Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

04/30/2019 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HR 6 NAT'L. NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL TELECONFERENCED
Moved HR 6 Out of Committee
*+ HB 129 DISABLED ALASKANS F&G LIC/DNR PERMITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                         April 30, 2019                                                                                         
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Chris Tuck, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Sharon Jackson                                                                                                   
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 6                                                                                                          
Expressing support and appreciation for the National Native                                                                     
American Veterans Memorial.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HR 6 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 129                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to fees charged to physically disabled state                                                                   
residents for hunting and fishing licenses and certain state                                                                    
park permits."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HR   6                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: NAT'L. NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) LINCOLN                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
03/18/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/18/19       (H)       TRB, MLV                                                                                               
04/09/19       (H)       TRB AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/09/19       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/09/19       (H)       MINUTE(TRB)                                                                                            
04/16/19       (H)       TRB AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/16/19       (H)       Moved HR 6 Out of Committee                                                                            
04/16/19       (H)       MINUTE(TRB)                                                                                            
04/17/19       (H)       TRB RPT 7DP                                                                                            
04/17/19       (H)       DP: VANCE, ORTIZ, EDGMON, TALERICO,                                                                    
                         KOPP, LINCOLN, ZULKOSKY                                                                                
04/25/19       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
04/25/19       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/25/19       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
04/30/19       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 129                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: DISABLED ALASKANS F&G LIC/DNR PERMITS                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) LEDOUX                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
04/11/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/11/19       (H)       MLV, RES                                                                                               
04/30/19       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ALPHEUS BULLARD, Attorney                                                                                                       
Legislative Legal Counsel                                                                                                       
Legislative Legal Services                                                                                                      
Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing of HB                                                              
129.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
EDDIE GRASSER, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Wildlife Conservation                                                                                               
Alaska Department of Fish and Game                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing of HB                                                              
129.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DAN SADDLER, Legislative Liaison                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Natural Resources                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing of HB                                                              
129.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:05:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GABRIELLE LEDOUX called the House Special Committee on                                                                  
Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting to order at 1:05 p.m.                                                                    
Representatives Thompson, Tarr, Tuck,  and LeDoux were present at                                                               
the call to  order.  Representatives Kopp,  Rauscher, and Jackson                                                               
arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
        HR   6-NAT'L. NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS MEMORIAL                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:05:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX announced  the  first order  of  business would  be                                                               
HOUSE RESOLUTION  NO. 6, Expressing support  and appreciation for                                                               
the National Native American Veterans Memorial.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:06:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  moved to report  HR 6 out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection,  HR 6  was reported  out of  the House                                                               
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:07 p.m. to 1:09 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          HB 129-DISABLED ALASKANS F&G LIC/DNR PERMITS                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:09:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX announced the next  order of business would be HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO. 129,  "An Act  relating to  fees charged  to physically                                                               
disabled  state residents  for hunting  and fishing  licenses and                                                               
certain state park permits."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[CHAIR LEDOUX passed the gavel to Vice Chair Tuck.]                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX,  speaking as  the sponsor of  HB 129,  informed the                                                               
committee HB  129 would enable persons  who have a 50  percent or                                                               
greater  disability to  have free  [Alaska]  hunting and  fishing                                                               
licenses  and  free  camping  privileges at  state  parks.    She                                                               
explained  the  bill was  inspired  by  a  constituent who  is  a                                                               
veteran, and who is disabled,  but is not considered eligible for                                                               
benefits granted to a "disabled  veteran," as defined by statute,                                                               
because  his  disability  is  not  the  result  of  his  military                                                               
service.  Chair  LeDoux advised, although the  changes to statute                                                               
brought by HB 129 seem simple  to achieve, a later version of the                                                               
bill will be used as a  vehicle for correcting problems that were                                                               
found in the related existing statutes.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:13:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  remarked, "... I hope  somebody can come                                                               
up with some  answers on what's a 50  percent disability compared                                                               
to a 70 percent disability."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:13:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX acknowledged  there is  not  a definition  of a  70                                                               
percent disability  [currently in  statute]; she  suggested there                                                               
should  be a  definition "of  all of  the various  disabilities."                                                               
Current  statute   requires  a  disabled  person   to  obtain  an                                                               
affidavit of his/her  70 percent disability from  a physician, or                                                               
a certificate of  disability from a government agency.   The bill                                                               
would change  the [minimum level  of disability] from  70 percent                                                               
to 50 percent.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  questioned whether the  sponsor reviewed                                                               
the  standards of  permanent disability  that are  established by                                                               
statutes related to [the Alaska Workers' Compensation Act].                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX  indicated  she would  examine  the  aforementioned                                                               
standards during the course of further work on the bill.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  observed   from  his  experience,  [the                                                               
bill's  impact by  authorizing free  licenses]  is considered  an                                                               
indirect  expenditure  because  the  state  loses  funds  by  not                                                               
collecting fees.  He remarked:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     And  I've worked  at trying  to slow  down how  much we                                                                    
     lose by not collecting full  fees, or giving tax breaks                                                                    
     and  things like  that, so  I'll be  interested to  see                                                                    
     where  this actually  ends up.    ...   All the  fiscal                                                                    
     notes - three of them  - are indeterminate because they                                                                    
     have no way  of knowing what the heck this  is going to                                                                    
     cost us.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:16:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK directed attention to  the bill on page 2, [lines                                                               
26, 27, and 29] in which existing language read in part:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     ...  as  having  incurred  a   50  percent  or  greater                                                                    
     disability ... ;                                                                                                           
     ...  and incurred  a 50  percent or  greater disability                                                                    
     while serving ...                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR  TUCK pointed  out  already  in statute  is  language                                                               
regarding  veterans with  a 50  percent [or  greater] disability.                                                               
He then  directed attention to  the bill on  page 4, [line  1] in                                                               
which  proposed language  changes  the  percentage of  disability                                                               
from 70 percent  to 50 percent.  He surmised  HB 129 also expands                                                               
[the  exemption from  certain  fees] to  not  just veterans  with                                                               
disabilities, but to all persons with disabilities.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX said that is correct.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR  asked   how  Chair   LeDoux's  constituent                                                               
established the percent of his disability.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:17:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX said,  "[He] had some sort of  rating, from probably                                                               
Workers'  Compensation actually,  because he  was injured  on the                                                               
job...."   She  further noted,  [the constituent]  is a  veteran,                                                               
although his disability did not occur during military service.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked whether  the bill's  drafter suggested                                                               
linking the bill to a related provision in existing statute.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX deferred to Mr. Bullard.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  agreed  with Representative  Thompson  that                                                               
gradation  of physical  disability  is established  in the  state                                                               
Workers'  Compensation process.   She  restated her  question and                                                               
asked Mr. Bullard  if in drafting the  legislation, he considered                                                               
linking the  bill to Workers'  Compensation, even though  not all                                                               
of the circumstances surrounding  a disability would be addressed                                                               
in Workers' Compensation statutes.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:19:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALPHEUS   BULLARD,    Attorney,   Legislative    Legal   Counsel,                                                               
Legislative Legal  Services, advised  there are  other disability                                                               
rating  systems outside  of Workers'  Compensation; for  example,                                                               
the [U.S. Department  of Veterans Affairs (VA)]  has a disability                                                               
rating.    He said  the  language  in  the  bill is  an  existing                                                               
definition  and suggested  asking the  Alaska Department  of Fish                                                               
and Game (ADFG)  how it interprets the  statutory requirements in                                                               
existing law.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK directed attention to  the bill on page 3, [lines                                                               
24-29] and  [beginning on lines  30-31 and continuing to  page 4,                                                               
lines 1-4] which read:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  6. AS  16.05.797(c) is  amended by  adding a  new                                                                    
     paragraph to read:                                                                                                         
           (3) "person  with physical disabilities"  means a                                                                    
     person who  presents to  the  department either written                                                                    
     proof  that the  person  receives at  least 70  percent                                                                    
     disability compensation from a  government agency for a                                                                    
     physical  disability  or  an   affidavit  signed  by  a                                                                    
     physician licensed  to practice  medicine in  the state                                                                    
     stating  that  the  person  is   at  least  70  percent                                                                    
     physically disabled. [;]                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 7. AS 16.05.940(26) is amended to read:                                                                               
           (26) "person with  physical disabilities" means a                                                                    
     person who  presents to  the department  either written                                                                    
     proof  that  the  person  receives  at  least  50  [70]                                                                
     percent  disability  compensation   from  a  government                                                                    
     agency  for  a  physical  disability  or  an  affidavit                                                                    
     signed by a physician  licensed to practice medicine in                                                                    
     the state stating  that the person is at  least 50 [70]                                                                
     percent physically disabled;                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK  said, "It sounds like that there  are times when                                                               
one statute would  apply underneath a certain  section and [then]                                                               
a  different applies  ...."   He asked  for clarification  on the                                                               
provisions of AS 16.05.797(c).                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:21:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX said the bill "kept  in place" AS 16.05.797(c) as it                                                               
relates to proxy hunting.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. BULLARD  advised [on page 3,  line 24] section 6  of the bill                                                               
amends [AS 16.05.797(c)] only as  it relates to computer-assisted                                                               
remote  hunting prohibited;  thus,  the bill  keeps the  existing                                                               
rating  of  70 percent  [disability]  for  persons to  engage  in                                                               
computer-assisted  remote hunting.   He  added the  definition of                                                               
physical  disabilities for  other  purposes was  changed [in  the                                                               
bill]  to 50  percent.    In response  to  Vice  Chair Tuck,  Mr.                                                               
Bullard explained computer-assisted remote  hunting means the use                                                               
of  a computer  or any  other equipment  to remotely  control the                                                               
aiming and  discharge of a firearm,  bow and arrow, or  any other                                                               
weapon  used to  hunt  a gamebird,  game  animal, or  fur-bearing                                                               
animal, while not in the physical presence of the animal.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  questioned  why  statutes  specific  to                                                               
military and veteran [disabled persons]  are amended, rather than                                                               
creating a new subsection specific  to nonmilitary and nonveteran                                                               
[disabled persons].                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BULLARD asked  if Representative  Thompson was  referring to                                                               
section 3 of the bill.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR TUCK  pointed  out [AS  16.05.341.  Free license  for                                                               
disabled  veterans  and active  members  of  the Alaska  National                                                               
Guard and military  reserves] refers to hunting  and fishing, and                                                               
[AS  26. Military  Affairs, Veterans,  Disasters, and  Aerospace]                                                               
relates to military and veterans' affairs.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:24:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  restated his  question.  In  response to                                                               
Chair LeDoux,  he clarified the bill  includes language referring                                                               
to [existing statutes  that relate to] military  and veterans but                                                               
has nothing to do with military and veterans.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX said [AS Title  16] are the statutes regulating fish                                                               
and game; for  example, [AS 16.05.341 directing  free license for                                                               
disabled  veterans  and active  members  of  the Alaska  National                                                               
Guard and  military reserves], and  other provisions,  pertain to                                                               
one's age  or disability.   She questioned  how the  placement of                                                               
the bill  [in Alaska  Statutes] would change  the outcome  of the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR   TUCK  suggested  the   placement  may  to   due  to                                                               
enforcement provisions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  opined  there are  already  benefits  to                                                               
veterans with a 70 percent disability.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX  pointed out veterans  with a 50  percent disability                                                               
receive   benefits;  certain   others   require   a  70   percent                                                               
disability, which the bill seeks to reduce to 50 percent.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR TUCK  returned  attention to  page  2, [lines  19-22]                                                               
which read:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  16.05.341.  Free  license  for  certain  disabled                                                                
     residents and disabled veterans  and for active members                                                              
     of the  Alaska National Guard and  military reserves. A                                                                  
     person  may  receive  a   resident  hunting  and  sport                                                                    
     fishing  license   under  AS   16.05.340(a)(5)  without                                                                    
     charge if the person                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR TUCK  said the  [proposed] section  includes disabled                                                               
and  disabled veterans,  but the  existing section  includes only                                                               
disabled  veterans;  the  bill  adds  a  [paragraph]  to  include                                                               
persons "with a 50 percent disability who are not veterans."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:27:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP agreed  and  in  response to  Representative                                                               
Thompson,  observed [AS  16.05.300] -  ADFG's code,  definitions,                                                               
and  violations  -  frequently   refers  to  exemptions  for  the                                                               
Department  of  Military  & Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA),  but  are                                                               
[provisions of  AS Title  16, the ADFG  statutes].   He concluded                                                               
the bill would add disabled persons,  who are at least 50 percent                                                               
disabled, to  the section  that had  previously just  referred to                                                               
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX stated  her legislative intent is  to include people                                                               
who are 50  percent disabled, whether through HB  129 as drafted,                                                               
or through a committee substitute.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
[There followed discussion of various  ways the legislation could                                                               
be drafted to clarify legislative intent.]                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON   said  he  would  like   to  know  what                                                               
standards  would   be  used  to   determine  the   percentage  of                                                               
disability.    From  his  experience  serving  on  [the  Workers'                                                               
Compensation Board],  he said doctors and  medical specialists do                                                               
not agree  on the terms that  define a disability.   He cautioned                                                               
not having standards would cause a problem.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX  acknowledged  as   long  as  individuals  practice                                                               
medicine or law,  they will come to  different conclusions, which                                                               
is not a problem inherent to HB 129.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:32:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK directed attention  to page 2, lines 28-30, which                                                               
read:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     (3) [(2)]  served in the  Alaska Territorial  Guard, is                                                                
     eligible for a loan under  AS 18.56.101, and incurred a                                                                    
     50 percent  or greater disability while  serving in the                                                                    
     Alaska Territorial Guard; or                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR  TUCK  suggested  language  that  said,  "any  Alaska                                                               
resident with  a physical disability  of 50 percent  or greater,"                                                               
would  negate  page  2,  lines  24-27,  and  [lines  28-30,  text                                                               
previously provided] which read:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     (2)  has been  discharged from  military service  under                                                                
     honorable  conditions, is eligible  for a loan under AS                                                                    
     18.56.101,  and  is  certified  by  the  United  States                                                                    
     Department of Veterans Affairs as  having incurred a 50                                                                    
     percent or greater disability during military service;                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BULLARD advised  if  the  intent [of  HB  129]  is that  all                                                               
persons  currently  experiencing  a  50  percent  disability  may                                                               
receive a free sportfishing or  hunting license, and the forms of                                                               
proof  currently in  statute are  acceptable, there  would be  no                                                               
need for all of its provisions.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX recalled the reason  to keep specificity in the bill                                                               
related  to  military  and  National  Guard  service  is  because                                                               
certification  for  a  veterans'   disability  [due  to  military                                                               
service]  is issued  by  VA.   This  is the  reason  to leave  "a                                                               
discreet  section with  respect to  the veterans,  as opposed  to                                                               
lumping everybody together."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BULLARD said:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     There may be good reasons  to leave these provisions in                                                                    
     place.   I  took  Representative Tuck's  question as  a                                                                    
     hypothetical question,  as to  whether, if you  want to                                                                    
     just  ensure  that all  people  -  no matter  how  they                                                                    
     arrived at that point, who  currently have a 50 percent                                                                    
     disability, you  might want to  widen the range  of, of                                                                    
     proof,  or proof  satisfactory to  the department  that                                                                    
     would  be ...  accepted.   ...    Before [the  changes]                                                                    
     being  brought in  by your  bill, it  was necessary  to                                                                    
     have  these  standards of  proof  for  what 50  percent                                                                    
     constituted.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:36:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  TUCK restated  the intent  of the  bill is  to remove                                                               
barriers to  a disabled  person, who is  a military  veteran, and                                                               
who was not disabled during military service.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX  said  the   circumstances  of  the  aforementioned                                                               
constituent brought the issue to her attention.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK  asked whether the sponsor's intent  is to extend                                                               
the benefit  to anyone with a  50 percent disability, or  just to                                                               
those who served in the military.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX  said  no;  the  intent is  to  include  any  state                                                               
resident who has a 50 percent disability.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  TUCK noted the bill  also extends the benefit  to any                                                               
active member [of  the military services listed on  page 3, lines                                                               
1-6].  He opined paragraphs (2) and (3) are not necessary.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX acknowledged she had  considered the point raised by                                                               
Vice  Chair Tuck  but was  concerned about  language in  the bill                                                               
that  might  be perceived  as  disrespectful  to members  of  the                                                               
military and to veterans.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  returned  to  the  topic  of  computer-                                                               
assisted hunting and asked if provisions  in HB 129 allow for the                                                               
use of devices such as a bionic arm or eye.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LEDOUX assured  the  committee the  bill  does nothing  to                                                               
change  [AS 16.05.797(c)(3)],  the statute  that addresses  proxy                                                               
hunting or computer-assisted remote hunting.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:41:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EDDIE  GRASSER,  Director,  Division  of  Wildlife  Conservation,                                                               
ADFG,  explained  ADFG outlawed  the  use  of a  computer,  while                                                               
sitting at  home, to see  terrain on  a computer screen  [for the                                                               
purpose of  hunting].  For example,  a person sitting at  home in                                                               
Georgia,  who wants  to hunt  a  wild boar  in Texas,  can use  a                                                               
computer  to  shoot  a  boar.    In  response  to  Representative                                                               
Rauscher, he  directed attention to AS  16.05.797(b) which allows                                                               
a person with  physical disabilities to use  equipment or devices                                                               
designed to assist with a  disability while present in the field.                                                               
He stressed  one cannot be sitting  at home, but must  be present                                                               
in the field, when using equipment or devices.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  directed   attention  to  [Fiscal  Note                                                               
Identifier:    HB129-DNR-PKS-04-27-19]  and  noted  free  camping                                                               
permits  cost the  state approximately  $265,300 -  plus $500  to                                                               
produce free decals - per year.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:43:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAN  SADDLER, Legislative  Liaison, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said correct.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  asked whether  HB 129 will  increase the                                                               
number of  free camping permits  issued by the Division  of Parks                                                               
and Outdoor Recreation (POR), DNR, to persons with disabilities.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER confirmed  as long as a free camping  permit has been                                                               
available  to  disabled  veterans,   it  has  been  available  to                                                               
veterans with a disability at the  50 percent level; the level of                                                               
disability  is  easily  established   because,  at  the  time  of                                                               
discharge,  VA  provides a  disability  rating  to each  soldier,                                                               
airman, sailor,  or marine.   He was  unsure about  an equivalent                                                               
[document] that  would rate  the percentage  of disability  for a                                                               
civilian.  Further, HB 129  would reduce DNR revenue by expanding                                                               
the number of residents eligible for a free permit.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON clarified $265,300  is the current annual                                                               
cost  of granting  free  permits just  to  disabled veterans;  by                                                               
including  all [disabled]  civilians, HB  129 would  increase the                                                               
number of free campers.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER  directed attention to  the fiscal note  analysis and                                                               
explained the  Centers for Disease Control  (CDC) estimate 83,634                                                               
Alaskan adults  have some disability  and 38,332 have  a mobility                                                               
disability; this  difference in the  number [of those who  may be                                                               
eligible to  apply for  a free camping  permit] explains  why DNR                                                               
issued an indeterminate fiscal note.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON opined  [the passage of HB  129] may more                                                               
than double the number of free passes issued.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER  said yes.   He noted the legislature  has encouraged                                                               
DNR  to  increase  its designated  general  funds  (DGF)  funding                                                               
sources and  to reduce its  dependence upon  unrestricted general                                                               
funds (UGF);  although POR  seeks to  achieve this  by collecting                                                               
parking  and other  fees, and  an additional  loss of  fees would                                                               
further reduce DGF.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  estimated the reduction in  POR fees [by                                                               
HB 129] may reach over $1 million.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:47:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SADDLER, in  response to  Chair LeDoux,  said currently  the                                                               
only free passes issued by POR  are to veterans with a 50 percent                                                               
disability.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX said, "So there's  nothing in the statutes right now                                                               
to help people who are 70 percent or over."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SADDLER  opined  because the  bill  addresses  free  camping                                                               
passes and discounted, or free,  hunting and fishing licenses for                                                               
[disabled]  veterans  and/or  [disabled]  nonveterans,  there  is                                                               
cause for confusion.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR cautioned  the  [DNR]  fiscal note  analysis                                                               
indicates  free  camping  permits  issued  by  POR  are  biennial                                                               
passes, and  thus may not  compare to  those issued on  an annual                                                               
basis.  She requested information  on [the impact to DNR revenue]                                                               
of possible modifications to what  other Alaskans normally pay to                                                               
camp, such as a longer term or a reduced rate.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SADDLER stressed  the division  seeks to  ensure that  every                                                               
Alaskan has  an enjoyable camping  experience, as is  provided in                                                               
current  law;  however,  DNR  has  concerns  about  the  cost  of                                                               
expanding the  current [free  camping program].   He  related the                                                               
POR director suggested  another way to expand  access to disabled                                                               
campers  would be  to  provide a  certain  percentage of  camping                                                               
spaces that are reserved for all Alaskan disabled campers.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  emphasized the  importance of the  issue and                                                               
recalled her past  efforts to provide more  cabins and campsites;                                                               
however,  POR increased  camping fees  at more  popular sites  to                                                               
raise  DGF revenue.   She  urged  the committee  to consider  the                                                               
special circumstances of Alaskans  who have disabilities, such as                                                               
limited income, and inquired as  to the percentage of DNR revenue                                                               
that is sourced from [user fees].                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SADDLER  reported  DNR [DGF]  revenue  is  approximately  $6                                                               
million.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:52:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX remarked:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I  may  be confusing  this  now  with the  hunting  and                                                                    
     fishing  licenses,  but  ... I  know  for  hunting  and                                                                    
     fishing  licenses that  if  you're 60  or  65 or  older                                                                    
     there's, there's  no fee.   So,  how about  for camping                                                                    
     permits?                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER observed it costs an  average of $15 to camp in state                                                               
campgrounds, which  he characterized as  a bargain.  In  fact, if                                                               
it  chooses, the  legislature could  provide  lower cost  camping                                                               
permits for  anybody, which would  further reduce DNR's DGF.   In                                                               
further response to  Chair LeDoux, he said he  would confirm that                                                               
there  are  currently  no  [free   camping  passes  available  to                                                               
disabled nonveterans].                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX surmised [benefits  to disabled nonveterans] may not                                                               
apply to camping  but may apply to hunting  and fishing licenses.                                                               
She said:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     When we talk  about how many people  are disabled, when                                                                    
     we're already  giving hunting  and fishing  licenses to                                                                    
     people 65, or [who] may even  be 60 and over, and those                                                                    
     people  probably  comprise  a   large  portion  of  the                                                                    
     numbers who are disabled, so  that you'd have to factor                                                                    
     that into  account when you're  doing the  fiscal notes                                                                    
     on that.   But it doesn't, obviously,  doesn't apply to                                                                    
     the camping.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR  TUCK returned  attention  to  the [DNR  fiscal  note                                                               
analysis]  and   noted  CDC  data   does  not   differentiate  by                                                               
percentage of  disability, but basically  states 19.2  percent of                                                               
Alaskans have some measure of  disability.  Furthermore, he noted                                                               
Alaskans  with  a  50  percent   disability  may  choose  not  to                                                               
experience  outdoor activities,  which would  serve to  lower the                                                               
number of free passes issued by POR.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  recalled  there  are  approximately  70,000                                                               
Alaska Mental  Health Trust  Authority (AMHTA)  beneficiaries who                                                               
have mental illness,  developmental disabilities, chronic alcohol                                                               
or drug  addition, Alzheimer's disease and  related dementia, and                                                               
traumatic brain injuries.  She  opined there are younger Alaskans                                                               
with disabilities  who are more  active and who may  seek outdoor                                                               
opportunities.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:56:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER  acknowledged there are various  levels of disability                                                               
and ability, however,  HB 129 would establish a  firm standard of                                                               
50  percent disability,  and it  is  unclear how  to do  so.   He                                                               
advised  a civilian  rating  of disability  could  come from  the                                                               
Social  Security  Administration,  [standards  set  by]  Workers'                                                               
Compensation, or  the Department  of Administration,  Division of                                                               
Motor Vehicles.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR   TUCK  pointed  out   current  statutes   direct  [a                                                               
percentage of disability] may be [proven]  by a physician or by a                                                               
document issued by a government agency.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER said the qualification  by an affidavit from a doctor                                                               
is  accepted, although  he  did  not know  the  standards set  by                                                               
physicians, how many  such affidavits are issued  to Alaskans, or                                                               
the extent of their misuse.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  asked whether  a tent camper  is charged                                                               
the same camping fee as a motorhome.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER was unsure.   He stated $100 is the  annual fee for a                                                               
boat launch permit  and $15 per night is an  average camping fee,                                                               
although some campgrounds charge more or less.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON pointed  out the benefits in  the bill are                                                               
specifically  addressed to  state  residents  who are  physically                                                               
disabled and  cautioned against expanding  the scope of  the bill                                                               
to include AMHTA beneficiaries.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:00:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK  asked whether the [loss of  revenue reflected in                                                               
the DNR] fiscal  note would be more accurate if  the total number                                                               
of veterans in the state  was factored on the general population,                                                               
without the consideration of disability.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SADDLER  said correct  and  explained  that is  because  the                                                               
proportion  of the  "universe" of  all veterans,  to the  smaller                                                               
number  of disabled  veterans,  could be  compared  to the  total                                                               
number  of  adult  Alaskans,  and   to  the  number  of  disabled                                                               
Alaskans;  however,  he  cautioned   the  number  of  independent                                                               
variables  may skew  the  results.   He  opined  a more  accurate                                                               
comparison occurs when physical disability is defined.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR TUCK observed if  [disabled] civilians are less active                                                               
than [disabled] veterans, that may reduce the loss of revenue.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SADDLER   confirmed  the  implication  that   if  [disabled]                                                               
civilians  are less  active than  [disabled] veterans,  a smaller                                                               
proportion would seek free camping permits.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX asked if Mr. Saddler  could prepare a fiscal note or                                                               
analysis that  would reveal  how many veterans  are in  the state                                                               
and how many disabled veterans have free camping permits.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. SADDLER said yes; however,  without knowledge of the level of                                                               
disability,  the  number  could   range  from  38,000  to  83,000                                                               
Alaskans.   In further  response to Chair  LeDoux, he  offered to                                                               
research the  number of physically  disabled [Alaskans],  but not                                                               
the percentage of their disability.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR surmised HB 129 would be held over.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   LEDOUX  suggested   a  committee   substitute  would   be                                                               
forthcoming to address "all of the proxy statutes".                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR urged,  at  a subsequent  hearing, that  the                                                               
committee  hear testimony  from AMHTA  to answer  questions about                                                               
disabilities in  the general  population, such  as the  number of                                                               
Alaskans with co-occurring disabilities.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LEDOUX agreed.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[HB 129 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:05:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  further  business  before  the  committee,  the                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and  Veterans Affairs  meeting was                                                               
adjourned at 2:05 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HR006 Sponsor Statement 4.8.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HR 6
HR006 ver A 4.9.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HR 6
HR0006A.PDF HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HR 6
HR 6 Supporting Document Angapak Testimony.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HTRB 4/9/2019 8:00:00 AM
HR 6
HR 6 Fiscal Note.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HR 6
HR006 Additional Document-Photograph of Warriors' Circle of Honor Design.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HR 6
HR 06 Additional Document-Photograph of Warriors' Circle of Honor Design.pdf HMLV 4/25/2019 1:00:00 PM
HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HR 6
HR 06 Supporting Document-Letter of Support Nelson Angapak.pdf HMLV 4/25/2019 1:00:00 PM
HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HR 6
HB 129 version A.PDF HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129
HB 129 Sponsor Statement 4.29.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129
HB 129 Sectional Analysis ver A 04.29.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129
HB 129 Fiscal Note DNR Parks 4.29.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129
HB 129 Fiscal Note ADFG Wildlife 4.29.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129
HB 129 Fiscal Note ADFG Sport Fishing 4.29.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129
HB 129 comparison hunting fishing 4.29.19.pdf HMLV 4/30/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 129