Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

04/04/2017 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 178 NAMING PORTIONS OF VETERANS HIGHWAYS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
*+ HB 125 LAO/HMONG VETERAN DRIVER'S LIC. & ID CARD TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 152 ORGANIZED MILITIA; AK ST. DEFENSE FORCE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 152(MLV) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                         April 4, 2017                                                                                          
                           1:09 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Chris Tuck, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Justin Parish                                                                                                    
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                    
Representative Dan Saddler                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 152                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the organized militia; and relating to the                                                                  
authority of the adjutant general."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 152(MLV) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 178                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to recognition of individual veterans along                                                                    
certain veterans' memorial roads and on certain veterans'                                                                       
memorial bridges."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 125                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to a veteran's designation on an identification                                                                
card or a driver's license for Hmong veterans and Lao veterans."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 152                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ORGANIZED MILITIA; AK ST. DEFENSE FORCE                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
03/06/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/06/17       (H)       MLV, STA                                                                                               
03/14/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/14/17       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/23/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/23/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/23/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
03/30/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/30/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/30/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
04/04/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 178                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: NAMING PORTIONS OF VETERANS HIGHWAYS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): EASTMAN                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
03/14/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/14/17       (H)       MLV, TRA                                                                                               
04/04/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 125                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LAO/HMONG VETERAN DRIVER'S LIC. & ID CAR                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): TARR                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
02/15/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/15/17       (H)       MLV, STA                                                                                               
04/04/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID EASTMAN                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Speaking as the sponsor, introduced HB 178                                                               
and answered questions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
YUKON DON TANNER                                                                                                                
Talkeetna, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support during the hearing of                                                               
HB 178.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DAVE GLENN                                                                                                                      
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support during the hearing of                                                               
HB 178.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN JONES                                                                                                                     
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 178.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                               
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified  in  support  of amendments  and                                                             
answered a question during the hearing of HB 178.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MIKE LESMANN, Legislative Liaison                                                                                               
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing of HB                                                             
178.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MARK NEIDHOLD, Chief                                                                                                            
Design and Construction Standards                                                                                               
Division of Statewide Design and Engineering Services                                                                           
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing of HB                                                             
178.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Speaking as the sponsor,  introduced HB 125                                                           
and answered questions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
PASERT LEE                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
WILSON VANG                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  in Hmong, translated  to English                                                             
by Seng Her, in support during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
XAISHOUA VANG                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  in Hmong, translated  to English                                                             
by Seng Her, in support during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
TONGLOU VANG                                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  in Hmong, translated  to English                                                             
by Seng Her, in support during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
XIAGE VANG                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  in Hmong, translated  to English                                                             
by Seng Her, in support during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MAI XIONG                                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SAIVIT VONGRATSAMY                                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  in Lao,  translated to  Hmong by                                                             
Pasert Lee,  then translated to  English by Seng Her,  in support                                                               
during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SAMAK VONGVILAY                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  in Lao,  translated to  Hmong by                                                             
Pasert Lee,  then translated to  English by Seng Her,  in support                                                               
during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                               
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125 and answered a question.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE BOWEN, Director                                                                                                          
Veterans Affairs                                                                                                                
Office of Veteran Affairs                                                                                                       
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125 and answered questions.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MAI RAMIREZ-XIONG                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Speaking on  behalf of her father, testified                                                             
in support during the hearing of HB 125.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
BEDY XIONG                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ZOUNEE YANG                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
LUCKY XIONG                                                                                                                     
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support during  the hearing of                                                             
HB 125.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:09:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CHRIS TUCK  called the House Special  Committee on Military                                                             
and   Veterans'   Affairs  meeting   to   order   at  1:09   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Tuck,  Spohnholz, Reinbold, Saddler,  Parish, and                                                               
LeDoux were present at the call to order.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
         HB 152-ORGANIZED MILITIA; AK ST. DEFENSE FORCE                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:10:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 152, "An  Act relating to the  organized militia;                                                               
and relating to the authority of the adjutant general."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  said  she   was  not  informed  of  the                                                               
deadline for submitting amendments to HB 152.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:12:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX moved to report  HB 152, as amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER objected.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:12:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Spohnholz, LeDoux,                                                               
Parish,  and Tuck  voted in  favor  of HB  152.   Representatives                                                               
Saddler and Reinbold voted against  it.  Therefore, CSHB 152(MLV)                                                               
was reported out  of the House Special Committee  on Military and                                                               
Veterans' Affairs by a vote of 4-2.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:13:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:13 p.m. to 1:16 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          HB 178-NAMING PORTIONS OF VETERANS HIGHWAYS                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:15:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK  announced that  the next order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.   178,  "An  Act  relating   to  recognition  of                                                               
individual veterans  along certain  veterans' memorial  roads and                                                               
on certain veterans' memorial bridges."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:16:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID EASTMAN,  Alaska State Legislature, informed                                                               
the committee he  was approached by local veterans  seeking a way                                                               
to  further  recognize veterans  in  each  of the  six  veterans'                                                               
memorials  throughout the  state.   He  directed  attention to  a                                                               
document provided in the committee  packet which was a picture of                                                               
the Veterans'  Highway memorial in the  Matanuska-Susitna region.                                                               
He described the  existing memorial as generic and  said the bill                                                               
would   recognize   particular   veterans  for   their   service.                                                               
Additional  comments  on the  bill  have  been heard  from  local                                                               
veterans, the Department of Military  & Veterans' Affairs (DMVA),                                                               
and  the   Department  of  Transportation  &   Public  Facilities                                                               
(DOTPF); a [committee] substitute for HB 178 is forthcoming.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  observed there  are over  72,000 veterans                                                               
living in  Alaska and asked  why it  is more appropriate  to name                                                               
memorials for  certain veterans  - and  thereby exclude  others -                                                               
rather than to honor all veterans by memorial roads or bridges.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  acknowledged there is room  for a balance                                                               
between  a generic  and an  individual  recognition of  veterans;                                                               
under this proposal, the names  of memorial highways would remain                                                               
unchanged,  but at  various  points along,  or  adjacent to,  the                                                               
highway there would be an  opportunity for individual recognition                                                               
for a period of three to five years.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked how  the temporary designation would                                                               
be accomplished.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN explained  local  and official  veterans'                                                               
organizations would submit names  for consideration by the Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature;  after   legislative  commendation,  veterans                                                               
would  be eligible  for individual  recognition.   Representative                                                               
Eastman  further explained  legislative commendation  would occur                                                               
by a  citation passed by  the House and Senate,  and subsequently                                                               
DOTPF would  implement the placement  of markers  along veterans'                                                               
memorials.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  restated   his  question  regarding  the                                                               
temporary designation.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:22:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  pointed   out  the  sponsor  statement                                                               
indicates  the  cost  of  signage   would  be  funded  by  gifts,                                                               
donations,  and grants  received by  DOTPF and/or  DMVA; however,                                                               
these departments do not have the capacity to raise funds.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  advised  veterans'  organizations  would                                                               
collect and  solicit donations for  the project.  [HB  178] would                                                               
give DOTPF the authority to accept  funds and would allow DMVA to                                                               
direct donors to a certain account managed by DOTPF.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ   questioned  whether   [DMVA's]  state                                                               
government  web  site would  direct  donors  to contribute  to  a                                                               
private organization.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  said  no.   The  bill  gives  DOTPF  the                                                               
authority  to  collect  and  receive   funds  for  this  specific                                                               
purpose.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked  whether veterans'  organizations                                                               
have committed their support for the legislation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN indicated  yes,  and  their testimony  is                                                               
forthcoming.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  posited a  situation in which  a veterans'                                                               
organization  raised  money  for  the recognition  of  a  certain                                                               
veteran;  in  this case  would  DMVA  direct  said funds  to  the                                                               
individual,  or would  the funds  go into  a "common  pot" to  be                                                               
distributed between all the honored veterans.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN   stated  the  intent  of   the  proposed                                                               
legislation is to  allow donors to contribute  to "that account,"                                                               
or one of the six current memorials should they choose to do so.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:26:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK opened public testimony on HB 178.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:26:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
YUKON DON  TANNER informed  the committee he  is a  Navy veteran.                                                               
Mr.  Tanner said  HB  178  is another  step  forward in  honoring                                                               
veterans by placing the names  of selected veterans on a signpost                                                               
in  designated [transportation]  corridors.   Although there  are                                                               
concerns with the  bill, he opined all concerns  can be addressed                                                               
in an efficient way and urged for passage of the bill.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked  whether Mr. Tanner is  aware of any                                                               
veterans  that  veterans'  organizations  seek  to  nominate  for                                                               
special distinction.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. TANNER said he did not at  this time.  In further response to                                                               
Representative  Saddler regarding  his  affiliations, Mr.  Tanner                                                               
said he is  a life member of the Veterans  of Foreign Wars (VFW),                                                               
in  Talkeetna  and a  member  of  [American  Legion] Post  35  in                                                               
Wasilla.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:29:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVE GLENN informed  the committee he is a Vietnam  veteran.  Mr.                                                               
Glenn  expressed  his  belief  the  proposed  legislation  is  an                                                               
extension  of the  recognition of  veterans that  began with  the                                                               
dedication of  the Mat-Su  Veterans' Highway.   He  said he  is a                                                               
life  member  of  VFW,  a  life member  of  Vietnam  Veterans  of                                                               
America, and  a member  of the  [MAT-SU Veterans'  Foundation] in                                                               
Wasilla.    Mr.  Glenn  directed attention  to  a  document  from                                                               
[Deputy Commissioner Robert Doehl,  DMVA] [document not provided]                                                               
and opined  the intent of the  legislation is to comply  with all                                                               
established rules, policies, and  regulations currently in place.                                                               
In addition,  there is  precedent for  the legislation  along the                                                               
Seward Highway  Dowling Road overpass.   He affirmed  the funding                                                               
would be  on a  volunteer basis  and provided  an example  of the                                                               
availability of  funding in  this regard.   Mr. Glenn  listed the                                                               
names   of  several   veterans  whom   he  suggested   should  be                                                               
recognized.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:32:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN JONES informed  the committee she and her  husband are Army                                                               
veterans and their son served in  the U.S. Air Force.  She agreed                                                               
with  the  recognition of  veterans  in  Alaska, noting  she  has                                                               
observed veterans  who are  proud of  their military  service and                                                               
are deserving of honor.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:33:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK,  after ascertaining  no one  else wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony, noting  public testimony may be reopened                                                               
at a subsequent hearing.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER referred  to questions  raised by  Deputy                                                               
Commissioner  Doehl,  in a  document  dated  [4/3/17], which  was                                                               
provided  in  the  committee  packet,  and  asked  Representative                                                               
Eastman to respond.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  said [if HB  178 is enacted] the  role of                                                               
DMVA would  be minimal;  the bill requests  DMVA to  accept names                                                               
from official  Alaska veterans' organizations and  to forward the                                                               
names  and  the  sponsoring   organizations  to  the  legislature                                                               
annually.  Further,  in response to a question  from DMVA related                                                               
to the eligibility  of whose honored, he  explained a forthcoming                                                               
version of the bill would clarify  an eligible veteran is one who                                                               
has been  a member of the  armed forces, the National  Guard, the                                                               
Alaska State Defense Force, or  the Alaska Territorial Guard, and                                                               
who was honorably discharged.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  which veterans'  organizations are                                                               
designated as [IRC 501(c) 19] charitable organizations.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  said  at  least  four  organizations  in                                                               
Alaska  meet  that  designation.    The  aforementioned  Internal                                                               
Revenue  Service (IRS)  tax  exemption is  specific  to posts  or                                                               
organizations  of  past or  present  members  of the  U.S.  Armed                                                               
Forces.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  surmised   the  veterans'  organizations                                                               
include  VFW  and  American  Legion   and  asked  for  the  other                                                               
organizations.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN will provide the requested information.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER questioned  whether Representative Eastman                                                               
would accept an amendment to  the legislation which would specify                                                               
a veterans' organization  would need to meet the  [IRC 501(c) 19]                                                               
tax-exempt standard.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN said yes.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:37:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER suggested  DMVA seeks  further parameters                                                               
in the  bill as to who  would be eligible, for  example, veterans                                                               
who were  Alaska residents during  their service or  veterans who                                                               
are now Alaska residents.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  pointed  out the  legislation  does  not                                                               
direct DMVA to verify  eligibility; veterans' organizations would                                                               
nominate  a veteran  and  the legislature  would  make the  final                                                               
determination as long as the veteran was honorably discharged.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  expressed   his  understanding  that  in                                                               
passing citations,  the legislature  does not complete  a process                                                               
of  vetting or  fact-checking  qualifications.   He surmised  the                                                               
legislation  requires   the  legislature  to   assume  additional                                                               
responsibilities.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:39:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL,  Deputy Commissioner,  Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department of  Military &  Veterans' Affairs,  disclosed he  is a                                                               
member of VFW, American Legion,  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of                                                               
America, and  the Vietnam Helicopter  Pilots Association,  all of                                                               
which are IRC 501(c) 19 organizations.   He said DMVA supports an                                                               
amendment   to  limit   the  applications   to   IRC  501(c)   19                                                               
organizations  and  expressed  concerns related  to  the  vetting                                                               
process and [the lack of]  an adequate definition of veterans who                                                               
are  eligible  for  recognition.    In  addition,  he  questioned                                                               
whether  confirming   an  honorable  discharge  is   a  statutory                                                               
requirement.   [DMVA]  strongly  supports  an efficient  donation                                                               
process  similar  to  that  currently   utilized  by  the  Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  & Game and a provision  to direct undedicated                                                               
donations  to  certain veterans.    Finally,  DMVA requests  that                                                               
veterans would  be given  a provision to  opt-out if  the honoree                                                               
chose not to be recognized as an individual.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked Mr. Doehl  to comment on  the value                                                               
of  honoring an  individual veteran  as opposed  to honoring  all                                                               
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL opined there is value in both forms of recognition.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  inquired as to whether  the sponsor has                                                               
determined   whether  contributions   to   the   state  are   tax                                                               
deductible.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN said  yes.  Currently, the  state and each                                                               
of  its subdivisions  would  be  eligible; however,  establishing                                                               
eligibility for a municipality requires  payment of a $150 filing                                                               
fee  with IRS.    Therefore, every  government  entity in  Alaska                                                               
would be eligible, but its status would need to be confirmed.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH asked  about  the cost  of installing  and                                                               
maintaining signage.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:44:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE LESMANN,  Legislative Liaison,  Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Transportation  &  Public  Facilities,  estimated                                                               
signs cost between $800-$1,000 minimum for materials and labor.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:45:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK   NEIDHOLD,  Chief,   Design  and   Construction  Standards,                                                               
Division   of   Statewide   Design  and   Engineering   Services,                                                               
Department  of Transportation  & Public  Facilities, explained  a                                                               
sign of  the type  discussed in  the legislation  can cost  up to                                                               
$2,500 each, depending upon location, size, and other factors.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK asked  whether the signs must stand alone  or could be                                                               
added to an existing road sign.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEIDHOLD cautioned  adding to  an existing  road sign  risks                                                               
distracting  from  the message  of  the  existing sign;  however,                                                               
signs are routinely added to light poles.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  which  federal highway  visibility                                                               
standards  may  impact  the  placement   of  the  signs  honoring                                                               
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD said  23 Code of Federal Regulations,  in the Manual                                                               
on Uniform  Traffic Control Devices,  allows the state  to modify                                                               
the  federal  standards  following   the  Alaska  Traffic  Manual                                                               
Supplement.   In  further  response  to Representative  Saddler's                                                               
questions  of how  big signs  can be  and if  sign locations  are                                                               
limited, he  added size  depends on the  traffic speed  along the                                                               
route  and the  location of  other signs  that may  be considered                                                               
more critical; in fact, the  manual directs DOTPF to only install                                                               
signs that are  necessary for the operation of  the highway, with                                                               
minor exceptions.   He described the hierarchy of  signs from the                                                               
highest order,  such as  regulatory signs,  to the  lowest order,                                                               
such as memorial signs.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  further asked  whether  a  sign that  is                                                               
damaged or vandalized  may cost less to replace or  the same, and                                                               
if  the state  or private  individuals  would be  liable for  the                                                               
replacement cost.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEIDHOLD  advised the  cost of repair  would depend  upon the                                                               
level of damage.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:51:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK announced that HB 178 was held over.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
        HB 125-LAO/HMONG VETERAN DRIVER'S LIC. & ID CAR                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:51:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK  announced that the  final order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  125, "An Act relating to  a veteran's designation                                                               
on  an  identification  card  or a  driver's  license  for  Hmong                                                               
veterans and Lao veterans."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:52:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GERAN TARR,  Alaska  State Legislature,  sponsor,                                                               
said HB  125 would recognize  Hmong veterans in Alaska  for their                                                               
service  to  the  U.S.  by authorizing  a  designation  on  their                                                               
driver's  licenses.   She informed  the committee  Hmong veterans                                                               
served during  the time of the  Vietnam War in what  is now known                                                               
as the  secret war,  when intensified war  actions were  taken in                                                               
Laos.   She noted  many Hmong individuals  who were  recruited to                                                               
serve the U.S.  military were very young, yet more  than 50 years                                                               
later, Hmong veterans have not  received the benefits promised to                                                               
them.   Representative Tarr stressed  the bill is  an opportunity                                                               
to recognize service by Hmong veterans before it is too late                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  urged for  the  photos  provided in  the                                                               
committee packet to be made available to the public.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR,  in response to Chair  Tuck's question about                                                               
the ages of the recruits, said some  were as young as 10 years of                                                               
age.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked what evidence is  required to prove                                                               
one's status as a Hmong or Laos veteran.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  said  federal  documentation  substantiates                                                               
military  service; she  deferred  the question  to Robert  Doehl,                                                               
Deputy Commissioner, Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER directed attention to  the bill on page 1,                                                               
lines 8-10, and page 2, lines 11-13, which read [in part]:                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     a Hmong veteran  or Lao veteran who  served in military                                                                    
     operations  in  support of  the  United  States in  the                                                                    
     Kingdom of Laos between February  28, 1961, and May 15,                                                                    
     1975.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  pointed out references on  page 1, [line]                                                               
13 and on page  2, lines 1 and 16, state "a  Hmong veteran or Lao                                                               
veteran," and asked whether all five references are complete.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  said  yes.   She  offered  to  clarify  the                                                               
aforementioned   language   with  Legislative   Legal   Services,                                                               
Legislative Affairs Agency.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:59:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK opened public testimony on HB 125.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:59:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PASERT LEE stated  his support for HB 125, and  noted that during                                                               
the Vietnam  War, from  1961 to  1975, the  Hmong and  Lao people                                                               
worked very hard  for America.  He recognized the  vast number of                                                               
people's  lives  lost  during  the  war  in  different  parts  of                                                               
Vietnam.  He offered to  bring evidence to prove the truthfulness                                                               
of  the losses.   He  stated his  hope that  the American  people                                                               
would support  the bill for  the Hmong and Lao  veterans' license                                                               
plates and identification  cards.  He urged the  Senate and House                                                               
to support the bill.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. LEE  related after fighting for  America he has lived  in the                                                               
U.S.  for  almost  42  years  and [the  Hmong  people]  have  not                                                               
received  any [recognition].   He  emphasized that  HB 125  would                                                               
recognize the  heavy and painful  years of 1961-75 for  the Hmong                                                               
and Lao people.   He told some of the efforts  and actions of the                                                               
Hmong and  Lao soldiers during the  war.  He explained  the Hmong                                                               
people who fought for the  U.S. lost their country, homeland, and                                                               
much more.   He urged the Senate, House, and  chair to open their                                                               
eyes to look at the bill for the Hmong and Lao people.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:04:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WILSON  VANG testified  in Hmong  translated  by Seng  Her.   Mr.                                                               
Wilson  Vang said  he served  with CIA  during the  Hmong Veteran                                                               
secret war  from 1961-1975  in North Vietnam.   During  that time                                                               
his leaders  were John  Kennedy and President  Nixon.   He stated                                                               
that Hmong veterans lost their land,  which caused him to come to                                                               
America.   He  offered his  support of  HB 125  because it  helps                                                               
recognize all the  service of Hmong and Lao veterans  in the war.                                                               
He  explained  that   in  America,  the  Hmong   people  are  not                                                               
recognized, and this bill would help begin that process.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:08:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
XAISHOUA  VANG testified  in Hmong  translated by  Seng Her.   He                                                               
stated that  he was born June  3, 1957 and was  requested to join                                                               
the war from 1968 to 1975  and protect the [Hmong nation] by John                                                               
Kennedy, President Nixon, General Vang  Pao, and others.  He said                                                               
part of  the reason why [the  Hmong people] have migrated  to the                                                               
U.S. is because  of the loss of their country.   Right now, their                                                               
country is not  under the control of their people.   Mr. Xaishoua                                                               
Vang offered his  impression that [since the war],  the Hmong and                                                               
Lao veterans  have not been  recognized for their  involvement in                                                               
the war.  He remarked, "Today I  come here to support HB 125, and                                                               
ask  for the  representatives  through the  chair  to support  HB                                                               
125."  He  urged the committee members, as leaders  of the state,                                                               
to recognize the importance of HB 125.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:13:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TONGLOU VANG testified in Hmong translated  by Seng Her.  He said                                                               
he was born  August 10, 1933 and served in  the war from 1961-75.                                                               
While involved  in the war in  1965, he received injuries  in his                                                               
chest and left leg.  Many  lives were lost in the local community                                                               
because  of  the  Vietnam  soldiers.   Afterwards  in  1975,  the                                                               
Americans and General Vang Pao  and leaders departed the area and                                                               
the  surviving  Hmong  community  was  left  with  nothing.    He                                                               
explained that without  any leaders, [the Hmong  soldiers] had to                                                               
seek other  shelters, which  has led to  the most  recent gorilla                                                               
war.   He  noted that  during a  six-month long  training mission                                                               
away  from his  family time  he  lost many  relatives and  family                                                               
members.  He  requested that the state leaders support  of HB 125                                                               
and recognize  the service in this  war.  He expressed  that [the                                                               
Hmong people] would not forget the committee's actions.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:18:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
XIAGE  VANG  testified in  Hmong  translated  by  Seng Her.    He                                                               
detailed that he  was born in 1945  and now is 75 years  old.  He                                                               
thanked the chair and the committee  members for hearing him.  He                                                               
explained that  in 1961  President Kennedy and  the King  of Laos                                                               
discussed a  written declaration of the  participation engagement                                                               
with the  Hmong and Lao people;  troops were involved in  the war                                                               
to help protect the nation.   During that time, troops were given                                                               
supplies such as a radar to track down and control the war.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
[There was a brief discussion in Hmong about radar.]                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. XIAGE VANG explained that because  of the radar given to [the                                                               
Hmong  people],   they  were  better   able  to   identify  their                                                               
situation; unfortunately, the radar was  lost.  He stated that in                                                               
that  area,  bodies  have  been  identified  and  have  not  been                                                               
retrieved,  which  has caused  the  Hmong  people to  migrate  to                                                               
another  area.   He requested  that the  chair, the  leaders, and                                                               
everyone recognize HB  125 as something of importance  to him and                                                               
the Hmong  and Lao  veterans.   He asked that  the bill  be moved                                                               
forward and  presented to  the other  leaders of  the state.   He                                                               
thanked the committee for hearing the bill.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:26:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAI XIONG testified  in support of HB 125 to  recognize Hmong and                                                               
Lao veterans  with license  plates and  IDs.   She said  the bill                                                               
would  benefit the  Hmong people  who helped  win the  war.   She                                                               
explained that  the war was  very difficult with  many casualties                                                               
and  was  the reason  many  Hmong  and  Lao individuals  came  to                                                               
America.  She added that she  wants more people to know about the                                                               
efforts of  the Hmong people  because the generation  of veterans                                                               
is passing.  She asked the  committee to "pass bill for the Hmong                                                               
veterans, because that is the only thing we want to get."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:28:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAIVIT  VONGRATSAMY  testified in  Laos  translated  to Hmong  by                                                               
Pasert Lee  and to  English by Seng  Her.  He  noted the  need to                                                               
honor people's  commitment, which  HB 125 does.   He  thanked the                                                               
committee for hearing his testimony.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:32:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAMAK VONGVILAY testified  in Laos translated to  Hmong by Pasert                                                               
Lee and to  English by Seng Her.  He  informed the committee that                                                               
in the  war he  was a  soldier and a  cook for  the leaders.   He                                                               
stated  that  HB  125  is  very important  to  him  and  for  the                                                               
recognition of the Hmong and Lao veterans.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:34:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL,  Deputy Commissioner,  Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Military  &   Veterans'  Affairs,  stated  DMVA's                                                               
support  for  HB  125  which   recognizes  those  who  have  made                                                               
substantial  sacrifices  in service  to  the  U.S. and  who  also                                                               
brought  many American  service members  to safety.   He  advised                                                               
there is an established method to verify a veteran's status.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:35:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VERDIE  BOWEN,  Director,  Veterans Affairs,  Office  of  Veteran                                                               
Affairs, Department  of Military  & Veterans'  Affairs, expressed                                                               
his  support for  HB 125.   He  provided a  brief history  of the                                                               
30,000-member Hmong  army that  faced 70,000-100,000  soldiers of                                                               
the North  Vietnamese Army along the  Ho Chi Minh Trail  in Laos,                                                               
suffering huge  losses of  life.   In response  to Representative                                                               
Saddler's  question  as  to  the number  of  Hmong  veterans  [in                                                               
Alaska],  he estimated  30-40  veterans  would receive  veterans'                                                               
status on  their driver's licenses.   He said in April  2016, the                                                               
Alaska  Veteran Advisory  Council,  Office  of Veterans  Affairs,                                                               
DMVA,  voted  in support  of  individuals  receiving the  veteran                                                               
designation,  and also  related a  statement of  personal insight                                                               
into the service of the Hmong veterans.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER restated his  intent to use the definition                                                               
of Hmong veteran and Lao veteran [text previously provided].                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN indicated his agreement.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  whether the  federal certification                                                               
of Hmong or Lao veteran status  would suffice for the purposes of                                                               
the proposed legislation.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN explained  Hmong and Lao veteran  status was designated                                                               
on  their entrance  visas at  the time  the veterans  entered the                                                               
U.S.;  the Office  of  Veteran Affairs  would  utilize a  program                                                               
similar to that  utilized for veterans of  the Alaska Territorial                                                               
Guard.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER questioned  whether the verification would                                                               
be an efficient process, given the age of the entrance visas.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BOWEN explained  Hmong veterans'  groups  in Anchorage  have                                                               
already established the service of their members.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER stated his support for [HB 125].                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:40:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAI  RAMIREZ-XIONG informed  the  committee she  was speaking  on                                                               
behalf of  her father,  Lieutenant Colonel Xiong.   She  spoke of                                                               
what  the   Hmong  people  have   done  for  the   country  after                                                               
immigrating.  Ms. Ramirez-Xiong related  her father has done much                                                               
for this country and HB  125 would demonstrate some understanding                                                               
by the American  people, because many are unaware  of the service                                                               
of the Hmong  people to a country unknown to  them.  Ms. Ramirez-                                                               
Xiong said  she is a U.S.  citizen and urged that  her father and                                                               
other Hmong veterans receive their well-earned recognition.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:43:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEDY XIONG expressed  her strong support of HB  125 because Hmong                                                               
veterans have not been recognized.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:44:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ZOUNEE YANG said both of her dads  served in the Vietnam War at a                                                               
very young age and she wants HB 125  to pass.   The bill is small                                                               
gratitude for all  the Hmong and other tribes  involved and would                                                               
make them happy.   Ms. Yang stated she is  first generation [U.S.                                                               
citizen] and wants  to be able to teach her  children about their                                                               
grandparents' history  of service  with the U.S.  military, which                                                               
may not be taught in school.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:46:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LUCKY XIONG said his father  served from 1961-1965 and stated his                                                               
support  for  HB  125.    Mr. Xiong  expressed  his  belief  that                                                               
veterans deserve  recognition for their sacrifices,  and the bill                                                               
would clearly identify and respect those who served.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:47:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TUCK,  after ascertaining  no one  else wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony on HB 125.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:48:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR stated her intent to provide additional                                                                     
written testimony to the committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
[HB 125 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:49:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting was                                                                 
adjourned at 2:49 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB125 ver D 3.27.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB125 Sponsor Statement 3.27.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB125 Fiscal Note-DOA-DMV 4.2.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB125 Fiscal Note-MVA 4.2.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB125 Supporting Document- Letter Berkowitz 3.27.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB125 Supporting Document-Letter Mai Xiong 3.27.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB0178 ver A.PDF HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 178
HB178 Sponsor Statement 3.22.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 178
HB178 Fiscal Note-DOT 4.2.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 178
HB125 Supporting Documents-Letters of Support 4.3.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB178 Fiscal Note-MVA 4.4.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 178
HB178 Additional Documents-Letter DMVA 4.4.17.pdf HMLV 4/4/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 178