Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/30/2004 08:05 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 536-PFUND APPLICATION DEADLINES FOR MILITARY Number 1628 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that the next order of business was HOUSE BILL NO. 536, "An Act relating to applications for permanent fund dividends by certain individuals serving in the armed forces; and providing for an effective date." [Before the committee was CSHB 536(MLV).] Number 1588 JON BITTNER, Staff to Representative Cheryll Heinze, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB 536 on behalf of Representative Heinze, sponsor. He stated that HB 536 was drafted in response to several calls received by Representative Heinze from those in the armed services serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, who were either shipping out or oversees in a war zone during the application period for the Alaska permanent fund divided (PFD). The proposed legislation would allow an extension of the application period for members of the armed services who receive "hostile fire imminent danger pay." The bill would allow those people 90 days, after getting out of that situation where communications are inaccessible, to apply. If passed, the bill would take effect 90 days after passage and would be retroactive to 2003. Number 1525 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH questioned the retroactivity date. MR. BITTNER said the sponsor wants the bill to apply specifically to members of the armed services who "are serving in the last Iraqi war and in Afghanistan." In response to a question from Representative Lynn, he said the bill would still apply in the future. Number 1476 REPRESENTATIVE CHERYLL HEINZE, Alaska State Legislature, as sponsor of HB 536, explained that the first group of marines to Baghdad did not receive their PFDs. She offered an example. Number 1431 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH moved to adopt Amendment 1, [to add a] Section 4, which would provide that "this Act sunsets on December 31, 2004". Number 1427 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected. He stated, "This is going to go into permanent law and, unfortunately, ... countries, including this country, seem to find themselves in harm's way from time to time - not just this year." He said young people have no choice about going [to war] and should "receive the protection of this law." REPRESENTATIVE LYNN concurred with Representative Gruenberg. Number 1383 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON expressed concern regarding allowing people to apply for PFDs retroactively and said he thinks the Permanent Fund Dividend Division should be consulted. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated a point of order; he suggested Representative Seaton's concerns were not expressly to the point of the amendment. Number 1341 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew [his objection to Amendment 1]. Number 1304 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Representative Heinze if she supports Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE indicated that she can see both sides, and suggested that Ms. Barton, Permanent Fund Dividend Division, could address the question. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH explained that he had proposed Amendment 1 to correlate with the previously stated intent of the bill to cover those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE reiterated that the language could go either way. She stated that she believes in the men and women who fight [for the United States], and [without Amendment 1], the bill would cover those serving in future wars. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated that this is an important issue. He explained, "Because if you're only going to do it for two years, this should go in a temporary Act." REPRESENTATIVE SEATON offered his understanding that the sponsor had indicated that "they've cleared this situation up so it won't be happening in the future." REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE said there is hope that it won't happen again, but it could. She noted that Ms. Barton had talked about spending some money to get the message to these folks that "this is out there." Number 1212 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he feels strongly about this issue. He explained, "I'm not a great fan of expanding the permanent fund [dividend] to everybody, but these are people who need it." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked Representative Heinze if "individuals in this situation" couldn't get power of attorney. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE answered that they could. Number 1171 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON offered his understanding that it is possible to apply for a PFD online. He asked if part of the problem that Representative Heinze is addressing had to do with delayed mail. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE responded, "That is exactly the first thing that we looked at, is ... if this is online, why was this young marine not able [to get his PFD]." That marine had access to nothing, not even a place to sleep. Number 1118 SHARON BARTON, Director, Central Office, Permanent Fund Dividend Division, Department of Revenue, in response to the issue of whether or not to have a sunset clause, said it would appear that [the United States] is involved in "short-term events" with the military, but it would be a policy decision for the committee to make. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he has been in war, and he emphasized that those in war do not know where they will be at any given time. He opined that [the legislature] should be going out of its way to help [those in the service]. Number 1060 A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Holm, Seaton, and Weyhrauch voted in favor of Amendment 1. Representatives Gruenberg, and Lynn voted against it. Therefore, Amendment 1 was adopted by a vote of 3-2. Number 1014 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM moved to report CSHB 536(MLV), as amended, out of committee, [with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal notes]. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked if there could be reconsideration of the previously recorded roll call vote. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said the current motion before the committee would first have to be withdrawn. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked Representative Holm what he would like to do. REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said he was maintaining his motion. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked if there was any objection to moving CSHB 536(MLV), as amended, out of committee, [with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal notes]. There being none, CSHB 536(STA) was reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.