Senate Approves Sen. Bates and Atkins' Bill to Build Specialized Veteran Medical Facilities

Monday, May 1, 2017

The California State Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 197 today by Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), which would lower the cost of constructing medical facilities in California that serve veterans and active duty troops afflicted with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and related conditions. The bill will go to the State Assembly for its consideration.

“Today’s vote sends a strong message that California welcomes the construction of additional medical facilities that serve veterans and military personnel,” said Senator Bates. “I thank Senator Atkins for partnering with me to help ensure that more people receive the specialized treatment they need. We hope our Assembly colleagues will support our bill and send it to Governor Brown’s desk.”

Senator Atkins said, “I join Senator Bates in thanking our Senate colleagues for supporting this important, bipartisan legislation. Helping finance construction of medical facilities to treat our wounded service members who sacrifice so much for us is something everyone can get behind.”

SB 197 would waive state and local sales and use taxes for charitable organizations that purchase building materials and supplies to construct and equip military and veteran medical facilities, and donate those facilities to the U.S. Department of Defense for operation on federal land in California. The facilities must be used for research and treatment of medical conditions prevalent in military personnel.

The federal government is responsible for taking care of the medical needs of service members and veterans. However, there remains a need for additional facilities to serve those suffering from PTSD and other conditions. Non-profits such as the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) are helping to meet that need by constructing and donating facilities to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Since the facilities are constructed with private funds, they provide a way for Americans to personally support those who have served. The IFHF has completed facilities located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

A facility has already broken ground at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and planned future sites for facilities include Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which is in Senator Bates’ 36th Senate district and is next to Senator Atkins’ 39th district.

Maryland, Texas and Virginia have granted sales tax exemptions to charitable organizations for purchases of tangible personal property used to construct the facilities. These exemptions help ensure that every dollar spent goes towards construction. The desire to build a medical and rehabilitation facility at Camp Pendleton, and possibly additional facilities in the state, is an opportunity that both Senators Bates and Atkins believe that California should seize.

In March 2016, the IFHF asked the California Board of Equalization (BOE) to grant an exemption from paying state sales tax on purchases to help build the Camp Pendleton facility. The BOE denied the request citing that a charitable organization that would construct and donate a facility is considered the consumer of the tangible personal property it purchases.

California law already exempts various items from taxes, including the storage, use, or consumption of meals and food products that are furnished or served by any nonprofit veterans’ organization for the purpose of fundraising.