Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

01/24/2017 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
01:02:43 PM Start
01:06:04 PM HB2
02:05:50 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 2 PRIV EMPLOYER VOLUNTARY VET PREFERENCE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                        January 24, 2017                                                                                        
                           1:02 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Chris Tuck, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Justin Parish                                                                                                    
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                    
Representative Dan Saddler                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 2                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to a voluntary preference for veterans by                                                                      
private employers."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB   2                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PRIV EMPLOYER VOLUNTARY VET PREFERENCE                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TUCK                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/17                                                                                
01/18/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/17       (H)       MLV, L&C                                                                                               
01/24/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave an overview of HB 2 on behalf of                                                                    
Representative Tuck, prime sponsor.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PATTY WILBANKS, Owner                                                                                                           
Polar Marine Alaska, LLC                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                               
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
STEVEN WILLIAMS, Employment Security Analyst                                                                                    
Division of Employment & Training Services                                                                                      
Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD)                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered details on HB 2.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MARK SAN SOUCI, Regional State Liaison                                                                                          
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)                                                                                                
Lakewood, Washington                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director of Veterans Affairs                                                                                      
Office of Veteran Affairs                                                                                                       
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
RUSSELL BALL                                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DAVID DEMENNO, Owner                                                                                                            
Alaska Land Clearing Inc.                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:02:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHRIS TUCK  called the House Special  Committee on Military                                                             
and   Veterans'   Affairs  meeting   to   order   at  1:02   p.m.                                                               
Representatives  LeDoux,  Parish, Spohnholz,  Raucher,  Reinbold,                                                               
Saddler, and Tuck were present at the call to order.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[There was brief discussion regarding granting Chair Tuck                                                                       
authority to draft bills on behalf of the committee.]                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
         HB   2-PRIV EMPLOYER VOLUNTARY VET PREFERENCE                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:06:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK stated the only order  of business would be HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 2,  "An Act relating  to a voluntary preference  for veterans                                                               
by private employers."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TUCK,  as  prime  sponsor  of HB  2,  commented  that  the                                                               
proposed legislation  would allow the  State of Alaska to  use an                                                               
optional veteran hiring preference under  Section 11 of the Civil                                                               
Rights Act of  1964.  The waiver in Section  11 grants preference                                                               
to  veterans,  so long  as  they  are authorized  under  federal,                                                               
state,  and  local law.    Currently  37  states allow  this  for                                                               
private employers, and all states  and territories allow this for                                                               
public  employees.    He stated  that  employment  for  returning                                                               
veterans  can be  difficult, and  two thirds  of veterans  define                                                               
finding a  job as the  greatest challenge in the  transition from                                                               
military to civilian life.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK  paraphrased from the  fourth and fifth  paragraphs of                                                               
the  sponsor   statement,  which   reads  as   follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     As  of  November 2016,  the  National  Bureau of  Labor                                                                    
     Statistics  show  the  jobless   rate  for  young  male                                                                    
     veterans  aged   18-24  still  exceed   their  civilian                                                                    
     counterparts   (239,000   veterans  aged   18-24   were                                                                    
     unemployed   versus    159,000   of    their   civilian                                                                    
     counterparts).                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  military discharges  160,000  active duty  service                                                                    
     members and approximately  110,000 reserve and National                                                                    
     Guard  service members  each year.    According to  the                                                                    
     Defense  Manpower Data  Center  2015  data, over  2,000                                                                    
     military personnel returned to Alaska upon separation.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK added  that Alaska has the highest  number of veterans                                                               
per  capita, and  has long  prided itself  on being  a leader  in                                                               
supporting  veterans and  active  duty members.   Alaska's  great                                                               
businesses  are willing  and  able to  assist  veterans in  their                                                               
employment  endeavors.   He declared  it  is time  to extend  the                                                               
opportunity  for  employers in  the  private  sector to  adopt  a                                                               
veteran hiring preference policy.   He informed that the bill has                                                               
support  from  the  U.S.  Department of  Defense  (DoD)  and  the                                                               
National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:09:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Chris Tuck,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  asserted that  HB 2  clarifies that  nothing in  AS                                                               
18.80,  the  chapter  protecting various  persons  from  unlawful                                                               
discrimination, "is intended to  prohibit a private employer from                                                               
granting an  employment preference." She explained  the bill says                                                               
that if employers would like  to offer this preference, they may.                                                               
It is not a requirement, but  a voluntary option.  She reiterated                                                               
that 50  states do this  for public  employees; 37 states  now do                                                               
this for private employers.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:11:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK opened public testimony on HB 2.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:11:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATTY  WILBANKS, Owner,  Polar Marine  Alaska, LLC,  testified in                                                               
support of  HB 2.   She reiterated  that 37 other  states already                                                               
provide legislation  similar to  the proposal.   She  stated that                                                               
she has  wondered why Alaska  hasn't offered something  like this                                                               
before,  because  she  thinks  it  is  a  great  benefit  to  our                                                               
veterans.  With  federal hiring freezes, veterans  will need this                                                               
more  with  private   employers.    She  drew   on  her  previous                                                               
experience as a colonel, stating that  she wants to see young men                                                               
and women  coming out of  the military getting  a step up.   This                                                               
preference  would show  support  from the  community, state,  and                                                               
country.  She commented on the  great benefit to the employer who                                                               
want  to reach  out the  veterans  but is  worried about  showing                                                               
preference to  one group.   She endorsed the voluntary  aspect of                                                               
the  proposal,  with it  being  a  benefit  to the  veterans  and                                                               
employers.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:14:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  what  kind of  small business  Ms.                                                               
Wilbanks owns, and what kind of hiring she does.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WILBANKS answered  that her  business in  Anchorage installs                                                               
radar and electronic  systems for boats.  She's  been in business                                                               
for three  years, and she  stated she  can see that  her business                                                               
would want to reach out to veterans' groups for hiring.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:16:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  DOEHL,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Military  &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs (DMVA), stated  that the department endorses HB                                                               
2.   He said  that HB  2 would,  on an  optional basis,  remove a                                                               
limitation  on  private  employers  that is  not  set  on  public                                                               
employers.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:17:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  if an  employer currently  can hire                                                               
whomever  he/she  wants  to  employ,  as  long  as  he/she  isn't                                                               
discriminating based on race or other protected categories.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL  responded that in other  in states' case laws,  it was                                                               
found  that  one  cannot  create a  special  category  or  hiring                                                               
preference  based on  a  veteran's  affiliation without  specific                                                               
authority.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:18:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK added  that under HB 2, employers  could advertise for                                                               
veterans to apply.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:18:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVEN  WILLIAMS,   Employment  Security  Analyst,   Division  of                                                               
Employment &  Training Services Department  of Labor  & Workforce                                                               
Development   (DLWD),  affirmed   Chair   Tuck's  statement   and                                                               
clarified  that  employers  can  advertise  that  they  encourage                                                               
veterans to apply.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:19:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked if the  department would prosecute an                                                               
employer  who   advertises  that  he/she  prefers   veterans  and                                                               
institutes such a hiring practice.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILLIAMS stated that the  department would not prosecute, the                                                               
department does not enforce or regulate policies "like that."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  if   anyone  would  prosecute  the                                                               
employer.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILLIAMS  stated he was not  sure, but would do  research and                                                               
follow up.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:19:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TUCK stated  that HB  2  also protects  the employer  from                                                               
civil suits.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:19:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked Mr.  Doehl if the  department plans                                                               
to support all bills that will come before the committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:20:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.   DOEHL  responded   that  they   will   analyze  each   bill                                                               
individually  on  merit  to  determine   whether  or  not  it  is                                                               
appropriate  to  express  support,  and  in  addition,  will  get                                                               
approval  from the  Office  of the  Governor  before speaking  in                                                               
support of a bill.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked if  the department's current support                                                               
is predicated on that analysis.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL stated  this is  correct -  based on  the department's                                                               
analysis of HB 2, it thinks it's worthy of support.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:21:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK  SAN  SOUCI,  Regional State  Liaison,  U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Defense (DoD),  testified in  support of  HB 2.   He  stated that                                                               
2,004 Alaskans  separated from active reserve  and National Guard                                                               
duty last year.   These veterans are coming back  with skill sets                                                               
previously paid for by federal tax  dollars.  He stated the issue                                                               
has  been  advocated for  by  the  National Conference  of  State                                                               
Legislators (NCSL), is  now in 37 states' statutes,  and is being                                                               
heard in Alaska and New York this session.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:23:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE  BOWEN, Director  of Veterans  Affairs, Office  of Veteran                                                               
Affairs,  Department  of  Military  &  Veterans  Affairs  (DMVA),                                                               
stated that  he is  responsible for  helping 74,000  veterans and                                                               
their  150,000 dependents  in Alaska  understand  and secure  the                                                               
benefits earned  through service  to the nation  and state.   The                                                               
department  operates a  number of  programs  to support  veterans                                                               
returning to  civilian life  after military  service and  to help                                                               
them  find meaningful  employment.   The department  supports all                                                               
efforts  to help  veterans make  successful  transitions back  to                                                               
civilian life  and find  jobs that  are financially  adequate and                                                               
personally fulfilling.  He stated  that the department helps find                                                               
employers who  support military  responsibilities such  as: drill                                                               
weekends, annual  training, and  federal activations.   Mr. Bowen                                                               
opined that  HB 2 would  be a  useful tool in  smooth transitions                                                               
from  military to  civilian  life and  would  allow employers  to                                                               
preferentially  hire   veterans  to   take  advantage   of  their                                                               
technical, vocational,  academic, and leadership  skills attained                                                               
while serving the nation.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN stated that  veterans' experiences, maturity, teamwork,                                                               
loyalty,  and civic  mindedness make  them great  employees.   He                                                               
said HB  2 would allow employers  to find and hire  employees who                                                               
will be steadily reliable workers,  and will best serve those who                                                               
hire them.  The office does  not anticipate a fiscal impact other                                                               
than positive effects  from hiring, and anticipates  no impact on                                                               
private sector employers.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN noted that HB 2  defines "veteran" as "a person who was                                                               
honorably  discharged from  service in"  the following  [found on                                                               
page 1, lines 7-12, which read as follows]:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
               (1) the armed forces of the United States;                                                                       
           (2) a reserve unit of the armed forces of                                                                            
     the United States;                                                                                                         
               (3) the Alaska Territorial Guard;                                                                                
               (4) the Alaska Army National Guard;                                                                              
               (5) the Alaska Air National Guard; or                                                                            
               (6) the Alaska Naval Militia.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:25:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN  disclosed  his  understanding  that  the  sponsor  is                                                               
considering an  amendment to extend  the ability of  employers to                                                               
grant  voluntary  employment  preference  to  personnel  actively                                                               
serving in  good standing  in the  guard and  reserve components.                                                               
Guard  and reserve  components employed  in Alaska's  communities                                                               
possess  the same  qualifications  and offer  employers the  same                                                               
advantages  as veterans;  therefore, the  department approves  of                                                               
offering  these service  members  the  same preferential  hiring.                                                               
The department has  an issue with the  existing statute regarding                                                               
equality  in providing  preference.   The reserve  component does                                                               
not have a set time of service,  but the National Guard does.  He                                                               
cited  [AS  39.25.159(f)(3)], which  gives  the  definition of  a                                                               
member of the National Guard, as follows:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
       (3) "member of the national guard" means a person                                                                        
       who is presently serving as a member of the Alaska                                                                       
     National  Guard and  who has  at least  eight years  of                                                                    
     service in the Alaska National Guard;                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN clarified  that this  statute reflects  that a  member                                                               
must have served  eight years before receiving  the benefit under                                                               
this bill.  He suggested the language should read:                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     "member of  the national guard"  means a person  who is                                                                    
     presently  serving under  honorable  conditions or  has                                                                    
     been released  under the same conditions  while serving                                                                    
     the Alaska National Guard.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The change would  give those who serve in the  National Guard and                                                               
reserve  components  the same  access  to  benefits.   Mr.  Bowen                                                               
relayed the department's belief that  members of the Alaska State                                                               
Defense Force  possess many of  the same qualities and  skills as                                                               
veterans  and represent  a  pool of  attractive  employees.   The                                                               
department also  believes employers  are inclined  to selectively                                                               
hire people  with military training and  teamwork experience, and                                                               
that  employers should  be able  to extend  hiring preference  to                                                               
members  or veterans  of  the  Alaska State  Defense  Force.   He                                                               
explained  that  the  defense  force  does  not  issue  discharge                                                               
documents the same way active  components do today, but does have                                                               
means  of documenting  service and  identifying  members in  good                                                               
standing.   The department  believes HB 2  offers another  way to                                                               
smooth the transition from active  duty service to civilian life,                                                               
helps  maintain strong  employer/employee  relationships for  the                                                               
National Guard  and reserve components,  adds strength  and pride                                                               
to  the Alaska  State  Defense  Force, and  serves  the needs  of                                                               
Alaska employers  at the same time.   Mr. Bowen stated  that DMVA                                                               
and  the Office  of  Veteran Affairs  fully supports  HB  2.   He                                                               
referred to  the second  paragraph of a  letter written  by Craig                                                               
Campbell, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Employer Support of  the Guard and Reserve  (ESGR) is a                                                                    
     Department of  Defense program  established in  1972 to                                                                    
     promote cooperation  and understanding  between Reserve                                                                    
     Component Service members  and their civilian employers                                                                    
     and to  assist in  the resolution of  conflicts arising                                                                    
     from an employee's military commitment.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN  stated that  ESGR understands  the unique  talents and                                                               
skills  Guard Reserve  Service members  can bring  to a  civilian                                                               
workforce.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:29:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked if  there  have  been many  cases                                                               
where employers would have needed this bill.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN stated that he is  not aware of any instance wherein an                                                               
employer has  gotten into  trouble because a  bill like  this has                                                               
not been in place.   He offered his opinion that  if the bill was                                                               
in  place, then  there  would  be an  increase  of employment  in                                                               
highly skilled jobs.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  asked if  the proposal would  be another                                                               
"tool in your bag" to continue to work with the veterans.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN stated that is correct  - the department is adding more                                                               
tools to the employers' bag to hire more qualified people.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:31:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked  if it's possible to  see the effects                                                               
on  veteran unemployment  brought  about  by similar  legislation                                                               
passed in the 37 states.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN  stated that  it would be  difficult to  track, because                                                               
the department  does not know  what percentage of  the commercial                                                               
workforce  is providing  this  preference  in each  participating                                                               
state; therefore,  it would be hard  to quantify the number  to a                                                               
true, concise figure.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  stated he sees  the ability to  grant this                                                               
preference without  a threat of  future lawsuits as  a protection                                                               
to employers.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:32:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  to what  degree  private  veteran                                                               
preference laws have "moved the needle" in veteran hiring.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:33:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SAN SOUCI  stated that  it's almost  impossible to  know the                                                               
exact effect  on veteran hiring.   He mentioned that  Walmart and                                                               
other corporations  have been supportive of  similar legislation.                                                               
Empirically  showing   a  relationship   would  be  hard.     The                                                               
legislation is a protective stance.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  stated he  generally supports  HB 2.   He                                                               
said he is  curious what the effectiveness of  moving from public                                                               
employers to private  employers would be.  He  asked which sector                                                               
of Alaska's economy  Mr. Bowen suspects will be  most affected by                                                               
the legislation.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:35:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN  stated his  belief that the  biggest impact  on hiring                                                               
would likely be in the oil  fields.  There are small companies in                                                               
the oil fields that would like  to offer this preference, but are                                                               
currently unable  to do so.   Employers  come into ESGR  daily to                                                               
seek assistance in offering this preference.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER applauded  ESGR as  an organization,  and                                                               
stated he  would be pleased  if this  advantage could be  used in                                                               
the oil fields.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:37:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RUSSELL  BALL testified  in support  of  the HB  2.   As a  small                                                               
business owner and employer for over  30 years, he stated that he                                                               
has always worried about the risk  of civil lawsuit for showing a                                                               
hiring  preference.    Veterans  have   been  some  of  his  best                                                               
employees  due  to  their  discipline,  troubleshooting,  logical                                                               
thinking, and  they are  a good  pool from  which to  recruit new                                                               
employees.  He  expressed his desire for more  veterans to submit                                                               
resumes for  consideration to his  business.  He  emphasized that                                                               
the transition from military to  civilian life is often scary and                                                               
could  be  overcome  more  easily  with  the  understanding  that                                                               
veterans are  preferred by some employers.   He stated that  as a                                                               
small employer, he  would never offer a preference  unless it was                                                               
protected as this bill would do.   He mentioned that Alaska wants                                                               
to hold onto the best talent in  the state.  The legislation is a                                                               
form   of  gratitude   for  those   who  have   served,  and   an                                                               
acknowledgement of their skills and service.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:41:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  DEMENNO, Owner,  Alaska Land  Clearing  Inc., offered  his                                                               
support of HB 2.  He  stated that he currently has three veterans                                                               
working  for him.   The  military  develops job  skills and  life                                                               
skills  to be  used  by veterans  later on  in  the private  work                                                               
place.    He  offered  his  impression  that  compared  to  other                                                               
employees,  the veterans  he  employs are  always  on time,  take                                                               
charge, ask  questions, pick  up things  fast, are  familiar with                                                               
heavy equipment,  get the project  done, and are good  at working                                                               
independently.   Leadership  skills of  veterans are  superior to                                                               
others in the  workplace; veterans take pride in their  work.  He                                                               
stated he tries to do whatever  he can to hire a veteran, because                                                               
they are  an asset  to the  company.   He mentioned  a successful                                                               
project  at   Fort  Richardson  working   with  and   training  a                                                               
battalion.    He stated  his  belief  that the  legislation  will                                                               
greatly benefit the state of Alaska.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:44:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK closed public testimony on HB 2.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:45:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  addressed  instances  within  the  bill                                                               
where  "general  discharge"  appears under  "honorable  discharge                                                               
conditions."  He said  he would  like  to make  the language  for                                                               
consistent.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN stated  that the  wording should  be "under  honorable                                                               
conditions," which  would cover general and  honorable discharges                                                               
and  would open  up  a veteran  to all  the  benefits out  there,                                                               
including the  federal side of  [the U.S. Department  of Veterans                                                               
Affairs]("the VA").                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked  for  clarification  whether  all                                                               
three instances in the bill should utilize the same language.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN agreed.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:47:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER referenced  AS 36.30.321(f)(3)(B),  which                                                               
defines  a  veteran as  an  individual  who "was  separated  from                                                               
service under a  condition that was not dishonorable."   He asked                                                               
Mr.  Bowen if  he  is  recommending the  language  be changed  to                                                               
"other than dishonorable".                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN stated  that the term "other than  dishonorable" is the                                                               
phrase the  federal government  uses to  establish benefits.   In                                                               
this case the bill is  attempting to establish a benefit reserved                                                               
only  for  those  satisfactorily discharged  from  the  military,                                                               
therefore   the  best   language   would   be  "under   honorable                                                               
conditions",  which   covers  general  discharge   and  honorable                                                               
discharge.    That language  would  match  the language  used  on                                                               
military forms.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER repeated his question.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN  answered yes, and  said he  would use the  term "under                                                               
honorable  conditions",   which  covers  general   and  honorable                                                               
discharges.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:50:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked what  circumstances a person would be                                                               
discharged with  a general discharge  as opposed to  an honorable                                                               
discharge.  She asked  if  there are  circumstances  "not ...  so                                                               
benevolent" that would lead to  a general discharge as opposed to                                                               
an honorable discharge.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN offered examples of general discharges, which include:                                                                
Not passing  a skill  level or  [physical fitness]  test, failing                                                               
weight  standards, committing  minor drug  offenses, receiving  a                                                               
Driving Under  the Influence (DUI)  citation or  speeding ticket,                                                               
and being late to formation or  deployment.  He stated there is a                                                               
gambit of things that lead to a general discharge.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:53:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if the change  in language presented                                                               
by  Mr. Bowen  would  allow  an employer  to  see the  difference                                                               
between a general and honorable discharge.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bowen answered that discharge  form will stipulate the reason                                                               
for discharge, and the employer would be able to see that.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:54:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  reiterated that HB  2 is an  act related                                                               
to  a voluntary  preference  for  veterans.   The  bill does  not                                                               
prohibit [a hiring preference], but doesn't mandate anything.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:55:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked  Mr. Bowen if the phrase  on page 1,                                                               
line  7, "the  armed  services of  the  United States",  includes                                                               
National Guardsmen of any state.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN responded  he  does  not know,  but  can research  the                                                               
answer.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked if,  under  HB  2, someone's  time                                                               
served with another state's National Guard would apply likewise.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:56:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TUCK   responded  that  the  committee   would  look  into                                                               
Representative Saddler's  question and  possibly expand  the bill                                                               
to  also include  active members  of the  National Guard.   Chair                                                               
Tuck asked if Representative Saddler had a preference.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  expressed no preference, but  stated that                                                               
it's important to clarify all conditions.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:57:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL responded  that the  bill's  language would  encompass                                                               
service in any other state  or territory, as interpreted pursuant                                                               
to Title  32 of United  States Code.   He stated his  belief that                                                               
the eight-year term is a different discussion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:58:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  how  one could  interpret that  the                                                               
bill includes  service in  all states, when  the bill  only lists                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:58:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TUCK   offered  his  understanding  that   Mr.  Doehl  was                                                               
responding to  a potential  amendment to  include members  of the                                                               
National Guard.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL confirmed that is correct.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK  offered that the  language would be  corrected before                                                               
an amendment would be offered.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:59:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK stated HB 2 was held over.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:00:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  TUCK,   in  response  to   questions  and   comments  from                                                               
Representatives   Saddler,   Reinbold,  Rauscher,   and   LeDoux,                                                               
clarified that Representative Kawasaki would  be the chair of the                                                               
House  Military &  Veterans' Affairs  Finance  Subcommittee.   He                                                               
stated  that  there  are  would  not be  any  alternates  in  the                                                               
subcommittee, but any  member can attend.  He stated  that in the                                                               
subcommittee there are no amendments - just recommendations to                                                                  
the House Finance Standing Committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:05:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Military and Veterans' Affairs Special Committee meeting was                                                                    
adjourned at 2:05 p.m.