Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

01/25/2018 01:30 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
*+ HJR 17 HMONG VETERANS MILITARY BURIAL RIGHTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 178 NAMING PORTIONS OF VETERANS HIGHWAYS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
          HB 178-NAMING PORTIONS OF VETERANS HIGHWAYS                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:24:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR LEDOUX  announced that  the final  order of  business                                                               
would be HOUSE  BILL NO. 178, "An Act relating  to recognition of                                                               
individual veterans  along certain  veterans' memorial  roads and                                                               
on certain veterans' memorial bridges."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:25:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID  EASTMAN, Alaska State Legislature,  said HB
178  was  requested  by  Alaska  veterans  and  affects  the  six                                                               
veterans' memorials that currently exist in Alaska.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:26:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH moved  to adopt  the committee  substitute                                                               
(CS)  for HB  178, [Version  30-LS0550\M], Bruce,  1/24/18, as  a                                                               
working  document.   There  being  no  objection, Version  M  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:26:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERAD MCCLURE, Staff, Representative  David Eastman, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on  behalf   of  Representative  Eastman,  sponsor,                                                               
presented the  changes incorporated  in Version  M.   He directed                                                               
attention to page  1, lines 6-12, and said language  was added to                                                               
ensure  the veterans'  organizations  submitting nominations  are                                                               
recognized under  Internal Revenue  Code section 501(c)(19).   On                                                               
page  2, lines  1-5, language  was added  to ensure  if a  living                                                               
veteran's  name  was  selected,  the  Department  of  Military  &                                                               
Veterans'  Affairs (DMVA)  would be  required to  seek permission                                                               
from the veteran  before his/her name could be added  to the list                                                               
of  individuals to  be honored.   Also,  on page  2, lines  22-25                                                               
require  that  the   signs  are  funded  or   the  Department  of                                                               
Transportation  &  Public   Facilities  (DOTPF)  cannot  proceed.                                                               
Language beginning on page 2, line  31, and continuing to page 3,                                                               
lines  1-3, establishes  the  order of  priority  for the  signs.                                                               
Also, on page 3, lines 7-10  create a more specific definition of                                                               
"veteran" for the  purposes of this legislation,  and lines 11-14                                                               
clarify  DOTPF is  the sole  department responsible  for handling                                                               
donations, gifts, and grants for funding the signs.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  whether  the  sponsor  considered                                                               
expanding  the definition  of  veterans in  the  bill to  include                                                               
Hmong veterans.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCCLURE responded he did not believe so.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN, speaking  as  the sponsor,  said he  was                                                               
amenable to such an amendment.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH directed  attention to the bill  on page 3,                                                               
[lines  11-14],  and  asked whether  this  language  expands  the                                                               
sources of revenue that DOTPF can receive.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCCLURE  explained the language  grants de  minimis authority                                                               
to accept  gifts, grants, and donations  so there is no  need for                                                               
DOTPF to receive  budget line item funds [for the  purposes of HB
178].                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  requested asked  an estimate of  the funds                                                               
necessary to post a sign or marker in recognition of a veteran.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCCLURE deferred to DOTPF.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:30:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:31:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK  NEIDHOLD,   Chief  of  Design  &   Construction  Standards,                                                               
Division of Statewide Design and  Engineering Services, DOTPF, in                                                               
response  to  Representative  Parish,  said  a  standalone  sign,                                                               
meeting all necessary requirements to  preserve the safety of the                                                               
traveling   public,   would   cost   approximately   $2,500   per                                                               
installation.   He  said there  could  be economies  of scale  if                                                               
there is more than one sign, and/or  if the sign is attached to a                                                               
preexisting structure.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  whether additional  funds would  be                                                               
needed for the maintenance and/or replacement of signs.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD opined the bill  restricts DOTPF from performing any                                                               
repair or maintenance  unless funds are available.   Further, the                                                               
cost of a repair would depend  upon the condition of the sign and                                                               
could reach the full replacement cost of $2,500.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD observed  an existing  sign honoring  an                                                               
Alaska State Trooper killed in  action is terribly weathered, and                                                               
she asked for the cost of replacing the sign.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD was  unsure; sign blanks are  approximately $250 per                                                               
square   foot  thus   the  six-square-foot   sign  mentioned   by                                                               
Representative Reinbold could cost $1,500.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  said the sign  in question is  small and                                                               
the estimate [for replacement] seems very high.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD  explained his  estimate is  an amortized  cost that                                                               
includes traffic  control, labor,  and safety  compliance whether                                                               
installation is  by DOTPF staff  or is  bid out to  a contractor.                                                               
He offered to confirm his estimate.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:36:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR LEDOUX asked that comments relate directly to HB 178.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[A short discussion unrelated to HB 178 ensued.]                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER asked  whether  the  bill indicates  the                                                               
size of the signs.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD  advised the size of  the sign is not  identified in                                                               
the bill  but would be subject  to the Alaska Traffic  Manual and                                                               
the Manual  on Uniform Traffic  Control Devices,  Federal Highway                                                               
Administration.  In further  response to Representative Rauscher,                                                               
he said the size  of the sign is dependent upon  the text, thus a                                                               
veteran with a long name would require a larger sign.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked  whether  remarks  other  than  a                                                               
veteran's name would be allowed on the sign.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD  said the bill  does not specify; however,  the bill                                                               
directs  DOTPF  to  develop  "that policy,"  and  he  offered  to                                                               
provide more information at a later date.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  asked whether  more than one  name would                                                               
be allowed on a sign.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEIDHOLD said  the  bill is  not specific  on  that, but  it                                                               
directs  DOTPF  to   produce  a  sign  in   accordance  with  the                                                               
legislative  commendation;  the  Alaska Traffic  Manual  and  the                                                               
Manual  on  Uniform  Traffic  Control  Devices  do  not  prohibit                                                               
listing more than one name on a sign.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER questioned whether  a person sponsoring a                                                               
veteran  would provide  the $2,500  for the  initial cost  of the                                                               
sign, and additional donations would  be needed to cover the cost                                                               
of repairs if the sign were damaged.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD  said language  in Version M  of the  bill prohibits                                                               
DOTPF from acting unless funds are available.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER restated  all  of the  funds would  come                                                               
from a sponsor.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD  restated the bill  restricts DOTPF from any  or all                                                               
of the stated  activities - design, post, maintain,  or replace -                                                               
unless funding is present.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:41:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR LEDOUX  directed attention  to  the bill  on page  2,                                                               
lines 21-23, which read [in part]:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     ... The Department of Transportation and Public                                                                            
     Facilities may not                                                                                                         
          (1)  design, post, maintain, or replace a sign or                                                                     
     other marker unless there is adequate funding through                                                                      
     gifts, donations, or grants ...                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR LEDOUX asked whether  grants would include grants from                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD was unsure and deferred the question to finance.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR LEDOUX  noted the bill has a zero  fiscal note [Fiscal                                                               
Note  Identifier:    HB178-DOT-COM-03-31-17]  and  expressed  her                                                               
concern as  to whether the legislature  can act on a  bill with a                                                               
zero fiscal note.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD explained DOTPF attached  a zero fiscal note because                                                               
of the language prohibiting DOTPF  from performing any activities                                                               
unless other funding is provided.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:44:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE LESMANN,  Legislative Liaison,  Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
DOTPF, stated  DOTPF's understanding  that activities  related to                                                               
design,   maintenance,   posting,   or  replacing   [signs]   are                                                               
prohibited without funding  to DOTPF outside of  funding from the                                                               
state  or federal  government, which  is  the reason  for a  zero                                                               
fiscal note.  However, for  its Southcoast, Northern, and Central                                                               
Regions,   DOTPF  has   statutory   designated  program   receipt                                                               
authority which provides the mechanism  for DOTPF to accept gifts                                                               
and  grants.   Mr. Lesmann  suggested the  question about  grants                                                               
should be  directed to  the bill  sponsor.   In response  to Vice                                                               
Chair LeDoux's  question about [Fiscal  Note Identifier:   HB178-                                                               
MVA-OVA-1-19-18],  he deferred  to the  Department of  Military &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
[Vice Chair LeDoux returned the gavel to Chair Tuck.]                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  surmised the intention of  Version M is                                                               
DMVA  would  work  with  private  nonprofit  organizations  which                                                               
support and advance veterans' interests  and recognition in order                                                               
to secure nominations and funding for said memorials.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN remarked:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The intention of the bill  comes from the requests from                                                                    
     the   veterans'  organizations   themselves  who   have                                                                    
     identified funding for some signs  that they would like                                                                    
     to go ahead and put  on these veterans' memorials.  And                                                                    
     the,  the  process and  the  Department  of Military  &                                                                    
     Veterans'   Affairs  can   certainly  speak   to  their                                                                    
     analysis,  but the  process is  such that  those, those                                                                    
     veterans'   organizations   have  current   established                                                                    
     relationships  with the  department.   They're  already                                                                    
     recognized  by  (indisc.) as  veterans'  organizations,                                                                    
     they already have those  relationships, and they simply                                                                    
     submit a  document with  a name.   Then that  is simply                                                                    
     passed on to the legislature by the department.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  said from  her experience  working with                                                               
veterans' organizations,  a veterans' organization  interested in                                                               
recognizing a  nominee would put  forth a person's name  with the                                                               
understanding that  it would likely  fund that  specific memorial                                                               
sign.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN said yes.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  observed the bill would  allow DOTPF to                                                               
work  with  DMVA  in  placing signs  at  six  specific  veterans'                                                               
memorials in the state; this  would be done in collaboration with                                                               
the private  nonprofit veterans'  organizations which  would fund                                                               
the projects.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  clarified DMVA  would be  an intermediary                                                               
between the veterans' organizations  and the legislature, and the                                                               
legislature would decide whether or not to recognize veterans.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  confirmed   funding  would  come  from                                                               
private  nonprofit  organizations  working   with  DMVA  to  make                                                               
recommendations to the legislature  regarding memorial signs.  If                                                               
the recommendations  are approved,  the signs would  be installed                                                               
by  DOTPF.   She  asked for  the location  of  the six  veterans'                                                               
memorials that would be affected.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  said the  bill amends AS  35.40.035 which                                                               
identifies  six veterans'  memorials  designated  on portions  of                                                               
highways in  Juneau, Eagle River, the  Matanuska-Susitna Borough,                                                               
and  Fairbanks, and  on  two  bridges.   In  further response  to                                                               
Representative Spohnholz, he said  he would provide the locations                                                               
of the memorials to the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER said  he likes the intent of  the bill and                                                               
that  Alaskans would  honor a  fallen comrade  in a  self-reliant                                                               
manner.  He  asked whether there are any limits  to the number of                                                               
memorials,   other   than   those  imposed   by   the   veterans'                                                               
organizations.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   EASTMAN   pointed   out  the   legislature   has                                                               
established the  existing memorials and new  legislation would be                                                               
required  to  change  the  number of  memorials.    Further,  the                                                               
legislature  would   decide  on  the  number   and  frequency  of                                                               
designated names.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  questioned   whether  the  six  existing                                                               
memorials are identified  by a signpost - or  encompass a certain                                                               
area, such  as an intersection -  so to envision the  physical or                                                               
procedural  limitations on  the number  of individual  signs that                                                               
might be posted.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN said  individual veterans'  memorials can                                                               
be unique; therefore, the legislature  has allowed DOTPF latitude                                                               
to  determine their  location  and  size, and  if  more than  one                                                               
person's name would be included.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER surmised  the amount  of money  generated                                                               
may affect the size of the  memorial thus signs may be very large                                                               
or very small depending upon  the veteran's popularity.  Further,                                                               
he  asked where  the  bill establishes  standards  on what  would                                                               
qualify a veteran for commendation or recognition.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN said  the legislature  ultimately decides                                                               
who is recognized  under this program; the bill  does not provide                                                               
criteria to guide the legislature in its decision.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  concluded a recommendation -  even though                                                               
funded  by a  veterans' organization  -  could be  denied by  the                                                               
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  explained  denial  of  a  recommendation                                                               
would occur through inaction by the legislature.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:55:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD acknowledged  the  value of  recognizing                                                               
veterans,   however,  DOTPF's   primary  responsibility   is  for                                                               
infrastructure and  public safety.  Further,  she estimated there                                                               
are 75,000  veterans in  Alaska, and  asked how  [one nomination]                                                               
would be prioritized as more important than another.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN said  veterans'  organizations desire  to                                                               
highlight one  or more  veterans over a  certain period  of time,                                                               
but  not  permanently.   He  stressed  the legislation  currently                                                               
before  the committee  relates to  whether  the legislature  will                                                               
respond to that request.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  expressed her appreciation  of veterans'                                                               
memorials and  their purpose.   She inquired as to  whether there                                                               
are additional messages  of support for the  bill, and questioned                                                               
how  the legislature  would  recognize all  of  the thousands  of                                                               
veterans in Alaska.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN noted there  will be public testimony from                                                               
veterans in support of the bill.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH returned  to  the concern  of equity,  and                                                               
pointed out the bill directs  the initial placement would be done                                                               
in the  order of the  most recent commendation, and  if donations                                                               
have  not been  linked to  a  specific veteran,  DOTPF could  use                                                               
those  funds   for  others;  however,  if   there  were  veterans                                                               
commended by  the legislature without funding,  and all available                                                               
funding  is  associated  with  other  names,  there  would  be  a                                                               
conflict.    In addition,  if  the  signs  are  not meant  to  be                                                               
permanent, he  surmised [veterans'  organizations] would  need to                                                               
raise  funds for  their eventual  replacement or  removal of  the                                                               
signs.   He directed attention  to the bill  on page 2,  lines 18                                                               
and 19, which read [in part]:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     ... A donor may request that a gift, donation, or                                                                          
     grant be used for a specific veteran's memorial, ...                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  gave an  example  of  a partial  donation                                                               
directed to  a specific  memorial and  asked what  the accounting                                                               
burden would  be if DOTPF  is expected to  hold a donation  for a                                                               
specific veteran and await additional funding.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:01:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK announced that HB 178 was held over.                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR017 Sponsor Statement 1.20.18.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HJR 17
HJR017 Supporting Document- S.1179. 1.20.18.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HJR 17
HJR017 Fiscal Note 1.24.18.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HJR 17
HB178 ver M.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 178
HB178 Supporting Document-Support Letters 1.24.18.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 178
HB178 Fiscal Note-MVA 1.19.18.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 178
HB178 Fiscal Note-DOT 1.19.18.pdf HMLV 1/25/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 178