Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

05/05/2006 01:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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Audio Topic
01:33:12 PM Start
01:33:45 PM Overview: U.s. Ambassador to Mongolia,
01:57:27 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Joint w/(S) Health, Education & Social TELECONFERENCED
Services
Overview Presentation: U.S. Ambassador
to Mongolia, Pamela J. Slutz
"A Broader Partnership with Mongolia"
(Education, Tourism, Trade, Mining,
Government)
-- CRA Meeting That Was Scheduled to
Follow the Joint Meeting Has Canceled --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
    SENATE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                  
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                               
                          May 5, 2006                                                                                           
                           1:33 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Bert Stedman, Chair                                                                                                    
 Senator Gary Stevens, Vice Chair                                                                                               
 Senator Thomas Wagoner                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Fred Dyson, Chair                                                                                                      
 Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                             
 Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                              
 Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                                                                           
 Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Gary Wilken, Vice Chair                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Overview Presentation:  U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Pamela J.                                                                  
MS. SLUTZ - "A Broader Partnership with Mongolia"                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Pamela J. Slutz, U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia                                                                                    
Washington D.C.                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Delivered Mongolia Overview                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Lt. Colonel Mark Boor, Coordinator                                                                                              
American People of Mongolia                                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Mongolia Overview Participant                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRED  DYSON  called  the   joint  meeting  of  the  Senate                                                             
Community and Regional Affairs Standing  Committee and the Senate                                                               
Health,  Education  and  Social Services  Standing  Committee  to                                                               
order  at  1:33:12 PM.  Present  from  the Senate  Community  and                                                             
Regional Affairs  Standing Committee  were Senators  Gary Stevens                                                               
and Chair  Bert Stedman; Senator  Thomas Wagoner  arrived shortly                                                               
thereafter.    Present  from the  Senate  Health,  Education  and                                                               
Social  Services Standing  Committee were  Senators Donny  Olson,                                                               
Kim  Elton  and Chair  Fred  Dyson;  Senator Lyda  Green  arrived                                                               
shortly thereafter.  Also in attendance was  Representative Peggy                                                               
Wilson.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
            ^Overview: U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia,                                                                         
    Pamela J. Slutz - "A Broader Partnership with Mongolia"                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:33:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced the committees  would hear an overview from                                                               
Pamela J. Slutz, U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN arrived at 1:34:29 PM.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PAMELA  J. SLUTZ,  U.S. Ambassador  to Mongolia,  thanked members                                                               
and   introduced  Lt.   Colonel  Mark   Boor.  She   related  her                                                               
professional history  with particular emphasis on  her time spent                                                               
in Mongolia.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
She  explained that  Mongolia  is a  democratic  country that  is                                                               
beginning to  privatize its economy,  which makes the  pursuit of                                                               
future  economic   relationships  particularly   attractive.  She                                                               
related that her purpose is to increase interest in Mongolia.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LT. COLONEL MARK  BOOR, Alaska National Guard,  explained that he                                                               
helped  General  Campbell   initiate  the  Alaska-Mongolia  State                                                               
Partnership Program,  which has been a  broad-spectrum non-combat                                                               
informational  exchange.  The  relationship  between  the  Alaska                                                               
National  Guard   and  the  Mongolian  military   is  mature  and                                                               
expansion of the partnership beyond  the military is anticipated.                                                               
That is in  keeping with the life cycle of  the State Partnership                                                               
Program,  which  calls  for bringing  in  civilian  entities  and                                                               
expanding the relationship once the military is engaged.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER arrived at 1:38:19 PM.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LT.  COLONEL  BOOR   related  he  and  Ms.   Slutz  have  visited                                                               
Fairbanks, Anchorage, and  now Juneau to talk  about cultural and                                                               
educational opportunities  for the Mongolians. That  will benefit                                                               
Alaska  through increased  trade  and  educational exchanges.  He                                                               
opined that  the Alaska-Mongolia relationship is  strong and very                                                               
much appreciated by Mongolia.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked who supplied military hardware to Mongolia.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LT. COLONEL BOOR  responded those programs are  outside the State                                                               
Partnership Program.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ said the U.S. doesn't  provide Mongolia much in the way                                                               
of  hard equipment,  but  it  has helped  Mongolia  become a  UN-                                                               
qualified   peacekeeping   support   unit  that   currently   has                                                               
peacekeepers in  Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sierra  Leone. Members of                                                               
the officer corps  are American-educated and a  program to reform                                                               
their military  and develop a  non-commissioned officer  corps is                                                               
underway.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
She offered the  following facts: the economy is  based on mining                                                               
and livestock herding  with a recent focus  on rural development;                                                               
120 Peace Corps  volunteers are in the  country teaching English;                                                               
half the  population is under the  age of 20; and  the country is                                                               
about the size  of Alaska with a population  of approximately 2.5                                                               
million.  She  suggested that  the  U.S.  is competing  with  the                                                               
Russians and the Chinese for their  hearts and minds, but for the                                                               
most part Mongolians would prefer a U.S. alignment.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:43:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked about trade  opportunities between  Alaska and                                                               
Mongolia.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ replied Mongolia wants  a free trade agreement with the                                                               
U.S.  largely for  textiles and  apparel, which  is controversial                                                               
and  isn't   likely  to  happen.  She   is  encouraging  American                                                               
companies to help  Mongolia develop niche markets so  it can sell                                                               
to China.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS  WAGONER remarked  he was in  China last  fall and                                                               
his party was never allowed  into rural areas, but he understands                                                               
it's quite  primitive. He  asked if  the government  structure is                                                               
the same in Mongolia.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ  responded the government structure  is very different.                                                               
She's free to travel anywhere.  The government is a parliamentary                                                               
democracy  and the  elections  are free  and  fair with  peaceful                                                               
transfer of  power. There is  poverty in  the rural areas  but in                                                               
stark contrast to China, access isn't restricted.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KIM  ELTON asked  if Alaska  might be  able to  help with                                                               
programs addressing the issues of avian flu and global warming.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ replied any and  all assistance would be welcome. Avian                                                               
flu has been found in some  migratory birds so Mongolia is on the                                                               
State  Department's  watch list  as  a  potential incubator.  The                                                               
Alaska  National  Guard has  been  involved  in several  disaster                                                               
mitigation emergency preparedness exercises.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LT. COLONEL BOOR  interjected the Mongolians have  asked for help                                                               
and the National  Guard has started to branch out  with help from                                                               
emergency management and homeland security personnel.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON mentioned  that people at the  University of Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks have become very interested in global warming.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ said  Mongolia has had drought conditions  for the last                                                               
6  or 7  years and  is facing  desertification. The  aquifers are                                                               
sinking  and  the permafrost  is  melting  so  there's a  lot  of                                                               
opportunity for collaboration.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:48:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON agreed that Alaska has the same permafrost issues.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ  said there are  American companies that  are currently                                                               
invested in Mongolia primarily in  the services sector, but there                                                               
is a  market for more  information management systems.  The other                                                               
area of interest  would be environmental technology  to deal with                                                               
mining  impacts, water  treatment,  and  air pollution.  Mongolia                                                               
could certainly benefit from what Alaska already knows.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONNY OLSON mentioned Inner  and Outer Mongolia and asked                                                               
about  boarders  in  terms  of  geo-political  problems  and  the                                                               
economy.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SLUTZ  informed members  that  Mongolia  is celebrating  the                                                               
800th  anniversary  of the  founding  of  the Mongol  state  when                                                               
Genghis Khan  was crowned king  of all the united  Mongol tribes.                                                               
Now Mongolians  are trying to  reclaim their roots  and identity.                                                               
Giving a  little history  she explained  that modern  Mongolia is                                                               
what was  called Outer Mongolia  before it  declared independence                                                               
from  China in  July 1921.  Then during  the Sino-Soviet  dispute                                                               
Mongolia sided with the Soviets.  For all intents and purposes it                                                               
was  independent but  a satellite  of the  Soviet Union.  It went                                                               
through glasnost  and perestroika and  by 1992, all  the Russians                                                               
were gone and Mongolia drafted a new constitution.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Inner  Mongolia is  a province  in China  and although  there are                                                               
Mongols that  live in  China they're  regarded as  Chinese rather                                                               
than Mongolian.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:51:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked if the country is Muslim.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SLUTZ  said  it's  Tibetan   Buddhist.  They  prefer  to  be                                                               
associated  with the  Koreans,  they tolerate  the Russians,  and                                                               
they  hate the  Chinese.  There's an  ethnic linguistic  cultural                                                               
connection to  the Koreans,  but it was  a Warsaw  Pact associate                                                               
and  an  East German  associate.  There  is little  contact  with                                                               
central Asia  because those are  Muslim countries and  were never                                                               
independent. It's a unique country  with a unique language that's                                                               
spoken  nowhere else.  The U.S.  views Mongolia  as a  democratic                                                               
rather than a  strategic base and it's often cited  as an example                                                               
of a successful democracy in a post communist transformation.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked what Alaska can do to help.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ  said she'd like  more people  to visit Mongolia  and a                                                               
sister-city  relationship has  been  discussed between  Fairbanks                                                               
and some Mongolian city.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked about the latitude.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ replied most of the  country is below the 48th parallel                                                               
and it has a rather cold continental climate.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER asked if there are service clubs in the country.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ replied  about 600 Americans live in  Mongolia and many                                                               
are missionaries.  The country has eight  Rotary clubs, something                                                               
akin to  a Junior  League, and  a number  of youth  and community                                                               
development programs.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:55:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON mentioned that the  committee was going to consider a                                                               
resolution in  support of Taiwan  being an observer at  the World                                                               
Health Assembly.  He noted  that Ms. Slutz  had served  in Taiwan                                                               
for a number of years and asked if it would be a good idea.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SLUTZ replied the World  Health Assembly considers this issue                                                               
every year  and for  the last several  years the  U.S. government                                                               
has supported Taiwan being an observer.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
LT.   COLONEL  BOOR   introduced  Major   Steve  Wilson   as  his                                                               
replacement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  thanked the  participants and  he and  CHAIR STEDMAN                                                               
adjourned the joint meeting at 1:57:27 PM.                                                                                    

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