Legislature(2007 - 2008)BARNES 124

03/20/2007 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS


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01:08:46 PM Start
01:09:11 PM HB184
01:57:24 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 184 COMMEMORATIVE TROOPS LICENSE PLATE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
HB 184-COMMEMORATIVE TROOPS LICENSE PLATE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:09:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES  announced that the  only order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 184, "An  Act relating to a  commemorative troops                                                               
license plate; and providing for an effective date."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:10:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSH APPLEBEE,  Staff to Representative  Bob Roses,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, presented HB 184 on  behalf of Representative Roses,                                                               
sponsor.  He explained that  the bill would authorize issuance of                                                               
a special  commemorative license plate for  a $40 fee.   This fee                                                               
would  be collected  by  the Division  of  Motor Vehicles  (DMV),                                                               
Department of Administration (DOA),  and then may be appropriated                                                               
by the legislature  to the organization Support  Our Troops, Inc.                                                               
(SOT).    He  emphasized  that   the  funds  collected  would  be                                                               
distributed by  a SOT disbursement board  in Alaska.  He  went on                                                               
to say that  SOT is in the process  of establishing commemorative                                                               
license plate programs in 40 of the U.S. states.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:11:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  APPLEBEE   drew  attention  to  the   amendment  offered  by                                                               
Representative Dahlstrom  and described in the  committee packet.                                                               
He  explained that  it allows  a  disabled veteran  to receive  a                                                               
license plate without  paying the $40 fee and  without that plate                                                               
authorizing special parking privileges.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:12:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARTIN BOIRE, Executive Director,  Support Our Troops, Inc. (SOT)                                                               
explained  that the  money from  the sale  of the  license plates                                                               
will be  used to assist  active duty  troops and the  families of                                                               
deployed troops.   He noted that the money is  used for a variety                                                               
of  needs, such  as  car  repairs for  the  families of  deployed                                                               
military personnel.  Disbursement of  the funds, he said, will be                                                               
through a disbursement board at the local level.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:14:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES asked how much of  the money generated by the sale of                                                               
the  license  plates would  be  used  to pay  SOT  administrative                                                               
costs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOIRE said that normally about  17 percent of the funds go to                                                               
overhead.    However,  in  some  states  SOT  has  had  to  spend                                                               
thousands  of   dollars  on  state  government   requirements  to                                                               
initiate the  program.   He opined that,  once the  license plate                                                               
program  is  established,  it   will  become  self-sustaining  as                                                               
license plates  are purchased and  renewed.  Mr.  Boire estimated                                                               
that 80 to  85 percent of the  funds will go to  troops and their                                                               
families.  The  program will not create a bureaucracy  as it will                                                               
be administered  through existing  local chapters.   In  fact, he                                                               
said, he has not  had a paycheck from SOT in  the past 18 months.                                                               
However, the  SOT board of  directors will  set a salary  for him                                                               
after the program meets its  primary goals.  Mr. Boire summarized                                                               
by  saying  that the  message  and  goal  of  SOT is  to  support                                                               
military families.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:18:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  asked whether  the money would  be disbursed                                                               
by the legislature and whether  the legislature would need to set                                                               
up a disbursement board.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:18:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES explained  that SOT already has  a disbursement board                                                               
through   its  national   organization   and  that   it  is   his                                                               
understanding  that Alaska  would have  a representative  to work                                                               
with that board.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:18:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  asked if  the money  for the  license plates                                                               
would go to  the Division of Motor Vehicles  (DMV), Department of                                                               
Administration (DOA),  and they then  would submit it to  the SOT                                                               
disbursement board.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. APPLEBEE  clarified that the  money received for  the license                                                               
plates would  be deposited to  the state's general fund,  and the                                                               
legislature would appropriate the funds to SOT.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:19:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES  observed that SOT  has sources of income  other than                                                               
license  plate sales;  therefore, if  Alaska participates  in the                                                               
organization, it  would be  able to receive  some funds  from the                                                               
sale of items other than license plates.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:20:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KAWASAKI   noted   that  the   state   currently                                                               
authorizes  the  issuance  of a  large  number  of  commemorative                                                               
license plates  to support various  organizations, none  of which                                                               
are incorporated outside  the state.  He  expressed concern about                                                               
how  to  ensure that  money  generated  from  the sale  of  these                                                               
license plates will  stay in Alaska, rather than  be disbursed to                                                               
the larger, national organization.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. APPLEBEE  said that the  funds from license plate  sales will                                                               
supplement funds  received from the national  organization by SOT                                                               
in Alaska.  He went on to  say that SOT is an established charity                                                               
in Alaska,  and that  this is  the commemorative  license program                                                               
that SOT has established in other states.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:21:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  asked  whether  there  is  a  board  of                                                               
directors in Alaska that would receive the funds.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  APPLEBEE  replied   that  a  board  of   directors  will  be                                                               
established after the legislation is passed.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:22:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI noted  that  there  are numerous  plates                                                               
currently authorized by law, such  as those to support children's                                                               
services, the University of Alaska,  the Alaska State Council for                                                               
the Arts  and dog  mushing.   These other  causes are  for Alaska                                                               
organizations that  already exist; whereas there  is currently no                                                               
SOT organization in Alaska.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:22:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. APPLEBEE agreed  that this is a unique  situation because SOT                                                               
is not a state organization,  unlike the other organizations that                                                               
currently receive commemorative license plate monies.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  stated  that  he believes  there  is  a                                                               
council, or  other organization concerned with  veterans' issues.                                                               
He  voiced the  possibility that  it may  be wise  to keep  money                                                               
contributed  for troops  "in-house"  instead of  giving  it to  a                                                               
national organization to be disbursed back to the state.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:24:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH asked  whether there  are any  license                                                               
plates, currently issued by DMV,  with proceeds distributed to an                                                               
out-of-state, non profit organization.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:25:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DUANE  BANNOCK,  Director,  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles  (DMV),                                                               
Department  of  Administration  (DOA),  replied  that  the  state                                                               
currently  does  not  issue  commemorative  license  plates  with                                                               
proceeds going  to an out-of-state  organization.  He  said there                                                               
is a veteran's commemorative license  plate called "I Support Our                                                               
Veterans,"  and the  legislative statute  directs that  the funds                                                               
collected  for   the  license  plates   are  used   for  programs                                                               
benefiting veterans.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:25:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH  informed the  committee that  there is                                                               
currently interest  in developing  a commemorative  license plate                                                               
that will celebrate Alaska's 50th Anniversary of Statehood.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. BANNOCK replied  that the state's 50th  anniversary plate, if                                                               
legislation is  adopted, will become  the state's  standard issue                                                               
license plate.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:26:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   asked  if  there  are   other  nonprofit                                                               
organizations  in  the  state  that   support  troops  and  their                                                               
families.    She  expressed  her opinion  that  support  for  the                                                               
existing Alaska organizations would be more appropriate.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:27:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT CARTER, Volunteer Lobbyist for  SOT, provided some background                                                               
information about the  SOT license plate program.   He noted that                                                               
the state  of Florida, where  Mr. Boire and SOT  headquarters are                                                               
located,  issues   many  different  plates  for   many  different                                                               
organizations.     Commemorative   plates,   he   said,  are   an                                                               
established and  popular way  to raise  money for  worthy causes.                                                               
Mr.  Carter  pointed  out that  often  patriotic  merchandise  is                                                               
merely  advertising, and  the money  raised  does not  ultimately                                                               
support veterans  and their families.   Mr. Boire created  SOT as                                                               
an umbrella  organization to  issue seals  of assurance,  so that                                                               
businesses using  the "Support Our  Troops" logo must  dedicate a                                                               
percentage of  their profits to SOT.   This is the  source of the                                                               
additional revenue  that is shared  with states  participating in                                                               
the license plate program.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARTER   continued  to   say  that  the   SOT  is   an  apex                                                               
organization, which means that it  collects and distributes money                                                               
to other  related charities.   The  SOT organization,  he stated,                                                               
ensures  that any  money collected  in a  state will  be used  to                                                               
support  charities in  that  state.   As  with  the other  states                                                               
participating  in  this  program,  the funds  collected  for  the                                                               
purchase of  a SOT  license plate  will go to  the SOT  branch in                                                               
Alaska, he explained.   Mr. Carter observed that  this program is                                                               
a convenient method for citizens  to contribute to the charity of                                                               
their choice.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:32:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX   asked    whether   there   are   Alaska                                                               
organizations dedicated  to providing  support to our  troops and                                                               
their families.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER affirmed  that there are, and that  SOT will determine                                                               
their authenticity prior to disbursing funds to them.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES  referred to the SOT  Disbursement Methodology Policy                                                               
information,  which identified  nine active  Alaska organizations                                                               
that are currently receiving funds.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:33:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX   asked   if  the   other   organizations                                                               
identified were supportive of SOT.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER  replied that what  is most  important for all  of the                                                               
charity  organizations  is a  steady  source  of income  for  the                                                               
troops and their families.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:35:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if  the phrase "support  our troops"                                                               
is copyrighted.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER said yes.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROSES explained  that it  was his  understanding that  Mr.                                                               
Boire copyrighted the phrase to prevent its use by profiteers.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:36:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER indicated that the  justification behind obtaining the                                                               
copyright was to  ensure that troops and  their families received                                                               
a percentage  of the profits  from the sale of  merchandise using                                                               
the phrase.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:37:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH asked  if SOT  is affiliated  with the                                                               
Fan Mail for Our Troops organization.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER said he will get an answer to that question.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH continued  to say  that SOT  documents                                                               
indicate  it will  support local  agencies.   It will  also be  a                                                               
centralized  point of  support for  other organizations,  and non                                                               
profits, that  provide resources  for troops and  their families.                                                               
She  said the  following could  be  found on  page 1  of the  SOT                                                               
Disbursement Methodology Policy:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This  methodology  enables  SOT to  promptly  meet  the                                                                    
     needs of  local troops and their  families, because the                                                                    
     local Disbursement  Board has immediate  local personal                                                                    
      knowledge of who needs what.  They are comprised of                                                                       
         local faces that the troops and their families                                                                         
     currently know and deal with.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH  also  noted  that  the  national  SOT                                                               
organization   will   assume    the   licensing   and   fiduciary                                                               
responsibility for the local disbursement  board.  She said there                                                               
is  value in  the  fact  that a  national  organization  is in  a                                                               
position to  centralize services  for troops, and  their families                                                               
who may move  from state to state.  She  concluded by saying that                                                               
she will support moving HB 184 from committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:40:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  expressed concern  about money  going to                                                               
SOT without his  further knowledge of the organization.   He said                                                               
he felt  that an Alaska  veterans' organization would  be capable                                                               
of disbursing funds without overhead and administrative costs.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH   stated  that  all   nonprofits  have                                                               
administrative  overhead   costs.    She  stated   that,  in  her                                                               
experience, the normal overhead  costs associated with grants can                                                               
be between 12 percent and 35 percent.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI requested that  the committee be provided                                                               
with the amount  of the administration fees that are  paid by the                                                               
other commemorative plate programs.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES observed that administrative  costs would be expected                                                               
of  an  organization  that  collects and  disburses  funds.    In                                                               
addition, the amount of the  ancillary funds coming to the Alaska                                                               
disbursement board  from the national  SOT office may  exceed its                                                               
administrative fees.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:44:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER said that he concurred,  and that there would be money                                                               
paid to  Alaska from  the sale  of other  products that  have the                                                               
seal of assurance from SOT.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:45:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BANNOCK  informed the  committee that  to his  knowledge, the                                                               
only license program  that collects an administration  fee is the                                                               
Motor Vehicle Registration Tax (MVRT).   He said that DMV reports                                                               
the total amount of the  cost of each commemorative license plate                                                               
to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES noted that the  committee has unanswered questions on                                                               
HB 184.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:48:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH  asked if  the questions  raised during                                                               
the discussion of  the bill could be forwarded to  Mr. Carter for                                                               
his   response.      She  clarified   that   her   reference   to                                                               
administrative fees  was to those  collected by  the organization                                                               
or trust, as  in the case of a  grant, and not by DMV.   She said                                                               
she felt  that the  committee was  also concerned  about ensuring                                                               
that funds earned in Alaska will be disbursed here.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:49:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES requested confirmation  that other military charities                                                               
support SOT.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI asked  if other  committee members  were                                                               
familiar with SOT.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:49:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH replied that he  had previously heard of SOT,                                                               
but was not  familiar with its processes.   He questioned whether                                                               
passage  of  the  bill  would   require  further  legislation  to                                                               
establish a local board.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES noted  that DMV will collect the funds  from the sale                                                               
of the license  plates, deposit these funds to  the general fund,                                                               
and then request  an appropriation from the  legislature for that                                                               
amount.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:50:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARTER  assured  the  committee that  SOT  is  a  legitimate                                                               
Internal Revenue  Code 501(c)(3) charity, and  that its operating                                                               
expenses are  approximately 17  percent.  He  said that  DMV will                                                               
collect  the license  plate fees  and each  year the  legislature                                                               
will need to approve the appropriation.   At that point, SOT will                                                               
submit a report to the  legislature detailing the disbursement of                                                               
funds.   Mr. Carter  opined that each  year the  legislature will                                                               
have  an opportunity  to discuss  whether the  program should  be                                                               
continued.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:53:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI expressed  concern  that a  vote not  to                                                               
support  this program  would be  politically difficult  under any                                                               
circumstances.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARTER  expressed  his  opinion  that  each  member  of  the                                                               
legislature will consider his or her vote judiciously.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROSES   noted  that  legislators  are   often  faced  with                                                               
politically popular, or unpopular, issues.   It is a legislator's                                                               
responsibility, he said,  to vote his/her conscience  and to make                                                               
sure programs such as this are meeting their objectives.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:55:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARTER assured  the committee  that he  will continue  to be                                                               
involved in  this program.  He  said that, in the  unlikely event                                                               
that he was  notified of inappropriate management,  he would take                                                               
immediate steps to correct any problems.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:55:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  asked if there are  other organizations,                                                               
similar   to  SOT,   that  are   funded  by   line  item   budget                                                               
appropriations through the legislature.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARTER answered  that there  are many  charities, throughout                                                               
the  U.S., that  are  funded through  the  sale of  commemorative                                                               
license plates.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:56:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROSES observed  that SOT is an  inclusive organization that                                                               
invites participation  from related agencies.   It also maintains                                                               
a national board  of advisors made up of worthy  individuals.  He                                                               
noted that this  openness ensures that the  money appropriated to                                                               
SOT will be properly managed.   Chair Roses announced that HB 184                                                               
was held over for further discussion.                                                                                           

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