Legislature(2013 - 2014)BUTROVICH 205

03/11/2014 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Confirmation Hearings: TELECONFERENCED
Bernice Troglio, Alaska Police Standards Council
Josie Hickel, Personnel Board
*+ SB 175 OFFICIAL STATE FIREARM TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 175(STA) Out of Committee
*+ SJR 24 VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION POLICIES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSJR 24(STA) Out of Committee
+= SJR 18 FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION TELECONFERENCED
Moved SJR 18 Out of Committee
*+ SJR 19 NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS' MONUMENT TELECONFERENCED
Moved SJR 19 Out of Committee
         SJR 24-VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION POLICIES                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:32:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON announced the consideration of SJR 24.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:32:28 AM                                                                                                                    
ERIC HOLLEN,  Staff, Senator  Huggins, Alaska  State Legislature,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, presented an overview of SJR 24 as follows:                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     I am here today to  request legislators to consider SJR                                                                    
     24,  requesting   Veterans  Affairs  to   change  their                                                                    
     policies  with regard  to  First  Amendment rights  and                                                                    
     freedom  of  religion  specifically. SJR  24  basically                                                                    
     came to  my attention  mid-December of 2013.  There was                                                                    
     an  issue regarding  veterans  not receiving  Christmas                                                                    
     cards  based on  language on  the front  of the  cards,                                                                    
     specifically "Merry Christmas" or  "God bless you;" the                                                                    
     cards  that have  this language  were not  delivered to                                                                    
     the  veterans.  Dozens  of students  who  attend  Grace                                                                    
     Academy  in  Prosper,  Texas didn't  get  a  chance  to                                                                    
     deliver their cards that they  had made by hand for the                                                                    
     local veterans  hospital in Dallas. The  cards were the                                                                    
     idea  of  Susan  Chapman,  the math  teacher  at  Grace                                                                    
     Academy;  she is  married to  a veteran  and volunteers                                                                    
     with   the   American   Legion  and   other   veterans'                                                                    
     organizations.   Specifically  with   regard  to   Miss                                                                    
     Chapman's  issue,   a  Veteran   Administration's  (VA)                                                                    
     employee told  her that her  students' cards  would not                                                                    
     be  accepted based  on the  language's religious  tone,                                                                    
     proclaiming "Merry  Christmas" or  the cards  that said                                                                    
     "God Bless You."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOLLEN  continued  to  point out  VA  hospital  events  that                                                               
ignored the First Amendment and  did not allow Christmas caroling                                                               
and gifts. He summarized that he is requesting the following:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     That the Alaska  State Legislature respectively request                                                                    
     the  United  State  Secretary of  Veterans  Affairs  to                                                                    
     reconsider  the policies  that are  currently in  place                                                                    
     that  violate the  rights of  veterans at  VA hospitals                                                                    
     nationally  to  ensure  our  honored  veterans  receive                                                                    
     timely holiday gifts and cards.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   DYSON   noted   his   frustration   with   the   Veterans                                                               
Administration's  policy towards  Christmas cards  and gifts.  He                                                               
asked Mr. Hollen if he had found any copies of the VA's policy.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:35:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HOLLEN  answered yes.  He  explained  that the  VA's  policy                                                               
language can  be interpreted on  a case  by case basis.  He noted                                                               
that  handling  on  a  case  by  case  basis  led  to  only  four                                                               
opportunities where  Christmas cards  and gifts  were mishandled.                                                               
He  pointed  out  that  the   aforementioned  incidents  had  not                                                               
occurred  in  Alaska.  He  explained  that  the  VA's  policy  is                                                               
interpreted by the  person in charge. He noted  that the backlash                                                               
was significant  and the previously mentioned  incidents will not                                                               
be a  major issue  again due  to the  backlash across  the United                                                               
States.  He  asserted  that  people  were  not  very  happy  that                                                               
veterans did not  get their cards, especially  after fighting for                                                               
their country.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL stated that he  could understand where the VA may                                                               
have problems if they were  required to send out Christmas cards,                                                               
but to forbid other people  from getting Christmas cards flies in                                                               
the  face  of  the  Constitution. He  added  that  regardless  of                                                               
whether an individual is a Christian or  not, to send a card to a                                                               
veteran  and have  it censored  by the  VA is  unconscionable. He                                                               
asked if the  request from the Legislature to hear  back from the                                                               
United State Secretary  of Veterans Affairs will  have to specify                                                               
the means in which the VA replies.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:38:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. HOLLEN answered no.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL recommended that language  in SJR 24 specifies to                                                               
either the "presiding officer" or to "each seated legislator."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON  announced that the  Chair is open to  a conceptual                                                               
amendment. He suspected  that if the reply went  to the presiding                                                               
officer that they would distribute it.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  noted being under  some presiding  officers that                                                               
did not distribute information.  He suggested "Each seated Alaska                                                               
State Legislator" be inserted.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GIESSEL  suggested  that  "Provide each  member  of  the                                                               
Alaska State Legislature with."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GIESSEL  announced  that  she so  moved  the  conceptual                                                               
amendment to  include "Provide  each member  of the  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature with."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL   objected  to   review  where   the  conceptual                                                               
amendment goes in SJR 24.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL  explained that line  23, "Secretary  of Veterans                                                               
Affairs  'provide each  member of  the  Alaska State  Legislature                                                               
with' copies."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   COGHILL  agreed   with   Senator  Giessel's   suggested                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON  asked if  there  was  objection to  the  conceptual                                                               
amendment. He announced that seeing  no objection, the conceptual                                                               
amendment is accepted.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL  moved to report  SJR 24, labeled  28-LS1412\A as                                                               
amended   with  zero   fiscal   note   and  attached   individual                                                               
recommendations.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:40:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON  asked if there  was an objection. He  announced that                                                               
seeing  no objection,  CSSJR  24(STA) passes  out  of the  Senate                                                               
State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Resume - Troglio.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
Resume - Hickel.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
Senate Bill 175.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SB 175
SB175-DOA-COM-03-07-14.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SB 175
SJR 24.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 24
SJR 24 - Fiscal Note - SSTA.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 24
SJR 18 - Legislation.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Supporting Documents - Details of the Case for Convention of the States.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Supporting Documents - List of States with Current COS Movement Resolutions.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Supporting Documents - State Application and Convention Process Step by Step.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Supporting Documents - Timeline of State Article V Applications.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Supporting Documents - What Types of Amendements Possible Under Proposed Topic.pdf SSTA 2/27/2014 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Fiscal Note (S) State Affairs.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 19 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 19
SJR 19 - Legislation - Version 28-LS1245N.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 19
SJR 19 - Fiscal Note - SSTA.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 19
SJR 19 - Supporting Document - AFN Resolution.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 19
SJR 19 - Supporting Document - NCAI Resolution.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 19
SJR 19 - Supporting Document - VVA Resolution.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 19
WrittenTestimonyMills_SJR18_SSTA_2-27-14.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18
SJR 18 - Supporting Documents - Letter William Justice.pdf SSTA 3/11/2014 9:00:00 AM
SJR 18