Museum legislation reintroduced


Staff Reports



Representatives Tiberi, Stivers and Beatty Introduce Bill Supporting National Designation for the Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus

Today (April 5), Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) reintroduced legislation (H.R. 1900) to designate the Veterans Memorial and Museum being constructed in Columbus, Ohio as the “National Veterans Memorial and Museum.”

The entire Ohio Delegation, Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Robert E. Latta (R-OH), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Tim Ryan (D-OH), David Joyce (R-OH), Jim Renacci (R-OH), and Jim Jordan (R-OH), joined as cosponsors. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) plan to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

The museum, located at 300 West Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, will serve as a civic landmark to honor, connect, inspire and educate all Americans about the service and sacrifice of our nation’s more than 22 million veterans. It will be the only public museum of its kind that exists for the exclusive role of sharing the experiences of veterans across all eras, conflicts and branches of the military.

“I urge my colleagues to support the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio,” said Tiberi. “We owe an immense amount of gratitude to our military service members and veterans who have answered the call to serve our great nation. This museum will provide a unique opportunity for all Americans to honor the sacrifices they made to protect and support our precious freedoms.”

“As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I understand the need to educate people on our military, while also sharing and preserving the stories of the incredible sacrifices our veterans make for our freedoms,” Stivers said. “I am proud to support this museum for all of the great contributions it will make for central Ohio and the veterans community across the country.”

“I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to our nation’s more than 22 million Veterans,” Beatty said. “The National Veterans Memorial and Museum will serve as a permanent landmark to the selfless service of so many brave Americans and as a memorial to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.” Beatty continued, “I am proud to join Congressman Stivers, as well as Congressman Tiberi, in introducing this piece of legislation.”

The veterans community has also joined in support of the museum and legislation.

“There are almost 22 million living veterans throughout the United States, from our Greatest Generation to our recent service members coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Major General Dennis Laich, US Army (retired). “The National Veterans Memorial and Museum will honor the sacrifice of these veterans and their families and the ones that came before them. It’s thanks to this sacrifice that we all enjoy the benefits of freedom, security and democracy.”

“Individual stories and shared experiences of veterans will be the heartbeat running through each exhibit, celebrating the everyday heroes,” said Colonel Tom Moe, US Air Force (retired). “We want to focus the story here about the service of veterans, whether they be from Tallahassee to Anchorage, and also be a place where vets can call a home.”

“The stories of our veterans are rich and timeless and need to be shared,” said Dr. Peter Mansoor, Colonel, US Army (Ret). “They provide an anchor by which we can understand the definition of honor, duty and service above self.”

The Columbus Downtown Development Corporation is managing the project, leading the design, construction, exhibit development and fundraising elements for the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

“The National Veterans Memorial & Museum will be a world-class destination, featuring an iconic design and thought-provoking exhibition programs,” said Guy V. Worley, President/CEO of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. “With almost 22 million veterans alive today, it will serve as a civic landmark to honor, connect, inspire and educate visitors and Americans about the service and sacrifice of the country’s veterans and their families.”

The museum broke ground for construction in December 2015, following the generous donations from Les and Abigail Wexner, the State of Ohio, Franklin County, and many other foundations and corporations. The grand opening date for the National Veterans Memorial and Museum is expected to be in the summer 2018.

LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL BILL TO CREATE NATIONAL NETWORK TO PRESERVE IMPORTANT SITES OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), along with U.S. Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1) and Jason Smith (R-MO-8), today introduced a bipartisan bill to create an African American Civil Rights Network – a national network of historic sites, stories, research facilities, and educational programs connected to the African American Civil Rights Movement. The African American Civil Rights Network Act would also establish a National Park Service (NPS) program to educate the public, and provide technical assistance for documenting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Building a network of historic sites connected to our Civil Rights Movement is one small way we can preserve the legacy and struggle of those who bravely risked their lives to demand full and equal participation in our democracy,” said Brown. “This will guarantee future generations can learn from their stories.”

“The African American Civil Rights Network will help recognize and preserve as part of our national history sites that are central to the Civil Rights Movement, such as Memphis’ Mason Temple, the Church of God in Christ, and the Lorraine Hotel,” Alexander said. “This network will ensure the Civil Rights Movement remains at the front of our history and will help our children grow up learning about this pivotal movement.”

“The purpose of our legislation is to recognize, preserve, protect and share the remarkable American story of the modern struggle for civil rights, a unique national experience that touches every American, regardless of their age or heritage,” said Clay. “The historic network would create tremendous educational opportunities by recognizing those brave souls from all walks of life who fought to make the promises enshrined in our constitution finally ring true.”

The bill is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We applaud Sens. Brown and Alexander on introduction of the African-American Civil Rights Network Act,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Vice President, Government Relations and Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “By linking the historic sites, routes, corridors, and regions that defined the struggle for African-American equality, this bill will deepen our understanding of the relationships between the people and places of the modern Civil Rights movement, and help us to better appreciate its context and complexity. Creating programming that ties together sites, activities, and research on civil rights will produce a richer and more complete picture of a critical time in our nation’s history.”

The African American Civil Rights Network would initially look to include historic sites identified by the NPS’ Civil Rights Initiative like Mason Temple in Memphis, TN, where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “Mountaintop” speech the day before his assassination. There is also the opportunity for additional sites to be added like Miami University’s Western Campus in Oxford, OH, where students trained to register African American voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.

Tiberi, Neal Join with Portman, Cardin for Bicameral Effort to Protect Retirement Security for Working Families

Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Richard E. Neal (D-MA), both members of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), both members of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced updated legislation Wednesday designed to protect the retirement security of many American workers. The Retirement Security Preservation Act of 2017 (RSPA) amends the nondiscrimination rules that apply to qualified retirement plans to protect older, longer-service participants whose defined benefit plans have been closed or frozen. The bill builds on previous legislation and regulatory work to address this issue, and was approved unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee as part of a retirement-related legislative package in September 2016.

“The Retirement Security Preservation Act will give certainty to longer-serving employees who have worked hard to plan and save for their retirement years,” said Congressman Tiberi. “This is a necessary fix that will prevent them from unfairly losing their pension benefits due to the IRS’s nondiscrimination rules.”

“Americans work hard to prepare for retirement, so it is absolutely critical that their nest eggs are protected,” said Congressman Neal. “This bipartisan bill would play an important role in strengthening retirement security for many Americans, and I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – to swiftly pass this measure.”

“This important bill will help protect the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of dedicated working families who are counting on their pension benefits in their retirement,” Senator Portman said. “There is strong bipartisan support for the Retirement Security Preservation Act in both the House and Senate, and I would urge both chambers to pass it quickly so it can be signed into law.”

“Older workers who have been saving for their retirement should not be penalized playing by the rules and planning ahead,” said Senator Cardin. “We need to get back to the original intent of the regulations, which was to encourage greater participation in retirement savings programs. The number of workers whose savings are put in jeopardy by inaction on this issue grows each day. The House and the Senate should consider this bill as quickly as possible to ensure the retirement security of these workers.”

Over the past several years, many companies have transitioned from “traditional” defined benefit (DB) plans to other retirement plan models, such as defined contribution (DC) plans. In doing so, a large number of these companies have elected to grandfather existing employees by closing their traditional DB plans (also known as “soft freezing”); other companies have “hard frozen” their traditional DB plans but assisted existing employees in other ways, such as through enhanced DC plan contributions. When a plan closes, existing participants or a subset of participants continue to earn benefits under the traditional DB plan. When a plan is “hard frozen,” employees earn no new benefits under the plan.

Over time, existing employees in the closed plan typically build seniority and become more highly compensated than younger, newer employees, who are more likely to have greater job turnover. This widens the income gap between the employees in the closed plan and the new employees.

Because the grandfathered group in the closed plan generally becomes more highly compensated, closed plans almost always end up inadvertently violating the IRS nondiscrimination testing rules. This clearly is not the intended effect of the nondiscrimination rules, which were written to strengthen retirement security, rather than to force many older employees into different types of plans that may not provide enough time to accumulate sufficient benefits before retirement.

The RSPA addresses the problem by amending the nondiscrimination rules to protect older workers in plans that have been closed or frozen. The bill also contains anti-abuse rules related to closed and frozen plans. The legislation is based on H.R. 5381 and S. 2855, which were introduced in the 113th Congress. Since the introduction of those bills, Treasury has proposed regulations that partially address these issues, but only for a certain subset of affected plans. The RSPA incorporates elements of the Treasury regulations and provides targeted relief to plans who are not be able to take advantage of the Treasury regulations.

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Staff Reports