Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/18/2004 01:10 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND                                                                           
                       VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                                      
                         March 18, 2004                                                                                         
                           1:10 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Nick Stepovich, Chair                                                                                            
Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom                                                                                                  
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Bruce Weyhrauch                                                                                                  
Representative Sharon Cissna                                                                                                    
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 440                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to  the Alaska Pioneers'  Home, and  the Alaska                                                               
Veterans'  Home; relating  to eligibility  for  admission to  the                                                               
Alaska  Pioneers' Home  and Alaska  Veterans'  Home; relating  to                                                               
state  veterans' home  facilities; making  conforming amendments;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
     - MOVED CSHB 440(MLV) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 440                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PIONEERS' HOMES/VETERANS' HOMES                                                                                    
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
02/05/04       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/05/04       (H)       MLV, HES, FIN                                                                                          
03/04/04       (H)       MLV AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
03/04/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/04/04       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
03/18/04       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
DENNIS DeWITT, Special Staff Assistant                                                                                          
Office of the Governor                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Reviewed HB 440.                                                                                           
BOB HUFFMAN, Legislative Committee                                                                                              
Grand Igloo                                                                                                                     
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 440.                                                                                       
LEON BERTRAM, State Service Officer                                                                                             
American Legion                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 440.                                                                            
JOHN KELLEY, Service Officer                                                                                                    
Veterans of Foreign Wars                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 440.                                                                            
RIC DAVIDGE, Vice President                                                                                                     
Vietnam Veterans of America;                                                                                                    
Chairman, Legislative Affairs;                                                                                                  
Chairman, Alaska Veterans Foundation                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of the creation of the                                                                
Palmer Veterans' Home as a first step.                                                                                          
JOHN VOWEL, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Longevity Programs                                                                                                  
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During discussion of HB 440, answered                                                                      
JIM VAN HORN, State Commander                                                                                                   
American Legion                                                                                                                 
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During discussion of HB 440, testified in                                                                  
support of the establishment of the Palmer Veterans' Home.                                                                      
DONALD DINKEL                                                                                                                   
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  During discussion of HB 440, encouraged the                                                                
state to negotiate funding [for veterans] that can be used in                                                                   
all the pioneers' homes.                                                                                                        
RON ELLER, Post Commander                                                                                                       
Veterans of Foreign Wars;                                                                                                       
Member, Alaska Veterans Advisory Council                                                                                        
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified  that the  veterans support  and                                                               
request passage of HB 440.                                                                                                      
RYAN COLGAN, Staff                                                                                                              
to Representative Stepovich                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   During  discussion  of  HB 440,  spoke  on                                                               
Amendments 1 and 2.                                                                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 04-2, SIDE A                                                                                                             
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  NICK  STEPOVICH  called the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Military  and Veterans'  Affairs meeting  to order  at 1:10  p.m.                                                               
Representatives  Stepovich,  Masek, Weyhrauch,  Dahlstrom,  Lynn,                                                               
and Cissna  were present  at the call  to order.   Representative                                                               
Gruenberg arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                               
HB 440-PIONEERS' HOMES/VETERANS' HOMES                                                                                        
CHAIR STEPOVICH announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 440, "An Act relating to  the Alaska Pioneers'                                                               
Home, and the Alaska Veterans'  Home; relating to eligibility for                                                               
admission  to  the Alaska  Pioneers'  Home  and Alaska  Veterans'                                                               
Home;  relating  to  state   veterans'  home  facilities;  making                                                               
conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
[Before the committee is CSHB  440, Version 23-GH2085\D, Mischel,                                                               
Number 0223                                                                                                                     
DENNIS DeWITT,  Special Staff Assistant, Office  of the Governor,                                                               
reminded  the committee  this legislation  will allow  the Palmer                                                               
Pioneers'  Home to  be  converted  into a  veterans'  home.   The                                                               
legislation includes  transition language, which ensures  that no                                                               
one will be moved without his  or her consent.  Therefore, no one                                                               
will be forced  to move due to passage of  this legislation.  Mr.                                                               
DeWitt   explained  that   this  legislation   includes  language                                                               
allowing   the  collection   of  per   diem  from   the  Veterans                                                               
Administration  during  that  transition  period.    Only  a  few                                                               
nonsubstantive  issues  remain  to  be "hammered  out"  with  the                                                               
Veterans Administration.   The legislation repeals  many statutes                                                               
that  have been  put  in  place over  the  years  as attempts  to                                                               
develop a veterans' home have arisen.                                                                                           
MR.  DeWITT  recalled from  the  prior  hearing  of HB  440,  the                                                               
question regarding whether Merchant  Marines would be eligible as                                                               
veterans to enter the Alaska  Veterans' Home.  A memorandum dated                                                               
March  6, 2004,  from Mr.  DeWitt  is included  in the  committee                                                               
packet.   That  memorandum  specifies that  Merchant Marines  are                                                               
considered  veterans, and  therefore are  eligible for  veteran's                                                               
benefits  if active,  ongoing service  occurred from  December 7,                                                               
1941, to  August 15,  1945.   Such individuals  would be  able to                                                               
enter a state veterans' home as a veteran.                                                                                      
Number 0536                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  requested that Mr. DeWitt  review the matter                                                               
of smoking at this facility.                                                                                                    
MR. DeWITT explained  that this facility, as is  any other public                                                               
building, would be  covered by the statutes  relative to smoking.                                                               
Therefore,  smoking  would  limited  to  congregate  areas.    He                                                               
specified  that  there   are  and  will  continue   to  be  areas                                                               
designated for smokers.                                                                                                         
Number 0676                                                                                                                     
BOB  HUFFMAN, Legislative  Committee, Grand  Igloo, said  that he                                                               
understands  the  desire to  bring  additional  funding into  the                                                               
pioneers' home system  in the interest of  offsetting state costs                                                               
of  operational maintenance.   He  indicated  that this  proposal                                                               
would address  an underutilized facility  and the  possibility of                                                               
future  rate  adjustments.   He  further  indicated  that  senior                                                               
protection  is reasonably  protected  [in Version  D].   However,                                                               
fees  to  others  [who  aren't  pioneers]  should  be  reasonably                                                               
compatible with existing home use.                                                                                              
Number 0935                                                                                                                     
LEON BERTRAM,  State Service  Officer, American  Legion, reminded                                                               
the  committee  that  two  years ago  the  American  Legion,  the                                                               
Veterans  of Foreign  Wars, and  the  Disabled American  Veterans                                                               
jointly  petitioned the  legislature to  appropriate $250,000  in                                                               
order to  complete the study  of the  State Veterans' Home.   Mr.                                                               
Bertram   informed   the   committee  that   the   aforementioned                                                               
organizations  selected  him  to  report the  activities  of  the                                                               
ongoing study.   Upon the  completion of  the first phase  of the                                                               
study, the three  organizations met with the  McDowell Group, who                                                               
was  performing the  study, and  the state  director of  veterans                                                               
affairs as  well as the  Veterans Administration personnel.   The                                                               
entities  reviewed the  three options  recommended by  the state.                                                               
At the  time, the service organizations  unanimously selected the                                                               
option to  support making  the Palmer  Pioneers' Home  the Alaska                                                               
Veterans' Home.  Therefore, "we" fully support HB 440.                                                                          
Number 1030                                                                                                                     
JOHN KELLEY,  Service Officer, Veterans of  Foreign Wars, related                                                               
that the  Veterans of Foreign  Wars fully supports HB  440, which                                                               
he hoped would be dealt with expeditiously.                                                                                     
Number 1084                                                                                                                     
RIC  DAVIDGE,  Vice  President,   Vietnam  Veterans  of  America;                                                               
Chairman,   Legislative   Affairs;  Chairman,   Alaska   Veterans                                                               
Foundation, said that  most Americans are aware of  the fact that                                                               
by  the end  of the  Vietnam  War 50,000  American soldiers  were                                                               
killed.  However,  most Americans are unaware that  since the end                                                               
of the  Vietnam War over  60,000 Vietnam Veterans  have committed                                                               
suicide.   He explained that the  aforementioned happened because                                                               
America  failed to  embrace  its Vietnam  Veterans  as they  came                                                               
home.   Slowly, that  has changed  over the last  30 years.   Mr.                                                               
Davidge said he  was delighted to see movement in  Alaska to heal                                                               
those wounds.  As mentioned  earlier, the veterans' organizations                                                               
in the  state have worked  together and independently  in support                                                               
of the  establishment of a  veterans' home.  Mr.  Davidge related                                                               
that although the Vietnam Veterans  of America would still prefer                                                               
to see the  veterans' home located in Anchorage,  it does support                                                               
the  creation of  the  first home  in Palmer.    He reminded  the                                                               
committee  that  the Vietnam  Veterans  of  America put  forth  a                                                               
proposal  to consolidate  Veterans Administration  facilities and                                                               
programs into  a single  location across  from the  Alaska Native                                                               
Hospital.  However, he reiterated  support of the creation of the                                                               
Palmer Veterans'  Home as  a first step.   Mr.  Davidge specified                                                               
that  one of  the overwhelming  concerns is  that although  there                                                               
have  been many  assurances made  with regard  to the  continuing                                                               
operation and maintenance funding  for the veterans' home, future                                                               
legislatures can't be constrained.   He expressed further concern                                                               
with regard to  the possibility of creating a  veterans' home and                                                               
then slowly  chip away at the  base funding for it.   Mr. Davidge                                                               
noted  that the  Vietnam  Veterans of  America  has provided  the                                                               
state  with  information  regarding  alternative  mechanisms  for                                                               
operation and  maintenance funding  in Alaska.   He  concluded by                                                               
noting that  the committee  packet should  contain a  letter from                                                               
the president  of the Vietnam  Veterans of America in  support of                                                               
the Palmer Veterans' Home, although  there is concern with regard                                                               
to the operation and maintenance funding.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked if  assisted living  plans be  part of                                                               
the plan at the Palmer Veterans' Home.                                                                                          
Number 1353                                                                                                                     
JOHN VOWEL, Director, Division  of Longevity Programs, Department                                                               
of Health  and Social  Services (DHSS),  replied yes,  and stated                                                               
that  all the  provisions of  assisted living  will apply  to the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN   recalled  an   interim  meeting   of  this                                                               
committee  in  which  definitive  evidence of  a  care  plan  was                                                               
implemented without the  approval of and over the  objection of a                                                               
veteran's  legal representative  and  physician.   The  ombudsman                                                               
substantiated  the  aforementioned.    Therefore,  Representative                                                               
Lynn inquired as to the  assurances available that care plans for                                                               
veterans will be complied with at the Palmer facility.                                                                          
MR. VOWEL said  that the same care plan  development and approval                                                               
process used in  all of the [pioneers' homes] will  continue.  In                                                               
further  response to  Representative  Lynn,  Mr. Vowel  specified                                                               
that  the  regulations  for assisted  living  will  be  followed.                                                               
Those   regulations  include   the  development,   approval,  and                                                               
modification of care  plans throughout the stay  of the resident.                                                               
Mr. Vowel said  that [the division] believes it  is in compliance                                                               
with regulations,  and therefore those regulations  will continue                                                               
to be used as a guideline for plan development.                                                                                 
Number 1562                                                                                                                     
JIM  VAN HORN,  State  Commander, American  Legion, testified  in                                                               
support of  the establishment of  the Palmer Veterans' Home.   He                                                               
informed the committee  that the per diem rate  the veterans will                                                               
receive from the  Veterans Administration is about  $26.95 a day.                                                               
With  the approximately  82 [beds],  it amounts  to approximately                                                               
$800,000 in  federal funds  that would  come to  the state.   The                                                               
aforementioned  would  help  offset  the cost  of  operating  the                                                               
[Palmer]  facility.    Mr.  Van   Horn  noted  that  he  had  the                                                               
opportunity to  tour the Palmer facility,  which he characterized                                                               
as a very nice facility.                                                                                                        
MR. VAN  HORN highlighted  the fact that  Alaska has  the largest                                                               
amount of veterans  per capita, 17.1 percent, in the  nation.  In                                                               
fact,  Anchorage is  one  of  10 cities  with  a population  over                                                               
100,000  with   a  high  population,  7.3   percent,  of  Vietnam                                                               
Veterans.  Although Alaska is  the only state without a veterans'                                                               
home, Alaska  has the largest  veteran population in  the nation.                                                               
Mr.  Van  Horn concluded  by  reiterating  the American  Legion's                                                               
endorsement of this concept of the Palmer Veterans' Home.                                                                       
Number 1730                                                                                                                     
DONALD DINKEL informed the committee  that he is representing the                                                               
veterans and  the Pioneers of  Alaska.  Mr. Dinkel  expressed his                                                               
disappointment  with   the  Veterans  Administration,   which  he                                                               
charged  hasn't  been taking  care  of  its  veterans.   He  also                                                               
expressed   his   confusion   with   regard   to   the   Veterans                                                               
Administration  insisting on  a separate  facility for  veterans.                                                               
He questioned  why the  Veterans Administration  hasn't supported                                                               
the  needs of  veterans  in the  facilities,  the five  pioneers'                                                               
homes, that  are available.   Mr.  Dinkel informed  the committee                                                               
that he went  to school under the  GI Bill and he  didn't have to                                                               
attend a  special school to obtain  the benefits of the  GI Bill.                                                               
Mr.  Dinkel  concluded  by encouraging  the  state  to  negotiate                                                               
funding  [for veterans]  that can  be used  in all  the pioneers'                                                               
Number 1872                                                                                                                     
RON  ELLER, Post  Commander, Veterans  of  Foreign Wars;  Member,                                                               
Alaska Veterans Advisory Council,  said that the veterans support                                                               
and request  passage of HB  440.  However,  he noted that  it has                                                               
taken more than 20  years to get to this point,  which is only 80                                                               
beds.   Mr. Eller related  that veterans  want to have  their own                                                               
home.    He  noted  that veterans  have  questioned  whether  the                                                               
management of the  [Palmer Veterans' Home] would be  at the state                                                               
level or the  Veterans Administration level.  In  fact, Mr. Eller                                                               
said that [veterans]  in the Bush feel as if  they are treated as                                                               
second-class  citizens as  far  as  concerns regarding  veteran's                                                               
issues and health  issues.  Mr. Eller then expressed  the need to                                                               
look to the future for veterans.   To that end, he suggested that                                                               
the  Alaska  Advisory  Council  could present  some  ideas.    He                                                               
related that  he read  there were  approximately 200  veterans on                                                               
the waiting list for the 82 beds in Palmer.                                                                                     
MR. DeWITT  informed the  committee that at  the end  of February                                                               
there were three people on the  active waiting list in the Palmer                                                               
Pioneers' Home.                                                                                                                 
MR. ELLER said  his figures were from information  provided at an                                                               
Alaska Veterans Advisory Council meeting.                                                                                       
CHAIR  STEPOVICH, upon  determining  there was  no  one else  who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                     
The committee took an at-ease from 1:43 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.                                                                       
Number 2247                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK moved that  the committee adopt Amendment 1,                                                               
labeled 23-GH2085\D.1, Mischel, 3/17/04, which read:                                                                            
     Page 6, line 31, following "at":                                                                                           
          Insert "Sitka and at other"                                                                                           
RYAN  COLGAN, Staff  to  Representative  Stepovich, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that Amendment  1 is  in response  to the                                                               
concern  voiced  by  pioneers because  the  language  in  current                                                               
statute specifying  that the department shall  maintain pioneers'                                                               
homes in  Sitka and  other locations wasn't  included in  HB 440.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 1 was introduced.                                                                                          
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
Number 2360                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK moved that  the committee adopt Amendment 2,                                                               
labeled 23-GH2085\D.2, Mischel, 3/18/04, which read:                                                                            
     Page 8, line 7, following "space"                                                                                          
         Insert ", up to 50 percent of the total floor                                                                          
     space in a home,"                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH objected for discussion purposes.                                                                      
MR. COLGAN  explained that Version  D removed the portion  of the                                                               
language  regarding  the potential  for  the  department to  sale                                                               
space  in  the  pioneers'  home,   while  language  allowing  the                                                               
department to  lease bed space  remains.  There was  concern that                                                               
under that section, an entire home  could be leased.  Many people                                                               
want  to maintain  the integrity  of the  pioneers' home  system.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2 was proposed  to limit the total amount of                                                               
floor space that  could be leased in a home  to 50 percent, which                                                               
would allow 50  percent of the floor space to  continue under the                                                               
original intent of the home.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH asked if  the language "space" refers to                                                               
useable  space, leaseable  space, or  all space,  including halls                                                               
and bathrooms.                                                                                                                  
MR. COLGAN  pointed out that  Amendment 2 refers to  "total floor                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH withdrew his objection.                                                                                
CHAIR   STEPOVICH,  upon   determining  there   was  no   further                                                               
objection, announced that Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                              
Number 2507                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved that the committee adopt Amendment 3.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK objected.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN explained  that  Amendment  3 would  require                                                               
that  the department  perform an  unannounced  inspection of  the                                                               
Alaska  Veterans'  Home  no  less  than  twice  annually.    This                                                               
inspection  would  determine  the facility's  compliance  to  all                                                               
applicable laws  and regulations.   Representative  Lynn informed                                                               
the committee  that one  of his assignments  in the  military was                                                               
being part  of the Inspector  General's team.  He  explained that                                                               
there were two  types of inspections, a noticed  inspection and a                                                               
no notice  inspection.  The  no notice inspection  better enables                                                               
the inspector to  have a true picture with regard  to what may or                                                               
may not be  going on.  Representative Lynn expressed  the need to                                                               
be sure that regulations and care plans are being followed.                                                                     
CHAIR STEPOVICH  objected to  Amendment 3.   He pointed  out that                                                               
the next  committee of referral for  HB 440 is the  House Health,                                                               
Education  and Social  Services Standing  Committee, which  could                                                               
address  the health  and social  issues as  those fall  under its                                                               
purview.   Furthermore,  inspections  are  already occurring  and                                                               
thus he questioned how much [such inspections] will cost.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  turned  attention   to  a  letter  in  the                                                               
committee  packet  from  Commissioner  Gilbertson.    The  letter                                                               
points  out that  effective  July 1,  2004,  the Assisted  Living                                                               
Licensing will  move from the  Division of Senior  and Disability                                                               
Services  to the  Division of  Public Health.   Furthermore,  the                                                               
agency's  sole focus  will  be on  the  enforcement of  licensing                                                               
laws.  She also noted that  the [Division of Public Health] has a                                                               
larger certification and licensing  unit, which will provide more                                                               
continuity and backup.   If the Division of  the Alaska Pioneers'                                                               
Home  contests a  licensing report  violation,  she related  that                                                               
there  would   be  a  prompt  and   independent  appeal  process.                                                               
Representative Masek  opined that  the commissioner of  DHSS will                                                               
work hard on this issue,  and therefore she objected to Amendment                                                               
3.    Furthermore,  she  felt  that  the  matter  would  be  best                                                               
addressed  in the  House Health,  Education  and Social  Services                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             
Number 2745                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN addressed  some of the concerns.   He related                                                               
that  regardless of  the  agency under  which  this falls,  there                                                               
should be  a no notice inspection.   In regard to  the concern of                                                               
the cost of  a no notice inspection, Representative  Lynn said he                                                               
didn't see any  increase in cost because  inspections are already                                                               
being done.   Representative Lynn  also highlighted the  need for                                                               
this committee to  take care of its  responsibilities rather than                                                               
passing it on  to the next committee of referral.   He emphasized                                                               
that until  there is a  stand-alone veterans' facility,  he would                                                               
strongly support this  proposal.  However, he  expressed the need                                                               
to  be assured  that  care plans  are  administered properly  and                                                               
regulations  followed,   which  he   didn't  see  how   could  be                                                               
accomplished  without  appropriate inspections.    Representative                                                               
Lynn surmised  that there must  be some disagreement  between Mr.                                                               
Vowel and  the ombudsman with  regard to whether  the regulations                                                               
are being followed because although  there was testimony that the                                                               
regulations  are being  followed, he  had documentation  from the                                                               
ombudsman to the contrary.                                                                                                      
CHAIR STEPOVICH said  that he has full confidence  that the House                                                               
Health,  Education and  Social Services  Standing Committee  will                                                               
review the matters related to nursing and social concerns.                                                                      
Number 2877                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA said that although  there may be some merit                                                               
to Amendment  3, it  seems to  slightly micromanage  the division                                                               
that should  run the program.   The aforementioned seems to  be a                                                               
separate issue than this legislation.                                                                                           
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives  Lynn, Weyhrauch,                                                               
and Gruenberg  voted in  favor of  Amendment 3.   Representatives                                                               
Masek, Dahlstrom, Cissna, and Stepovich voted against it.                                                                       
TAPE 04-2, SIDE B                                                                                                             
Therefore, Amendment 3 failed by a vote of 3-4.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  said  that  he would  be  willing  [to                                                               
support] some unannounced  inspections, but he felt  that two was                                                               
too many.   "But I  do think that salvation  of the state  is the                                                               
watchfulness of  its citizens, and  sometimes doing a  sneak peak                                                               
in the dark is worthwhile," he commented.                                                                                       
CHAIR  STEPOVICH  indicated  his   agreement  that  the  care  of                                                               
veterans and pioneers is important.                                                                                             
Number 2916                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  moved   that   the  committee   adopt                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 4.                                                                                                         
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
[Due  to  technical  difficulties  the recording  stops  at  this                                                               
[Not on tape, but taken from  the Gavel to Gavel recording on the                                                               
Internet, was the following:                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  explained  that this  amendment  would                                                               
make certain that the term "veteran" includes Merchant seaman.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH objected.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified that  the term "veteran" would                                                               
include, but not be limited  to, those Merchant seaman who served                                                               
in active,  oceangoing service during  World War II,  December 7,                                                               
1941 -  August 15, 1945,  as well  as civil service  crew members                                                               
who  served  on  U.S.  Army  transport  service  and  U.S.  Naval                                                               
transport service vessels and on oceangoing service.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if the  folks in the U.S. Army and                                                               
U.S. Navy  transport service had  to serve between  certain dates                                                               
[to qualify for this].                                                                                                          
MR. DeWITT  replied yes,  adding that he  believes the  dates are                                                               
the same.                                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  amended  Conceptual Amendment  4  such                                                               
that it  referred to the dates  of December 7, 1941  - August 15,                                                               
1945,  for  the service  of  those  in  the  U.S. Army  and  Navy                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  pointed out that the  other branches of                                                               
military are well defined in law.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH pointed  out  that  Merchant seaman  is                                                               
already  included in  the Veterans  Administration definition  of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  expressed the  need  to  be sure  that                                                               
Merchant  seaman aren't  left out.    He inquired  as to  whether                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 4 is necessary.]                                                                                           
[A new tape was inserted at this point.]                                                                                        
TAPE 04-3, SIDE A                                                                                                             
Number 0081                                                                                                                     
MR. DeWITT said that the  Veterans Administration's definition of                                                               
veteran would be  utilized.  Mr. DeWitt  turned to Representative                                                               
Weyhrauch's  point,  which  he  believes leads  to  be  the  real                                                               
concern.   That  concern is  if there  is another  group that  is                                                               
determined, for  special reasons, by the  Veterans Administration                                                               
to be considered veterans, then one  would have to review the law                                                               
to determine whether  those individuals would be  subsumed by the                                                               
definition of veterans.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said that perhaps  this isn't the way to                                                               
craft  this.   Representative  Gruenberg  explained  that he  had                                                               
wanted to  be sure  that [the state]  is defining  "veterans" the                                                               
same way in which the Veterans Administration does.                                                                             
MR. DeWITT remarked that he  believes the definition of "veteran"                                                               
includes veterans  as described  by the  Veterans Administration.                                                               
The term "veteran" for purposes  of this veterans' home is driven                                                               
by the federal definition of "veteran."                                                                                         
Number 0156                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew Conceptual Amendment 4.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  remarked,  "To  define  the  specific,                                                               
excludes the general  ... sometimes, and so ... I  agree with the                                                               
sponsor  of the  amendments' intent  ...."   He noted  his belief                                                               
that   it's  part   of   the  record   now   that  the   Veterans                                                               
Administration definition is being included.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  requested that  Mr. DeWitt's  letter be                                                               
made part of the record.                                                                                                        
Number 0228                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  moved  to  report CSHB  440,  Version  23-                                                               
GH2085\D,  Mischel, 3/1/04,  as  amended, out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the accompanying  fiscal  note.                                                               
There being  no objection,  CSHB 440(MLV)  was reported  from the                                                               
House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                      
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and Veterans'  Affairs meeting was                                                               
adjourned at 2:10 p.m.                                                                                                          

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