Legislature(2011 - 2012)BARNES 124

04/11/2012 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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01:50:54 PM Start
01:51:14 PM SB13
02:07:04 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Pending Referral>
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          SB  13-LOWER PARK FEE FOR DISABLED VETERANS                                                                       
1:51:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR SEATON announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be CS  FOR SENATE  BILL NO.  13(FIN), "An  Act providing  for the                                                               
waiver or  reduction of certain  fees and charges in  state parks                                                               
for disabled veterans."                                                                                                         
1:51:58 PM                                                                                                                    
LISA  WEISSLER,  Staff,  Senator   Hollis  French,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, said  SB 13  is designed  to show  a small  token of                                                               
appreciation  to disabled  veterans by  providing them  with free                                                               
and   discounted  access   to  the   Alaska  State   Park  System                                                               
facilities.  In 1991, the  legislature created a special disabled                                                               
camping  permit;  SB 13  will  extend  that benefit  to  resident                                                               
disable veterans  for boat ramp  permits, RV facilities,  and day                                                               
parking, and will provide at least  a 50 percent discount off the                                                               
fee for  public use  cabins.   She noted  that the  original bill                                                               
provided for free public use  cabins, but the benefit was reduced                                                               
to a  50 percent discount due  to concern from the  Department of                                                               
Natural  Resources (DNR)  that notices  of  cancelation for  free                                                               
cabins would not be received.                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  SEATON  announced the  bill  before  the committee  was                                                               
committee substitute  (CS) for  SB 13(FIN),  Version 27-LS0097\B.                                                               
He then asked how the disabled status would be verified.                                                                        
MS.  WEISSLER  said  the  intent   of  the  sponsor  is  for  the                                                               
legislation to  apply to a  veteran with any level  of disability                                                               
and no  threshold has to be  met.  She deferred  to DNR regarding                                                               
the implementation of the bill.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked whether  the requirement of  a 50                                                               
percent disability had been removed from the bill.                                                                              
MS. WEISSLER indicated yes.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DICK  suggested disabled veterans could  advance a                                                               
fully refundable  deposit on a free  cabin as a way  to encourage                                                               
notice of cancelation.                                                                                                          
MS. WEISSLER  acknowledged several ideas were  discussed prior to                                                               
the introduction of the CS.                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  SEATON  inquired  as  to  how  disabled  veterans  will                                                               
identify themselves to the DNR.                                                                                                 
1:56:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CLAIRE LECLAIRE,  Deputy Director and Chief  of Field Operations,                                                               
Central  Office, Division  of Parks  &  Outdoor Recreation,  DNR,                                                               
replied  that the  division  would administer  the  program in  a                                                               
manner similar to the free  camping passes for disabled veterans,                                                               
which are  issued in person  at each of DNR's  public information                                                               
centers.    To  get  a  pass, the  veteran  provides  their  U.S.                                                               
Department of  Veterans Affairs  (VA), Veterans  Universal Access                                                               
and  Identification Card  (VIC) -  known as  the red,  white, and                                                               
blue card - or  a print letter from VA, both  of which state that                                                               
they have a service-connected disability.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON cautioned that  people will try to abuse                                                               
this privilege,  and asked how  the department intends to  try to                                                               
prevent this by those who do not apply for a pass in person.                                                                    
MS.  LECLAIRE advised  the division  provides a  small number  of                                                               
camping  passes through  the mail  on  an honor  basis, but  most                                                               
veterans  obtain  their  passes  at  the  offices  in  Fairbanks,                                                               
Anchorage, or  Juneau, and  thereby establish  their status  as a                                                               
disabled veteran.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  advised  that there  are  public  use                                                               
cabins in her  area, but a trip  to Juneau [for a  pass] is quite                                                               
MS. LECLAIRE  assured the committee  the division  will determine                                                               
how to  best provide this service  to veterans.  She  pointed out                                                               
that most  public use cabins  in Southeast Alaska are  managed by                                                               
the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.                                                                        
BEN ELLIS, Director, Central Office,  Division of Parks & Outdoor                                                               
Recreation, DNR, added that the process  is the same for all, and                                                               
veterans would need to register to reserve a cabin.                                                                             
2:00:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DICK  asked  for  the expense  to  the  state  to                                                               
provide this benefit to veterans.                                                                                               
MR.  ELLIS said  the division  estimates about  $252,000 in  lost                                                               
revenue if the bill is passed.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  DICK pointed  out this  level of  expense to  the                                                               
state warrants a higher degree of scrutiny of the participants.                                                                 
MR.  ELLIS estimated  that of  the  $252,000, the  loss of  cabin                                                               
rental fees will be about $92,000.                                                                                              
2:03:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SHARLA  COOK informed  the  committee she  is  a retired  general                                                               
officer with over 29 years of  active duty military service.  She                                                               
spoke in support of SB 13,  saying according to the Department of                                                               
Labor Statistics, of  the nearly 25 million veterans  in the U.S.                                                               
almost  three-fourths have  served in  a war  or conflict.   Many                                                               
have returned  with injuries or  disabilities.  Over  20,000 were                                                               
wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan,  and one-half of those are unable                                                               
to resume  their military  careers due  to disability.   Disabled                                                               
veterans also have a lower  rate of employment and promotion than                                                               
others.   Because of service-related disabilities,  veterans have                                                               
lost  current  and  future  earning power,  and  SB  13  provides                                                               
something  beyond employment:   the  elimination or  reduction of                                                               
fees  so that  disabled  veterans and  their  families can  enjoy                                                               
Alaska State  Parks.  Disabled  veterans and their  families have                                                               
paid a  price in pain and  suffering, and opening up  state parks                                                               
will  serve  as  a  restorative  and  healing  tribute  to  their                                                               
sacrifice.  Ms. Cook urged support for SB 13.                                                                                   
2:04:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  SEATON closed  public testimony  after ascertaining  no                                                               
one else from  the public wished to testify.   He then noted page                                                               
2, line 18 of  the bill directs DNR to provide a  form for use by                                                               
the disabled veteran.  He assumed  this would be the mechanism by                                                               
which DNR determines the status of a disabled veteran.                                                                          
2:06:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  moved  to report  CS  for SB  13(FIN),                                                               
Version   27-LS0097\B,   out   of   committee   with   individual                                                               
recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                              
CO-CHAIR SEATON observed  there has been no  adverse testimony on                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
2:06:38 PM                                                                                                                    
There  being no  objection, CSSB  13(FIN) was  reported from  the                                                               
House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 13 - CS Sponsor Statement.pdf HRES 4/11/2012 1:00:00 PM
SB 13
SB 13 - CS FIN.pdf HRES 4/11/2012 1:00:00 PM
SB 13
SB 13 - Explanation of Changes.pdf HRES 4/11/2012 1:00:00 PM
SB 13
SB 13 - Fiscal Note.pdf HRES 4/11/2012 1:00:00 PM
SB 13
SB 13 - Support Documents 1.pdf HRES 4/11/2012 1:00:00 PM
SB 13
SB 13 - Support Documents 2.pdf HRES 4/11/2012 1:00:00 PM
SB 13