NEVADA APPEAL: Sen. Dean Heller Commentary, Strengthening the GI Bill for our heroes

By Dean Heller - November 9th, 2017

In the days, weeks, and months that followed September 11, 2001, amidst the grieving and ache of a horrific national tragedy, something incredible happened. Across the country, thousands of men and women rushed to their local recruiting offices to fight for something bigger than themselves — their country.

This wasn't the first time in our nation's recent history such bravery and selflessness was exhibited by Americans of all different ages and backgrounds. From the World War II era to the Korean and Vietnam wars, millions of our loved ones here in Nevada and across the country have answered our nation's call to serve, leaving behind their families and friends for time on end to make sacrifices most of us couldn't fathom.

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As a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I'm honored to support Nevada's 300,000 veterans and the state's larger military community. I'm fighting day in and day out to ensure Nevada's warriors have the best care and benefits this nation has promised them. This is a duty I don't take lightly.


That's why I'm pleased to report the president signed into law historic legislation I helped craft called The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Titled after the author of the landmark G.I. Bill that was made available to World War II veterans in 1944, this proposal has wide, bipartisan support and critical provisions that will directly help many of Nevada's veterans and their dependents.

The original G.I. Bill was one of our country's greatest successes, and it's why I've worked to improve it for today's and tomorrow's generation of heroes.

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The new law makes much-needed updates for reservists, Purple Heart recipients, and veterans who face school closures while enrolled and surviving family members.

The bill provides increased resources and authority for educational assistance to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, computer programming and career technical training.

It also eliminates a 15-year time limit in which a veteran must use the G.I. Bill, which is why many of the country's leading Veteran Service Organizations have referred to the legislation as the "Forever G.I. Bill."

This change is critical as it allows for Nevada's heroes to continue advancing their education and skills throughout their professional career. Moreover, removal of this arbitrary 15-year window gives flexibility to veterans who may not want to immediately enroll into a four-year university or training program after recently discharging from the military.

Simply put, veterans can use their education benefits when the time is right for them — not when it's right for the government.

Under the legislation, G.I. bill benefits are expanded to Purple Heart recipients and Reservists. A provision I authored adjusts the G.I. bill tier structure to increase the benefit payable percentage for Guardsmen and Reservists who served less than 12 months. In many cases, time spent on initial training doesn't count toward active-duty time.

Additionally, the legislation includes another provision I championed, which reimburses G.I. bill funds to veterans who are affected by the permanent closure of ITT Tech or other institutions.

This law is yet another positive development for Nevada's veterans, and the direct result of feedback I receive from veterans and leaders when I hold roundtables across the state.

While there's still more work to be done, I'm proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort that puts Nevada's veterans' educational needs first. We should be doing all we can to ensure our state's warriors receive the benefits they've earned and deserve. I'll continue to build on these results and work to empower Nevada's veterans with more tools to succeed.

Dean Heller of Carson City is a Republican U.S. Senator representing Nevada.

COMMENTARY: Congressional Republicans ready to put forth a simpler, pro-growth tax code

By Dean Heller Special to the Las Vegas Review-Journal - September 9th, 2017

In Springfield, Mo., President Donald Trump recently delivered a speech outlining his key principles for tax relief with the goal of bringing back Main Street and putting American workers first. It was a high-energy pitch that many of us in Nevada were waiting to hear.

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For too long, Nevada’s small businesses and companies have been at a disadvantage due to onerous Obama-era regulations and burdensome taxes. In fact, in my time around the state, the No. 1 challenge employers tell me they face is that our country’s broken tax code makes it difficult to compete on the international stage and put more workers on their payroll.

For example, a Nevada business owner told me that our tax system makes it difficult for him to compete, so he urged lower rates and a simplified regulatory framework. Another Nevadan wrote me and said that we need to fix our tax code to attract businesses to the United States and drive up wages for American workers.

As Congress begins to consider how to deliver tax relief in the coming weeks, the No. 1 question that will drive me every day is this: What can we do to give Nevada families and small-business owners a lift?

During the Obama administration, annual gross domestic product growth never reached 3 percent. Consequently, workers saw their paychecks barely increase, and job seekers were forced to battle through less-than-optimal career opportunities. But after years of historically low growth and a sluggish economy, the United States — and Nevada — is starting to bounce back. In fact, we’ve seen some positive signs lately, such as the recent Commerce Department report finding that GDP increased at a 3 percent annual rate in the second quarter this year — the fastest pace since 2015.

It’s clear, however, that more can be done to jump-start our economy as hardworking families struggle to meet their budgets and pay their mortgages and as more college graduates enter the workforce year after year. Right now, Congress has an opportunity to build on recent momentum by delivering historic legislation that will fix our country’s broken, outdated and overly-complicated tax code.

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The administration’s plan to reshape America’s tax system has three major goals: to create more jobs, increase wages and boost American competitiveness. This plan should be the road map for all discussions in the Senate and House as congressional leaders deliberate on changes to tax policy.

In Nevada, lowering tax rates for businesses and U.S. companies will have an enormous impact on industries all across the spectrum — including tourism, construction and hospitality — by freeing capital to hire more employees and invest in our communities.

The White House is also calling for a simpler code that Americans can understand.


Our current tax code can be described only as a convoluted, expensive mess. In fact, the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service found that Americans spend roughly 6 billion hours of their own time annually complying with the 4 million-word code. And according to the National Taxpayers Union, 94 percent of taxpayers paid someone or used software to prepare their returns.

So what does tax reform mean for you? It means that you can keep more of your hard-earned paycheck, and it will be easier for you to file your taxes. Less paperwork, more money. Lower rates for businesses mean more jobs, higher wages and growth in our communities — all of which will benefit you.

As the son of a school cook and an auto mechanic, I understand the discipline and work that goes into every dollar and paycheck. Families and small-business owners should not have to make sacrifices to pay for their taxes to be completed or to file burdensome forms.

Furthermore, I know that Nevadans — not bureaucrats in Washington — know how to best spend their own money.

The administration has started its engine on this issue and there is no room for delay. The Republican-led Congress must take comprehensive action to put forward a pro-growth tax code that helps our small businesses and American workers. Nevadans, and people all across America, are depending on us to get this done.

Dean Heller, a Republican, represents Nevada in the U.S. Senate. He sits on the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax reform.