Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

02/22/2017 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:18:01 PM Start
03:18:29 PM HB2
03:38:26 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 2 PRIV EMPLOYER VOLUNTARY VET PREFERENCE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                       February 22, 2017                                                                                        
                           3:18 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sam Kito, Chair                                                                                                  
Representative Adam Wool, Vice Chair                                                                                            
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
Representative Bryce Edgmon (alternate)                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 2                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to a voluntary preference for veterans by                                                                      
private employers."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 2                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: PRIV EMPLOYER VOLUNTARY VET PREFERENCE                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TUCK                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/17                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/17       (H)       MLV, L&C                                                                                               
01/24/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
01/24/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/24/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
01/31/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
01/31/17       (H)       Moved CSHB 2(MLV) Out of Committee                                                                     
01/31/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
02/03/17       (H)       MLV RPT CS(MLV) NT 6DP                                                                                 
02/03/17       (H)       DP:    RAUSCHER,    REINBOLD,    LEDOUX,                                                               
                         SADDLER, PARISH, TUCK                                                                                  
02/22/17       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, presented HB 2.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 2, on behalf of                                                                 
Representative Tuck, prime sponsor.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                               
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director                                                                                                          
Office of Veteran Affairs                                                                                                       
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MARK SAN SOUCI, Regional State Liaison                                                                                          
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)                                                                                                
Lakewood, Washington                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
RUSSELL BALL                                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:18:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SAM KITO  called  the House  Labor  and Commerce  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  3:18 p.m.   Representatives Wool,                                                               
Josephson, Stutes, Birch, Knopp,  Sullivan-Leonard, and Kito were                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
          HB 2-PRIV EMPLOYER VOLUNTARY VET PREFERENCE                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:18:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO  announced that  the only order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 2, "An Act  relating to a voluntary preference for                                                               
veterans by private  employers."  [Before the  committee was CSHB                                                               
2(MLV).]                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:19:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHRIS TUCK,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor, presented  HB 2.   He  stated that HB  2 would  allow an                                                               
optional  veteran  hiring  preference for  private  employers  by                                                               
taking advantage  of an option  available under the  Civil Rights                                                               
Act of 1964; it would allow  special rights and preferences to be                                                               
granted to veterans as authorized  under federal, state, or local                                                               
law.   He noted that  37 states have adopted  similar legislation                                                               
and  5  states  are  considering  legislation  this  year.    The                                                               
nationwide  effort by  the U.S.  Department of  Defense (DoD)  is                                                               
attempting to  make a veteran  hiring preference possible  in all                                                               
50  states.   He read  from the  third paragraph  of the  sponsor                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
provided]:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     All fifty  states, the District  of Columbia,  Guam and                                                                    
     Puerto Rico  award preferences  to veterans  in initial                                                                    
     hiring   for   public  employment.   However,   private                                                                    
     employers are  prohibited from  establishing comparable                                                                    
     business  hiring policies  unless specific  legislation                                                                    
     is passed allowing this option.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK expressed that the  road to employment can be                                                               
difficult for  veterans returning  to civilian life.   In  a 2012                                                               
survey  of veterans  from all  eras, two-thirds  of the  veterans                                                               
named  finding  a   job  as  the  greatest   challenge  in  their                                                               
transition.   He remarked, "As  of November 2016, last  year, the                                                               
National Bureau of  Labor ... Statistics showed  the jobless rate                                                               
for   male  veterans   ages  18   to  24   still  exceeds   their                                                               
counterparts."   He explained that the  military discharges about                                                               
160,000  active  duty service  members  and  110,000 reserve  and                                                               
National Guard service members each year.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   stated  that  according  to   the  Defense                                                               
Manpower  Data   Center  data,  over  2,000   military  personnel                                                               
returned to  Alaska upon separation  in 2015.  He  expressed that                                                               
Alaska has one of the highest  number of veterans per capita, and                                                               
Alaskans have always supported veterans  and active duty members.                                                               
He explained  that HB  2 would offer  a voluntary  opportunity to                                                               
businesses  in   the  private  sector   to  assist   veterans  in                                                               
employment  endeavors.    He mentioned  that  DoD,  the  National                                                               
Federation  of Independent  Business  (NFIB) in  Alaska, and  the                                                               
Employer Support of  the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)  all support HB                                                               
2.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:21:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES expressed  her  opinion that  the bill  is                                                               
fair and good.  She asked what the Alaska Naval Militia is.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:22:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA   KLOSTER,  Staff,   Representative  Tuck,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Tuck,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB 2, informed that the  Alaska Militia includes the Alaska State                                                               
Defense Force (ASDF), the Alaska  Air National Guard, Alaska Army                                                               
National  Guard, and  the Alaska  Territorial Guard,  which would                                                               
all  fall under  HB  2.   She  outlined  that  the House  Special                                                               
Committee  on  Military and  Veterans'  Affairs  had, under  CSHB                                                               
2(MLV) made  the following changes:   expanded the  preference to                                                               
active  National  Guard  members;   removed  the  requirement  in                                                               
current statute of eight years  of service for public and private                                                               
employers;  and  replaced  "honorable  discharge"  to  "discharge                                                               
under  honorable conditions"  to  include  honorable and  general                                                               
discharges.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:23:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked whether  private employers take a risk                                                               
when  they  choose  to  hire  a veteran  instead  of  an  equally                                                               
qualified non-veteran.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered yes.  He  offered his understanding                                                               
that  [employers]  can legally  chose  to  hire one  person  over                                                               
another equally  qualified person; however, [an  employer] cannot                                                               
legally have a veteran hiring preference policy without HB 2.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH asked  whether [an  employer] is  currently                                                               
able  to   hire  a  veteran   [over  another   equally  qualified                                                               
applicant].                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK responded  yes.   He  remarked, "All  things                                                               
being equal  in the scenario  that you  created, I don't  think a                                                               
person would  be in  violation ...  when you  decide to  pick the                                                               
veteran hire preference.  But if  things aren't so equal, and you                                                               
decide  to hire  the  veteran,  you wouldn't  be  able  to do  so                                                               
without this piece of legislation."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:26:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  DOEHL,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Military  &                                                               
Veterans'  Affairs (DMVA),  testified in  support  of HB  2.   He                                                               
expressed that  the veteran  population in  Alaska is  growing by                                                               
about  five percent  per  year  and HB  2  is  important to  keep                                                               
veterans  employed.   He  clarified that  members  of the  Alaska                                                               
Naval Militia  are Alaskan  members of  the Federal  Navy Reserve                                                               
and Federal  Marine Corps Reserve who  voluntarily affiliate with                                                               
the State of Alaska and are available in a state disaster.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:27:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON   expressed  his  surprise   that  such                                                               
legislation has not been introduced previously.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  explained that similar legislation  has been                                                               
introduced previously,  was passed unanimously by  the House, but                                                               
was not passed out of  the Senate Rules Standing Committee before                                                               
the session ended.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:28:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  asked   why  "discharged  under  honorable                                                               
conditions"  was replaced  by "other  than  dishonorable" in  the                                                               
bill.   He stated  his opinion  that an  employer should  be made                                                               
aware of an employee's unfavorable discharge.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  answered  that  "other  than  dishonorable"                                                               
includes general and honorable discharges  and is consistent with                                                               
federal language.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:29:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL  echoed that  the language  is consistent  with federal                                                               
law.  He said it would  recognize individuals who are entitled to                                                               
federal veteran  benefits and  were not  discharged dishonorably.                                                               
He explained  that some members  who served frequently  in combat                                                               
but had a  "small hiccup" could receive a  general discharge; not                                                               
passing  a physical  fitness test  could be  such a  hiccup which                                                               
would take away  from years of honorable service.   He added that                                                               
HB  2 would  give  employers the  opportunity  to recognize  such                                                               
service.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP asked  if  a  dishonorable discharge  still                                                               
exists.  He asked if  an individual with a dishonorable discharge                                                               
would be eligible for the preference outlined in HB 2.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL stated  that a member with a  dishonorable discharge is                                                               
not  eligible  for  the  veteran's  hiring  preference;  usually,                                                               
dishonorable discharges  involve a serious conviction.   He noted                                                               
that federal  law does not recognize  dishonorable discharges for                                                               
veteran's benefits.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:31:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked whether employers would  need to state                                                               
or publish their veteran hiring policy or preference.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:32:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  responded  that  employers  would  not  [be                                                               
required] to provide  a written preference, but HB  2 would allow                                                               
them to  have a written  preference if desired  without violating                                                               
state or federal laws.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:32:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director, Office of  Veteran Affairs, Department of                                                               
Military & Veterans'  Affairs (DMVA), testified in  support of HB                                                               
2.   He  stated that  HB  2 is  a  positive bill  and would  have                                                               
positive  outcomes for  veterans  returning  from Afghanistan  or                                                               
Iraq.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:33:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO opened public testimony on HB 2.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:33:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK  SAN  SOUCI,  Regional State  Liaison,  U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Defense (DoD),  testified in support of  HB 2.  He  noted that he                                                               
is  a retired  Air Force  officer.   He added  that DoD  has been                                                               
working on this  issue with state [legislatures]  for three years                                                               
and 37  states have  implemented the  policy.   He said  that the                                                               
National Conference  of State Legislators  (NCSL) and  a military                                                               
veterans' task force embraced the  issue years ago.  He explained                                                               
that  the issue  was  brought forward  because private  employers                                                               
were hesitant  to have a  [veteran hiring preference]  policy; he                                                               
said that the need is still there.   He noted that in 2016, 2,009                                                               
military  personnel returned  to Alaska.   He  noted that  as the                                                               
number  of  people  returning  from  service  remains  static  or                                                               
increases, the state will continue  to see reliable veterans with                                                               
a unique skillset,  a proven work ethic,  and training previously                                                               
paid for through federal taxes.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:35:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RUSSELL BALL testified in  support of HB 2.  He  stated that as a                                                               
small business  owner, he  has had  concern about  implementing a                                                               
hiring  preference,  because "you  always  are  at risk  for  the                                                               
person that  didn't get  the job on  whether everything  was done                                                               
...  both  legally  and  fairly."     He  explained  that  he  is                                                               
interested  in  hiring  veterans because  they  are  disciplined,                                                               
trained, and  reliable; many small  businesses wish  to advertise                                                               
encouraging  veterans  to apply.    He  offered his  belief  that                                                               
retaining the  veteran portion of  the workforce is good  for the                                                               
state.  He explained that  finding good, qualified help is always                                                               
an issue.   He stated that HB  2 would allow him  to move forward                                                               
with  a   hiring  preference  without  the   risk  of  associated                                                               
lawsuits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:38:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO announced that HB 2 was held over.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:38:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Labor and  Commerce Standing Committee  meeting was  adjourned at                                                               
3:38 p.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB002 Sponsor Statement 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2
HB002 Memo of Changes 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2
HB002 Fiscal Note DOLWD-WHA 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2
HB002 Fiscal Note MVA-COM 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2
HB002 Supporting Document-Dept of Defense Vet Hire Preference One Pager 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2
HB002 Supporting Document-NCSL Legis Brief Vet Hire Preference 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2
HB002 Supporting Document-Support Letters 2.8.17.pdf HL&C 2/22/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 2