Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/14/1996 01:40 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HOUSE BILL NO. 373                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act  relating  to educational  benefits for  family                 
       members of deceased members of the armed services."                     
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin  spoke  in  support of  HB  373.   He                 
  stressed that the legislation will  help dependents of those                 
  killed in the military during peace time as well as in  war.                 
  He noted  that the September 22,  1995 crash of  the U.S Air                 
  Force AWACS Yukla 27 at the Elmendorf Air Force Base, killed                 
  27 crew members and left 32  children from birth to 18 years                 
  of  age.  According to the sponsor statement the legislation                 
  is directed toward  the surviving  dependents of all  Alaska                 
  military   residents  enlisted  in  branches  of  the  Armed                 
  Services, including the Alaska National Guard and the Alaska                 
  Naval Militia.  These surviving  dependents will be entitled                 
  to  a waiver  of room  charges through University  of Alaska                 
  student housing and a $200 dollar per month stipend for each                 
  month of enrollment.                                                         
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin  provided  members with  Amendment  1                 
  (Attachment  1).  He explained  that the amendment will make                 
  the legislation retroactive  to September  1, 1995 to  allow                 
  surviving dependents of the September  22, 1995, AWACS crash                 
  at the Elmendorf Air Force Base to qualify.                                  
                                                                               
  Representative   Martin   MOVED   to  adopt   Amendment   1.                 
  Representative Brown OBJECTED.   She questioned the  cost of                 
  the  amendment.   She  noted that  the  $200 dollar  a month                 
  stipend  would  be  in addition  to  benefits  already paid.                 
  Representative Martin emphasized that this money would cover                 
  books and associated costs.                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Brown  referred to the $13.6  thousand dollar                 
  fiscal note  by the  University of  Alaska.   Representative                 
  Martin stated that fiscal  note would cover the cost  of the                 
  legislation.                                                                 
                                                                               
  In  response to  a question  by Representative  Grussendorf,                 
  Representative  Martin  noted  that  13  of  the   surviving                 
  dependents   in  the   AWACS   crash   would  be   eligible.                 
  Representative Brown expressed  concerns regarding the level                 
  of obligation the State would incur under the amendment.                     
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Hanley  summarized  that  under  current  statutes                 
  surviving dependents are eligible for  tuition and fees. The                 
                                                                               
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  legislation would waive dorm costs and provide a $200 dollar                 
  per   month   stipend   for   each   month  of   enrollment.                 
  Representative Martin emphasized  that the legislation would                 
  cover other  associated costs.   He  observed that  children                 
  will come from all over the State and will need housing.                     
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley pointed  out that Alaskans were  also killed                 
  in the Gulf War.   He observed that surviving  dependents of                 
  Alaskans  killed during the Gulf War would not qualify under                 
  the amendment.   He observed  that there is  one child  that                 
  would fall in to this category.   He suggested that it would                 
  be equitable to include this  child under the provisions  of                 
  the legislation.   Discussion ensued regarding the  dates of                 
  the Gulf War.                                                                
                                                                               
  Representative  Brown  pointed  out  that  the cost  of  the                 
  amendment will increase  over time.   She expressed  concern                 
  with financial costs associated with the legislation.                        
                                                                               
  Co-Chair   Foster  noted  that  Alaska  State  troopers  are                 
  sometimes killed in the line of duty.  He questioned if they                 
  should be added.                                                             
                                                                               
  Representative Brown observed that a  war could increase the                 
  number of  eligible individuals.   She  maintained that  the                 
  defense of the country is the responsibility of  the federal                 
  government, not the state of Alaska.                                         
                                                                               
  Representative  Navarre  noted  that  the  military   burial                 
  allowance  was  eliminated.     He   stressed  that  he   is                 
  sympathetic to the legislation.                                              
                                                                               
  HB 373 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.                         

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