Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/26/2002 03:20 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 438-DISABLED VETERANS LICENSE PLATES                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT announced the first  order of business, HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 438,  "An Act relating  to motor vehicle  registration plates                                                               
for disabled veterans; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0112                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LESIL McGUIRE,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
noted that  HB 438  authorizes the  [Division] of  Motor Vehicles                                                               
(DMV) to  create a special  license plate for  disabled veterans.                                                               
She  offered her  belief that  this small  step will  send a  big                                                               
message to  the 900 disabled  veterans in  Alaska - a  number she                                                               
said is  estimated to grow  next year alone  by 50 to  70 percent                                                               
[50 to 70  registrations, according to DMV].   Bringing attention                                                               
to  page  2,  line  20,  paragraph (16),  she  pointed  out  that                                                               
although the  drafter had referenced  a fee, no fee  is currently                                                               
charged  for disabled  veterans for  "any kind  of registration."                                                               
Therefore,  the proposed  committee substitute  (CS) [Version  C]                                                               
corrects that drafting error.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  McGUIRE  told  members she  believes  the  $5,700                                                               
fiscal note from the DMV is  miniscule and will be recouped.  She                                                               
highlighted the  DMV's estimation,  in the fiscal  note analysis,                                                               
of  $3,000 in  first-year revenue;  according to  the statistics,                                                               
she said, it  appears 70 percent of the fiscal  note will be paid                                                               
back within  two years.   She  called it  a "small  investment to                                                               
make in a  community that has invested a whole  lot of their life                                                               
for us, in representing our country ... in foreign wars."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0380                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES asked  how many  different Alaskan  license                                                               
plates recognize veterans currently.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE  deferred to Mr.  Hosack of the DMV.   She                                                               
said  there are  roughly 812  [855 according  to the  fiscal note                                                               
analysis]  disabled  veterans  using  other  types  of  [Alaskan]                                                               
license plates.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0485                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHARLES R.  HOSACK, Deputy Director, Division  of Motor Vehicles,                                                               
Department of  Administration, responded via  teleconference that                                                               
currently 10  [categories of]  plates, out of  the 41  issued [by                                                               
DMV], are  dedicated to veterans.   He listed the  following that                                                               
the  DMV currently  issues:   "the regular  veterans' plates  for                                                               
every  type  of  service";  "the   disabled  veterans,  with  the                                                               
wheelchair logo  [or] without  the wheelchair  logo"; ex-prisoner                                                               
of  war;   Purple  Heart;  National   Guard;  and   Pearl  Harbor                                                               
survivors.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE added that even  though it seems there are                                                               
a lot [of  plates already], "there is certainly  a community that                                                               
we've heard  from, of  individuals who  are interested  in having                                                               
that special  recognition and  honor."  She  offered that  in the                                                               
bill  she'd  tried  to  be fiscally  responsible:    although  it                                                               
provides an  option for a  plate, there is a  $30 fee, and  it is                                                               
estimated that $3,000 will be recouped in the first year.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0634                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JIM POUND,  Staff to Representative  Lesil McGuire,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, in response to  Representative Hayes, explained that                                                               
this  bill gives  a disabled  veteran  an opportunity  to have  a                                                               
plate that  is distinctively  different from  handicapped license                                                               
plates  available in  Alaska now:    the proposed  plate is  red,                                                               
white,  and blue;  the current  DAV [Disabled  American Veterans]                                                               
plate is a standard  gold-and-blue handicapped-type license plate                                                               
that  simply  has the  letters  "DAV"  on  it.   In  response  to                                                               
Representative Murkowski about whether  someone would want to pay                                                               
$30 for another plate, he  explained that he'd been approached at                                                               
the  VFW  [Veterans of  Foreign  Wars]  in  Eagle River  by  some                                                               
disabled veterans  whose interest was  to have a red,  white, and                                                               
blue plate  that would  be more  noticeable and  distinctive than                                                               
the current  plate, and  that would  indicate those  veterans had                                                               
served their country and given part of themselves in doing so.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0819                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  brought  attention   to  the  fiscal  note                                                               
analysis, which references a minimum  of 900 pairs of plates, for                                                               
a cost of $5,750 [under the  current license plate contract].  He                                                               
asked  how often  a change  will be  required and  suggested that                                                               
eventually the plates will have to be replaced.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE offered her  understanding that the design                                                               
of the plate and logo is  what requires the investment cost.  She                                                               
reiterated that the estimated recoupment  the first year is about                                                               
$3,000;  she said  it might  even be  more.   She indicated  that                                                               
although DMV  is doing  an estimate,  Mr. Pound  is doing  one as                                                               
well, based on  the "disabled veteran community"; she  said it is                                                               
hard to  match those numbers.   She added her  understanding that                                                               
"once  the structure  is in  place, it's  in place,  and then  it                                                               
would just be a matter ...  of continuing to order as demand came                                                               
about."  She deferred to Mr. Hosack for a further response.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOSACK  explained that the  minimum order of  license plates,                                                               
"with the sheeting and aluminum,"  is 900 pairs, reflected in the                                                               
DMV's fiscal note at 5.7 [thousand  dollars].  Noting that in the                                                               
last  five  years  [DMV]  has  seen  an  increase  of  50  to  70                                                               
registrations a  year for disabled  veterans' plates,  he offered                                                               
that 900 pairs  of plates will last [DMV] quite  awhile.  Because                                                               
some people with  existing plates likely will switch  over to the                                                               
new design,  Mr. Hosack  told members  he'd estimated  100 [would                                                               
switch] in  the first year;  in succeeding years a  small portion                                                               
of  those 50  to 70  new registrants  would opt  for this  plate,                                                               
rather  than  the  gold-and-blue  one  [for  which  there  is  no                                                               
charge].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN  asked whether that  will also take  care of                                                               
the fact that  the plates will wear out [eventually]  and have to                                                               
be reissued.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOSACK agreed that someday there  would be a need to reorder,                                                               
but said the 900 plates will  take care of replacement plates; in                                                               
addition,  [DMV] still  has a  quantity of  regular gold-and-blue                                                               
plates.   "And that will  be picked  up in our  regular operating                                                               
expenses for license plates," he added.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1054                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI asked Mr.  Hosack when the gold-and-blue                                                               
plates were  initially made available  to disabled  veterans, and                                                               
how many  are left now.   She surmised  that an initial  order of                                                               
900 [pairs] had been required for those as well.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOSACK  answered  that  [DMV]  has  been  issuing  disabled-                                                               
veterans plates  since at  least 1980.   Although he  didn't know                                                               
when the  last order was placed,  he surmised it was  probably in                                                               
the early 1990s.  Of that  order, [DMV] has about 800 plates left                                                               
- split between those with and without the logo.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI  expressed surprise that 800  plates are                                                               
left after ten years.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE  emphasized that this [new  plate has been                                                               
requested by the  disabled veteran] community.   She conveyed her                                                               
understanding,  from  Mr.  Pound's  involvement  with  VFW,  that                                                               
veterans don't  see [the current  plates] as a distinct  honor or                                                               
as distinctive  in any way, since  they just say ["DAV"].   These                                                               
people  are   asking  for  these   license  plates  to   "give  a                                                               
distinctive  honor" so  that when  they are  driving, they'll  be                                                               
recognized and stand out.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1283                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  acknowledged his involvement in  many of the                                                               
discussions relating  to this special  license plate.   He agreed                                                               
the  existing  plates  aren't something  disabled  veterans  will                                                               
clamor  to  have on  their  cars.    He  also surmised  that  the                                                               
estimate is low [in the fiscal  note analysis] with regard to how                                                               
many disabled  veterans would switch  to these plates,  or obtain                                                               
them in the first place.   He conveyed his understanding that the                                                               
plates  would only  cost  [DMV] $6.30  [each],  and suggested  it                                                               
would only  take about 200  to break even.   He said  he believes                                                               
perhaps  100 people  from the  Eagle  River VFW  post would  [buy                                                               
these new plates].                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI related her  understanding that the lack                                                               
of use has been due to the design, then.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  suggested [the  proposed plates] are  a good                                                               
deal for  disabled veterans,  giving them  recognition at  a very                                                               
cheap cost to the state -  or no cost [after the break-even point                                                               
in reached].                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1396                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES expressed his  understanding that this would                                                               
replace one  of the  ten [types of]  existing plates  [offered by                                                               
the DMV].   He asked whether there would be  separate plates with                                                               
and without the wheelchair logo.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND related  his understanding  that the  handicapped logo                                                               
could be through use of a  sticker, for instance, for the purpose                                                               
of being  able to park in  a handicapped-parking zone.   He added                                                               
that  the  existing  inventory   of  gold-and-blue  plates  would                                                               
remain; those are  free to [disabled veterans]  who request them,                                                               
and would remain so.  By contrast,  there is a $30 charge for the                                                               
proposed plates; that fee is to cover the cost.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1479                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES asked  whether there  are [special]  plates                                                               
for  Gulf War  veterans, for  example; he  said he  could foresee                                                               
having  a  plate  for  veterans  of the  war  on  terrorism,  for                                                               
example.  He acknowledged that he was just curious.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE  answered, "We kind of  have kicked around                                                               
some  of those  ideas, but  I think  in this  particular instance                                                               
we've tried  to amalgamate ... the  category as much as  we can."                                                               
These plates  would be for  disabled veterans, she  said, whether                                                               
from the war  in Afghanistan, World War II, or  the Gulf War, for                                                               
instance; having  [special plates  for any of  those] would  go a                                                               
step too far, and the bill  is a middle ground.  She acknowledged                                                               
that  perhaps  a sticker  system  could  be  used for  people  to                                                               
delineate that  they are disabled  veterans from a  specific war,                                                               
but  she suggested  it  is too  cumbersome for  this  bill.   She                                                               
specified  that  her  main  concern,  when  the  legislation  was                                                               
presented to  her, was to  give an opportunity to  honor disabled                                                               
veterans, "but through a fiscally responsible way."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
[There was a brief discussion  of "regular veteran plates," which                                                               
have a white background with light blue and red.]                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI offered her  understanding that only the                                                               
disabled  veterans ended  up with  the old-style  [gold-and-blue]                                                               
plate  "with nothing  unique  to it,"  because  the Purple  Heart                                                               
[plate] is unique, for example.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE  concurred, suggesting it might  have been                                                               
an oversight  [when the  issue of special  plates was  brought to                                                               
legislators' attention previously].                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1780                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT noted that under  the bill a [veteran] who is                                                               
70 percent  [disabled will qualify];  he asked Mr.  Pound whether                                                               
it is the same threshold used for a property tax exemption.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. POUND said he didn't know for  a fact and would look into it,                                                               
but believed it to be 50 percent.   He recalled that a friend had                                                               
obtained an exemption from the  Fairbanks North Star Borough with                                                               
a 50-percent disability, to his belief.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  McGUIRE  responded that  if  that  fact could  be                                                               
ascertained, a  committee substitute (CS)  could be offered  in a                                                               
subsequent committee to "marry" the two [percentages].                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT agreed  that  if  it is  50  percent for  [a                                                               
property  tax exemption],  it  should be  50  percent [under  the                                                               
bill].  He offered to have his own staff research it.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1825                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT moved  to adopt the proposed  CS, version 22-                                                               
LS1503\C, Ford, 2/26/02, as a work draft.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT announced that [Version C] was adopted.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1845                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ED  KNOEBEL testified  via teleconference,  noting that  he is  a                                                               
disabled  veteran,  "category  2"  under the  VA  [Department  of                                                               
Veterans  Affairs]; he  asked  whether  that specification  would                                                               
qualify for the  [proposed plate].  Mr. Knoebel  pointed out that                                                               
many of  these people are disabled  and have a hard  time getting                                                               
around,  although  they  might  not use  wheelchairs.    He  also                                                               
indicated  originally there  was  a colored  Purple Heart  plate,                                                               
whereas now the equivalent plate  just has a Purple Heart stamped                                                               
on  it; he  said  he'd been  told  that when  [DMV]  runs out  of                                                               
plates, it  will order the  [former] type.   He asked  Mr. Hosack                                                               
whether [DMV]  still has the  old plate  or will be  issuing "the                                                               
new type of Purple Heart one."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOSACK  answered that  [DMV]  has  had  a request  from  the                                                               
"Purple  Heart  or  combat-wounded  association"  to  change  the                                                               
plate's design when it is  reordered.  "We will accommodate their                                                               
request," he  told Mr. Knoebel,  adding that he wasn't  sure what                                                               
the [DMV's] current inventory was of that [stamped] plate.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. KNOEBEL specified  that he'd be interested  in another Purple                                                               
Heart plate  - since  he doesn't  have one  now and  doesn't like                                                               
[the stamped version] - as well as this [proposed plate].                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2004                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOSACK explained that the major  portion of the cost for new,                                                               
specialty plates is for the  design and "getting our manufacturer                                                               
to do  a small quantity  of the  special sheeting."   He affirmed                                                               
Representative  Kott's calculation  that  it would  cost "$6  and                                                               
something" [for each  proposed plate].  With respect  to the 800-                                                               
some plates  currently on hand,  those were done when  Alaska had                                                               
gold-and-blue plates  for all license  plates, so there  was some                                                               
economy  of   scale:    they   only  cost  $2.50  each,   to  his                                                               
recollection;  thus the  cost of  the 800  plates in  the current                                                               
inventory was about $2,100.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOSACK,   although  agreeing   that  the   disabled  veteran                                                               
community  certainly deserves  recognition, voiced  DMV's concern                                                               
with having  three different types  of plates for a  fairly small                                                               
community.   He explained that  existing [law] allows  [DMV] just                                                               
to issue  a special  plate; it  doesn't specify  the design.   He                                                               
told members:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     So if  it is the [desire]  of the committee to  go to a                                                                    
     new design,  rather than  having three  different types                                                                    
     of plates, DMV  would prefer just to  take our existing                                                                    
     inventory  of gold-and-blue  plates, donate  them to  a                                                                    
     metal recycling, and  just adopt a new  design and have                                                                    
     one plate  - the  newer design -  for all  the disabled                                                                    
     veterans.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2120                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT thanked  Mr. Hosack and asked  whether anyone else                                                               
wished to testify.  He then closed public testimony.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHENAULT  called an  at-ease at  3:52 p.m.   He  called the                                                               
meeting back to order at 3:55 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
[A motion  to move the bill  out of committee was  interrupted in                                                               
order to make the following amendment.]                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2255                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT moved  to adopt  conceptual Amendment  1, as                                                               
follows:  indicating he'd just  received word that it conforms to                                                               
the property tax exemption, he  explained that Amendment 1 "takes                                                               
it [the disability requirement] down  to 50 percent and basically                                                               
defines  'disabled veteran'  meaning  a person  who is  separated                                                               
from the military service of  the United States under a condition                                                               
that is not  dishonorable, who is a resident of  the state, whose                                                               
disability was incurred or aggravated in  the line of duty in the                                                               
military service of  the United States, and  whose disability has                                                               
been rated  as 50  percent or  more by the  branch of  service in                                                               
which that  person served (indisc.) the  United States Department                                                               
of Veteran Affairs or, (b),  who served in the Alaska Territorial                                                               
Guard,  was  a  resident  of  the  state,  whose  disability  was                                                               
incurred or aggravated  in the line of duty while  serving in the                                                               
Alaska Territorial Guard, and whose  disability has been rated as                                                               
50 percent or more."                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2295                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  asked  Representative  Kott  what  he  was                                                               
reading from.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  said it conforms to  the provision currently                                                               
in statute  that allows disabled  veterans to receive  a property                                                               
tax exemption.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GREEN   suggested,   rather  than   adding   the                                                               
foregoing, that  a reference could  just say  "disabled veterans"                                                               
has  the meaning  in  [the appropriate  specified  statute].   It                                                               
would keep it from being cumbersome.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT agreed, provided the drafters would do it.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE proposed that it  might be simpler to make                                                               
a conceptual amendment on page 2,  line 4, to insert "50" percent                                                               
instead of "70".                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  responded  that  [Representative  McGuire's                                                               
suggestion] probably captures the  intent, but offered his belief                                                               
that  the  definition  of  "disabled   veteran"  is  [already  in                                                               
statute], and  agreed with Representative Green  that referencing                                                               
it in the bill would keep it simple.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN  moved to adopt the  foregoing [reference to                                                               
the definition  of "disabled veteran"  in statute] as  a friendly                                                               
amendment to Amendment 1.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  concurred, saying the drafters  could figure                                                               
it out.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2418                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CHENAULT   asked  whether  there  was   any  objection  to                                                               
[conceptual]  Amendment   1  [as   amended].    There   being  no                                                               
objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2429                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES  moved  to  report CSHB  438  [version  22-                                                               
LS1503\C,  Ford,  2/26/02], as  amended,  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the accompanying  fiscal  note.                                                               
There  being no  objection, CSHB  438(MLV) was  moved out  of the                                                               
House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                

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