Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/15/2018 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:33:31 PM Start
03:34:07 PM HB150
03:56:45 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 150 PAY, ALLOWANCES, BENEFITS FOR MILITIA MEM TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 150 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
      HB 150-PAY, ALLOWANCES, BENEFITS FOR MILITIA MEMBERS                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:34:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER  announced the  consideration of  House Bill  150 (HB                                                               
150).                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:34:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHRIS  TUCK,  Alaska State  Legislature,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, explained that HB 150 is  a committee bill from the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Military and  Veterans' Affairs.  He added                                                               
that the administration asked for HB 150 to be moved forward.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:35:37 PM                                                                                                                    
KENDRA   KLOSTER,  Staff,   Representative  Tuck,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  disclosed that  the Department  of                                                               
Military and Veterans' Affairs brought  HB 150 forward as part of                                                               
a series  of bills to clean  up Title 26 of  the Alaska Statutes.                                                               
She specified that  HB 150 will streamline  the accounting system                                                               
for the organized militia members' pay structure.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
She  explained  that  the current  pay  structure  for  organized                                                               
militia  members  is difficult;  for  example,  a member  of  the                                                               
Alaska  State  Defense Force  (ASDF)  may  have duties  that  pay                                                               
different  rates and  accounting  gets difficult  when trying  to                                                               
keep  track  of hours.  She  said  HB  150 would  streamline  the                                                               
accounting where  an individual  gets paid a  set amount  that is                                                               
dependent on  their rank.  She pointed  out that  state employees                                                               
get paid  based upon  a range and  HB 150 would  do the  same for                                                               
organized militia members.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She  noted that  the fiscal  note  for HB  150 is  indeterminate;                                                               
however,  the  department  believes  that  money  will  be  saved                                                               
because accounting  will be reduced.  She added that HB  150 also                                                               
creates stability  for soldiers  where they  will know  what they                                                               
are getting  paid rather than  activity-based payment.  She noted                                                               
that charts were  provided to committee members  and referenced a                                                               
payment  spreadsheet for  the "Sockeye  Fire"  that compared  the                                                               
current system  to the  system proposed by  HB 150.  She conceded                                                               
that  some people  may be  paid lower  and some  higher from  the                                                               
proposed legislation; however, ASDF is looking for stability.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:38:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL addressed section 2 in  HB 150 and noted that the                                                               
term  "organized militia"  is used  for ASDF.  He asked  if using                                                               
"organized militia" is more inclusive.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER  detailed that "organized  militia" consists  of four                                                               
entities:  Alaska  Air  National Guard,  Alaska  National  Guard,                                                               
Alaska State  Dense Force (ASDF),  and Alaska Naval  Militia. She                                                               
detailed that  Alaska Naval  Militia and  the ASDF  are volunteer                                                               
organizations; however, the  state does pay members  when they go                                                               
on  active duty.  She  added that  the intent  of  the "clean  up                                                               
bills"  is to  use the  same  terminology to  ensure everyone  is                                                               
included.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WILSON   addressed  the  Sockeye  Fire   and  noted  the                                                               
comparison between old  and new pay scales. He asked  if ASDF has                                                               
commented on the pay ranges where members will get paid less.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KLOSTER  noted  that  Commander  John  James  with  ASDF  is                                                               
available to address his question.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL   asked  Ms.  Kloster  to   address  the  bill's                                                               
implementation   process  regarding   retroactivity  during   the                                                               
transition period.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER  replied that representatives from  ASDF will address                                                               
Senator Coghill's question.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:41:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  asked if  section 1 in  the bill  simplifies the                                                               
present archaic accounting methodology.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER  replied correct.  She detailed  that the  section is                                                               
repealed and reenacted  with a system that pays  members based on                                                               
their grade and rank.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   COGHILL  asked   if  volunteers   would   have  to   be                                                               
accreditable with assigned rank.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER answered yes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MEYER  inquired how  often  the  governor has  called  the                                                               
state's militia into  active duty. He conceded  that his question                                                               
may be better posed to representatives from DMVA.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:43:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:43:38 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN DUFFY, Administrative  Services Director, Alaska Department                                                               
of  Military   and  Veterans   Affairs,  Joint   Base  Elmendorf-                                                               
Richardson, Alaska, deferred questions  regarding HB 150 to other                                                               
DMVA members.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:44:03 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB  DOEHL, Deputy  Commissioner, Alaska  Department of  Military                                                               
and  Veterans Affairs,  Joint Base  Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of HB 150.  He stated that he  would answer                                                               
questions except  for the one  in terms of ASDF's  perspective on                                                               
HB 150. He commented as follows:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     First, there  would be  no retroactive  provisions that                                                                    
     we envision;  this would  be from  the point  that this                                                                    
     bill is  signed going forward we  would implement these                                                                    
     changes, we  are not going to  go back and do  the math                                                                    
     for past  events frankly because  many of  these events                                                                    
     were federal  disasters as well,  it would  wreak havoc                                                                    
     with trying to adjust the  billing we did with FEMA for                                                                    
     reimbursement or  other entities,  so it would  be just                                                                    
     going forward.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Second, this is an issue  for us, a pay simplification.                                                                    
     Right now  if we  have people in  uniform show  up from                                                                    
     the "Alaska  organized militia," those  four components                                                                    
     Ms.  Kloster talked  about, they  are subject  to three                                                                    
     different  pay systems:  those  for  which the  federal                                                                    
     government  is  authorized   responding  in  a  federal                                                                    
     status  or getting  federal  pay  in allowances,  those                                                                    
     under the current system that  are in state active duty                                                                    
     from  the  National Guard  or  getting  200 percent  of                                                                    
     their basic  military pay but no  allowances, and those                                                                    
     in the Alaska State  Defense Force are looking task-by-                                                                    
     task,  hour-by-hour  what  it   comes  out  to  in  the                                                                    
     equivalent state system. Of note  also for those Alaska                                                                    
     State Defense  members, they  are not  overtime exempt,                                                                    
     so we incur  overtime costs if there on  duty more than                                                                    
     7.5 hours  per day  and that's frankly  a luxury  for a                                                                    
     disaster we  frequently have to  work our  staff longer                                                                    
     than that.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     We  support this  bill for  simplifying things,  easing                                                                    
     reimbursement, and  creating one understanding  of what                                                                    
     somebody  is  going to  get  paid  when they  come  out                                                                    
     there.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     In  terms  of when  the  governor  has called  out  the                                                                    
     militia  or the  adjutant general,  wildland fires  are                                                                    
     the most  recent cases where  the Alaska  State Defense                                                                    
     Force come  forward to  assist with  shelter management                                                                    
     and  other tasks  of that  regard. The  Alaska National                                                                    
     Guard  and the  Alaska State  Defense Force  did deploy                                                                    
     south  to assist  with the  hurricanes; however,  those                                                                    
     costs  incurred were  100 percent  reimbursed by  other                                                                    
     states or the federal government.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:46:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER  noted that Mr. Doehl  mentioned hurricane assistance                                                               
and asked what locations the members were deployed.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL answered that the  hurricane deployment locations were:                                                               
The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MEYER  addressed a  letter  that  Mr.  Doehl sent  to  the                                                               
committee  pertaining to  HB 150  and quoted,  "We are  confident                                                               
that DMVA  will end slightly on  the good side of  cost neutral."                                                               
He assumed  that Mr.  Doehl meant  that the  state will  come out                                                               
ahead a little bit rather than costing the state more.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL answered correct. He  said the department's expectation                                                               
is that  the department  will come out  ahead; however,  he noted                                                               
that  there  is  not  a  standing force  for  all  disasters  and                                                               
detailed that  each disaster is  task-organized to  meet specific                                                               
needs. He added that the  impact from the new compensation system                                                               
was  not  addressed in  his  letter  and  asserted that  the  new                                                               
legislation will lead to faster  reimbursement from entities such                                                               
as other states or the federal government.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:48:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER  continued to  address Mr.  Doehl's letter  and noted                                                               
that he  mentioned an "automated approach"  for issuing warrants.                                                               
He asked for an explanation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DUFFY  explained  that  the  current  process  is  a  manual                                                               
calculation  of multiple  pay scales  that  an individual  member                                                               
performs.  He said  the proposal  will simplify  the process  and                                                               
"automatically" offset  the burden  associated with  multiple pay                                                               
scales.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL addressed section  4 regarding simplified pay and                                                               
noted that  the section stated,  "The same benefits  provided for                                                               
state  employees under  Title 39."  He asked  if the  benefit was                                                               
primarily pay. He  inquired if there were ways to  start and stop                                                               
other benefits.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL replied that other  than pay, the primary benefit would                                                               
be workers' compensation coverage.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:51:09 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN JAMES,  Colonel and Commander,  Alaska State  Defense Force,                                                               
Alaska  Department of  Military  and  Veterans Affairs,  Wasilla,                                                               
Alaska, testified in support of HB 150 and commented as follows:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The Alaska State Defense  Force is extremely supportive                                                                    
     of  House Bill  150; this  proposal will  provide equal                                                                    
     pay  for  equal services  when  members  of the  Alaska                                                                    
     State Defense  Force are  activated for  state service.                                                                    
     The  current  pay  system  is  confusing,  complex  and                                                                    
     multifarious; it  requires arduous and  tedious efforts                                                                    
     by several employees which takes  far too much time, it                                                                    
     is not uncommon for it to  take four to six weeks for a                                                                    
     soldier to  receive pay after  the completion  of one's                                                                    
     services.  The  bill  would  simplify,  streamline  and                                                                    
     hasten  these  efforts,  and the  end  result  will  be                                                                    
     better  and   more  responsive   care  taken   for  our                                                                    
     soldiers.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
He  addressed   Senator  Wilson's   concern  regarding   the  pay                                                               
difference  resulting from  the legislation.  He opined  that the                                                               
pay difference is slight and ASDF is not concerned.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:53:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER recognized Senator Gardner.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MEYER closed public testimony.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:53:14 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:53:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER called the committee back to order.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  asked Representative  Tuck to verify  that there                                                               
are  no bargaining  units within  the  all-volunteer forces  that                                                               
will be affected by HB 150.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK  answered   correct.   He  specified   that                                                               
organized militia members  only get paid when  called into active                                                               
duty.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MEYER   noted  that  the   fiscal  note  for  HB   150  is                                                               
indeterminate.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:55:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  moved  to  report   HB  150,  30-LS0365\A  from                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:55:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER  announced  that seeing  no  objection,  the  motion                                                               
carried.                                                                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB150 Sponsor Statement 1.26.18.pdf SSTA 3/15/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 150
HB 150 Version A.PDF SSTA 3/15/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Additional Document-Sockeye Fire Spreadsheet from DMVA 1.26.18.pdf SSTA 3/15/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Additional Document - 2017 Military Pay Chart 1.26.18.pdf SSTA 3/15/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Supporting Document-Letter DMVA 1.26.18.pdf SSTA 3/15/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 150
HB 150 Fiscal Note.pdf SSTA 3/15/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 150