Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/14/1997 04:10 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Number 030                                                                     
CHAIRMAN MASEK indicated that the committee would consider CSSB
143(RLS), "An Act relating to education benefits for members of the            
Alaska National Guard, Alaska Naval Militia, or Alaska Territorial             
Number 120                                                                     
TIM BENINTENDI, Legislative Assistant to Senator Tim Kelly came                
forward to testify on CSSB 143(RLS).  This legislation makes                   
changes to the Alaska National Guard Tuition Assistance program.               
It does not address funding or appropriation levels, just simply               
policy changes.  It would give the Adjutant General broader                    
authority to direct funds within the departmental budget in support            
of recruitment and retention objectives.  CSSB 143(RLS) would allow            
the Adjutant General to authorize up to 100 percent payment for                
tuition and required fees at Alaskan institutions where  Guard                 
members might receive training and college course work commensurate            
with the needs and objectives of the Guard.                                    
MR. BENINTENDI added that this raises the Adjutant General's                   
authority from 50 percent payment limitations.  It would also allow            
the Adjutant General to prioritize categories of educational                   
benefits in terms of the needs the Guard may have at the time these            
issues are reviewed.  All of these changes are found in Section 3              
of the bill.  In Section 1, active Guard personnel are identified              
as the group made eligible for educational assistance in Alaskan               
facilities.  Retirees and Territorial Guard members are now                    
excluded since so few funds are available and because Guard                    
leadership must focus on incentive for recruitment, as well as                 
retention of entry level personnel.                                            
MR. BENINTENDI continued that Section 2, provides that recipients              
of educational benefits be students in good standing in a program              
or class work undertaken.  In Section 5, there were a few                      
unnecessary or outdated references repealed.  The committee                    
substitute deleted a sentence found to be outdated and superseded              
by revisions in the Selected Service Act of 1967, which is the                 
governing federal law dealing with Reserve and National Guard                  
personnel.  Federal law is gender neutral.  It provides for                    
personnel to avail themselves the educational benefits during their            
first term of enlistment and not afterward.  Removing this language            
would eliminate the perception of a separate set of criteria for               
men and women.                                                                 
MR. BENINTENDI summarized that he had reviewed the language change             
in the Selective Service law with their bill drafter, the                      
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Administrative                     
personnel and with their research agency.  There has been no                   
opposition.  This legislation is to help the leadership in the                 
National Guard to apply educational benefits when and where they               
feel it is most appropriate under the circumstances.                           
Number 390                                                                     
CAROL CARROLL, Director, Administrative Services Division,                     
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs came forward to testify            
on CSSB 134(RLS).  The Department fully supports this legislation              
and they believed it would give the Adjutant General some                      
discretion with very limited funds, in order to direct these funds             
for recruitment and retention.                                                 
CHAIRMAN MASEK asked if current Guard members would have to sign up            
for an additional six years to be eligible for benefits under this             
Number 480                                                                     
MS. CARROLL responded that they would not.  Usually what the Guard             
would like to require them to do is to complete their initial                  
training which is about a four to six month period.  Then these                
funds would be directed to members.  Individuals already in the                
Guard would not have to sign up for additional six years, although             
the Department would want them to stay a certain number of years if            
education is going to be paid for, but this is not stated in this              
legislation.  This is discretionary.                                           
REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA asked that when a person signs up for            
the Guard how many years are they signing up for after the six                 
month training?                                                                
Number 540                                                                     
MS. CARROLL responded, two to three years for the Guard and she                
wasn't sure what the stipulations were.                                        
Number 563                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD FOSTER moved and asked unanimous consent to             
move CSSB 143(RLS) out of committee with individual recommendations            
and accompanying zero fiscal note.  Hearing no objections, CSSB
143(RLS) was moved out of the House Special Committee on Military              
and Veterans Affairs.                                                          

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