Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

04/03/2012 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SCR 20 DECORATION OF HONOR TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ SJR 16 MILITARY PENSIONS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                         April 3, 2012                                                                                          
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Dan Saddler, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Steve Thompson, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Alan Austerman                                                                                                   
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Sharon Cissna                                                                                                    
Representative Bob Miller                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto, Vice Chair                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 20                                                                                             
Relating to awarding the Alaska Decoration of Honor to certain                                                                  
members of the military.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED SCR 20 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 16                                                                                                  
Urging the United States Congress to approve legislation                                                                        
allowing members of the military to receive promised retirement                                                                 
benefits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
BILL: SCR 20                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: DECORATION OF HONOR                                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
02/01/12       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/01/12       (S)       STA                                                                                                    
02/07/12       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/07/12       (S)       Moved SCR 20 Out of Committee                                                                          
02/07/12       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/08/12       (S)       STA RPT 5DP                                                                                            
02/08/12       (S)       DP: WIELECHOWSKI, KOOKESH, PASKVAN,                                                                    
                         MEYER, GIESSEL                                                                                         
02/10/12       (S)       BEFORE THE SENATE ON FINAL PASSAGE                                                                     
02/10/12       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
02/10/12       (S)       VERSION: SCR 20                                                                                        
02/13/12       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/13/12       (H)       MLV                                                                                                    
04/03/12       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SJR 16                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MILITARY PENSIONS                                                                                                  
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
02/03/12       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/03/12       (S)       STA                                                                                                    
02/09/12       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/09/12       (S)       Moved SJR 16 Out of Committee                                                                          
02/09/12       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/10/12       (S)       STA RPT 5DP                                                                                            
02/10/12       (S)       DP: WIELECHOWSKI, KOOKESH, PASKVAN,                                                                    
                         MEYER, GIESSEL                                                                                         
02/15/12       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
02/15/12       (S)       VERSION: SJR 16                                                                                        
02/17/12       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/17/12       (H)       MLV                                                                                                    
04/03/12       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BILL WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As sponsor, introduced SCR 20 and SJR 16.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MCHUGH PIERRE, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                              
Office of the Commissioner/Adjutant General                                                                                     
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Fort Richardson, Alaska                                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SCR 20 and SJR 16.                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:05:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DAN  SADDLER  called the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Military  and Veterans'  Affairs meeting  to order  at 1:05  p.m.                                                               
Representatives  Saddler,   Miller,  Lynn,  and   Austerman  were                                                               
present  at the  call  to order.    Representatives Thompson  and                                                               
Cissna arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                   SCR 20-DECORATION OF HONOR                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:06:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SADDLER  announced that  the  first  order of  business                                                               
would  be  SENATE  CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION  NO.  20,  Relating  to                                                               
awarding the  Alaska Decoration  of Honor  to certain  members of                                                               
the military.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:06:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BILL WIELECHOWSKI,  Alaska  State Legislature,  informed                                                               
the committee  SCR 20 is a  decoration of honor resolution  - the                                                               
first  of which  was  established  in 2007  -  to award  military                                                               
service members  from Alaska, or  those deployed  while stationed                                                               
in Alaska,  who were  killed in  action or  in support  of combat                                                               
action.  This year the  resolution awards the decoration of honor                                                               
to  25 individuals  who were  killed in  the line  of duty  while                                                               
honorably  serving the  state and  the country  during 2010-2011.                                                               
He  explained  the  legislature   must  authorize  the  award  by                                                               
resolution so the decoration can  be presented to the recipients'                                                               
survivors.   In 2008, the  legislature awarded the  decoration to                                                               
171 individuals for service from statehood up to 2008.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:07:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SADDLER asked how the decorations will be awarded.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI expressed  his  hope that  the Joint  Armed                                                               
Services Committee will  hold a ceremony as has been  done in the                                                               
past.   In further response to  Co-Chair Saddler, he said  he was                                                               
unaware if names need to be added for 2012.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:09:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SADDLER opened public testimony on SCR 20.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:09:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MCHUGH    PIERRE,   Deputy    Commissioner,    Office   of    the                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant   General,   Department   of   Military   &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs  (DMVA), expressed the department's  support of                                                               
SCR 20, and  described its responsibility to  provide an accurate                                                               
list of names.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN advised  Mr. Pierre to inform  the sponsor if                                                               
others who  are eligible for  the decoration become known,  as an                                                               
amendment to add a name can be introduced on the House floor.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. PIERRE expressed his confidence in the accuracy of the list.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:11:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SADDLER   asked  whether  other  states   have  similar                                                               
memoriam citations for service members.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PIERRE estimated  five or  six other  states have  something                                                               
similar.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLER  asked  for  a definition  of  "killed  in                                                               
action," and how the names are attained.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. PIERRE explained  the intent of the legislation  was to honor                                                               
those  who  have  paid  the  ultimate  sacrifice  in  defense  of                                                               
freedom.   An effort  was made  to be inclusive,  and there  is a                                                               
case pending  that may allow  death by suicide to  be recognized.                                                               
Otherwise, all  deployed soldiers,  airmen, marines  and sailors,                                                               
National Guard members, reservists,  and Coast Guard members, who                                                               
were born and raised in  Alaska, stationed in Alaska, or deployed                                                               
from Alaska and  died overseas, are included.   The department is                                                               
notified of  the death  of any  military member  who has  ties to                                                               
Alaska  by  the personnel  division  of  the U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Defense (DoD).                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:14:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLER  recalled  there  was  a  test  pilot  who                                                               
crashed and died after take-off from Eielson Air Force Base.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PIERRE  advised the  pilot was not  eligible, because  he was                                                               
not deployed.   In  response to Representative  Lynn, he  said an                                                               
armed  services member  who was  wounded in  combat overseas  and                                                               
subsequently died after returning to the U.S. is eligible.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:16:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Saddler,  after  determining  no  one  else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:16:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON moved  to report SCR 20  out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  SCR 20 was reported  from the                                                               
House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:16:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:16 p.m. to 1:18 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                    SJR 16-MILITARY PENSIONS                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:18:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SADDLER  announced that  the  final  order of  business                                                               
would  be  SENATE JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO.  16, Urging  the  United                                                               
States Congress  to approve legislation  allowing members  of the                                                               
military to receive promised retirement benefits.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:19:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BILL WIELECHOWSKI,  Alaska State  Legislature, explained                                                               
SJR  16  came about  after  the  Defense  Business Board,  U.  S.                                                               
Department  of  Defense  (DoD),   suggested  a  plan  to  convert                                                               
military retirement from the current  20-year vesting system to a                                                               
retirement  system   similar  to   a  401(k)  arrangement.     He                                                               
acknowledged that  an appropriate retirement system  for military                                                               
service  members  can be  a  controversial  issue; however,  this                                                               
resolution  simply  asks  that  all  service  members  should  be                                                               
allowed to maintain  the retirement system they  were promised at                                                               
the  time they  signed up  for  service.   Currently, a  military                                                               
service  member  who  serves  for  20 years  can  retire  with  a                                                               
percentage  of  their  pension, thus  this  resolution  is  about                                                               
keeping promises made to active  duty military members.  He noted                                                               
that in  the committee packet  was a copy  of a bill  in Congress                                                               
sponsored  by Congressman  Don Young  which supports  this issue.                                                               
Senator Wielechowski advised that  Alaska has thousands of active                                                               
duty military  members and constituents  in his  district support                                                               
the resolution.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:21:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN declared a conflict of interest.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLER objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SADDLER indicated Representative  Lynn would be required                                                               
to vote.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  said he supports the  resolution, explaining                                                               
that those who  enlisted should get what they  were promised and,                                                               
in effect, they have a contract with the federal government.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI agreed.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON   observed  that  one  who   joined  the                                                               
military  at  17 years  of  age  and  served  35 years  would  be                                                               
required to  wait several  more years for  their retirement.   He                                                               
said, "This  isn't the way  that we're  supposed to do  things in                                                               
the United States."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:23:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SADDLER opened public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:23:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MCHUGH    PIERRE,   Deputy    Commissioner,    Office   of    the                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant   General,   Department   of   Military   &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs  (DMVA), said the department  strongly supports                                                               
the resolution.  Within DMVA,  there are 1,800 full-time National                                                               
Guard  members, of  which 800  are  of active  guard and  reserve                                                               
(AGR) status,  are paid in  active duty status, and  are eligible                                                               
for all benefits.   The department believes  the commitments made                                                               
to these  members should be  honored and they should  receive the                                                               
retirement package promised  to them at the time  they joined the                                                               
military.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SADDLER understood  the concern  of the  DoD about  the                                                               
cost of  retirement for military  members, and whether  those who                                                               
serve less than 20 years should have some benefit.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  observed a service member  with a disability                                                               
can retire earlier.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:26:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SADDLER held over SJR 16.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:26:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting was                                                                 
adjourned at 1:26 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SCR 20A.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SCR20 Sponsor Statement.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SCR 20 Fiscal Note.PDF HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SJR 16 Fiscal Note.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SJR016A.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SJR 16 Military Pension Fact Sheet.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SJR 16. Text of HR3520.Keeping Our Promises Act of 2011.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SJR16.Letter from VoteVets.Org.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM
SJR16.Articles on Military Pension Cuts.pdf HMLV 4/3/2012 1:00:00 PM