Legislature(2007 - 2008)CAPITOL 106

04/03/2007 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Moved CSHB 45(MLV) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 179(STA) Out of Committee
HB 210-QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ADJUTANT GENERAL                                                                                 
8:42:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  next order of business  was HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO.   210,  "An  Act   relating  to  the   appointment  and                                                               
qualifications of the adjutant general."                                                                                        
8:42:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   NANCY  DAHLSTROM,   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
presented HB 210  as prime sponsor.  She  paraphrased the sponsor                                                               
statement, which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                          
     House  Bill 210,  "An act  relating to  the appointment                                                                    
     and qualifications of the  adjutant general," is before                                                                    
     us to bring  attention to the importance  of guard duty                                                                    
     in relation to its leadership.                                                                                             
     In  recent   years,  the  Alaska  National   Guard  has                                                                    
     undergone  major changes.  It  has seen  organizational                                                                    
     restructure,  increased  deployment responsibility  and                                                                    
     additional missions at home.  With the amplified demand                                                                    
     for  the Alaska  National Guard,  it is  imperative for                                                                    
     our state's adjutant general be adequately qualified.                                                                      
     House Bill  210's intent is to  positively impact troop                                                                    
     morale by  appointing leaders  who have  shared similar                                                                    
     experiences and  walked in  their shoes.  Knowing their                                                                    
     leader  has been  down  a similar  path  will create  a                                                                    
     deeper respect within the troops.                                                                                          
     The  National  Guard  Bureau  in  Washington,  D.C.  is                                                                    
     considering an  increase in rank for  the bureau chief,                                                                    
     from three-star to four-star.  Increasing the rank from                                                                    
     major  general  to  lieutenant general  will  give  the                                                                    
     Alaska National  Guard a jump start  on this initiative                                                                    
     and  make  our  adjutant  general  more  qualified  and                                                                    
     better  received  when  working  with  issues  back  in                                                                    
     Washington, D.C.  An increase  in rank will  not impact                                                                    
     the  state budget  and will  not increase  the adjutant                                                                    
     general's salary as a state employee.                                                                                      
     It  is  important to  note  this  legislation does  not                                                                    
     limit the  power of  the Governor  to appoint  a viable                                                                    
     candidate  as  Adjutant   General/Commissioner  of  the                                                                    
     Department  of  Military  and  Veterans  Affairs.  This                                                                    
     legislation is  supported by  the Administration  and I                                                                    
     ask for your favorable consideration.                                                                                      
CHAIR LYNN stated, "It's my understanding that potentially a                                                                    
National Guard general could be advanced to the Joint Armed                                                                     
Services Committee in [Washington], D.C."                                                                                       
8:45:12 AM                                                                                                                    
McHUGH PIERRE, Director of Communications, Office of the                                                                        
Commissioner/Adjutant General, Department of Military & Veterans                                                                
Affairs, confirmed that Lieutenant  General Blum (ph) is "looking                                                               
at the  possibility of  staying on," and  he is  being considered                                                               
for promotion from three-star to four-star rank.                                                                                
8:45:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  what the  differences are  between                                                               
the  requirements  of  a  lieutenant  [general]  versus  a  major                                                               
MR. PIERRE replied  that [the lieutenant general]  holds a higher                                                               
level of  respect, with more  troops serving  underneath him/her.                                                               
He added:                                                                                                                       
     However,  that   wouldn't  change  very  much   in  our                                                                    
     situation.   Simply, it would  just allow the  level of                                                                    
     interaction on  the federal, on  the national,  side of                                                                    
     the house  to increase,  and that  way they  would have                                                                    
     more pull in D.C.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL summarized as follows:                                                                                   
     The intent, then, is to try  to ratchet up the level of                                                                    
     qualification.  I see  you have five-years' experience,                                                                    
     and so  the intention here  is to ratchet up  the level                                                                    
     of experience  so that ...  getting this  higher grade,                                                                    
     this  general  grade officer,  ...  not  only would  be                                                                    
     recognized  as an  appointed position,  but also  as an                                                                    
     earned position, I take it.                                                                                                
8:47:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM said that's absolutely correct.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL directed  attention to page 1,  line 5, of                                                               
the bill, and  noted that the language read,  "the governor may".                                                           
He  reminded Representative  Dahlstrom  of  Chair Lynn's  remarks                                                               
[during the hearing  on HB 179] regarding the  ambiguity of using                                                               
the word  "may."  He questioned  whether the sponsor may  want to                                                               
use a stronger directive, such as by using the word, "shall."                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM  responded  that that  issue  has  been                                                               
discussed between  the Department of Military  & Veterans Affairs                                                               
and the  administration, thus  she deferred  the question  to Mr.                                                               
MR. PIERRE stated that the department  wants to keep the power of                                                               
governor intact,  which he  said is not  only important  from the                                                               
standpoint  of  the  governor,  but  also  in  finding  a  viable                                                               
candidate.  He explained that  if there are no viable candidates,                                                               
the  department  doesn't  want  to  set  limitations  that  would                                                               
"hinder the growth of the  organization."  He said the department                                                               
believes that with the increasing  demands on the National Guard,                                                               
there must be  a strong leadership to guide  the organization and                                                               
help it grow.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL said  although the  verbiage in  the bill                                                               
gives direction,  the use of the  word "may" is not  strong.  The                                                               
word "shall"  is too  strong, he  said; therefore,  he questioned                                                               
whether the word "should" could be a possibility.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM  said  she  does  not  know  about  the                                                               
legality of using the word "should."                                                                                            
CHAIR LYNN  noted that if  the governor  does not do  what he/she                                                               
"should" do,  than he/she is  doing something that should  not be                                                               
done, which  he said would  not make  him very comfortable  if he                                                               
were governor.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  explained that  he has discovered  in the                                                               
past that the  common sense use of a word  sometimes differs from                                                               
its legal definition.  He said  his concern over the semantics is                                                               
not such that he wants to slow down  bill.  He said he thinks the                                                               
bill  gives some  direction that  the  legislature would  "prefer                                                               
qualifications at  the five-level mark ...  in military service."                                                               
On  the  other hand,  he  indicated  that  he  does not  want  to                                                               
disallow the possibility of finding  someone in the Department of                                                               
Homeland  Security   who  didn't  necessarily  have   the  "heavy                                                               
military experience."                                                                                                           
8:50:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  PIERRE  clarified   that  a  person  must   be  a  federally                                                               
recognized  general officer  in  order to  "have this  position."                                                               
Furthermore, the increase  in rank would only  happen if approved                                                               
on "the federal side of the House."                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL remarked,  "Well then,  those are  enough                                                               
'shoulds' for me."                                                                                                              
8:51:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DOLL said the bill  uses "may" more than once, and                                                               
she interpreted that  to mean that "it could  happen without this                                                               
MR. PIERRE confirmed:                                                                                                           
     It  has  happened  without  the   bill.    Our  current                                                                    
     adjutant  general,  General  Campbell, is  an  Alaskan.                                                                    
     He's a long time member  of the Alaska National Guard -                                                                    
     25 years  - so,  certainly this happened.   It  has not                                                                    
     happened  in   the  past,  and  the   organization  has                                                                    
     suffered because  of that, according to  members of the                                                                    
     organization.  And the  Alaska National Guard Officers'                                                                    
     Association feels very strongly  that this should be in                                                                    
     statute, not  directing, but suggesting.   And the fact                                                                    
     that it's suggesting on  statute has enough implication                                                                    
     that  the  future  governor  will   look  at  that  and                                                                    
     consider  his or  her appointment  with that  much more                                                                    
     complication or ... weight behind it.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE DOLL asked for further  clarification.  She noted,                                                               
"Because the governor will make  the appointment, but you said it                                                               
also has  to be  ... mandated  or okayed on  a federal  level, as                                                               
MR. PIERRE explained:                                                                                                           
     Well,  you  must  be  a  federally  recognized  general                                                                    
     officer,  so  you  must  have  achieved  rank  that  is                                                                    
     sufficient to be promoted  to Brigadier General, within                                                                    
     the military.                                                                                                              
8:53:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PIERRE, in  response to a request  from Representative Roses,                                                               
stated for  the record that major  general is a "two-star"  and a                                                               
lieutenant general is a "three-star."                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE ROSES  opined that  if there is  any state  in the                                                               
Union where the adjutant general  deserves to be considered for a                                                               
higher rank,  it ought to be  the state of Alaska.   He explained                                                               
that  the level  of engagement  that  the National  Guard has  in                                                               
Alaska  far  exceeds any  other  state.    He  said many  of  the                                                               
generals he  has met have  spoken to  the fact that  Alaska "sets                                                               
the  standard on  the way  the  [National] Guard  and the  active                                                               
military should  engage."  He  mentioned, by way of  example, the                                                               
disaster on the H.M.S. Tireless,  emphasizing the expediency with                                                               
which  the National  Guard took  over the  responsibility of  the                                                               
otherwise engaged Coast Guard.  He stated his support of HB 210.                                                                
8:56:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PIERRE, in  response to a question  from Representative Doll,                                                               
clarified  that  Alaska's  current  adjutant  general  is  not  a                                                               
lieutenant general.   According to  federal law and  Alaska State                                                               
Statute, the  adjutant general  can only  be a  two-star general,                                                               
which Mr. Pierre reviewed is a major general.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE DOLL  noted that  the language,  [on page  1, line                                                               
8],  specifies   that  the  adjutant  general   "may  not  exceed                                                               
lieutenant [MAJOR]  general."   She asked what  the next  rank up                                                           
would be.                                                                                                                       
MR. PIERRE answered, "General."  He continued:                                                                                  
     Due  to federal  requirements ...,  the National  Guard                                                                    
     bureau  chief is  a rank  above the  adjutant generals.                                                                    
     Therefore, if the National Guard  bureau chief is to be                                                                    
     a four-star  general, the adjutant generals  would be a                                                                    
     three-star general.                                                                                                        
8:56:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  offered a means by  which the committee                                                               
could memorize the  rank of generals from bottom to  top:  "be my                                                               
little  general."   Using  the  first letter  of  each word,  "b"                                                               
stands for brigadier  general, "m" stands for  major general, "l"                                                               
stands  for  lieutenant  general,  and "g"  stands  for  the  top                                                               
ranking general.                                                                                                                
8:57:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  adding  an  additional  star  on                                                               
Alaska's   adjutant    generals   will   help    maintain   their                                                               
independence.  He discussed other legislation.                                                                                  
CHAIR LYNN expressed appreciation of the Alaska National Guard.                                                                 
9:01:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM,   in  response  to  a   question  from                                                               
Representative Coghill,  said she  does not   believe there  is a                                                               
need for an effective date on the bill.                                                                                         
9:01:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ROSES moved  to report  HB 210  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HB 210 was reported out of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         
The  committee took  an at-ease  from 9:02:07  AM to  9:03:42 and                                                             
again from 9:03:47 AM to 9:04:22.                                                                                             
9:04:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ROSES  noted that the association  of the adjutant                                                               
generals would be meeting this June in Anchorage.                                                                               

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