Text: H.R.6225 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Referred in Senate (08/01/2008)

 
[Congressional Bills 110th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 6225 Referred in Senate (RFS)]

  2d Session
                                H. R. 6225


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             August 1, 2008

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
  To amend title 38, United States Code, relating to equitable relief 
  with respect to a State or private employer, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Improving SCRA and USERRA 
Protections Act of 2008''.

SEC. 2. EQUITY POWERS.

    Section 4323(e) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by 
striking ``may use'' and inserting ``shall use, in any case in which 
the court determines it is appropriate,''.

SEC. 3. RELIEF FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES DURING 
              PERIOD OF MILITARY SERVICE.

    (a) In General.--Title VII of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act 
(50 U.S.C. App. 591 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the 
following new section:

``SEC. 707. TUITION, REENROLLMENT, AND STUDENT LOAN RELIEF FOR 
              POSTSECONDARY STUDENTS CALLED TO MILITARY SERVICE.

    ``(a) Tuition and Reenrollment.--Whenever a servicemember is 
called, activated, or ordered to military service and withdraws or 
takes a leave of absence from an institution of higher education in 
which the servicemember is enrolled, the institution shall--
            ``(1) provide a credit or refund to the servicemember the 
        tuition and fees paid by the servicemember (other than from the 
        proceeds of a grant or scholarship) for the portion of the 
        program of education for which the servicemember did not 
        receive academic credit after such withdrawal or leave; and
            ``(2) provide the servicemember an opportunity to reenroll 
        with the same educational and academic status in such program 
        of education that the servicemember had when activated for 
        military service.
    ``(b) Institution of Higher Education Defined.--In this section, 
the term `institution of higher education' means a 2-year or 4-year 
institution of higher education as defined in section 102 of the Higher 
Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002).''.
    (b) Exemption of Student Debts From Creditor Protection Based on 
Income Level.--Section 207(c) of such Act (50 U.S.C. App. 527(c)) is 
amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: ``This 
subsection shall not apply with respect to an obligation or liability 
that is incurred by a servicemember who, at the time the servicemember 
is called to military service, is a student enrolled within six months 
of activation at an institution of higher education on a full-time 
basis, as determined by that institution.''.
    (c) Clerical Amendment.--The table of contents in section 1(b) of 
such Act is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``Sec. 707. Tuition, reenrollment, and student loan relief for 
                            postsecondary students called to military 
                            service.''.
    (d) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section shall take 
effect for periods of military service beginning after the date of the 
enactment of this section.

SEC. 4. TERMINATION OR SUSPENSION BY SERVICEMEMBERS OF CERTAIN SERVICE 
              CONTRACTS ENTERED INTO BEFORE PERMANENT CHANGE OF STATION 
              OR DEPLOYMENT ORDERS.

    (a) Termination.--Title III of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act 
(50 U.S.C. App. 531 et seq.) is amended--
            (1) by redesignating section 308 as section 309; and
            (2) by inserting after section 307 the following:

``SEC. 308. TERMINATION OR SUSPENSION OF SERVICE CONTRACTS.

    ``(a) Termination or Suspension by Servicemember.--A person in 
military service who is party to or enters into a contract described in 
subsection (c) may terminate or suspend, at the person's option, the 
contract at any time after the date of the person's military orders, as 
described in subsection (c).
    ``(b) Special Rules.--(1) A suspension under subsection (a) of a 
contract by a person in military service shall continue for the length 
of the person's deployment pursuant to the person's military orders.
    ``(2) A service provider under a contract suspended or terminated 
under subsection (a) by a person in military service may not impose a 
suspension fee or early termination fee in connection with the 
suspension or termination of the contract, other than a nominal fee for 
the suspension; except that the service provider may impose a 
reasonable fee for any equipment remaining on the premises of the 
person in military service during the period of the suspension. The 
person in military service may defer, without penalty, payment of such 
a nominal fee or reasonable fee for the length of the person's 
deployment pursuant to the person's military orders.
    ``(3) In any case in which the contract being suspended under 
subsection (a) is for cellular telephone service or telephone exchange 
service, the person in military service, after the date on which the 
suspension of the contract ends, may keep, to the extent practicable 
and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations, the same 
telephone number the person had before the person suspended the 
contract.
    ``(c) Covered Contracts.--This section applies to a contract for 
cellular telephone service, telephone exchange service, multichannel 
video programming service, Internet access service, water, electricity, 
oil, gas, or other utility if the person enters into the contract and 
thereafter receives military orders--
            ``(1) to deploy with a military unit, or as an individual, 
        in support of a contingency operation for a period of not less 
        than 90 days; or
            ``(2) for a change of permanent station to a location that 
        does not support the contract.
    ``(d) Manner of Termination or Suspension.--
            ``(1) In general.--Termination or suspension of a contract 
        under subsection (a) is made by delivery by the person in 
        military service of written notice of such termination or 
        suspension and a copy of the servicemember's military orders to 
        the other party to the contract (or to that party's grantee or 
        agent).
            ``(2) Nature of notice.--Delivery of notice under paragraph 
        (1) may be accomplished--
                    ``(A) by hand delivery;
                    ``(B) by private business carrier;
                    ``(C) by facsimile; or
                    ``(D) by placing the written notice and a copy of 
                the servicemember's military orders in an envelope with 
                sufficient postage and with return receipt requested, 
                and addressed as designated by the party to be notified 
                (or that party's grantee or agent), and depositing the 
                envelope in the United States mails.
    ``(e) Date of Contract Termination or Suspension.--Termination or 
suspension of a service contract under subsection (a) is effective as 
of the date on which the notice under subsection (d) is delivered.
    ``(f) Other Obligations and Liabilities.--The service provider 
under the contract may not impose an early termination or suspension 
charge, but any tax or any other obligation or liability of the person 
in military service that, in accordance with the terms of the contract, 
is due and unpaid or unperformed at the time of termination or 
suspension of the contract shall be paid or performed by the person in 
military service.
    ``(g) Fees Paid in Advance.--A fee or amount paid in advance for a 
period after the effective date of the termination of the contract 
shall be refunded to the person in military service by the other party 
(or that party's grantee or agent) within 60 days of the effective date 
of the termination of the contract.
    ``(h) Relief to Other Party.--Upon application by the other party 
to the contract to a court before the termination date provided in the 
written notice, relief granted by this section to a person in military 
service may be modified as justice and equity require.
    ``(i) Penalties.--
            ``(1) Misdemeanor.--Whoever knowingly violates or attempts 
        to violate this section shall be fined not more than $5,000 in 
        the case of an individual or $10,000 in the case of an 
        organization.
            ``(2) Preservation.--The remedy and rights provided under 
        this section are in addition to and do not preclude any remedy 
        for wrongful conversion otherwise available under law to the 
        person claiming relief under this section, including any award 
        for consequential or punitive damages.
    ``(j) Equitable Relief.--
            ``(1) In general.--In addition to any other remedy 
        available under law, if a person in military service has reason 
        to believe that another party to a contract has violated or is 
        violating this section, the person in military service may--
                    ``(A) bring an action to enjoin the violation in 
                any appropriate United States district court or in any 
                other court of competent jurisdiction; or
                    ``(B) bring an action in any appropriate United 
                States district court or in any other court of 
                competent jurisdiction to recover damages equal to 
                three times the amount for which the other party is 
                liable to the person in military service under this 
                section.
            ``(2) Attorney fees.--If a person in military service is 
        awarded damages under an action described under paragraph (1), 
        the person shall be awarded, in addition, the costs of the 
        action and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the 
        court.
    ``(k) Definitions.--For the purposes of this section, the following 
definitions apply:
            ``(1) Multichannel video programming service.--The term 
        `multichannel video programming service' means video 
        programming service provided by a multichannel video 
        programming distributor, as such term is defined in section 
        602(13) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 522(13)).
            ``(2) Internet access service.--The term `Internet access 
        service' has the meaning given that term under section 
        231(e)(4) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 
        231(e)(4)).
            ``(3) Cellular telephone service.--The term `cellular 
        telephone service' means commercial mobile service, as that 
        term is defined in section 332(d) of the Communications Act of 
        1934 (47 U.S.C. 332(d)).
            ``(4) Telephone exchange service.--The term `telephone 
        exchange service' has the meaning given that term under section 
        3 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153).''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of contents in section 1(b) of 
such Act is amended by striking the item relating to section 308 and 
inserting the following new items:

``Sec. 308. Termination or suspension of service contracts.
``Sec. 309. Extension of protections to dependents.''.

SEC. 5. PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF INTEREST RATE LIMITATION UNDER 
              SERVICEMEMBERS CIVIL RELIEF ACT.

    Section 207 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 
527) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsections:
    ``(e) Penalty.--Whoever knowingly violates subsection (a) shall be 
fined not more than $5,000 in the case of an individual or $10,000 in 
the case of an organization.
    ``(f) Rights of Servicemembers.--
            ``(1) Equitable relief.--
                    ``(A) In general.--In addition to any other 
                remedies as are provided under Federal or State law, if 
                a servicemember has reason to believe that a creditor 
                has violated or is violating this section, the 
                servicemember may--
                            ``(i) bring an action to enjoin such 
                        violation in any appropriate United States 
                        district court or in any other court of 
                        competent jurisdiction; and
                            ``(ii) bring an action to recover damages 
                        equal to three times the amount of the interest 
                        charged in violation of this section (plus 
                        interest) for which the creditor is liable to 
                        the servicemember under this section as a 
                        result of the violation.
                    ``(B) Determination of number of violations.--In 
                determining the number of violations by a creditor for 
                which a penalty is imposed under subsection (e) or 
                subparagraph (A), the court shall count as a single 
                violation each obligation or liability of a 
                servicemember with respect to which--
                            ``(i) the servicemember properly provided 
                        to the creditor written notice and a copy of 
                        the military orders calling the servicemember 
                        to military service and any orders further 
                        extending military service under subsection 
                        (b); and
                            ``(ii) the creditor failed to treat in 
                        accordance with subsection (a).
            ``(2) Attorney fees.--If a servicemember is awarded damages 
        under an action described under paragraph (1), the 
        servicemember shall be awarded, in addition, the costs of the 
        action and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the 
        court.
    ``(g) Preservation of Other Remedies.--The rights and remedies 
provided under subsections (e) and (f) are in addition to and do not 
preclude any other remedy available under law to a person claiming 
relief under this section, including any award for consequential or 
punitive damages.''.

SEC. 6. GUARANTEE OF RESIDENCY FOR SPOUSES OF MILITARY PERSONNEL.

    (a) Guarantee of Residency.--Section 705 of the Servicemembers 
Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 595) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``For'' and inserting ``(a) For''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(b) For the purposes of voting for any Federal office (as defined 
in section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 
431)) or a State or local office, a person who is absent from a State 
because the person is accompanying the person's spouse who is absent 
from that same State in compliance with military or naval orders shall 
not, solely by reason of that absence--
            ``(1) be deemed to have lost a residence or domicile in 
        that State, without regard to whether or not the person intends 
        to return to that State;
            ``(2) be deemed to have acquired a residence or domicile in 
        any other State; or
            ``(3) be deemed to have become a resident in or a resident 
        of any other State.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendments.--
            (1) The heading for such section is amended to read as 
        follows:

``SEC. 705. GUARANTEE OF RESIDENCY FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL AND SPOUSES 
              OF MILITARY PERSONNEL.''.

            (2) The item relating to such section in the table of 
        contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended to read as 
        follows:

``Sec. 705. Guarantee of residency for military personnel and spouses 
                            of military personnel.''.

SEC. 7. RESIDENCE FOR TAX PURPOSES.

    Section 511(a) of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. 
App. 571(a)) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``A servicemember'' and inserting the 
        following:
            ``(1) Servicemember.--A servicemember''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(2) Spouse of servicemember.--A spouse of a servicemember 
        shall neither lose nor acquire a residence or domicile for 
        purposes of taxation with respect to the person, personal 
        property, or income of the spouse by reason of being absent or 
        present in any tax jurisdiction of the United States solely to 
        be with the servicemember in compliance with the 
        servicemember's military orders if the residence or domicile, 
        as the case may be, is the same for the servicemember and the 
        spouse.''.

SEC. 8. SPOUSE'S COMPENSATION DURING MILITARY SERVICE.

    Section 511 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 
571(b)) is amended--
            (1) by striking the subsection designation and heading and 
        all that follows through ``Compensation'' and inserting the 
        following:
    ``(b) Military Service and Spouse's Compensation.--
            ``(1) Military service compensation.--Compensation''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(2) Spouse's compensation.--Compensation of a spouse of a 
        servicemember shall not be deemed to be income for services 
        performed or from sources within a tax jurisdiction of the 
        United States if, when the compensation is earned, the spouse 
        of the servicemember is not a resident or domiciliary of the 
        jurisdiction and the jurisdiction is the jurisdiction in which 
        the servicemember is serving in compliance with military 
        orders.''.

            Passed the House of Representatives July 31, 2008.

            Attest:

                                            LORRAINE C. MILLER,

                                                                 Clerk.

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