Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/30/2004 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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,                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                                             

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