Justice Department officials are proposing to strengthen troops’ voting rights, re-employment rights, and housing and lending protections, under a package of legislative proposals sent to Congress Sept. 20.
Among other things, Justice officials are requesting a doubling of civil penalties for anyone violating troops’ rights under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act. The government would be able to assess a penalty of up to $110,000 for a first violation, and up to $220,000 for any subsequent violation.
Also proposed is an SCRA change clarifying that for voting purposes, a family member does not have to accompany his or her service member who is out of state because of military requirements in order for the family member to retain legal residence or domicile in that state.
Justice officials noted that when a service member is deployed, a family member sometimes will return to a parent’s home in another state. This change would allow that family member the same residency rights they would have if they accompanied the service member.
Officials also proposed a change that would allow service members to sue for SCRA violations that occurred before Oct. 13, 2010, when a law took effect that specifically states they have the right to sue for violations. The 2010 law did not extend that right to violations of the SCRA that occurred before Oct. 13, 2010.