Summary: H.R.4658 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (10/07/2004)

Servicemembers and Veterans Legal Protections Act of 2004 - Title I: Improvements to Servicemembers Civil Relief Act - (Sec. 101) Amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (the Act) to: (1) define "judgment" for purposes of the Act; (2) require a written waiver, separate from the instrument or obligation in question, of certain rights under the Act; (3) allow plaintiffs (currently, only defendants) to request a stay of civil proceedings; (4) require that a termination of a lease by a lessee entering into, or receiving orders for, military service shall also terminate any obligation that such lessee's dependent may have under the lease; and (5) prevent a tax jurisdiction from imposing a tax on the personal property of a nonresident servicemember when taxes on such property have been paid to another tax jurisdiction.

Title II: Employment and Reemployment Rights - Subtitle A: Extension of Health Care Coverage - (Sec. 201) Increases from 18 to 24 months the period following an absence from employment due to military service that an individual may elect to continue coverage under a health care plan offered in connection with such employment.

(Sec. 202) Reinstates (currently terminated in 2000) required annual reports from the Secretary of Labor to Congress concerning veterans' employment and reemployment rights claims and violations.

Subtitle B: Other Matters - (Sec. 211) Requires each employer to provide to persons so entitled a notice of rights and duties under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

(Sec. 212) Directs the Secretary of Labor and the Office of Special Counsel to carry out a demonstration project under which certain claims against Federal agencies under USERRA are referred to the Office for assistance. Requires such Office to receive and investigate all USERRA-related prohibited personnel action claims. Requires the Comptroller General to periodically evaluate the demonstration project and report results to Congress.

Title III: Matters Relating to Fiduciaries - (Sec. 302) Amends Federal veterans' provisions relating to the care of an incompetent veteran or a veteran's minor or ward to require a fiduciary, in order to receive payment of benefits of a veteran or veteran's beneficiary on behalf of such veteran or beneficiary, to be certified to receive such payment on the basis of an inquiry or investigation conducted by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Secretary) to determine fitness to serve as a fiduciary. Outlines inquiry or investigation requirements, and allows for an expedited inquiry or investigation under certain circumstances. Authorizes the Secretary to appoint temporary fiduciaries during such inquiries or investigations.

(Sec. 303) Prohibits a fiduciary from collecting a fee from a beneficiary for any month during which the Secretary or a court of competent jurisdiction determines that the fiduciary misused all or part of the individual's benefit. Provides for liability against fiduciaries for misused benefits. Requires the Secretary to reissue benefits in any case in which the negligent failure of the Secretary to investigate or monitor a fiduciary results in the misuse of benefits.

(Sec. 304) Authorizes the Secretary to: (1) conduct periodic onsite reviews of institutional fiduciaries; (2) require a fiduciary to file a report or accounting; and (3) redirect delivery of benefit payments when a fiduciary fails to provide a required accounting. Provides for: (1) civil monetary penalties against fiduciaries found in violation; and (2) judicial orders of restitution from violating fiduciaries.

(Sec. 305) Directs the Secretary to include in the Annual Benefits Report of the Veterans Benefits Administration or the Secretary's Annual Performance and Accountability Report information concerning fiduciaries who have been appointed to receive payments for beneficiaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Title IV: Other Matters - (Sec. 401) Directs the Secretary to establish and maintain a national inventory of medical waste management activities in Department health-care facilities. Requires a report from the Secretary to the congressional veterans' committees on such activities.