Jones introduces bill to clarify veterans club law

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Thursday turned in legislation that would restore a veterans group club’s ability to sell beer to members of another club.

The Liquor Control Commission (LCC) recently told a Veterans of Foreign Wars club that they could not sell beer to visiting members from other VFW clubs.

For decades, members of the American Legion, VFW, Eagles, Moose, and Knights of Columbus clubs were allowed to visit another club within the same organization and purchase a beer. The LCC is now interpreting the law differently and stopping that practice.

“I’m angry that the Liquor Control Commission decided this and did not come to the Legislature and ask for a commonsense law change,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “My bill will ensure that veterans can visit other veterans clubs, purchase a beer and spend time with their brothers and sisters who served our nation. With Veterans Day coming up, this is a common practice.”

Senate Bill 662 would allow a member of any fraternal order that is currently allowed to sell alcohol to its members to be able to visit that same group’s clubs across the state and purchase alcohol. The bill has 33 co-sponsors.

Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, is introducing the same bill in the House. Barrett is an Iraq War veteran.

“Veterans have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation,” Jones said. “They deserve to be treated better. At the very least, they have earned the ability to visit a fellow veteran in another city and to order a beer at their veterans club.”

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Jones sponsoring legislation to support veterans groups

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones announced on Monday that he has learned that the state’s Liquor Control Commission will no longer allow members of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, American Legions and other veterans’ organizations to purchase alcohol in any club location other than their home club.

The commission has told Jones that under their recent interpretation of the law, a VFW member will only be able to purchase alcohol from their home chapter and not from other VFW clubs around the state.

“For decades, a member of the American Legion has been able to go around the state to any American Legion and purchase a beer, and now the Liquor Control Commission will not allow it,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Veterans of this state have given a great deal to our country. They have earned the ability to visit their brothers and sisters in other cities and to order a beer.”

Jones has requested legislation that would allow for a member of any fraternal order that is currently allowed to sell alcohol to its members, such as VFWs, American Legions, and Moose and Eagles clubs, to be able to visit that same group’s clubs across the state and purchase alcohol.

“With this legislation, I will ensure that a member of the DeWitt VFW can go to the Charlotte VFW, the Durand VFW or any VFW in the state and purchase a beer,” Jones said. “These veterans risked their lives for this country — the least we can do is allow them to order a beer at these clubs.”

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Bill to give fairness to disabled combat veterans with forgiven student loans

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones on Wednesday introduced legislation to ensure disabled combat veterans do not have to pay state income tax on student loan debt that was forgiven due to the veteran’s injuries.

“Apparently the tax collectors at the IRS look at Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories as role models,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “There is a saying that no good deed goes unpunished. A veteran honorably served his country. Due to his service-related disability, a compassionate federal official forgave his student loans. But then comes the cold-hearted IRS demanding the disabled combat veteran pay income taxes on more than $220,000 in forgiven student loans. It’s a disgrace.”

Senate Bill 642 would ensure that if a veteran is permanently disabled due to combat injuries, and the federal government cancels student loan debt because of that disability, then that debt cancellation will not be counted as income for tax purposes in Michigan.

Jones requested the legislation after being contacted by a local veteran who is permanently disabled due to injuries he sustained in combat. Due to his total disability, the Department of Education forgave his outstanding student loans.

However, the IRS treats debt cancellation as income, so the veteran is being asked to pay federal income taxes on the entire amount. He was able to reduce the loan forgiveness to $161,000, but the federal tax bill remains $62,000.

The state of Michigan basically follows the IRS lead on how debt cancellation is treated, so the state is also asking him to pay $8,000 in state income taxes and fees.

“It’s shameful what our government is doing to this disabled veteran — including garnishing his disability benefits and putting a lien on his house,” Jones said. “Hopefully Congress will act to correct this terrible situation. In the meantime, my bill would provide some relief here in Michigan for disabled combat veterans with forgiven student loan debt.”

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