The American Legion names Assemblymember Gray "Leo P. Burke Legislator of the Year"


The American Legion, Department of California (Department) has named Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) as recipients of their 2017 Leo P. Burke Legislator of the Year awards. The Department’s Leo P. Burke Legislator of the Year award is bestowed to legislators who have supported California’s veterans, military members, and their families. The Legislature oversees and deliberates on a wide array of issues important to California Legionnaires such as: Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans memorials, veterans homes, veterans cemeteries, veterans outreach, assistance with claims filing, the National Guard, veterans in the criminal justice system, non-profit organization regulations, veterans license plates, as well as base realignment.
Senator Dodd and Assemblyman Gray were chosen for their leadership, support, and dedication to the veterans and service members of California. They will be presented their awards at the Department’s Annual Day at the Capitol event in the Spring of 2018.

Assemblyman Gray was elected in 2012 to represent the 21st Assembly District. The district is comprised of Merced County and portions of Stanislaus County.
Gray’s two key veterans bills are AB 1275 of 2015 and AB 1249 of 2017. AB 1275 sought to exempt military retirement pay from the state income tax. In 2017, Gray authored AB 1249, which sought to clarify how County Assessors applied the Veterans post property Tax Exemption. AB 1249 was a major initiative of the American Legion and Gray managed to get the bill to the Governor’s desk, which was no small feat considering the bill had to go through the two fiscal committees. Gray has also authored AB 1278, which provided that, for the purposes of buying tobacco products requirements, if a customer or recipient provides an identification card issued by the United States Armed Forces as proof of age, further proof of age is not required.
According to Don Harper, Chair of the Legion’s Legislative Commission, “Assemblyman Gray, after being elected to the Assembly, came out of the gate and tackled complicated tax relief issues important to veterans and we applaud his tenacity and commitment to helping veterans”.

Senator Dodd was elected to the Senate in 2016 after one term in the State Assembly to represent California’s 3rd Senate District which includes all of Napa and Solano Counties and portions of Sonoma, Yolo, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. Prior to his time in the Legislature, he served on the Napa County Board of Supervisors for 14 years. In that capacity he was a staunch supporter of the Veterans Home at Yountville.
This year, Dodd authored SB 266, which dealt with consumer loan law as it relates to members of the armed forces, which was signed in to law. SB 266 updated provisions of the Banking Law, Credit Union Law, Finance Lenders Law, and Deferred Deposit Transaction Law to reflect new federal lending rules applicable to members of the military and their dependents. As an Assemblyman, Dodd authored AB 724 which sought to obtain a sales and use tax exemption for museum displays at the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum. Senator Dodd is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“As a County Supervisor and as an Assemblyman, Senator Dodd was a strong supporter of the Yountville Veterans Home. Now that he has moved to the Senate, he continues to support the home as well as fight for the issues important to California’s 1.8 million veterans and their families as well as the active duty service members serving in this state. We look forward to continuing to work with him”, noted Pete Conaty, Legislative Advocate for the American Legion.

The American Legion, founded in 1919, is an organization of veterans of the United States Armed Forces who served in wartime. The American Legion is active in supporting the interests of veterans and lobbying on their behalf. Members are kept informed on legislation at the federal and state levels which impacts veterans. The American Legion, Department of California has over 135,000 members and represents the interests of California’s 1.9 million veterans and their families.