Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 120

02/18/2014 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HJR 25 VIETNAM VETS: SERVICE-RELATED DISEASES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 25(MLV) Out of Committee
+= HB 286 VETS' RETIREMENT/LOANS/HOUSING/EMPLOYMENT TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                       February 18, 2014                                                                                        
                           1:07 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Pete Higgins                                                                                                     
Representative Shelley Hughes                                                                                                   
Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                    
Representative Dan Saddler                                                                                                      
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 25                                                                                                   
Urging the United  States Congress to restore  the presumption of                                                               
a service connection  for Agent Orange exposure  to United States                                                               
Veterans who served in the waters  defined by and in the airspace                                                               
over the combat zone in Vietnam.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHJR 25(MLV) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 286                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating  to  the   Teachers'  Retirement  System,  the                                                               
Judicial Retirement System, and  the Public Employees' Retirement                                                               
System   for  qualified   military  service;   relating  to   the                                                               
definition of 'veteran' for purposes  of housing, eligibility for                                                               
veterans' loans, and preferences  in state employment hiring; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 286 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HJR 25                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: VIETNAM VETS: SERVICE-RELATED DISEASES                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) LEDOUX                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
02/03/14       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/03/14       (H)       MLV                                                                                                    
02/18/14       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 286                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: VETS' RETIREMENT/LOANS/HOUSING/EMPLOYMENT                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
01/29/14       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/29/14       (H)       MLV, L&C                                                                                               
02/11/14       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/11/14       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/11/14       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
02/13/14       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/13/14       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
02/18/14       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS BROWN, Staff                                                                                                             
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided background and summary information                                                              
on HJR 25 on behalf of Representative LeDoux, prime sponsor, and                                                                
answered questions.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
JOHN ROSSIE, Executive Vice-President                                                                                           
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association                                                                                    
Littleton, Colorado                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HJR 25 and answered                                                              
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MIKE BARNHILL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                              
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing on HB                                                              
286, on behalf of the sponsor, House Rules Committee by request                                                                 
of the governor.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MCHUGH PIERRE, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                              
Office of the Commissioner/Adjutant General                                                                                     
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered a question during the hearing on                                                                
HB 286.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:07:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  NEAL  FOSTER  called the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Military  and Veterans'  Affairs meeting  to order  at 1:07  p.m.                                                               
Representatives Hughes,  Reinbold, Saddler, LeDoux,  Higgins, and                                                               
Foster  were  present  at  the call  to  order.    Representative                                                               
Gruenberg arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
         HJR 25-VIETNAM VETS: SERVICE-RELATED DISEASES                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:08:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FOSTER announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO.  25,  Urging the  United  States                                                               
Congress to restore  the presumption of a  service connection for                                                               
Agent Orange  exposure to  United States  Veterans who  served in                                                               
the waters  defined by and in  the airspace over the  combat zone                                                               
in Vietnam.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:08:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX  introduced HJR  25, as the  prime sponsor.   She                                                               
informed the  committee HJR 25  is a step to  fix a lapse  in the                                                               
treatment of Vietnam veterans.   Currently, only soldiers who had                                                               
"boots on  the ground" during  the Vietnam conflict  are eligible                                                               
for benefits  related to their  exposure to Agent Orange;  HJR 25                                                               
urges  the U.S.  Congress  to pass  House  Resolution 543,  "Blue                                                               
Water Navy  Vietnam Veterans Act  of 2013," which  amends current                                                               
compensation and  health care regulations to  include coverage of                                                               
the service members who served in  the waters of Vietnam, many of                                                               
whom were also exposed to Agent  Orange, a fact not recognized by                                                               
the  federal government.   Co-Chair  LeDoux concluded  that these                                                               
brave men  served their country  honorably and Congress  needs to                                                               
be reminded of its responsibility towards its veterans.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:10:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS  BROWN,  Staff,  Representative Gabrielle  LeDoux,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, began  the  summary on  HJR  25 by  providing                                                               
background information.   In 1991,  the U.S. Congress  passed the                                                               
Agent Orange  Act which forced  the U. S. Department  of Veterans                                                               
Affairs (VA)  to make a  presumption of exposure for  any Vietnam                                                               
veteran who displays  symptoms related to the  herbicide known as                                                               
Agent Orange, and  to provide them with  medical and/or financial                                                               
benefits.   In 2002,  VA redefined what  made a  veteran eligible                                                               
for  those benefits,  choosing to  limit benefits  to only  those                                                               
veterans who served on the  ground, thereby dismissing all of the                                                               
offshore Naval  and Marine  personnel from  coverage.   Mr. Brown                                                               
opined this  was done without  any scientific, medical,  or legal                                                               
reasons.   Over the last six  years, the Institute of  Medicine -                                                               
the  health  division of  the  National  Academies -  has  issued                                                               
reports  concluding  that  there  are no  legitimate  reasons  to                                                               
exclude members of the aforementioned  service, known as the Blue                                                               
Water Navy, from receiving benefits  related to their exposure to                                                               
Agent Orange.   Currently  before Congress  is HR-543  Blue Water                                                               
Navy  Vietnam  Veterans  Act  of   2013,  which  returns  medical                                                               
benefits and  compensation to  those who have  earned them.   The                                                               
resolution  has 174  co-sponsors,  and is  supported by  Alaska's                                                               
congressman, the  Honorable Don Young, U.S.  Representative.  Mr.                                                               
Brown said that HJR 25 urges  Congress to honor veterans and pass                                                               
HR-543.   Should HJR 25  pass, copies  of the resolution  will be                                                               
delivered  to Alaska's  Congressional  Delegation, the  Honorable                                                               
Eric Shinseki, U.S. Secretary of  Veterans Affairs, the Honorable                                                               
John Boehner, Speaker  of the U.S. House  of Representatives, the                                                               
Honorable Joseph Biden,  Jr., Vice-President of the  U.S. and the                                                               
Honorable  Barack  Obama,  President  of  the  U.S.    Mr.  Brown                                                               
estimated that  hundreds of  Blue Water  Navy veterans  in Alaska                                                               
may  need assistance  due  to  the toxins  they  were exposed  to                                                               
during their time of service.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:13:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD asked  for  the number  of Alaskans  who                                                               
have been affected [by Agent Orange].                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  said there is  no way to know,  although approximately                                                               
609 Blue Water Navy veterans live in Alaska.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES inquired as to  whether members of the Blue                                                               
Water Navy ever spent time on land.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN  responded that qualification for  benefits has nothing                                                               
to do with the  duration of time spent on the  ground, but has to                                                               
do with where a service member was stationed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES declared a possible conflict of interest.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:15:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD objected.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:15:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FOSTER  said Representative Hughes would  be required to                                                               
vote.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN, in  further response  to Representative  Hughes, said                                                               
the  effects from  exposure to  Agent  Orange range  from a  wide                                                               
spectrum   of   neurological   damage    to   skin   rashes   and                                                               
dermatological conditions.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked for the current status of HR-543.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN  advised the  resolution  has  not  moved out  of  the                                                               
committee   of  first   referral.     In   further  response   to                                                               
Representative Saddler, he  said VA has not  offered testimony on                                                               
the resolution.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  then asked whether a  federal fiscal note                                                               
has indicated, "What the cost would  be to extend the coverage of                                                               
the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to airman and sailors."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN expressed his understanding  that there has been little                                                               
interest  in the  bill  thus there  is no  fiscal  note or  other                                                               
attachments; however,  it is logical  to assume that  there would                                                               
be a  cost.  In  further response to Representative  Saddler, Mr.                                                               
Brown said  he did not have  any information on the  costs to the                                                               
federal government  related to  the passage  of the  Agent Orange                                                               
Act of 1991.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:18:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS observed the  toxicity of the Agent Orange                                                               
chemicals was unknown,  but is known now; therefore,  there is an                                                               
obligation  to  the  affected  servicemen  and  servicewomen,  no                                                               
matter what the cost.  He said he appreciated the resolution.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES surmised  the  bill is  only  in the  U.S.                                                               
[House of Representatives].                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN said correct.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES encouraged  the sponsor  to ensure  that a                                                               
copy of  the Alaska resolution  is provided to the  leadership of                                                               
the U.S. Senate.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:21:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG described  his  personal experience  in                                                               
Vietnam serving on a landing ship,  tank (LST), in blue and brown                                                               
water.   He  explained that  the Blue  Water Navy  personnel were                                                               
stationed in the offshore areas where  the water is blue, and the                                                               
Brown Water  Navy personnel were  stationed in the  inland waters                                                               
and  right  up  on  the  beaches.   He  stated  his  conflict  of                                                               
interest.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:23:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he  supported the bill; however, he                                                               
suggested  that  the  bill  has  not  received  much  support  in                                                               
Congress because these issues are  being addressed "into a bigger                                                               
bill, you  wouldn't likely find  something little like  this pass                                                               
but they  ... meld  it into an  appropriations bill  or something                                                               
like that."  He asked whether  Mr. Brown was aware of any attempt                                                               
to put this [resolution] into any other bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BROWN advised  Congressman Young  is a  co-sponsor, and  his                                                               
office is unaware of any attempt to move the bill.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG further suggested  contact with the U.S.                                                               
House  of Representative's  sponsor of  the bill,  and with  U.S.                                                               
Senators on the appropriations committee.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BROWN agreed.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  clarified  that his  questions  did  not                                                               
indicate a lack of support for the resolution.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:26:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES   made  a  motion  to   adopt  [Conceptual                                                               
Amendment  1] to  add  the Honorable  Harry  Reid, Senator,  U.S.                                                               
Senate majority  leader, to the  paragraph beginning on  line 21,                                                               
page  [3],  thereby directing  that  he  receive  a copy  of  the                                                               
resolution.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:26:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  objected for  the purpose of  making an                                                               
amendment to  the amendment.   He recommended that  the committee                                                               
act  in a  bipartisan way  and also  send the  resolution to  the                                                               
Honorable Mitch McConnell, Senator, U.S. Senate minority leader.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:26:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES said she would  accept a friendly amendment                                                               
to  Conceptual Amendment  1.   There  being no  objection to  the                                                               
amendment  to  Conceptual  Amendment  1,  the  amendment  to  the                                                               
amendment was adopted.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:26:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further objection to Conceptual  Amendment 1, the                                                               
amendment was adopted.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:26:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FOSTER opened public testimony on HJR 25.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:26:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN ROSSIE,  Executive Vice-President,  Blue Water  Navy Vietnam                                                               
Veterans  Association, informed  the  committee his  organization                                                               
has  been instrumental  in providing  educational and  documented                                                               
information to  the public and  members of Congress in  order for                                                               
them to understand the intricacies  of the bill, specifically the                                                               
evidence  of  the high  probability  of  exposure for  the  ships                                                               
offshore.   Because  of this  high exposure,  VA needs  to return                                                               
[Blue Water Navy  veterans] to the Agent Orange Act  of 1991.  In                                                               
response  to  Representative  Saddler's  question,  he  said  the                                                               
Congressional Budget  Office released  a preliminary  estimate in                                                               
October 2012, that over a period  of 10 years the bill could cost                                                               
VA  approximately $1.7  billion.   This estimate  includes health                                                               
care and  compensation for the dependents  of those who die  of a                                                               
dioxin-related, service-connected  injury.   He advised  that the                                                               
estimate will decrease because the  number of veterans who served                                                               
in the  Blue Water  Navy has  been finalized  at 190,000-210,000.                                                               
In  response   to  Representative  Hughes's   question  regarding                                                               
specific diseases, Mr.  Rossi explained that in  order to qualify                                                               
for benefits,  there must  be a diagnosis  of an  active disease,                                                               
the most  prevalent of which is  diabetes mellitus type 2.   Also                                                               
included   are   respiratory   cancer,   prostate   cancer,   and                                                               
Parkinson's disease.   In response to  Representative Gruenberg's                                                               
question, he  said the  bill was first  introduced in  July 2010,                                                               
thus is in  its second full session of Congress.   He agreed that                                                               
the number  of Blue Water  Navy veterans  living in Alaska  is in                                                               
the hundreds; however,  less than 30 percent  of veterans utilize                                                               
the  VA  health  care  system  and VA  is  unable  to  track  all                                                               
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:33:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  referred to  House Resolution  543, and                                                               
said "It's  limited to  the 'territorial  seas of  such Republic'                                                               
i.e.  Vietnam.   How  far  does  that  extend  off the  coast  of                                                               
Vietnam?"                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSSI  said Vietnam uses a  baseline territorial designation,                                                               
which  means instead  of  following the  coast,  the baseline  is                                                               
measured  from a  low-water  point that  could  be several  miles                                                               
offshore; from  the baseline point the  territorial waters extend                                                               
12  miles  outward.    In   further  response  to  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg,  he  opined that  in  order  for  the U.S.  Senate  to                                                               
sponsor the bill,  Senators required that the  designated area be                                                               
reduced  from the  entire theatre  of combat  to the  territorial                                                               
waters.  He added that the  CBO is using a headcount to determine                                                               
the  cost  of the  bill  and  has  excluded from  benefits  those                                                               
veterans  "if they  were further  out than  the 12  miles."   Mr.                                                               
Rossi  said twenty  of twenty-seven  aircraft  carriers were  the                                                               
ships most  likely not to  have sailed within the  12-mile limit,                                                               
and he is personally working "to expand that."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:36:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted  his experience  serving  on  an                                                               
aircraft carrier  with those who may  be excluded by HR-543.   He                                                               
then  questioned  whether  the Alaska  State  Legislature  should                                                               
recommend  that the  term "territorial  sea of  the Republic"  be                                                               
extended to cover [veterans serving outside the 12-mile limit].                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSSI  agreed, adding  that he expects  an amendment  to that                                                               
effect.   In  further  response to  Representative Gruenberg,  he                                                               
said the  9/25/85 effective  date of  HR-543 is  historically the                                                               
date VA  recognized that  there is  a large  morbidity population                                                               
from  diseases caused  by the  dioxin  within Agent  Orange.   In                                                               
further response  to Representative  Gruenberg, he said  the date                                                               
does not cut  off a great many people because  a veteran alive in                                                               
1985,  and diagnosed  with one  of  the aforementioned  diseases,                                                               
probably would  not be  alive today,  as estimates  indicate that                                                               
the average  age [at  death] of  a Vietnam  veteran is  66 years.                                                               
Finally, Mr.  Rossi confirmed  for Representative  Gruenberg that                                                               
HB-543 was  introduced in the  U.S. House of  Representatives and                                                               
the  U.S.  Senate  during  the  [112th  Congress  of  the  United                                                               
States];  once  the   bill  is  passed  by  the   House  it  will                                                               
automatically go  to the Senate,  and he recommended that  HJR 25                                                               
be sent  to the Honorable  Bernard Sanders, chairman of  the U.S.                                                               
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:42:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG expressed  his  intention  to offer  an                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES said  she  supported  the resolution.  She                                                               
asked for  the annual  or monthly amount  of the  compensation to                                                               
service members  and whether it can  be determined - at  the time                                                               
of diagnosis  - if dioxin is  the cause of diabetes  and prostate                                                               
cancer.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSSI  said compensation is  based on a  range of 0.0  to 100                                                               
percent  disability;  100 percent  disability  is  assigned to  a                                                               
veteran  with active  cancer.   Compensation  for other  diseases                                                               
ranges  from  40-100  percent;  the payment  for  a  100  percent                                                               
disability of  an unmarried  veteran is  $2,858.24 per  month and                                                               
the payment  for a  100 percent disability  of a  married veteran                                                               
$3,017.60  per  month.   In  further  response to  Representative                                                               
Hughes, he said the source  of the diseases cannot be determined;                                                               
however, 90 percent of Blue  Water Navy sailors who have ischemic                                                               
heart disease, diabetes, or prostate  cancer were affected at the                                                               
age   of  30-40   years.     He   cautioned  that   one  of   the                                                               
characteristics  of  dioxin  is  that  it  is  capable  of  lying                                                               
dormant, but the presumptive approach  of the Agent Orange Act of                                                               
1991 ensures that legitimate claims are covered.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:49:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG disclosed  that he  may be  affected by                                                               
the disease.   He expressed his understanding that  the effect of                                                               
[HR-543]  is that  if a  veteran has  a related  disease, and  is                                                               
within  the covered  class,  the legal  presumption  is that  the                                                               
cause of the veteran's disease is Agent Orange.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROSSI  said yes.    In  further response  to  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, he said  the presumption clause applies  in all cases,                                                               
without the effect of any time factor.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew the final question.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:51:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FOSTER,  after ascertaining  that no one  further wished                                                               
to testify, closed public testimony on HJR 25.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:52:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  [made  a motion  to  adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 2 that the Honorable  Bernard Sanders, Senator, and the                                                               
ranking member of the U.S.  Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs                                                               
be added  to the paragraph beginning  at line 21, page  3, of HJR                                                               
25].                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:52:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:52:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS  moved to report  HJR 25, as  amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying  fiscal  notes.   There  being  no objection,  CSHJR                                                               
25(MLV) was  moved from the  House Special Committee  on Military                                                               
and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:53:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
        HB 286-VETS' RETIREMENT/LOANS/HOUSING/EMPLOYMENT                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:57:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FOSTER announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  286,  "An Act  relating  to  the  Teachers'                                                               
Retirement  System,  the  Judicial  Retirement  System,  and  the                                                               
Public  Employees'  Retirement   System  for  qualified  military                                                               
service; relating to the definition  of 'veteran' for purposes of                                                               
housing,  eligibility for  veterans'  loans,  and preferences  in                                                               
state employment hiring; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:57:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE BARNHILL,  Deputy Commissioner, Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Administration  (DOA), informed  the committee  HB                                                               
286 was  introduced by the request  of the governor and  is known                                                               
as the veterans' update bill.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER expressed his  appreciation of all aspects                                                               
of the  bill.  He  asked for the  amount of the  state's exposure                                                               
actuarially.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.   BARNHILL  responded   that   the   state's  actuary,   Buck                                                               
Consultants, computed the projected  number of deaths expected in                                                               
the  Public  Employees'  Retirement   System  and  the  Teachers'                                                               
Retirement  System based  on the  percentage of  military in  the                                                               
U.S. population  as a whole.   The projection over an  11-12 year                                                               
period - based  on statistics from 2003 - is  that there would be                                                               
1.13  deaths, which  would equate  to  approximately $800,000  in                                                               
benefits.  The  actuary concluded this projection  is de minimis,                                                               
therefore,  DOA  [attached  a  zero fiscal  note.]    In  further                                                               
response to  Representative Saddler,  he confirmed that  the data                                                               
was from 2003.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:01:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FOSTER  reopened public  testimony.   After ascertaining                                                               
no one wished to testify, public testimony on HB 286 was closed.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  directed attention  to lines  27-29, page                                                               
7, of the bill which read:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     day prescribed by presidential proclamation or by law                                                                      
     as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or during                                                                     
     any time period listed in 5 U.S.C.2108(1); or                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SADDLER  then   asked  when   the  conflict   in                                                               
Afghanistan is likely to be  legally concluded for the purpose of                                                               
veterans' benefits.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:02:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MCHUGH    PIERRE,   Deputy    Commissioner,    Office   of    the                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant   General,   Department   of   Military   &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs, answered:                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     ...  This is  the  most  current up-to-date  definition                                                                    
     that the  VA is  using, and it  does cover  all current                                                                    
     conflict members. ... I would  think when the President                                                                    
     officially removes  our last troops, and  concludes the                                                                    
     conflict, which is supposed to be 2015 ....                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:03:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX moved  to report  HB 286  out of  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and the  attached fiscal notes.  There                                                               
being no objection, HB 286 was  reported out of the House Special                                                               
Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:04:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting was                                                                 
adjourned at 2:04 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects