Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/31/1998 03:32 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                     
                    March 31, 1998                                             
                      3:32 p.m.                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
Senator Lyda Green, Chairman                                                   
Senator Jerry Ward, Vice-Chairman                                              
Senator Mike Miller                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
Senator Jerry Mackie                                                           
Senator Jim Duncan                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 206(FIN) am                                              
"An Act relating to credit under the Public Employees' Retirement              
System for service as a village public safety officer."                        
     - MOVED CSHB 206(FIN) am OUT OF COMMITTEE                                 
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 362(STA)                                                 
"An Act relating to the use of space for military lounges in state-            
owned or state- controlled airports."                                          
     - MOVED CSHB 362(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
HB 206 - No previous action to record.                                         
HB 362 - No previous action to record.                                         
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
Joel Lounsbury, Staff to Representative Brian Porter                           
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented sponsor statement on                          
                       CSHB 206(FIN) am                                        
Guy Bell, Director                                                             
Division of Retirement & Benefits                                              
Department of Administration                                                   
P.O. Box 110203                                                                
Juneau, AK 99811-0203                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on CSHB 206(FIN) am                 
Bill Church, Retirement Supervisor                                             
Division of Retirement & Benefits                                              
Department of Administration                                                   
P.O. Box 110203                                                                
Juneau, AK 99811-0203                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on CSHB 206(FIN) am                 
John Cyr, President                                                            
114 Second St.                                                                 
Juneau, AK 99801                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 206(FIN) am                
Captain Ted Bachman                                                            
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                              
Department of Public Safety                                                    
5700 E. Tudor Road                                                             
Anchorage, AK 99501-1225                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 206(FIN) am                
Craig Persson                                                                  
Public Safety Employees Association                                            
P.O. Box 6044                                                                  
Fairbanks, AK 99706                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 206(FIN) am                
Don Stolworthy, Staff to House Special Committe on                             
  Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                 
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on CSHB 262(STA)                    
Tom Morgan                                                                     
19341 Upper Skyline                                                            
Anchorage, AK 99577                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 362(STA)                   
Ms. Bonnie Dorman                                                              
8831 Cross Pointe LP                                                           
Anchorage, AK 99504                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports CSHB 362(STA)                                  
Richard Foster                                                                 
30-344 B Cherry Drive                                                          
Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK 99506                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 362(STA)                   
Dennis Poschard, Legislative Liaison/Special Assistant                         
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                               
3132 Channel Drive                                                             
Juneau, AK 99801-7898                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
TAPE 98-15, SIDE A                                                             
Number 001                                                                     
CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order              
at 3:32 p.m., and noted the presence of Senators Ward, Miller and              
CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced CSHB 206(FIN) am as the first order of               
JOEL LOUNSBURY, staff to Representative Porter, explained HB 206 is            
a bill that would allow former village public safety officers                  
(VPSOs) to get retirement credit for prior service.  He read the               
following sponsor statement into the record:                                   
"Throughout the State the Village Public Safety Officer Program has            
provided a very important means of maintaining peace and harmony in            
the villages.  Most of these individuals were not covered by a                 
retirement program.  Now some of these former officers are working             
for other organizations that are covered by the State PERS program.            
The work experience these individuals obtained by participating in             
this program has proven to be an invaluable asset in their present             
"This bill would allow them to obtain retirement credit for the                
service rendered under the VPSO program.  The eligible participant             
could receive credit for up to 5 years of service in the VPSO.                 
Once their service had been verified, an indebtedness would be                 
determined, and the vested employee would have to arrange to buy               
this time back into the State PERS system.  The provisions of this             
bill will help in the recruiting and the retention of participants             
of the VPSO program in the villages.  Turnover and a lack of                   
qualified applicants has been a historic problem for the VPSO                  
Number 047                                                                     
SENATOR MILLER asked if it was correct that a police officer in the            
state of Alaska would need to have the required 20 years of service            
for retirement before being eligible to receive the credit for VPSO            
service.  MR. LOUNSBURY acknowledged that the up to 5 years of VPSO            
service does not count towards the individual's vestment in the                
PERS program.                                                                  
SENATOR MILLER referenced the analysis section of the Department of            
Administration's fiscal note and asked for an explanation of the               
language which says the bill would also, for the first time, allow             
employees to claim credited service for non government employment.             
MR. LOUNSBURY said VPSOs are not directly employed by the state;               
they are funded through grants to the nonprofit organizations that             
actually employ the VPSO officers.                                             
Number 075                                                                     
GUY BELL, Director, Division of Retirement and Benefits, Department            
of Administration, said if it is the desire of the Legislature to              
give people who have worked as VPSOs an incentive to work as public            
safety officers, either as a state trooper or with a local                     
government, the department would suggest amending the bill to                  
adjust it to give service credit if a person goes into the police              
side of the PERS system.  The bill, as written, allows the person              
to enter PERS and buy that service whether they go on the police               
track or on some other public service track.                                   
Speaking to the issue of claiming credit service for non government            
employment, Mr. Bell said that right now a person can buy credit               
for military service in PERS, etc.                                             
Number 103                                                                     
BILL CHURCH, Retirement Supervisor, Division of Retirement and                 
Benefits, Department of Administration, added that there are other             
areas, however, all of the service that is purchasable is directly             
related to some other form of governmental service, either within              
the state government or for the federal government.  Previously                
there has been no legislation to allow granting credit under a non             
public, private organization.  Even though the Department of Public            
Safety has oversight over the VPSO program, these contracts are                
still private contracts.                                                       
Number 121                                                                     
CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any other types of non                      
government employment that might qualify under this.  MR. BELL                 
cited as an example the state having a contract with an entity to              
provide a service on behalf of the state such as a correctional                
facility, or public health nurse services, or emergency medical                
services.  These would be individuals employed either by the                   
federal government or some other organization.                                 
CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if it was correct that there would be no cost             
to the state under this legislation.  MR. BELL explained that there            
is a very small system wide actuarial.  System wide liability for              
those people who would come into the system would be approximately             
$450,000 out of a total liability of approximately $5.5 billion.               
A similar situation applies with total employer contributions per              
year.  The total system wide employer contribution would go up by              
$40,000; the entire population of employers in one year pays $145              
million.  So from an actuarial prospective and from a percentage               
perspective, it is infinitesimal.                                              
Number 135                                                                     
CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if, at some future time, the present language             
would allow an individual to negotiate, as part of their contract,             
that the state pay the indebtedness on their credited service                  
under the VPSO program.  MR. CHURCH responded that there is nothing            
in statute that would legally allow something like that, but he                
also acknowledged there was nothing in statute that he was aware of            
that would prohibit it.                                                        
Number 180                                                                     
JOHN CYR, President, NEA-Alaska, testifying in support of HB 206,              
said while it may seem on the surface that the legislation has                 
nothing to do with NEA-Alaska, it relates directly to village                  
safety and, particularly, with what goes on in rural schools.  A               
big concern has been safety across Rural Alaska and safety of                  
children and school employees, and in most of these rural villages,            
the VPSOs are the only form of public safety.  NEA-Alaska believes             
that whatever the state can do to enhance and enrich the VPSO                  
program works for the betterment of children across Alaska, and                
that this will work as an incentive for more individuals to become             
involved in the program.                                                       
 Number 216                                                                    
CAPTAIN TED BACHMAN of the Alaska State Troopers in Anchorage                  
testified from Anchorage in strong support of HB 206.  He noted                
there are two individuals in the Alaska State Troopers who would               
qualify for this program and that there may be a few more in                   
municipal agencies across the state, but the numbers are very                  
small.  He agrees the legislation provides an incentive for                    
individuals to give to the profession and know that while they are             
doing that their time can count ultimately towards retirement.  He             
said AST supports anything that can be done to get more people,                
particularly Native Alaskans, into trooper positions.  He pointed              
out that the VPSOs are the only law enforcement agency in this                 
state that are not presently covered under a formal retirement                 
system such as PERS, and although it does not bring them directly              
into the program, it gives them credit for service provided just as            
is accorded to members of the military when they are vested by the             
Number 262                                                                     
CRAIG PERSSON, representing the Public Safety Employees Association            
and testifying from Fairbanks, voiced their full support for HB
206, and he echoed Captain Bachman's remarks regarding VPSOs and               
the incentive this legislation will provide, as well as giving                 
recognition to their efforts in public safety throughout the state.            
Number 275                                                                     
CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if at any point this legislation applied only             
to a VPSO who became a trooper or a law enforcement officer.  MR.              
LOUNSBURY answered that there was discussion in one committee to               
limit it to public safety type positions, but it was decided to                
provide that the VPSO could get  credit for VPSO service for any               
employment that is covered by PERS.                                            
Number 288                                                                     
SENATOR WARD asked if there was discussion relating to a VPSO                  
receiving retirement benefits from a nonprofit and then receiving              
credit under PERS for the same service.  MR. LOUNSBURY responded               
that it was discussed and subsection (d) was added to  preclude                
double dipping.                                                                
Number 305                                                                     
There being no further questions or testimony on HB 206, CHAIRMAN              
GREEN requested a motion to move the bill out of committee.                    
SENATOR WARD moved CSHB 206(FIN)am and the accompanying zero fiscal            
note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.               
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
             CSHB 362(STA) - AIRPORT MILITARY LOUNGES                          
CHAIRMAN GREEN brought CSHB 362(STA) before the committee as the               
final order of business.                                                       
Number 314                                                                     
DON STOLWORTHY, staff to the House Special Committee on Military &             
Veterans' Affairs, presented the following remarks on behalf of the            
"The presence of a facility for military personnel is beneficial to            
an airport's operations.  It eases the congestion in public waiting            
areas, and promotes good will between the state and military                   
"The committee is pleased to sponsor HB 362, a bill which ensures              
the continued operation of military lounges in Alaska's airports.              
"In 1996 and 1997, more than 20,000 military personnel took                    
advantage of the Anchorage International Airport's military lounge.            
"Operated by the Anchorage Armed Services YMCA, the Anchorage                  
International Airport's military lounge provides a valuable service            
to our dedicated men and women serving in the defense of our state             
and nation.  At no cost to the state, this lounge is staffed by                
volunteers from squadron booster clubs.                                        
"House Bill 362 will guarantee that as long as nonprofits are                  
willing to operate courtesy lounges for our military service men               
and women, the state of Alaska is willing to provide those spaces              
free of charge when they are available.                                        
"House Bill 362 does not require the state to provide the space.               
It only requires the state to provide the space at no charge, if               
and when available.                                                            
"House Bill 362 passed the House by unanimous vote.                            
"It is the committee's hope that the Senate State Affairs Committee            
will approve this bill and let Alaska's military community know                
that this Legislature is committed to their cause."                            
Number 334                                                                     
SENATOR WARD asked why the legislation is needed.  MR. STOLWORTHY              
explained that the FAA requires an airport to maximize its                     
revenues, and one of the things airports do is lease space.                    
Offering the lounge at a $10 yearly fee without the authority put              
the airport director in a precarious situation with the FAA, so the            
legislation provides the airport director with the authority to do             
what he has been doing.                                                        
Number 362                                                                     
TOM MORGAN, testifying from Anchorage, said for many years the                 
Armed Services YMCA has been quietly and competently serving the               
traveling military through the military courtesy lounge located at             
the Anchorage International Airport.  A safe and secure place has              
been dedicated to the Armed Forces at no expense to the state or to            
the military.  Alaska continues to be of strategic importance in               
the training of the military and the defense of the nation.  He                
pointed out that existing statute does not allow the Armed Services            
YMCA to provide these services without a rental charge, and HB 362             
cleans that up.  The legislation will allow the Armed Services YMCA            
to continue their work and, at the same time, authorize the                    
Anchorage International Airport to offer the space rent free.  He              
added that this arrangement would then be consistent with other                
military lounge airport programs run by the Armed Services YMCA                
and/or the USO nationwide.                                                     
Number 388                                                                     
BONNIE DORMAN, representing the Armed Force YMCA and testifying                
from Anchorage in support of HB 362, said the supervisors and                  
families utilize these facilities in their official and leisure                
travel.  They volunteer as a squadron; they are able to take one               
month out of the year and volunteer up to 480 hours to the lounge.             
This builds morale within their organization and promotes                      
Number 396                                                                     
RICHARD FOSTER testifying from Anchorage, said he represents all               
the enlisted men and women in the Third Wing at Elmendorf Base.  He            
said all members of the Armed Services utilize the lounge, and it              
is a great opportunity for their members who are departing for the             
Far East, or even to the Lower 48 when they deploy out.  It                    
provides opportunity for the young folks to get out and promote                
volunteerism throughout the community.  He urged the committee's               
support of HB 362.                                                             
Number 406                                                                     
DENNIS POSHARD, Legislative Liaison/Special Assistant, Department              
of Transportation and Public Facilities, stated the department                 
supports HB 362.  They worked with the sponsor in making one minor             
change that makes the bill much more acceptable.                               
Number 416                                                                     
There being no further testimony or questions on CSHB 362(STA),                
CHAIRMAN GREEN asked the pleasure of the committee.                            
SENATOR WARD moved CSHB 362(STA) and the accompanying zero fiscal              
note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.               
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
There being no further business to come before the committee, the              
meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.                                                 

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