The State Departments and Veterans Omnibus Appropriation Bill includes the Senate’s budget recommendations to fund various state agencies including the Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Affairs, boards, and commissions.
The Department of Administration section of the bill streamlines the certification process for minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned small businesses in an effort to provide preferences to these businesses when they participate in procurement contracts with the state. These changes will merge the state requirements for certification with federal definitions.
The bill includes the Racing Commission’s request to alter the licensing fee structure to multi-year licenses and to have the ability to increase Class C license fees by removing the current $100 maximum for certain licensees, e.g. certain horse track vendors. The anticipated revenue in FY16-17 resulting from the fee increase is $182,000.
The bill provides $4 million to the Amateur Sports Commission for grants to refurbish and update ice hockey arenas across the state. Cooling systems and ice resurfacers are becoming out-of-date and these grants will help fund necessary infrastructure improvements.
The Gambling Control Board requested an increase in fees on charitable gambling organizations for increased regulatory oversight capacity. This bill does not increase the fees, but provides a General Fund appropriation in place of the fee increase of $790,000.
The Department of Military Affairs is appropriated $19.3 million each year for maintenance of facilities, operations, and enlistment incentives. $3 million for grants to local governments are provided for the additional costs associated with public safety workers leaving for military training or active duty responsibilities.
The Department of Veterans Affairs received $62.7 million for the FY16-17 biennium; that appropriation is divided between Veterans Programs and Veterans Service Organizations, and the bulk of the money is provided to Veterans homes. Policy changes within the Department of Veterans Affairs relate to the Support Our Troops Fund and would give the commissioner greater authority to administer grant dollars to organizations that improve the lives of veterans and their families.
The bill passed and has been sent to the Senate Floor. (S.F. 888)