Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-01-23 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-01-23                     Senate Journal                      Page 0148
SB 55                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 55 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                    
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                               
          "An Act changing the name of the Alaska Pioneers'                                         
          Home to the Alaska Pioneers' and Veterans' Home                                           
          and of the Alaska Pioneers' Homes Advisory Board                                          
          to the Alaska Pioneers' and Veterans' Home Advisory                                       
          Board; relating to services for veterans in the home;                                     
          relating to the advisory board for the home; making                                       
          other amendments to the statutes relating to the                                          
          home; making conforming amendments to other                                               
          statutes; and providing for an effective date."                                           
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Health,                                  
Education and Social Services and Finance Committees.                                               

2001-01-23                     Senate Journal                      Page 0149
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, zero, Department of Administration                                              
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 22:                                                     
Dear President Halford:                                                                             
Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state except one.                                
Yet, this is the only state in the nation without a veterans' home in                               
service or development. At the same time, no other state operates a                                 
care program for seniors comparable to the Pioneers' Home system.                                   
We have a unique opportunity to enhance our Pioneers' Home system                                   
and serve our veterans at the same time. The bill I transmit today                                  
establishes the Alaska Pioneers' and Veterans' Home system as an                                    
efficient means to fully use our existing resources and serve our older                             
This bill would allow use of some 100 Pioneers' Home beds statewide                                 
that are empty today because cost of care has increased faster than the                             
operating budget. A certain number of beds in the Pioneers Homes                                    
would be reserved for veterans who meet eligibility requirements for                                
admission, including being at least 65 years old, being an Alaska                                   
resident for at least one year, and needing the services the homes                                  
provide. The number of beds to be reserved for veterans would be                                    
determined by the department by regulation.                                                         
Certainly the homes already serve a number of veterans. Some 78                                     
current residents are veterans. Another 44 veterans are on the active                               
waiting list.                                                                                       
Because of operating budget inadequacies, I have requested, in                                      
addition to this legislation, nearly $2.5 million in General Funds and                              
another $2.6 million in receipts for staff and ancillary services at the                            
Pioneers Homes as part of my Fiscal Year 2002 operating budget.                                     
Fully staffed, a Pioneers' and Veterans' Home system can begin filling                              
vacant beds and serving the needs of all Alaska seniors. At the same                                
time, it provides an opportunity to recognize the service of Alaska's                               
veterans, particularly those in need of long term care. To help guide us                            
in future planning for services to meet the needs of veterans, I have                               
also requested a $200,000 capital appropriation to conduct a veterans                               
housing and health needs survey.                                                                    

2001-01-23                     Senate Journal                      Page 0150
The bill also modifies the membership of the Pioneers' Homes                                        
Advisory Board to include at least two veterans on the seven-member                                 
panel, with one seat reserved for the chair of the Alaska Veterans                                  
Advisory Council. I am introducing separate legislation today to                                    
establish that council in statute.                                                                  
Finally, the bill also places in statute the current practice of requiring a                        
one-year residency for admission to the homes. This is in response to a                             
court decision years ago that found the 15-year residency requirement                               
For years, building a veterans' home in Alaska has been an important                                
goal of the state's veteran organizations. We can finally provide this                              
service for our veterans and, at the same time, improve services for all                            
Alaska senior citizens. I encourage your prompt and favorable action                                
on this measure.                                                                                    
                                 Tony Knowles