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6/19/2014 11:22:00 AM
Bill to help vets dies in committee
Brian King
Staff Writer

A bill that would have made military retirement pay exempt from state taxes in South Carolina died in the Senate finance committee after receiving unanimous support in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 3112, known as the Giving Back to Our Veterans Act, would have exempted retired active duty military veterans from state tax on their military retirement income. The economic impact of the bill would have been just $24 million according to Rep. Mike Pitts, who is known for his support of veterans and aggressively supported the legislation.

“It’s a common sense bill,” Pitts said of the legislation. “There is little to no negative economic impact on the budget directly and the money not being collected in income tax will be spent by those veterans in South Carolina. Our veterans deserve the tax break as just a small token of the state’s appreciation for their service to our country.”

The $24 million impact to the state budget represents just one-tenth of 1 percent of the South Carolina’s $24 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

Se. Billy O’Dell and Sen. Floyd Nicholson are members of both the Greenwood County state delegation and the Senate Finance Committee. Both senators said they would support the bill if the economic impact were not too great on the state and both said the bill was moved into a subcommittee other than their own prior to year’s session ending. The bill will have to be reintroduced in the House of Representatives during the next term.

“Anything we can do for the veterans, we should do,” O’Dell said. “I certainly would support the bill if it did not have a significantly negative fiscal impact on the state.”

Nicholson agreed with O’Dell.

“I think we should do anything we can for our veterans,” Nicholson said. “But we have to look at the fiscal impact also. I am supportive of veterans 100 percent.”

Carey Bolt, director of veteran affairs for Greenwood and Laurens counties, said he did not understand why the bill failed to move out of subcommittee.

“This is a bill that should have been passed,” Bolt said. “I don’t think they understand the retirement of a soldier, sailor, airman, marine or whatever the case may be is not overwhelming them with money. This bill needs to be passed as soon as possible.”

The bill would alleviate some financial strain on veterans, many of them over the age of 65, according to American Legion Post 20 commander Terry Weeks. Weeks said the tax relief would have been a small but much appreciated gesture.

“I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that the bill didn't make it into law,” Weeks.  “$24M is a small amount for the state to show appreciation for the sacrifices our veterans have made for this country.”

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Steve (Doc) Gambrell

Billy O'Dell, Floyd Nicholson---Your pushover jobs and duties, are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Why do we have a Constitution? Because SOMEBODY was willing to wear a uniform of our Armed Services, to protect and defend it. Even your right to spit in the faces of those Service Men and Women---were fought for---BLOOD of Americans has soaked into foreign soil. Have you two forgotten? How will you defend your actions, come Election time(They fought for that, too.) Mike Pitts, Carey Bolt, and Terry Weeks---Thank you gentlemen, for your support. Mr. Pitts, sir, I know your record. Mr. Bolt---I know the work you, and your people do for the vets. And the American Legion--Is there ANYTHING you guys won't do, for your fellow vets? "Old soldiers never die..." but they do. Billy, Floyd--I've got an appointment at the V.A. hospital in Columbia, on Friday. Why don't you two guys ride down with me? You'll see more honorable men there, in one day, than you'll see in the Capitol in a month.

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014
Article comment by: Warren Lockaby

"Giving Back to Our Veterans Act" is clearly a misnomer it should be "Stop Taking Money from Our Veterans Act". I agree, it should have passed, and those who held it up should be held back at the polls.

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: Mike McKinney

Yep, let's let those veterans have anything they want - right up to costing us anything. It's a lot easier to put up the sign saying: "Old Soldiers and Dogs Stay Off the Grass." Shame on you Senators.

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Article comment by: Roger Fain

The bill should be passed, but some of our so call politicians have no idea what some vets have gone through . Mr.pitts , nicholson and mr. Odell thank you for sticking up for vets.
If the state is worried so much about ,money raise the
tax on cigarettes ,alcohol and make people that ride mopeds ( DUI mobiles ) require a license and insurance this would bring in money , a golf has to have insurance and a sticker . Mopeds go faster than a golf cart
The system is hased up
This is just my opinion

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