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HOUSE Bill No. 1512 (LATER REDRAFTED AS SENATE BILL No. 436), RELATIVE TO
THE NOTICES TO BE GIVEN IN CERTAIN CASES OF MILITARY AID AND SOLDIERS' RELIEF. This bill in original form was House Bill No. 650, filed by the Department Legislative Committee. It provided that the soldiers' relief laws include the widows of Spanish or Civil War Veterans who had acquired a settlement in their own right under the laws of this Commonwealth prior to Aug. 12, 1916. Also, House Bill No. 960, which provided that where a soldier or his dependents should apply for aid in a town or city other than the one in which he or they had a settlement, the application must be taken and the State Aid Commissioner notified within three days, so that the veteran or his dependents would receive prompt aid from the city or town in which he or they had a settlement. These bills, House No. 650, 1512 and 960 in the final redraft were designated as Senate Bill No. 436, were engrossed in the Senate April 3, 1919, received in the House April 7, ordered to a third reading April 8, amended and engrossed April 16, and returned to the Senate, which non-concurred in the amendment April 22. Conference committees were appointed in both branches of the Legislature April 24, and the bill at this date (April 26) is now in the hands of a joint committee for action. The prospects of this bill are favorable, and I look for it to pass.
NATIONAL LEGISLATION. Your committee, as well as Department Headquarters, is on record at National Headquarters with 100 per cent rating as far as activities are concerned assisting in the passage of national legislation. We ask at this time that Camps as well as individual Comrades keep in touch with affairs for the benefit of themselves or their dependents, as well as for the World War veterans and their dependents until they are in an organization of their own. Bills and ideas relating to legislation to veterans or their dependents may be found in the “National Tribune," a paper whose staff is always favoring veteran legislation and promoting this work in its columns.
This paper has always been a strong advocate of our cause, and the price for a yearly subscription is within the bounds of every Comrade. We advise each Comrade in this Department to become a subscriber to this worthy paper.
In our efforts to have this Department effective in the progress of national legislation your committee received an offer of assistance from Sanger Camp 15 of Lynn in the use of their mimeograph machine in sending out our circulars to Camps, and the cost of this work was greatly reduced to your committee, giving it an opportunity to get in more work in helping those working for the interests of ourselves and our dependents at National Headquarters at Washington, D. C.
To explain all the work which your committee assisted in promoting would take up too much space, and for some of the report we will rely on the words to be spoken to you by the national representatives of our organization who have honored this convention with their presence and will address you later in the session.
We depend greatly on our Comrades and Camps to do their share in assisting us to promote favorable action in legislative matters, and we have no complaint to make, for in no other State in the Union could any more loyal Comrades be found than we have in the Department of Massachusetts, — always ready to assist and by their willingness help to promote the welfare of the organization.
Our successes were yours, and as Comrades we will continue to work together and reap successes of long-delayed legislation beneficial to all veterans and their dependents. Continue the good work and success will always be ours. The Legislative Committee of next term will take up the reins and drive on to prosperity in all affairs appertaining to national as well as departmental legislation.
One of the bills which your committee assisted the National Legislative Committee on was Senate Bill No. 4444 which follows: —
A BILL GRANTING PENSIONS TO THE WIDOWS AND MINOR CHILDREN OF DECEASED
SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AND MARINES OF THE WAR WITH SPAIN, THE INSURRECTION
IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND THE CHINA RELIEF EXPEDITION. Be it enacted, etc., That from and after the passage of this Act if any volunteer officer or enlisted man who served 90 days or more in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps of the United States, during the War with Spain or the Philippine Insurrection, between April 21, 1898, and July 4, 1902, inclusive, service to be computed from date of enlistment to date of discharge, or any officer or enlisted man of the Regular Establishment who rendered 90 days or more actual military or naval service in the United States Army, Navy, or Marine Corps in the War with Spain or the Philippine Insurrection between April 21, 1898, and July 4, 1902, inclusive, or as a participant in the Chinese Boxer Rebellion campaign between June 16, 1900, and Oct. 1, 1900, and who has been honorably discharged therefrom, has died or shall hereafter die leaving a widow without means of support other than her daily labor, and an actual net income not exceeding $250 per year, or leaving a minor child or children under the age of 16 years, such widow shall upon due proof of her husband's death, without proving his death to be the result of his Army or Navy service, be placed on the pension roll from the date of the filing of her application therefor under this Act, at the rate of $12 per month during her widowhood, and shall also be paid $2 per month for each child of such officer or enlisted man under 16 years of age, and in case of the death or remarriage of the widow, leaving a child or children of such officer or enlisted man under the age of 16 years, such pension shall be paid such child or children until the age of 16: Provided, That in case a minor child is insane, idiotic, or otherwise permanently helpless, the pension shall continue during the life of said child, or during the period of such disability, and shall commence from the date of application therefor after the passage of this Act: Provided, further, That said widow shall have married said officer or enlisted man previous to the passage of this Act: Provided, however, That this Act shall not be so construed as to reduce any pension under any Act, public or private.
SEC. 2. That no agent, attorney, or other person engaged in preparing, presenting, or prosecuting any claim under the provisions of this Act shall, directly or indirectly, contract for, demand, receive, or retain for such services in preparing, presenting, or prosecuting such claim a sum greater than $10, which sum shall be payable only on the order of the Commissioner of Pensions; and any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this section, or shall wrongfully withhold from the pensioner or claimant the whole or any part of a pension or claim allowed or due such pensioner or claimant under this Act, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall, for each and every offense, be fined not exceeding $500 or be imprisoned not exceeding one year, or both in the discretion of the court. (Approved July 16, 1918.
This bill was published as a part of the records of the convention of 1918, and though its inception was during that term, the actual work establishing this act was done by the National Legislative Committee of 1918 and 1919, and the efforts of your Department Legislative Committee of this term materially assisted in its favorable passage. This act became a law on July 16, 1918.
National Preference Act in Appointment in Executive Branches of Government.
Senator New of Indiana, a member of the United States Senate, and a Comrade of our organization, presented an amendment to the Census Appropriation Bill so that full preference shall be granted to honorably discharged soldiers, sailors and marines in all government establishments.
The law reads that in making appointments to clerical and other positions in the Executive branches of the government in the District of Columbia, or elsewhere, preference shall be given to honorably discharged soldiers, sailors and marines, and widows of such, and to wives of injured soldiers, sailors and marines who themselves are not qualified, but whose widows or wives are qualified, to hold such positions.
While the bill was in committee in United States Senate and House of Representatives this amendment was eliminated, and when the Appropriation Bill came up before Congress Commander-in-Chief Van Dyke, a member of Congress and of our organization, placed the so-called Van Dyke Amendment on it to give full preference in all government employment, and with the other twenty-five Comrades of the Spanish War who are members of Congress, fighting with him shoulder to shoulder, the amendment was passed with the magnificent vote of 144 for the amendment, and 1 against.
The one Congressman who voted in opposition, and who represented a district in the State of Ohio, was defeated as a candidate for re-election.
After the bill passed and became a law the National Civil Service Commission ruled that it only covered those employed in the District of Columbia. Later Congressman Dyer of Missouri, a Comrade of our organization, and Past Commanderin-Chief, representing his district from Missouri, under the Deficiency Appropriation Bill, amended it so as to read “or elsewhere," so the bill is now worded to take in and to apply to all parts of the United States. Under this act as it now reads, age, height and weight are eliminated for those entitled to the preference.
It has been brought to the attention of your committee that honorably released veterans are not included in this act, and as many of our Comrades who enlisted in the World War come under this heading, and instead of being granted an honorable discharge were given an honorable release for said service in the Naval Reserve Force, your Department Commander, who is at present a member of the National Legislative Committee, has requested National Headquarters to have the act further amended to read “and honorably released,” in order to protect those Comrades who will have to fill out an unexpired term in the Reserve Force before receiving their discharge.
Before closing I would like to inform the members in convention that previous to Senate Bill No. 4444 being accepted by National Headquarters much work was done by your committee on the so-called Brumbaugh Bill which was H. R. 13048, and which was referred to the Committee on Reform in the civil service and ordered to be printed. This was a fairly good bill, but the National Legislative Committee asked us to center our efforts on the passage of Senate Bill No. 4444, which was a better one.
Our work on national legislation made friends in this Department as well as in Washington, and as a Congressman of a near-by district in Massachusetts expressed it, when questioned by letter how he stood on H. R. 13048, which was then under consideration in Washington, he was flooded with letters from his constituents from Massachusetts asking him to favor this legislation. This flood of letters from his district was caused through the efforts of Department Headquarters and your Legislative Committee, who had his district circularized to get him to state his position. This Congressman stated, after many letters of inquiry as well as telegrams, that he would not only vote for the bill, but was considering legislation which he would propose himself and which was far better than that called for in H. R. 13048.
The committee is willing to leave it to your judgment whether its work on national legislation was a success or not.
PROPOSED BILLS AND HEARINGS. House Bill No. 651, relative to the Completion of Publication of Service Records of
those Persons serving in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps during the Spanish American War. This bill in its hearing stage before the Committee on Military Affairs was acted favorably upon, and was referred to House Ways and Means Committee on March 19, 1919.
The bill was endorsed and highly recommended for its favorable report in this committee by a comrade of United Spanish War Veterans, former Adjutant-General Gardner W. Pearson of this Commonwealth, by former Senator Cross, Comrade General Frederick E. Pierce, Adjutant-General Stevens, Representative Wells, as well as Comrade C. Raymond of the State Treasurer's office, who is an expert on State finance. The last-named Comrade endorsed this act as a citizen, and recorded in favor, as well as all others named above.
The bill is at present in the hands of the House Ways and Means Committee who have promised a favorable report, and it will be recommended to be included in the next budget, which is being compiled. We have requested this committee to release the bill with a favorable report as soon as possible. This bill without a doubt will be acted on favorably.
Bill for Bonus of $100 for Veterans of World War. Your Department Commander and the chairman of the Department Legislative Committee recorded in favor of this bill before House Ways and Means Committee. We were the only organization recorded in favor, assisted by our Comrades and friends in both branches of the Legislature, at this hearing.
Bill for Exemption of Poll Tax for Veterans.
Bill for Appointment of Soldiers' Memorial Commission. House Bill No. 1692 provided for the appointment of a Soldiers' Memorial Commission and for the selection of a site and the collection of funds for the construction of a building in memory of Massachusetts men who served in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States in time of war. It was referred to House Ways and Means Committee April 24, 1919. This bill provides for representatives from Civil, Spanish and World War Veterans, and your organization appeared in favor of its passage. It is at present in the hands of the Ways and Means Committee.
Legislation concerning Aliens. Your organization was represented at hearings on numerous bills and resolutions referring to aliens, as well as those referring to the status of conscientious objectors and others, and is recorded on same.
Homestead Bills for Veterans.
Resolution of House to petition Congress for six Months' pay for Veterans of World
War. This resolution, House Bill No. 1280, came up for hearing, and your committee spoke and recorded in favor of same, and did everything in its power to promote its passage.
House Bill No. 1592, relative to a Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial, and Appropriation
for Same. On this bill your committee recorded in favor.
You will see by following this report that there were numerous bills and resolves which your committee worked on and assisted in the passage of which are made a part of our report. We include them for the reason your committee was instructed by the Department Encampment to publish all legislation as mentioned in the records, as important measures were about to become law, and it was the intention of the Encampment, no doubt, to give your committee the credit of its efforts in promoting this legislation.
This has been a very active year, as legislation for the veterans was being acted on every day in the House and Senate, and a daily appearance of your committee with the Department Commander at the State House was necessary in order to protect our rights as veterans.
Almost every Representative of this Commonwealth, as well as others, had a bill before either branch of the Legislature, and it was a complicated job to place engagements so as to be at the different hearings, two or three of same being called at different committee rooms at the same hour.
We advise our Comrades to protect and file safely the report of this term, especially on account of the beneficial legislation enacted, as it is a valuable asset to our organization, and every law as it has been filed or amended will be found printed on its pages.