Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

03/07/2017 01:00 PM House MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
01:02:34 PM Start
01:03:14 PM HB150
01:34:27 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                         March 7, 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                                                                                                      
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 150                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to pay, allowances, and benefits for members of                                                                
the organized militia."                                                                                                         
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 150                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PAY, ALLOWANCES, BENEFITS FOR MILITIA MEM                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                                        
03/01/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/01/17       (H)       MLV, FIN                                                                                               
03/07/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
ROBERT DOEHL, Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 150 at the request of the                                                                   
House Military and Veterans' Affairs Special Committee, sponsor.                                                                
BRIAN DUFFY, Director                                                                                                           
Administrative Services Division, Department of Military &                                                                      
Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 150.                                                                            
COLONEL JOHN JAMES, Commander                                                                                                   
Alaska State Defense Force                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 150.                                                                            
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:02:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CHRIS TUCK  called the House Special  Committee on Military                                                             
and   Veterans'   Affairs  meeting   to   order   at  1:02   p.m.                                                               
Representatives  Parish, Rauscher,  Reinbold, and  Spohnholz were                                                               
present at the call to  order.  Representatives Reinbold, LeDoux,                                                               
and Saddler arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                             
        HB 150-PAY, ALLOWANCES, BENEFITS FOR MILITIA MEM                                                                    
1:03:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK  announced that  the only order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  150, "An  Act relating  to pay,  allowances, and                                                               
benefits for members of the organized militia."                                                                                 
CHAIR TUCK stated  that the bill is part of  an ongoing effort of                                                               
the Alaska  State Legislature  and the  Department of  Military &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs  (DMVA) to modernize  the 1955  Alaska Military                                                               
Code  by providing  statutory changes  to  better serve  Alaska's                                                               
organized militia.  He explained  that HB 150 would authorize the                                                               
same  pay,  allowance, and  benefits  for  the organized  militia                                                               
whether they  are called into  state active duty by  the governor                                                               
or adjutant  general or  called into federal  active duty  by the                                                               
1:04:15 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT DOEHL,  Commissioner, Department  of Military  & Veterans'                                                               
Affairs  (DMVA), presented  HB 150  at the  request of  the House                                                               
Military and  Veterans' Affairs Special  Committee, sponsor.   He                                                               
stated his  support for HB  150.  He noted  that Section 1  of HB
150 clarifies that when members  of the organized militia - which                                                               
includes the  Air National  Guard, the  Army National  Guard, the                                                               
Alaska State Defense  Force (ASDF), and the  Alaska Naval Militia                                                               
- are  in state active duty,  their wages would mirror  the wages                                                               
of federal active status, as paid  by the federal government.  He                                                               
noted that the  current situation is confusing:   Those in Alaska                                                               
Naval  Militia, the  Air  National Guard,  or  the Army  National                                                               
Guard  are on  one pay  system  and the  ASDF is  on another  pay                                                               
system.  He remarked:                                                                                                           
     For the  first three ...  we have  to look back  to the                                                                    
     when  the original  act was  enacted,  take a  consumer                                                                    
     price index (CPI) on an  annual basis and amortize that                                                                    
     up to what  the current value is today to  set the base                                                                    
     value, and compare  that with 200 percent  of the basic                                                                    
     pay for an individual at a  given rank to go forward to                                                                    
     determine what  their pay  should be  for a  given day.                                                                    
     That's the  easy one.   Ultimately you can take  one or                                                                    
     two charts like this to figure the pay.                                                                                    
MR. DOEHL  expressed that  the pay  system for  the ASDF  is more                                                               
"creative."    When ASDF  is  called  into  active duty,  pay  is                                                               
determined by the  duties an individual performs on  a given day.                                                               
The pay  range for each  duty from  each day is  determined after                                                               
correlating the  performed duties to the  state official position                                                               
description  system,  a  huge  database  of  thousands  of  pages                                                               
maintained by  the Department of  Administration.  The  pay range                                                               
can  vary from  day  to day  based on  the  duties an  individual                                                               
performs in a  disaster such as answering  phones, assisting with                                                               
field work, or doing warehouse work.  He remarked:                                                                              
     The same individual  on three different days  can be in                                                                    
     three  different  official   position  description  job                                                                    
     categories at  three different ranges.   And to further                                                                    
     compound  that, some  of those  positions are  salaried                                                                    
     positions overtime exempt, others are not.                                                                                 
MR.  DOEHL explained  that  with all  the  different systems  and                                                               
permutations,  administrative  overhead  is excessive  for  state                                                               
active  duty and  the process  is difficult  to complete  without                                                               
errors.  He said:                                                                                                               
     If  we could  take one  employee  and put  them in  one                                                                    
     status  doing  one thing  for  an  extended period,  it                                                                    
     would  be  easy,  but  that's not  what  happens  in  a                                                                    
     disaster:    In a  disaster  duties  shift ...  fluidly                                                                    
     based on what has to be  done - which is why we support                                                                    
     this bill.                                                                                                                 
MR.  DOEHL  explained  that  an  indeterminate  fiscal  note  was                                                               
submitted because  it is  difficult to  know the  personnel needs                                                               
for  a  hypothetical disaster.    He  noted that  the  department                                                               
considered  the "Sockeye  Fire"  a data  benchmark.   During  the                                                               
fire,  179-person  days  were expended;  the  difference  in  pay                                                               
between the payment system proposed by  HB 150 and the status quo                                                               
was  a  total  increase  of  $3,000.    He  summarized  that  the                                                               
difference is  negligible and  could go up  or down  depending on                                                               
the type of personnel needed for a given disaster.                                                                              
1:08:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ asked whether  the expected reduction of                                                               
administrative  work  was  calculated into  the  $3,000  increase                                                               
along with compensation.                                                                                                        
MR.  DOEHL  answered that  the  calculation  only considered  the                                                               
payment  to those  working  the disaster.   He  said  that he  is                                                               
confident  that under  HB 150,  there would  be a  savings and  a                                                               
substantial reduction  in staff  burden; however,  he said  he is                                                               
hesitant to say the savings would be $3,000.  He remarked:                                                                      
     That staff time  and burden is charged  to the disaster                                                                    
     and the disaster relief funds  that go in as additional                                                                    
     overhead  costs that  we  would be  able  to reduce  in                                                                    
     subsequent disasters  by going to  the new scheme.   So                                                                    
     ... that 3,000 is just  what is paid out immediately to                                                                    
     the responders to that event.                                                                                              
1:09:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  asked for  an  approximate  value of  the                                                               
reduced administrative burden.                                                                                                  
MR. DOEHL said that Administrative  Services Director Brian Duffy                                                               
would follow  up with a more  complete overview of the  effect on                                                               
staff  within 24  hours.   He listed  other changes  that HB  150                                                               
would make to  statute.  Section 2 would treat  all the organized                                                               
militia as  one entity  for one compensation  system.   Section 2                                                               
would  continue to  maintain  eligibility  for travel  allowances                                                               
under the state system, which  is usually less expensive than the                                                               
federal system.   Section 3 would set the base  rate for workers'                                                               
compensation calculations.  Section  4 would specify that members                                                               
of  the  Alaska  Naval  Militia, Air  National  Guard,  and  Army                                                               
National Guard  would continue to  accrue benefits paid  into the                                                               
Alaska National  Guard Naval Militia retirement  system for state                                                               
active duty, as they currently do.                                                                                              
1:12:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  asked what  branches of the  military HB
150 would cover.                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL answered  that HB  150  would apply  to those  uniform                                                               
services  under the  State  of Alaska  Department  of Military  &                                                               
Veterans'  Affairs (DMVA)  - including  the Alaska  State Defense                                                               
Force,  the Air  National Guard,  and the  Army National  Guard -                                                               
only when called into state active  service.  He explained that a                                                               
fire near Sutton  last fall necessitated immediate  response in a                                                               
federal capacity, paid entirely by  "the feds."  He remarked, "If                                                               
that fire had continued, they  would have continued being paid as                                                               
the  state   equivalent  to   wildland  firefighters   under  the                                                               
[Department of Natural Resources] (DNR)  pay scheme."  He relayed                                                               
that HB  150 would not cover  any other part of  state government                                                               
or military, or the Air or  Army National Guard, when acting with                                                               
federal  resources and  pay  under  immediate response  authority                                                               
within the first 24 hours.                                                                                                      
MR.  DOEHL,  in  response  to  a  question,  clarified  that  the                                                               
"organized militia" consists of the  Air National Guard, the Army                                                               
National  Guard, Alaska  State  Defense Force,  and Alaska  Naval                                                               
Militia.   The Air National  Guard, the Army National  Guard, and                                                               
the Alaska  Naval Militia  have dual  federal and  state training                                                               
and readiness  requirements.  The  ASDF is part of  the organized                                                               
militia  but  is a  state-only  entity  separate from  the  other                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER asked if any  entity other than the state                                                               
pays wages [to the organized militia] under these circumstances.                                                                
MR. DOEHL responded  that there are different scenarios:   In the                                                               
case of immediate  response by the Air or Army  National Guard in                                                               
the  first 24  hours, the  federal  government pays  wages; in  a                                                               
state only  disaster, only  the state pays  wages; in  a national                                                               
disaster, the  federal government pays  a portion of the  wages -                                                               
usually 75 percent.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE   RAUSCHER   asked  whether   [organized   militia                                                               
members] get other pay besides the state in a state emergency.                                                                  
MR.  DOEHL  responded, "generally  no."  He  explained that  some                                                               
employers opt to continue paying  their employees who are serving                                                               
in a state emergency; however,  there is no statutory requirement                                                               
to do so and no other government benefits are paid.                                                                             
1:16:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  voiced that  she is  a big  supporter of                                                               
ASDF.   She drew attention  to the indeterminate fiscal  note and                                                               
the  state's  fiscal  situation.     She  asked  what  Mr.  Doehl                                                               
anticipates the 10-year fiscal impact would be.                                                                                 
MR. DOEHL offered that looking back  on last 10 years, the $3,000                                                               
differential  of  the  "Sockeye  Fire" over  179  days,  and  the                                                               
substantial  reduction in  administrative burden,  it would  come                                                               
out fiscally  neutral.  He  remarked, "I  cannot tell you  in the                                                               
future, though,  what the distribution of  individuals needed for                                                               
disasters will  be.  I  believe we're  within two percent  of the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  asked how much  of a priority HB  150 is                                                               
to the department.   She stated her support  for the department's                                                               
program of rural outreach by  the department.  She suggested that                                                               
all  departments  need  to prioritize  their  constitutional  and                                                               
statutory obligations and what benefits  the people of Alaska the                                                               
most.    She  asked  how  HB  150  falls  into  the  department's                                                               
MR. DOEHL reported  that HB 150 is important for  two things.  It                                                               
would  contain administrative  costs in  addressing disasters  by                                                               
allowing more  of the money  that comes from the  disaster relief                                                               
fund to go  to responders and reconstruction  efforts rather than                                                               
to  the administrative  staff calculating  responders' pay.   The                                                               
bill would  also make payment  to responders more  consistent and                                                               
quicker, creating  more of  an incentive  for volunteers  to come                                                               
forward and  agree to serve Alaskans  in a time of  disaster.  He                                                               
relayed that eliminating the uncertainty  [in pay] would increase                                                               
the   department's   ability   to  provide   emergency   response                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  said that  she loves the  defense force,                                                               
she is  glad HB  150 is  cost neutral, and  many people  from her                                                               
district want  her to support  this effort.  She  mentioned again                                                               
that she  wants the  departments to prioritize.   She  added that                                                               
she hopes "the rural outreach  goes forth" because being prepared                                                               
and ready is more cost effective than reacting.                                                                                 
1:20:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX stated that  she understands the bill would                                                               
help militia members  to know what their pay would  be and to get                                                               
paid quickly.   She asked  whether less  administrative personnel                                                               
would be  required under HB  150.  She  asked how the  bill would                                                               
contain costs without reducing personnel positions.                                                                             
MR.  DOEHL explained  that disaster  costs are  largely paid  for                                                               
through the  Disaster Relief Fund  (DRF), which is refilled  by a                                                               
capital appropriation  as needed.  The  extra administrative time                                                               
needed to  process wages for  the first responders would  also be                                                               
charged to  the disaster.  He  offered his belief that  the long-                                                               
term financial  draw would be  on the capital budget  through the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if all  the wages for  employees and                                                               
those who administer the wages come from the DRF.                                                                               
MR. DOEHL answered that generally  for a state disaster the wages                                                               
come from  the DRF; a  federal disaster  is funded 75  percent by                                                               
the  federal  government  and  25  percent  by  the  state.    He                                                               
remarked, "The responder  pay will come out  of reimbursements of                                                               
the Disaster Relief  Fund or other non-budget items.   The second                                                               
item, in  terms of the  administrative overhead, is  also charged                                                               
to the disaster for preparing those documents."                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX  asked   whether  the   department  hires                                                               
additional  personnel  "dealing  with  the  paychecks"  during  a                                                               
disaster other than those actually "fighting the disaster."                                                                     
MR. DOEHL  responded that  for certain roles,  the ASDF,  the Air                                                               
National  Guard, or  the Army  National Guard  may bring  finance                                                               
clerks on board or pay overtime  to current staff.  He added that                                                               
some salaried employees are worked "like a rented mule."                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether less overtime  charged would                                                               
be under HB 150.                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL answered, "That is correct."                                                                                          
1:24:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  asked if  the  passage  of HB  150  would                                                               
lessen the paperwork burden for members of the militia.                                                                         
Mr. DOEHL offered his belief  that paperwork would be reduced for                                                               
individual ASDF members  because there would be no  need to track                                                               
their time doing each task at each  range.  He said that the most                                                               
exciting  aspect proposed  under HB  150  is the  ability to  pay                                                               
militia  members  faster  when  they are  away  from  a  civilian                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked what  the approximate time horizon of                                                               
payment is  under the current system  and what it would  be under                                                               
HB 150.                                                                                                                         
1:26:18 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN   DUFFY,   Director,  Administrative   Services   Division,                                                               
Department of Military & Veterans'  Affairs (DMVA) drew attention                                                               
to a  calculation sheet that  outlined the costs  associated with                                                               
"Sockeye  Fire" response  as calculated  under the  old construct                                                               
and under HB 150.  He remarked:                                                                                                 
     ... For those  14 people that assisted  in that effort,                                                                    
     the delta is only $364.40,  an average of about $26 per                                                                    
     person to have  a much more simplified  and cleaner pay                                                                    
     structure   than   the   current  structure   that   is                                                                    
     cumbersome.   We will use  that example to  develop the                                                                    
     estimates    associated   with    the   reduction    of                                                                    
     administrative time to calculate that pay.                                                                                 
1:27:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TUCK pointed  out that  the total  of the  old system  was                                                               
$30,681.93  versus  the new  system  total  of $31,046.33:    The                                                               
difference is less than $1,000.                                                                                                 
1:27:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. DOEHL  agreed.  He stated  that he had misspoke  earlier when                                                               
he stated  the difference  was $3,000.   He  added that  he would                                                               
follow up with Representative  Parish's question about processing                                                               
1:27:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER asked when  the organized militia got its                                                               
MR.  DOEHL answered  that differentiation  between the  organized                                                               
and  unorganized   militia  in  Alaska  occurred   shortly  after                                                               
statehood  with Title  26.   He  explained  that all  able-bodied                                                               
Alaskans are  a part of  the unorganized  militia - any  of those                                                               
who will step forward and do right  by the nation and state.  The                                                               
organized militia was then identified  to be the group that wears                                                               
a uniform and falls into military formations.                                                                                   
1:29:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ commented  that the  difference between                                                               
old and  new systems is $364.40.   She expressed that  it is very                                                               
likely that  the state would save  at least as much  in paperwork                                                               
time   for   [responders]   documenting  their   transitions   in                                                               
activities and  for the administrative  personnel.  She  said, "I                                                               
would  find it  hard  to  imagine that  actually  it wouldn't  be                                                               
revenue positive  over the long  run given the simplicity  of the                                                               
new system."                                                                                                                    
MR. DOEHL  stated that [the  department] intuitively  agrees with                                                               
Representative  Spohnholz's comments,  but  it cannot  accurately                                                               
determine the costs and needs in the future.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  responded that  that makes sense.   She                                                               
added  that  it's  important  to  note  that  the  scale  of  the                                                               
difference in  costs is negligible with  a commensurate reduction                                                               
of administrative burden.                                                                                                       
1:31:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  noted that some individuals  are paid more                                                               
than  others in  the costs  listed for  the "Sockeye  Fire."   He                                                               
asked if there is support within militia for HB 150.                                                                            
MR.  DOEHL  replied that  the  bill  came  about in  response  to                                                               
concerns voiced  in the militia about  predictability and quicker                                                               
1:32:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK opened public testimony on HB 150.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked if support  for HB 150 is high within                                                               
COLONEL  JOHN  JAMES,  Commander,  Alaska  State  Defense  Force,                                                               
emphasized, "Absolutely."                                                                                                       
1:33:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK,  after ascertaining  that there was  no one  else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 150.                                                                           
CHAIR TUCK stated  that the bill is part of  the changes in Title                                                               
26  that would  allow the  department to  more efficiently  serve                                                               
Alaska.  He announced that HB 150 was held over.                                                                                
1:34:27 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting was                                                                 
adjourned at 1:35 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB150 version A.pdf HMLV 3/7/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Fiscal Note MVA 3.5.17.pdf HMLV 3/7/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Sponsor Statement 3.3.17.pdf HMLV 3/7/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Supporting Document-Sockeye Fire Spreadsheet from DMVA 3.7.17.pdf HMLV 3/7/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 150
HB150 Supporting Document - 2017 Military Pay Chart 3.7.17.pdf HMLV 3/7/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 150