Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/15/2004 01:12 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                                                                                      
                         April 15, 2004                                                                                         
                           1:12 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Nick Stepovich, Chair                                                                                            
Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom                                                                                                  
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Sharon Cissna                                                                                                    
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bruce Weyhrauch                                                                                                  
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
^OVERVIEW: HOMELAND SECURITY IN ALASKA                                                                                          
04-5, SIDE(S) A & B                                                                                                             
CHAIR NICK  STEPOVICH convened the  meeting of the  House Special                                                             
Committee  on  Military  and  Veterans'   Affairs  at  1:12  p.m.                                                               
Representatives Stepovich,  Masek, Lynn, and Cissna  were present                                                               
at the  call to order.   Representatives Dahlstrom  and Gruenberg                                                               
arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                         
SUMMARY OF INFORMATION                                                                                                        
CHAIR  STEPOVICH reaffirmed  how safe  Alaska is.   He  asked the                                                               
following:  what circumstances  would prompt military deployment;                                                               
is  there federal  money  already allocated;  how  much money  in                                                               
grants  were  [allocated];  and  do  most  cities  have  homeland                                                               
security directors?                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK talked  about  the  recent earthquakes  and                                                               
asked how  safe Alaska is.   She thanked the members  of Division                                                               
of Homeland Security/Emergency Management for all it does.                                                                      
CRAIG  CAMPBELL,  Adjutant  General/Commissioner,  Department  of                                                               
Military  & Veterans'  Affairs, presented  an update  on homeland                                                               
security in  Alaska and characterized  it as a very  secure place                                                               
to  live.   However,  he mentioned  Valdez  and the  Trans-Alaska                                                               
Pipeline  System (TAPS)  when noting  that Alaska  is not  exempt                                                               
from terrorist  attacks.  Turning  to diseases like  severe acute                                                               
respiratory syndrome (SARS),  Adjutant General Campbell explained                                                               
that the [division] first establishes  if the [disease] is an act                                                               
of  terrorism.    If  not,  the  matter  is  dealt  with  by  the                                                               
Department  of  Health  and Social  Services  (DHSS).    Adjutant                                                               
General  Campbell   related  the   need  to  identify   what  the                                                               
appropriate  purpose for  the money  being received  for homeland                                                               
security.    In response  to  questions,  he specified  that  the                                                               
Division of  Homeland Security/Emergency Management would  need a                                                               
call  from the  governor to  use local  army troops  for domestic                                                               
calls.   The governor's  authority to act  would be  appointed by                                                               
the President.  Adjutant General  Campbell informed the committee                                                               
that SB  385 is moving through  the Senate.  This  legislation is                                                               
important because the authority of  homeland security needs to be                                                               
specified,  however,   the  code  should  not   include  language                                                               
specifying that citizens' firearms are taken away.                                                                              
THOMAS BURGESS,  Director, Office of Homeland  Security, Division                                                               
of   Homeland   Security/Emergency  Management,   Department   of                                                               
Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA),  informed the committee that                                                               
Homeland Security  is one  year old  and currently  at "Condition                                                               
Yellow," which is an elevated  distress level.  He explained that                                                               
in   a  situation   of  domestic   terrorism,  the   governor  is                                                               
responsible  for calling  on troops  for assistance.   He  echoed                                                               
earlier comments  that SB  385 is an  important bill,  which will                                                               
identify   the   authority   of    the   Division   of   Homeland                                                               
Security/Emergency Management.  Information  is gathered when the                                                               
government  changes  the  condition color  to  evaluate  Alaska's                                                               
threat level, which  has to be approved by the  governor.  Alaska                                                               
does  not have  to follow  the  national threat  color level,  he                                                               
noted.   Mr.  Burgess explained  that the  [Division of  Homeland                                                               
Security/Emergency Management] was  created by Governor Murkowski                                                               
to develop  a centralized department  of power to  coordinate the                                                               
following  departments:   Department of  Transportation &  Public                                                               
Facilities,   Department   of   Public  Safety,   Department   of                                                               
Environmental  Conservation,  and Department  of  Administration.                                                               
Mr.  Burgess  specified  that  the mission  of  the  Division  of                                                               
Homeland Security/Emergency  Management is to  prevent terrorism,                                                               
reduce risks, and minimize loss of  life.  He agreed with earlier                                                               
comments that the  division would work very closely  with DHSS on                                                               
the matter  of diseases like  SARS, although DHSS would  handle a                                                               
serious disease.                                                                                                                
MR. BURGESS remarked  that Alaska is safe due to  the steps taken                                                               
by  the  governor  and Division  of  Homeland  Security/Emergency                                                               
Management.   The  role of  the division  is planning,  hardening                                                               
security, crisis management,  and recovery.  He  noted that there                                                               
will  be a  large  exercise in  mid 2005  and  the division  will                                                               
support  local jurisdictions,  develop and  maintain a  five-year                                                               
plan, [look  into] grants and  management, develop a  defense and                                                               
emergency  plan,  develop  statewide  training  and  an  exercise                                                               
program, and develop an emergency preparedness strategy.                                                                        
MR. BURGESS  related that the  five-year strategic goals  are to:                                                               
reduce vulnerability  of life and property;  provide security and                                                               
disaster management;  implement a training and  exercise program;                                                               
prioritize   state  infrastructure;   and  provide   intelligence                                                               
dissemination outreach to  Alaska.  He explained  the division is                                                               
currently prioritizing  infrastructure, determining  and reducing                                                               
vulnerability, and  pre-identifying forces working on  many tasks                                                               
at  once, not  in  a unilateral  process.   He  noted that  $41.5                                                               
million in grants  went out.  The primary  points of coordination                                                               
are the  governor's homeland security cabinet  and anti-terrorism                                                               
advisory  council,  which  will have  partnerships  with  various                                                               
groups all over  the world.  He mentioned  the "Vulnerability and                                                               
Consulting  Team" that  would have  16  clients in  more than  30                                                               
statewide  locations.    He  also  mentioned  the  anti-terrorism                                                               
procedural  and consulting  and assistance  goal:   to put  up an                                                               
"ATACA"  in Valdez.   Mr.  Burgess indicated  that the  following                                                               
areas [are  under review] with  regard to defense:  the pipeline,                                                               
oil  and gas  refineries,  rail transportation,  sea port,  power                                                               
production, "COG", and  "COOP".  He said that  the division isn't                                                               
currently working with the plane  situation.  He noted that other                                                               
states have homeland security directors,  but they're referred to                                                               
as emergency services directors.                                                                                                
MR.  BURGESS informed  the  committee that  there  are some  very                                                               
highly  recommended  training programs  that  will  be here  this                                                               
summer.   The first Homeland  Security Conference in  Alaska will                                                               
be March  9-11, 2004, in Juneau.   There will be  public speaking                                                               
engagements  and brochures  for public  awareness.   A three-year                                                               
training program is  the benchmark for the Lower 48.   He related                                                               
that Unified  Defense '04  dealt with cruise  ships and  was very                                                               
successful.    He mentioned  that  there  are exercise  scenarios                                                               
planned for this  summer; Northern Edge '05 will be  a "big deal"                                                               
and is being prepared now.   He indicated that there is review of                                                               
"soft targets"  such as  malls and other  public places  that are                                                               
often  overlooked.    Funding sources  come  from  infrastructure                                                               
owners,  grants  from  the  government,  and  other  sources  yet                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  inquired  as  to how  diseases  would  be                                                               
handled.    She  expressed  concern  with  regard  to  quarantine                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  opined  that  he doesn't  think  anyone  is                                                               
"safe,"  and therefore  he didn't  want  people to  have a  false                                                               
illusion of safety.  He asked  what this committee can do to help                                                               
the division.                                                                                                                   
DAVE    LEIBERSBACH,     Director,    Division     of    Homeland                                                               
Security/Emergency   Management,   Department   of   Military   &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs, informed the  committee that he handles public                                                               
problems  beyond terrorism.   He  related that  Alaska is  fairly                                                               
well prepared  for another  major earthquake,  but noted  that it                                                               
could  always be  better prepared.   With  regard to  funding, he                                                               
said  that Alaska's  funding wouldn't  be impacted  if it  didn't                                                               
change its "color level" along with the nation.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM commented  that she  is very  impressed                                                               
with the division.                                                                                                              
There were no announcements.                                                                                                    
COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                              
The committee took no action.                                                                                                   
The meeting adjourned at an unspecified time.                                                                                   
NOTE:   The meeting was  recorded and handwritten log  notes were                                                               
taken.  A  copy of the tape(s)  and log notes may  be obtained by                                                               
contacting the  House Records  Office at  State Capitol,  Room 3,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska  99801  (mailing address),  (907)  465-2214,  and                                                               
after  adjournment  of the  second  session  of the  Twenty-Third                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature  this  information may  be obtained  by                                                               
contacting the Legislative Reference Library at (907) 465-3808.                                                                 

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