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 109, after the words “minority owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 81. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 109, by inserting after the words “women owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 82. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 114, after the words “women-owned businesses”, by striking out the words “or both” and inserting in place there of: “, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, or all three”

                          SECTION 83. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 116, after the words “minority-owned businesses”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 84. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 116, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 85. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 118, by inserting after the word “factors”, the following: “and in no case shall the participation goals established for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses be lower than the greater of the participation goals established for minority-owned and women-owned businesses”

                          SECTION 86. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 132, after the words “minority owned business”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “,”

                          SECTION 87. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 132, by inserting after the words “women owned business”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 88. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 133, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “or” and inserting in place there of: “business,”

                          SECTION 89. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 133, by inserting after the words “women-owned business”, the following: “or service-disabled veteran-owned small business”

                          SECTION 90. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 136, after the words “minority-owned”, by striking out the word “and” and inserting in place there of: “businesses,”

                          SECTION 91. Said section 61 of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby amended, in line 136, by inserting after the words “women-owned businesses”, the following: “and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses”

                          SECTION 92.  Section 35CC of chapter 10 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, after the word “families” in line 6,  the following words:- ,including the Gold Star Families of certain active duty members of the armed forces,

                          SECTION 93.  Said section 35CC of said chapter, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the third sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Revenues credited to the fund under this section shall remain in the fund, not subject to appropriation, for application to those purposes and for expenses related to the administration and operation of the fund.

                          SECTION 94.  Section 13 of chapter 130 of the acts of 2005 is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following sentence:- The Friends of the Massachusetts National Guard and Reserve Families, Inc. shall be recognized as a civilian first responder program for Massachusetts Gold Star Families.

                          SECTION 95.  Paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of section 14 of said chapter 130 of the acts of 2005 is hereby amended by striking out the words “name, address, rank and rating” and inserting in place thereof the following words:-  servicemember’s city or town .

                          SECTION 96.  Said section 14 of said chapter is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (b) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

              (b) The information provided pursuant to this section shall be public records.

                          SECTION 97.   Section 2 of Chapter 115 of the General laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official edition is hereby amended by inserting after paragraph one, the following:-

              “provided further, the secretary shall be a veteran, as defined in clause Forty-third of section 7 of chapter 4 of the Massachusetts General Laws.”

                          SECTION 98.   Section 67 of Chapter 146 of the General Laws, as so appearing in the 2008 official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following sentences:   Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, if the licensee is on active duty with the armed forces of the United States, as defined in clause Forty-third of section 7 of chapter 4 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the license shall remain valid until the licensee is released from active duty and for a period of not less than 90 days following said release. 

                          SECTION 99. Chapter 276A of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:- 

                          Section 10.   The probation officers of a district, municipal or superior court, or their official designee, when gathering information in accordance with section 85 of chapter 276 of the General Laws, shall, at or prior to arraignment of a defendant on a criminal complaint, make inquiry of the defendant as to whether he or she is a veteran or current servicemember of, or has a history of military service in, the armed forces of the United States.  The probation officers or their official designee shall screen the defendant for the purpose of enabling the judge at arraignment to consider the eligibility of the defendant for diversion to a program, or treatment as part of disposition.

                          If the defendant is determined to be a veteran, or current servicemember, or has a history of military service in the armed forces of the United States and is eligible for diversion or treatment, he or she may, at arraignment, be afforded a 14-day continuance by the court for the purpose of seeking an assessment by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the Massachusetts department of veterans’ services or another state or federal agency with suitable knowledge and experience of veterans affairs to provide the court with treatment options available to the defendant, including diversion programs, if appropriate; provided, however, that if the defendant has demonstrated symptomatology suggestive of a mental illness, a written report shall be prepared by a qualified psychiatrist or clinical psychologist or physician, in consultation with said Department of Veterans Affairs or the department of veterans’ services or another federal or state agency and said report shall be provided to the court to assist in sentencing or diversion. The court may consider the recommendations of any diagnosing or treating mental health professionals for the defendant for pre-trial diversion or the imposition of a sentence.

                          If a defendant chooses to accept the offer of a continuance for the purpose of such an assessment, he or she shall so notify the judge at arraignment. Upon receipt of such notification, the judge shall grant a 14-day continuance. The judge, through the probation office or its official designee, shall direct the defendant to an assessment program and shall inform said program of such action and require that the program provide the probation department and court with its findings. The judge may, in his or her discretion, grant a defendant who is preliminarily determined not to be eligible for pre-trial diversion, a 14-day continuance for assessment. In arriving at such a decision, the opinion of the prosecution should be taken into consideration. Such a continuance may be granted upon the judge’s own initiative or upon request by the defendant.

                          Section 10A.  The administrative office of the trial court shall, in consultation with the department of veterans services conduct a study and make recommendations relative to the adoption of a court training program to educate and assist court personnel, including court staff, probation officers, their designees, court officers, prosecutors, defense counsel, and judges in recognizing veterans issues and determining the appropriate treatment for veterans within the court.  The administrative office of the trial court shall file a report with recommendations for a court training program to the joint committee on the judiciary, the joint committee on veterans and federal affairs and the house and senate committees on ways and means no later than June 1, 2013.

                          Section 10B.  The administrative office of the trial court shall, in consultation with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and department of veterans’ services, conduct a study to examine the intake and review process and disposition, including treatment and diversion options, of veterans who face criminal complaints in the courts. The study shall include specific information including, but not limited to, the number of defendants who are veterans, servicemembers or have a history of military service who enter the courts of the commonwealth each year, the number who are eligible to enter treatment and diversion programs, the number screened and assessed for the purpose of being placed in a program, the number that successfully complete a program, the number that do not complete a program and the reason therefore, the number that are diverted to a program and obtain a dismissal of their court proceedings, and the number that enter and complete a program but reoffend and enter the criminal court system again within one year of successful completion.   A written report of the study’s findings shall set forth annual reporting requirements to be provided by the courts related to veterans in the criminal justice system. Said report shall be provided by the chief justice of administration and management to the department of veterans’ services, the joint committee on veterans and federal affairs and the joint committee on the judiciary by April 1, 2013.  Reporting shall be provided annually by the administrative office of the trial court to said department and said committees on or before December 1, 2013 of each year thereafter.

                          SECTION 100.   Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the board of trustees of the Home of the Brave, Inc., a 501(c)( 3) non-profit corporation, in sections 100 through 105 , inclusive , referred to as the corporation, may construct, purchase and operate public homes for veterans.  Such homes shall be considered “state veterans’ homes”.  The construction, purchase and operation of state veterans’ homes shall be funded from available federal and private funds.  The primary purpose of such state veterans’ homes is to provide support and care for honorably discharged veterans who served in the Armed Forces of the United States for no less than 180 days.

                          SECTION 101.   Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the corporation shall have, but shall not be limited to, the following powers:-

                          (a) to make and execute contracts and all other instruments necessary or convenient for the exercise of its powers and functions under sections 99 through 105, inclusive ;

                          (b) to acquire, in the name of the corporation, real or personal property of any interest therein, including rights or easements, on either a temporary or long-term basis by gift, purchase, transfer, foreclosure, lease or otherwise;

                          (c) to hold, sell, assign, lease, rent, encumber, mortgage or otherwise dispose of any real or personal property, or any interest therein, or mortgage interest owned by the corporation or in its control, custody or possession and release or relinquish any right, title, claim, lien, interest, easement or demand however acquired;

                          (d) to procure insurance against any loss in connection with its property and other assets in amounts and from insurers that it deems desirable;

                          (e) to receive, on behalf of the commonwealth, bequests and donations that may be made to improve the general comfort and welfare of the members of the state veterans’ homes or for the betterment of the state veterans’ homes ;

                          (f) to apply for, and receive, any grants-in-aid for which the corporation shall be eligible;

                          (g) to borrow funds, make and issue bonds and negotiate notes and other evidences of indebtedness or obligations for prudent and reasonable capital, operational and maintenance purposes on behalf of the state veterans’ homes ; provided that the corporation may secure payments of all or part of the obligations by pledge of part of the revenues or assets of the corporation that are available for pledge and that may be lawfully pledged or by mortgage of part, or all, of any property owned by the corporation; provided that the corporation may do all lawful things necessary and incidental to these powers; and provided that the corporation may borrow money from the federal government and its agencies, or from any other non-state sources.

                          (h) to take other actions necessary or convenient to exercise the powers granted or reasonably implied in this section.

                          SECTION 102.   The corporation shall appoint an administrator who shall be an honorably discharged veteran who shall administer the state veterans’ homes in accordance with the rules, guidelines and general policies established by the board of trustees of the corporation.  The administrator shall serve for an indefinite term, but may be removed for cause by the board of trustees.  The administrator’s salary shall be set by the board.  The administrator shall hire the necessary employees to operate the state veterans’ homes; provided, that said employees shall not be considered employees of the commonwealth.

                          SECTION 103.   Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, veterans desiring admission to the state veterans’ homes shall apply on forms prescribed by the administrator.  Admission shall be granted only to veterans who were residents of the commonwealth at time of entry into the armed forces or at the time of application for admission and to the spouses, widows or widowers of eligible veterans; provided that suitable facilities are available.  Parents of armed services members who are killed in action or die as a consequence of wounds received in battle are also eligible, as so called “Gold Star” parents, for admission.  Admission shall only be granted when the provisions of the rules governing private payment, Medicare and Medicaid eligibility to entitled persons are met; provided, however, that suitable facilities are available.  Each veteran admitted shall pay the state veterans’ home in which he resides, as determined by the board, the share of his maintenance costs that he can afford.    

                          SECTION 104.   Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, all unrestricted funds received by the corporation after the effective date of this act, including federal Veterans’ Administration stipend funds, shall be held in a permanent fund to be used as needed by the administrator for the support and maintenance of the state homes.  A percentage of these funds approved by the board of trustees must be placed in reserve for capital improvement expenditures.  Upon construction or purchase, the corporation shall operate the state homes as self-liquidating projects until all of the bonds issued pursuant to subsection (g) of section 100 are retired.  The corporation shall retain as direct income revenue any stipend funds it may receive from the federal Veterans’ Administration for the state veterans’ homes eligible resident population. 

                          SECTION 105.   The corporation shall report annually to the governor, the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on veterans and federal affairs on or before December 1.  The report shall contain statistics of all veterans who resided in the state veterans’ homes during the year and such other matters including, but not limited to the following: (1) analysis of funding sources (2) scheduled plan to date, including a schedule detailing commencement of services and associated costs pursuant to construction, purchase and operation of prospective facilities, (3) establishment of standards and any other related costs of the program including, but not limited to, evidence of capital, operational and maintenance indebtedness or obligations, (4) applications for any grants-in-aid for which the corporation shall be eligible, (5) administrative structure and personnel including salaries and benefits pursuant to section 101.

                          SECTION 106.   The corporation’s fiscal year shall be the same as the commonwealth’s.  The corporation shall adopt rules for the administration of the state veterans’ homes.  The corporation is subject to the provisions of chapter 180 of the General Laws.

                          SECTION 107.   There shall be a special commission to study and make recommendations pursuant to chapters 13 and 115 of the General Laws and titles 108 and 230 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, relative to the training and the certification, professional licensure or accreditation of veterans’ benefits and services officers.

                          The  committee shall consist of 7 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 president of the Mass. Veterans’ Service Agents Association, Inc. or a designee; the executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Inc. or a designee; and the veterans’ benefits and services commissioner in and for the city of Boston.

                          The commission shall review and analyze processes and procedures of the department of veterans’ services relative to the training or certification of veterans’ benefits and services officers; review and analyze processes and procedures of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs relative to the training and accreditation of representatives of veterans and military service organizations; review and analyze processes and procedures for the establishment of professional licensure for veterans’ benefits and services officers within the commonwealth; review and analyze the employment processes and procedures of cities and towns, veterans’ services districts and the county of Dukes County with respect to veterans’ benefits and services officers; analyze and project costs associated with each of these items; and compile and issue a report of the study with recommendations for legislation relative to the training and the certification, professional licensure or accreditation of veterans’ benefits and services officers.

                          The commission shall convene the first official meeting on or before August 1, 2012. The commission shall file the report of the study with recommendations for legislation not later than December 1, 2012 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.

                          As used in this section, the term “veterans’ benefits and services officers” shall include: (1) full‐time and part‐time veterans’ agents under chapter 115 of the General Laws, chapter 471 of the Acts of 1972, chapter 68 of the Acts of 1984 and title 108 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations; (2) full‐time directors of veterans’ services districts and full‐time and part‐time deputy directors or assistant directors of veterans’ services districts under chapter 115 of the General Laws, chapter 471 of the Acts of 1972, chapter 68 of the Acts of 1984 and title 108 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations; (3) county veterans’ agents under chapter 128 of the acts of 1982; and (4) the veterans’ benefits and services commissioner in and for the city of Boston under chapter 115 of the General Laws.

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