Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/06/1996 05:32 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON                                  
                 MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                
                         March 6, 1996                                         
                           5:32 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Representative Ivan Ivan, Co-Chair                                            
 Representative Pete Kott, Co-Chair                                            
 Representative Eldon Mulder, Vice Chair                                       
 Representative Richard Foster                                                 
 Representative John Davies                                                    
                                                                               
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
                                                                               
 Representative Gail Phillips                                                  
 Representative Ed Willis                                                      
                                                                               
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
                                                                               
 BRIEFING:  Lieutenant General Lawrence E. Boese, U.S.A.F.                     
 BRIEFING:  Brigadier General Kenneth Taylor, Air National Guard               
                                                                               
 *HOUSE BILL 496                                                               
 "An Act relating to transportation of members of the Alaska                   
 National Guard by the Alaska marine highway system."                          
                                                                               
      - PASSED HB 496 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                         
                                                                               
 (* First Public Hearing)                                                      
                                                                               
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
                                                                               
 BILL:  HB 496                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: FERRY TRANSPORTATION FOR NAT GUARD MEMBER                        
 SPONSOR(S): SP CMTE MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS                               
                                                                               
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG    ACTION                                                 
 02/12/96      2723    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 02/12/96      2723    (H)   MLV, TRANSPORTATION                               
 03/06/96              (H)   MLV AT  5:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
                                                                               
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
                                                                               
 LIEUTENANT GENERAL LAWRENCE E. BOESE                                          
 Commander, Alaskan Command                                                    
 Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska                                              
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Briefed the committee on the status of                   
 military operations in Alaska.                                                
                                                                               
 BRIGADIER GENERAL KENNETH TAYLOR                                              
 Assistant Director, Alaska Air National Guard                                 
 P.O. Box 5800                                                                 
 Fort Richardson, Alaska  99505-5800                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 428-6089                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Briefed the committee on the status of Alaska            
 Air Guard operations.                                                         
                                                                               
 BRIAN C. SONNER, CAPTAIN                                                      
 UNITED STATES COAST GUARD                                                     
 17th Coast Guard District Chief of Staff                                      
 Commander (dcs) P.O. Box 25517                                                
 Juneau, Alaska  99802                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 463-2025                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Briefed the committee on the status of United            
 States Coast Guard operations in Alaska.                                      
                                                                               
 SAM S. KITO, III                                                              
 Legislative Liaison\Special Assistant                                         
 Department of Transportation and Public Facilities                            
 State of Alaska                                                               
 3132 Channel Drive                                                            
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-7898                                                    
 Telephone:  (907)                                                             
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided information on Fiscal Note for HB               
 496.                                                                          
                                                                               
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-3, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 0003                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN IVAN called the House Special Committee on                   
 Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting to order at 5:32 p.m.                  
 Members present at the call to order were Representatives Ivan,               
 Mulder, Foster and Davies.  Representatives Phillips and Willis               
 were absent.  Representative Kott arrived late.                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN welcomed General Boese.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0104                                                                   
                                                                               
 LIEUTENANT GENERAL LAWRENCE E. BOESE, Commander, Alaskan Command,             
 Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, thanked the chairman for the                
 opportunity to brief the committee.  He recognized the committee's            
 support for the military in Alaska.  He stated his focus in the               
 briefing would be to explain what the armed forces in Alaska are              
 involved with at present, and what plans are on the horizon.  He              
 stated a briefing book was provided to all committee members,                 
 containing facts and figures on the military in Alaska.                       
                                                                               
 Number 0289                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE referred to the briefing book discussion of the                 
 changing role of the military in Alaska.  Throughout the Cold War,            
 Alaska's primary role was protecting the United States'                       
 northwestern border through air and land defense.  Since 1990, the            
 military in Alaska has made significant changes.  General Boese               
 explained that the Alaskan Region North American Aerospace Defense            
 Command (NORAD) is still dedicated to maintaining air sovereignty             
 and providing tactical warning and assessment of air attack.                  
                                                                               
 Number 0420                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE explained that, as the mission has changed over the             
 past five years, so have the military's assets in Alaska.  As                 
 Commander of Alaskan Command, General Boese reports to Admiral                
 Greer, Commander of Pacific Forces.  Under the Alaskan Command,               
 there are three components--air, land, and sea.  General Boese                
 stated his primary responsibility is to support deploying forces              
 and forces passing through Alaska.  He emphasized the strategic               
 importance of the state of Alaska.  In the event of any major                 
 contingency in the Pacific, the Alaskan Command would be an                   
 extremely important aspect of the Tanker/Airlift Bridge.                      
                                                                               
 Number 0653                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE further explained that disaster relief is another               
 important function of the Alaskan Command.  He added that a new               
 mission of the Alaskan Command is to support contingencies anywhere           
 in the Pacific.  The final mission of the Alaskan Command is to               
 conduct joint training exercises.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 0653                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE went on to explain the fort structure of the armed              
 forces within the state.  Fort Richardson and Fort Wainwright are             
 fully operational.  He stated that Fort Greely will remain as is              
 until the year 2000.  At that time, they will reduce forces, but              
 the base will be maintained in "warm storage."  The base will still           
 be needed for conducting training exercises and other operations.             
 This is very similar to the status of Galena, King Salmon, and                
 Eareckson today.  As far as the Air Force is concerned, he does not           
 expect the structure to change.  He said he expects no changes to             
 Coast Guard facilities in Juneau and Kodiak.                                  
 Number 0776                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE stated the Navy will pull out of Adak in January,               
 1998.  He stated he understands this will present a challenge to              
 the state.  In terms of radar facilities, he expects no changes to            
 the present status.                                                           
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE went on to discuss changes in the Alaskan military              
 since the Cold War ended.  There has been a decrease in spending              
 from $78 million to about $30 million annually.  He reiterated the            
 Alaskan Command's importance, in terms of strategic location,                 
 combat ready forces, unique training opportunities, and support to            
 the state.  General Boese used a polar projection map to illustrate           
 Alaska's strategic location, which affords rapid deployment both to           
 Pacific and European theaters.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 0937                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE emphasized the importance of Alaska's combat ready              
 forces.  He explained that training opportunities within the state            
 are second to none and are utilized by forces from all over the               
 globe.  In terms of support to the state, General Boese explained             
 the Army had recently provided helicopter support for flood relief            
 on the Yukon when the National Guard was unable to respond.  He               
 stated that Search and Rescue missions average one life saved per             
 day.                                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 1112                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then discussed Operation TEMPO.  He stated that in              
 1996, the Alaskan Command will conduct 44 deployments in 25 foreign           
 countries.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1205                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE stated he would brief the committee on ongoing                  
 activities.  These include readiness, quality of life,                        
 environmental, and state support.  He described the COPE THUNDER              
 operation conducted at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.  This             
 is a world class training exercise.  Forces from Great Britain,               
 Japan, and Canada will participate this year, in addition to                  
 Alaskan forces.  The exercise is conducted four times each year.              
                                                                               
 Number 1316                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then described the NORTHERN EDGE exercise, which is             
 the primary joint exercise, conducted yearly.  The purpose is to              
 conduct joint training for Alaskan forces and to bring in outside             
 forces for training.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 1387                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE mentioned concerns that have been expressed about               
 Eareckson, Galena, and King Salmon.  He explained the                         
 infrastructure of these bases will be maintained so they can be               
 used if the need arises.  In this regard, $5.7 million has been               
 budgeted for repair and improvement of the King Salmon runway.                
 This runway is used for civilian operations as well.  He expressed            
 confidence that this budget request would be approved.                        
                                                                               
 Number 1450                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then discussed the Department of Defense/ Veteran's             
 Hospital which is now under construction at Elmendorf Air Force               
 Base.  The hospital is expected to open in 1998.  He explained that           
 Basset Army Hospital at Fort Wainwright needs to be replaced, and             
 this is now in the planning stages.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 1541                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE stated that housing is his number one people concern            
 at the present time.  At Elmendorf Air Force Base, there is a                 
 shortage of 1,000 units.  The military is working on privatization            
 efforts for construction of housing.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 1611                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then discussed environmental concerns.  At the King             
 Salmon Barrel Bluffs site, a soil cap will be placed over the site,           
 and it will be monitored.  He mentioned the problem with the                  
 Government Hill Defense Fuel Support Point, near Anchorage, which             
 has resulted from urbanization of the area.  The military is                  
 studying alternative storage sites.  He stated that another                   
 environmental concern is the landfill at the City of Galena, which            
 must be closed by October, 1998.  The military has worked with the            
 community to arrive at a solution.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 1772                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE went on to discuss the Coast Guard's new system for             
 accessing the Rescue Coordination Center by cellular phone.  This             
 makes it much easier for people to contact the center in the event            
 of emergency.                                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 1826                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then explained that the Army Confinement Center at              
 Fort Richardson is under utilized.  He stated the military has                
 offered the use of this facility to the state.                                
                                                                               
 Number 1855                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then described upcoming events within the state.  At            
 Seward, a new recreation camp is being constructed.  A grand                  
 opening will be held in May or June.  He also said a Ribbon                   
 Breaking Ceremony will be held at Elmendorf this summer on a new              
 Joint Mobility Complex.  He explained that this new complex will              
 support deployment.  He further stated that on July 27, at Eielson            
 Air Force Base, a naming ceremony will be held for a new B-2                  
 aircraft, the "Spirit of Alaska."                                             
                                                                               
 Number 2000                                                                   
 GENERAL BOESE then discussed areas where the military is asking for           
 help from the legislature.  The first concerned the Alaska National           
 Guard.  He stated the Alaska Air Guard is in good shape, but the              
 Alaska Army Guard has battalions (such as the Scouts) which are               
 questionable for utilization outside Alaska.  Therefore, the                  
 military has identified sensitive areas within Alaska which the               
 Alaska Army Guard could be assigned to protect.  He reiterated that           
 the Alaska Army Guard is in a period of transition and asked the              
 for legislature's understanding.  He further stated there is an               
 excellent relationship between the active forces and the National             
 Guard in Alaska.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 2154                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then commended the legislature's 1994 proclamation in           
 support of the Military Operating Airspace Environmental Impact               
 Study (MOA EIS).  He stated that once the Federal Aviation                    
 Administration's (FAA) Airspace Assessment is favorably concluded,            
 the agreement can be signed.  He stated the success of this project           
 was due to a willingness to listen and make adjustments, on the               
 part of both military and civilians.  He then discussed the                   
 Civil/Military Working Group which meets in Fairbanks and                     
 Anchorage.  He explained the airspace agreement is essential for              
 conducting major joint exercises, such as Cope Thunder.  He stated            
 he is confident the FAA will give approval.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 2240                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then discussed the military schools transfer project.           
 Once on-base schools are renovated to state standards, their                  
 ownership can be transferred to local school districts.  He                   
 explained the military had needed money for renovation, and for               
 construction of a new school at Eielson Air Force Base, which the             
 legislature provided in 1995.  He stated the military will not ask            
 for any additional money for schools this year.                               
                                                                               
 Number 2319                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE then mentioned the Legislative Proclamation regarding           
 Yukla 27 and the tragic loss of AWACS.  He stated the proclamation            
 had been read at a national prayer luncheon, and was greatly                  
 appreciated by the Elmendorf community.                                       
                                                                               
 Number 2430                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE reiterated the importance and relevance of military             
 forces in Alaska.  He emphasized that the military in Alaska can              
 not afford to be satisfied with the status quo.  He stated that               
 state support is important, and expressed his appreciation for the            
 state's support of military operations.                                       
                                                                               
 Tape 96-3, Side B                                                             
 GENERAL BOESE then invited questions from the committee.                      
                                                                               
 Number 0027                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD FOSTER asked about deficit family units.  If           
 housing is not available on base, where do families stay?                     
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE replied that they have a difficult time, and often              
 must live far from the base.  Either families pay more than they              
 can really afford, or accept substandard housing.  The problem is             
 due to insufficient housing available on base.  He reiterated his             
 belief that privatization is the answer.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0134                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER asked about the status of 801 housing             
 at Fort Wainwright, in Fairbanks.  He wanted to know if this would            
 be a joint effort between the state and federal government.                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE responded that the organization building the housing            
 would receive the housing allowance of the occupant.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER stated that perhaps a program along the lines           
 of AHFC would work in this regard.                                            
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE reiterated that privatization has many advantages,              
 and that the military is working on this area.                                
                                                                               
 Number 0241                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER mentioned the situation at Adak, especially             
 with respect to creating a receiving authority.                               
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE explained that timing would be the real challenge.              
 He stated that Adak has good facilities and a strategic location,             
 but a focal point for development needs to be found.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER stated that a receiving entity must be                  
 created within the next five years, so that the transition can be             
 made from military post to private community.                                 
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE emphasized that the facilities at Adak will                     
 deteriorate quickly if not maintained.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 303                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked if the pull-out from Adak was                     
 definitely scheduled for January 1, 1998.                                     
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE replied that date was correct.                                  
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN PETE KOTT joined the meeting and was introduced by                
 Chairman Ivan.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 0334                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES mentioned his appreciation for the                 
 military's response to the flood situation in the Fairbanks area.             
 He said that he had reviewed military response to the 1964                    
 earthquake, and that the people of the state have an enduring debt            
 to the military.                                                              
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE responded that he feels comfortable in dealing with             
 the legislature and the governor, which greatly facilitates                   
 communications.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0423                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES also mentioned the housing privatization                
 issue.  He stated that when he was a member of the Fairbanks' City            
 Assembly, they had provided a five year tax holiday for                       
 construction of military housing.  He then asked if there would be            
 money earmarked in FY 97 for planning of the Basset Army Hospital             
 renovation.                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE replied that he didn't know.  He stated that the site           
 has already been identified, and that money is now needed for                 
 design and planning.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 0499                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES mentioned the airspace EIS and the issues               
 raised by the civilian aviation community.  He stated he                      
 appreciated the military's efforts in this regard.                            
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE responded that he feels there is a good relationship            
 with the civilian community.  When the military feels that                    
 readiness is being affected, the civilian community has always been           
 willing to respond.  He stated the recommendation is the preferred            
 environmental option.  Approval of this option is crucial for the             
 continued operation of Cope Thunder.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 0624                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIR IVAN thanked Lt. General Boese for his briefing. He then             
 invited Brigadier General Kenneth Taylor to address the committee.            
                                                                               
 BRIGADIER GENERAL KENNETH TAYLOR, Assistant Director, Alaska Air              
 National Guard, reiterated that Alaska is fortunate to have the               
 leadership of General Boese.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0777                                                                   
                                                                               
 GENERAL TAYLOR identified two major concerns of any military                  
 organization, readiness and capability.  He stated he has worked              
 hard to make the Alaska Air National Guard relevant.  As the Army             
 National Guard is redesigned to become more relevant, moral support           
 from the legislature will be required.  The state is responsible              
 for maintaining facilities for the National Guard.  Funding will be           
 required to maintain and construct facilities for the Army National           
 Guard.  He emphasized that many armories in the state will require            
 replacement within the next few years.  He then invited questions             
 from the committee.                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 0877                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER stated it was an honor to be briefed by                 
 General Boese, General Taylor, and Captain Sonner.                            
                                                                               
 Number 0942                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked what kinds of changes the state might             
 expect with regard to future military operations.                             
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE responded the biggest change would be with regard to            
 the Alaska Army National Guard.  He stated the United States Army             
 requires combat service support, which is something the Alaska Army           
 National Guard can provide.  One example is a unit designed to                
 prepare cargo for aerial delivery.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 1089                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER stated that the closure of bases around the             
 world might be viewed as an opportunity to bring new forces to                
 Alaska.  He asked if General Boese could see any opportunities in             
 that regard.                                                                  
                                                                               
 GENERAL BOESE replied that he knew of nothing specific, but he                
 believed there were opportunities.  He stated that the facilities             
 in Alaska could support additional forces.  For instance, if a                
 decision were made to pull back from bases in Japan, Alaska would             
 be an attractive alternative.  In this regard, the Alaskan Command            
 is working to upgrade the C-130 aircraft operations and maintenance           
 facility at Elmendorf.  He emphasized the Alaskan Command is                  
 positioning itself to be ready to receive additional forces, should           
 the need arise.                                                               
                                                                               
 GENERAL TAYLOR stated that opportunities for growth also exist in             
 the Alaska Air National Guard.  He explained that growth would not            
 be dramatic, but would continue.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 1360                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT asked General Taylor about recruiting                
 efforts in the Interior.                                                      
                                                                               
 GENERAL TAYLOR responded that efforts were going well in the                  
 Interior.  In Anchorage, however, the unit is just under 90 percent           
 manned, which is unsatisfactory.  He stated the guard is working              
 hard on that.                                                                 
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN thanked General Taylor for addressing the                    
 committee.                                                                    
                                                                               
 HB 496 - FERRY TRANSPORTATION FOR NAT GUARD MEMBER                          
                                                                               
 Number 1450                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN announced the next item on the agenda was HOUSE             
 BILL 496, "An Act relating to transportation of members of the               
 Alaska National Guard by the Alaska marine highway system."                   
                                                                               
 Number 1470                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT read the sponsor statement for HB 496, as                 
 follows:  "Many potential recruits to the Alaska National Guard               
 reside in isolated communities that are on the Alaska Marine                  
 Highway system.  These individuals are not able to join the guard             
 without paying their own fare to and from the drilling sites.  As             
 a result, guard recruitment in these communities is difficult.                
                                                                               
 "This bill would permit guard members to travel to and from their             
 drills without charge on the Alaska Marine Highway system, but only           
 on a space available basis.  These individuals perform great                  
 service to Alaska, for which they receive little compensation.  It            
 is not reasonable for the state to expect them to pay the                     
 prohibitively high costs of transportation in and out of their                
 communities for what little they are paid.  As a consequence, very            
 few such individuals can afford to serve.  The state, through the             
 passage of this bill, would ameliorate this problem without                   
 incurring any additional expenses.  Accordingly, your support is              
 urged."                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 1579                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stated a fiscal note was attached, and that the           
 bill would have minimal financial impact.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1600                                                                   
                                                                               
 SAM S. KITO III, Legislative Liaison/Special Assistant, Department            
 of Transportation and Public Facilities, State of Alaska, stated he           
 was present to address any questions regarding the fiscal note.  He           
 commented that the cost of the bill would be minimal.  He noted,              
 however, that there would be indirect costs associated with free              
 passage on the marine highway system.  He explained that the fiscal           
 note also reflects these associated, indirect costs.                          
 Number 1661                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER moved that HB 496 with attached fiscal note             
 be passed out of the committee.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1673                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES objected to moving the bill.  He stated he              
 thought the idea was a good one, but that he was concerned the                
 marine highway system is being pushed to do more with less.  He               
 advocated including the funds in an appropriate budget.  He also              
 noted the same argument could be made for recruits living in rural            
 Alaska.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 1787                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER stated that since the fiscal note was only              
 $1,000, he believed the committee should pass out the bill.                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN asked if there were any objections on the motion             
 to move the bill with attached fiscal note.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1286                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES stated he objected to moving the bill.                  
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT concurred with the objection.  He stated                  
 various agencies are being asked to do more with less.  He noted              
 the importance of recruiting is certainly worth the money involved,           
 and advocated putting $5,000 into the budget to provide travel                
 reimbursement for recruits.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1972                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER agreed with Representative Kott.  He stated             
 he would make a motion to amend the bill when it comes before the             
 Finance Committee.                                                            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES withdrew his objection.                                 
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN stated, there being no further objections, HB 496          
 with attached fiscal notes was passed out of the House Special                
 Committee on Military & Vetarans Affairs.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 2058                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER asked for comments from Captain Sonner.                 
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN BRIAN C. SONNER, 17TH COAST GUARD DISTRICT CHIEF OF STAFF,            
 UNITED STATES COAST GUARD, thanked the committee for the                      
 opportunity to comment.  He mentioned the restraints imposed by               
 shrinking budgets.  He stated that in Alaska the impact has been              
 minimal.  He explained the Juneau office has undergone an extensive           
 reorganization to maximize efficiency.  He invited questions from             
 the committee.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 2200                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER asked about the Coast Guard's zero tolerance            
 policy with regard to search and seizure.  He mentioned an incident           
 in the Aleutians in which a boat was impounded because of a crew              
 member's infraction.                                                          
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN SONNER responded that the zero tolerance policy is no                 
 longer being enforced because it is unrealistic in that                       
 environment.  He stated that owners cannot be held liable for a               
 crew member's possession of personal use marijuana on board a                 
 commercial vessel.  He noted that there is, however, random drug              
 testing of licensed personnel in the maritime environment.                    
                                                                               
 Number 2390                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER asked if random testing involved 100 percent            
 of personnel.                                                                 
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN SONNER replied that random testing has had the desired                
 impact, in that the number of positive results has become                     
 infinitesimal.  All personnel are tested periodically, on a random            
 basis.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 2390                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked about proposals to scale back the                 
 presence of the Coast Guard in Alaska.                                        
                                                                               
 Tape 96-4, Side A                                                             
 Number 0119                                                                   
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN SONNER responded that there was no national intent to do              
 so.  He explained that the Coast Guard is working on its satellite            
 navigation system throughout the state, and that as that system               
 matures, (gap due to changing tape).                                          
                                                                               
 Number 0119                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked about the Loran site on the Pribilofs,            
 at St. Paul.  Is the site still actively manned?                              
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN SONNER stated that all Coast Guard stations in the state              
 are still actively manned.  He explained that Fort Clarence is the            
 most sophisticated in terms of infrastructure.  He stated that a              
 number of years ago, the Coast Guard went to a minimally manned               
 concept, but that the St. Paul station is still actively manned.              
 Number 0148                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER mentioned the high morale at Fort Clarence.             
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN SONNER stated that in the past, the majority of the Coast             
 Guard's resources were applied to search and rescue operations.               
 Now, the emphasis has shifted to environmental protection and                 
 marine safety.  The search and rescue component, however, remains             
 the primary mission.  The marine safety emphasis has made a                   
 substantial difference in saving lives.  For example, in terms of             
 fishing vessel safety, the average number of deaths per year has              
 recently declined from 38 to about 13.  He stated this is largely             
 the result of Coast Guard initiatives and enforcement efforts.                
                                                                               
 Number 0339                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked if the Coast Guard desired to maintain            
 a presence at Adak.                                                           
                                                                               
 CAPTAIN SONNER responded that they definitely do.  For instance,              
 Coast Guard cutters working in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of                 
 Alaska would prefer to go to Adak.  The Coast Guard has provided              
 information to the state in this regard.  He explained that                   
 continued flexibility is an operational necessity, especially since           
 airstrips are not always open due to weather.  For that reason,               
 access to Adak remains important.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 0438                                                                   
                                                                               
 ADJOURNMENT                                                                   
                                                                               
 There being no further business to come before the House Special              
 Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, CO-CHAIRMAN IVAN                  
 adjourned the meeting at 7:10 p.m.                                            
                                                                               

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