Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

03/28/2019 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 56 ESTABLISH HMONG-AMERICAN VETERANS DAY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
-- <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 72 BLACK HISTORY MONTH TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 72 Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
    HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                   
                         March 28, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Sara Hannan, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Josh Revak                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sharon Jackson                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 72                                                                                                               
"An Act establishing the month of February as Black History                                                                     
Month."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 72 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 56                                                                                                               
"An Act establishing May 15 of each year as Hmong-American                                                                      
Veterans Day."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  72                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: BLACK HISTORY MONTH                                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) STORY                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
02/25/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/25/19       (H)       CRA                                                                                                    
03/26/19       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/26/19       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/26/19       (H)       MINUTE(CRA)                                                                                            
03/28/19       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  56                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ESTABLISH HMONG-AMERICAN VETERANS DAY                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TARR                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
02/20/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/20/19       (H)       MLV, CRA                                                                                               
03/05/19       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/05/19       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/05/19       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
03/07/19       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/07/19       (H)       Moved HB 56 Out of Committee                                                                           
03/07/19       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
03/08/19       (H)       MLV RPT 7DP                                                                                            
03/08/19       (H)       DP: THOMPSON, KOPP, RAUSCHER, TARR,                                                                    
                         JACKSON, TUCK, LEDOUX                                                                                  
03/28/19       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANDI STORY                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, presented HB 72.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, introduced HB 56.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE ANDREW, Staff                                                                                                         
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 56 on behalf of Representative                                                              
Tarr, prime sponsor.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director                                                                                                          
Office of Veteran Affairs                                                                                                       
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA)                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing on HB                                                              
56.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PASERT LEE, Founder                                                                                                             
Hmong Alaska Community, Inc.                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 56.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:01:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SARA HANNAN  called the  House  Community and  Regional                                                             
Affairs  Standing  Committee  meeting   to  order  at  8:01  a.m.                                                               
Representatives   Claman,    Kreiss-Tomkins,   Thompson,   Revak,                                                               
Drummond, and Hannan were present at the call to order.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                   HB 72-BLACK HISTORY MONTH                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:02:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 72, "An  Act establishing the month of February                                                               
as Black History Month."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:02:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDI STORY,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor, presented  HB 72.   She opined  that it is  important to                                                               
recognize the  contributions African-Americans  have made  in the                                                               
nation  and  in Alaska.    The  proposed legislation  would  help                                                               
people remember the contributions  of former Senator Bettye Davis                                                               
and attorney  Mahala Ashley  Dickerson, as  well as  to recognize                                                               
the contributions  currently being made  by so many others.   She                                                               
offered to answer questions from the committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:03:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN noted that no amendments had been submitted.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:04:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY,  upon being  invited to add  final comment,                                                               
stated  that  she thinks  HB  72  would  honor the  diversity  in                                                               
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:04:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  moved to  report HB 72  out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, HB  72 was  reported out of  the House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:04:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 8:05 a.m. to 8:07 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          HB 56-ESTABLISH HMONG-AMERICAN VETERANS DAY                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:07:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 56, "An  Act establishing May 15  of each year                                                               
as Hmong-American Veterans Day."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:08:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GERAN TARR,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor, introduced HB 56.  She said  it is an honor to have many                                                               
Hmong  veterans  as constituents  and  she  enjoys telling  their                                                               
story,  because she  thinks it  is a  story that  everyone should                                                               
know.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:08:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEPHANIE ANDREW, Staff, Representative  Geran Tarr, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, presented  HB 56 on  behalf of  Representative Tarr,                                                               
prime sponsor.   She  said there  was a  covert operation  by the                                                               
Central Intelligence Agency, in  which Hmong people were involved                                                               
and lost  tens of thousands  of their  people.  She  relayed that                                                               
the  Hmong are  "a  distinct ethnic  group  from the  mountainous                                                               
regions of China,  Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia."   The secret war                                                               
was fought  on behalf of  the U.S.  government.  Ms.  Andrew said                                                               
the Hmong  continue to be persecuted  to this day, and  many have                                                               
[become refugees]  in Australia and  the United States -  with an                                                               
estimated 6,000 Hmong-Americans in Alaska currently.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDREW  advised that HB  56 seeks to recognize  the sacrifice                                                               
made  by the  Hmong veterans  by  making May  15, in  perpetuity,                                                               
Hmong-American Veterans Day in Alaska.   She explained the reason                                                               
May 15  was chosen is  because May 15,  1977, was the  first time                                                               
the U.S. Government recognized that  the secret war happened, and                                                               
the  Hmong people  made these  sacrifices on  behalf of  the U.S.                                                               
She  said  the   legacy  of  the  sacrifice   continues  to  have                                                               
ramifications  throughout the  Hmong  community  and impacts  all                                                               
generations  and  those  [Hmong]  living in  District  19.    She                                                               
indicated  that passage  of the  bill "would  promote, publicize,                                                               
and increase awareness about the  important role the Hmong people                                                               
played in  the United States'  history and recognize  the service                                                               
and sacrifices that were made."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:10:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR noted  that in  2013, Representative  LeDoux                                                               
had  passed  a resolution  naming  May  15, 2013,  Hmong-American                                                               
Veterans Day.   She  indicated her  understanding that  the Hmong                                                               
people  [in her  district]  are excited  for  the possibility  of                                                               
"making this  a permanent,  recognized holiday  in Alaska."   She                                                               
said she thinks  this recognition is important,  because when the                                                               
U.S.  Government  asked for  assistance  from  the Hmong  people,                                                               
"they responded  and served honorably,"  and the  U.S. Government                                                               
has "never  fulfilled the  promise of  veterans' benefits."   She                                                               
concluded that HB 56 would honor the sacrifices that were made.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:11:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  said  the Municipality  of  Anchorage  offers                                                               
property tax exemptions for veterans.   She asked if the proposed                                                               
legislation would  need to be  recognized federally in  order for                                                               
the Hmong veterans to access benefits.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR responded  that  the piece  missing is  "the                                                               
federal  side of  it," such  as health  care or  other retirement                                                               
benefits associated  with service.   She indicated that  under HB                                                               
56,  Hmong  Veterans would  be  eligible  for state  benefits  to                                                               
veterans,  such as  the  aforementioned  property tax  exemption.                                                               
She  said  there  previously  have  been  resolutions  supporting                                                               
burials  in military  cemeteries.    She said  there  had been  a                                                               
prominent leader who died a number  of years ago and was not able                                                               
to be  buried as a  military veteran.   She said the  budget bill                                                               
that  passed last  year  allowed  veterans to  be  buried at  any                                                               
veterans'  cemetery, with  the  exception  of Arlington  National                                                               
Cemetery.  She  said she does not think there  is any movement at                                                               
the federal level  "to offer the other benefits."   She explained                                                               
that is why she thinks it is  so important to take steps to honor                                                               
the service of  the Hmong veterans.  She said  a driver's license                                                               
bill  for Hmong  veterans was  significant.   In response  to Co-                                                               
Chair Drummond,  she offered her understanding  that the driver's                                                               
licenses are soon  to be released.  She deferred  to Verdie Bowen                                                               
for further information on that topic.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:16:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director, Office of  Veteran Affairs, Department of                                                               
Military  and  Veterans Affairs  (DMVA),  gave  the committee  an                                                               
update regarding the  Hmong veteran license plates.   He said the                                                               
licenses probably would be ready for issue in 30-40 days.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:16:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HANNAN  asked if  there  are  additional benefits  that                                                               
could be offered to Hmong veterans.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN answered  yes;  however, he  said  each piece  offered                                                               
would  have  to  be  done   through  separate  legislation.    He                                                               
explained that  as the  state begins  the process  of recognizing                                                               
the  Hmong  veterans,  it  will   put  pressure  on  the  federal                                                               
government to pass the federal  benefits that are needed to honor                                                               
these veterans.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:17:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  advised that  Mr.  Bowen  could offer  more                                                               
information regarding the background of the Hmong veteran issue.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:18:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN,  in  response  to a  request  from  Co-Chair  Hannan,                                                               
offered  an  historical  perspective.     He  stated  that  Hmong                                                               
veterans began  serving in  1961 and  completed their  service to                                                               
the CIA in 1975, after which they  were "left to their own to try                                                               
and find their way out of  the country."  He said sadly, although                                                               
many agreements  were made between  Hmong leadership and  the CIA                                                               
to  facilitate  care  for  the Hmong  after  the  [Vietnam]  War,                                                               
because the  war became a  stalemate, not  only did the  Hmong no                                                               
longer have  a country, they had  no place to live.   He remarked                                                               
that Laos claims  to accept the Hmong people but  is "still doing                                                               
horrible  things to  the Hmong  community."   Mr. Bowen  said the                                                               
U.S. has been a safe haven  [for the Hmong people], and he stated                                                               
his belief that  without the care that the U.S.  has provided for                                                               
them, [more  Hmong people would have  been lost].  As  it stands,                                                               
he reported,  there used  to be 300,000  Hmong people,  but there                                                               
are approximately  200,000 worldwide  now.   In Alaska  there are                                                               
about 93 Hmong veterans.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN said  he met  with  the Hmong  to try  to establish  a                                                               
birthdate for those who served, which  he said is difficult to do                                                               
because of the  manner in which Hmong soldiers were  drafted.  He                                                               
explained  that  Hmong soldiers  were  "drafted  by the  size  of                                                               
weapon they carried."  He explained  that a large weapon would be                                                               
taken into  the school, a  mark [that was  at the height  of that                                                               
weapon] would  be made on the  wall, and those children  who were                                                               
at  least as  tall  as the  mark  were drafted.    As the  losses                                                               
mounted, a smaller size of weapon  was used as the marker.  There                                                               
was  no education  requirement, just  the need  for "a  warm body                                                               
behind  a  weapon."   He  stated  the  reason  this army  was  so                                                               
significant is  that it was over  30,000.  He indicated  that was                                                               
the largest army the CIA has ever had.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN concluded  that within Alaska's communities  the  Hmong                                                               
are   teachers,  principals,   police   officers,  medical   care                                                               
professionals, and  National Guard members who  really contribute                                                               
to the state of Alaska.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:22:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  recollected  one  of  her  [Hmong-American]                                                               
neighbors had been recruited at age 13.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HANNAN  commented,  "A  pretty tragic  chapter  in  our                                                               
history."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:22:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN opened public testimony on HB 56.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:22:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PASERT LEE,  Founder, Hmong Alaska Community,  Inc., testified in                                                               
support of  HB 56.  He  mentioned the dates February  8, 1961, to                                                               
May 18,  1975, and said  [the Hmong] volunteered to  support [the                                                               
CIA]  during that  time.    He indicated  that  the Hmong  fought                                                               
against  the communists.   He  mentioned the  number 300,000  and                                                               
indicated  35,000 died.   He  offered  further statistics  [audio                                                               
indiscernible].   Mr.  Lee  said  he hopes  May  15 would  become                                                               
Hmong-Veterans Day.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:25:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON thanked Mr. Lee for his service.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:25:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REVAK  thanked Mr. Lee  for his service  and asked                                                               
how many times he was wounded in Vietnam.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. LEE  indicated that he had  worked for radio operations.   He                                                               
mentioned the B-52 and F-14, 15,  and 16.  He indicated there was                                                               
a bomb in  his bunker that caused  him to pass out  for 86 hours;                                                               
he said he  had an AK-47 bullet  in his left hand that  had to be                                                               
cut out; he mentioned an injury in his skull, at which point he                                                                 
referred back to the bunker incident.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REVAK  noted he is a  co-sponsor of HB 56,  and he                                                               
said  he  thinks  the proposed  legislation  honoring  the  Hmong                                                               
people who  fought with U.S.  military in Vietnam  is "fantastic"                                                               
and "long-overdue."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:27:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN closed public testimony on HB 56.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:27:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced that HB 56 was held over.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:28:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee meeting was                                                                   
adjourned at 8:28 a.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB0056 Ver A 3.11.19.PDF HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Sponsor Statement 3.26.19.pdf HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Sectional Analysis ver A 2.26.19.pdf HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Fiscal Note 3.11.19.PDF HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Supporting Document - Legislative Research.pdf HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Supporting Documents- Article ADN -Hmong veterans honored in Anchorage 2.26.19.pdf HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB0072A.PDF HCRA 3/26/2019 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 72
HB 072 Fiscal Note.pdf HCRA 3/26/2019 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 72
HB 072 Sponsor Statement 3.5.19.pdf HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 72
HB056 Supporting Documents - Letters of Support 3.29.19.pdf HCRA 3/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56