Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2002-05-17 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2002-05-17                     Senate Journal                      Page 3659
SB 2008                                                                                           
SENATE BILL NO. 2008 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 housing and services for veterans;                                     
          relating to the advisory board for the home; making                                       
          other amendments to the statutes relating to the                                          
          home; and providing for an effective date."                                               
was read the first time and referred to the Finance Committee.                                      
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Administration                                                    
Governor's transmittal letter dated May 17:                                                         

2002-05-17                     Senate Journal                      Page 3660
Dear President Halford:                                                                             
I am transmitting this bill to this special session changing the name of                            
the Alaska Pioneers' Home to the Alaska Pioneers' and Veterans'                                     
Home and reserving a certain number of beds in the homes for eligible                               
In 1992, the Legislature authorized the Department of Administration                                
to apply for federal assistance to establish and operate state veterans'                            
home facilities to provide domiciliary care. In 1998, that statute was                              
amended to include the provision of nursing home care with related                                  
medical services for veterans in those facilities. Financing for such                               
facilities has not been available.  However, the Pioneers' Home has                                 
vacant beds that could be used to provide the long-term care for                                    
veterans that the 1992 and 1998 laws contemplated. Accordingly, I am                                
proposing that the law be changed so that the Pioneers' Home can                                    
provide this service.                                                                               
The bill would provide that a certain number of beds be reserved in the                             
home for veterans who meet the other eligibility requirements for                                   
admission, including being at least 65 years old, being an Alaska                                   
resident for at least one year, and needing the services that the home                              
provides. The number of beds to be reserved for veterans would be                                   
determined by the department by regulation. The bill defines "veteran"                              
as anyone who has 181 days or more of active service in the armed                                   
services of the United States, including the Alaska National Guard or                               
the Alaska Territorial Guard.                                                                       
In addition, the bill would make two changes in the statutes imposing                               
residency requirements for admission into the home. First, the bill                                 
recognizes in statute a court decision concerning the residency                                     
requirement for the home. The 15-year requirement for admission was                                 
ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska courts in the early 1990s; the                                 
home has been using a one-year requirement since then under                                         
Department of Law advice that that is the longest requirement that                                  
could withstand a constitutional challenge. Thus, this bill would                                   
simply amend the relevant statute to bring it in line with constitutional                           
requirements and current practice. The bill also would repeal a statute,                            
closely tied to the 15-year residency requirement, that provides that an                            
applicant does not have to meet the 15-year requirement if the                                      

2002-05-17                     Senate Journal                      Page 3661
applicant has 30 years' total residency in Alaska. Given the elimination                            
of the 15-year requirement, the statute proposed for repeal would no                                
longer be relevant. Moreover, even though there is no court decision                                
on point, the Department of Law has advised that this 30-year                                       
residency statute also would likely be invalidated if it were challenged.                           
The bill amends the statutes regarding the Alaska Pioneers' Homes                                   
Advisory Board to reflect the new name of the home and to provide                                   
that at least two of the seven members appointed by the governor must                               
be veterans. A second, separate amendment to the membership                                         
provision would replace one of those two veterans with the chair of the                             
Alaska Veterans Advisory Council, contingent on enactment into law                                  
of a bill I am introducing to establish that council. The bill makes or                             
provides for conforming changes to other statutes and to the Alaska                                 
Administrative Code.                                                                                
This important legislation was presented during the regular session,                                
but did not pass. I urge your prompt and favorable action on this                                   
measure during the special session. It is urgent to our veterans that the                           
legislation pass now in special session. Our veterans have served our                               
state well.  It is now our time to recognize these efforts and to provide                           
these essential services.                                                                           
Tony Knowles