Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/10/1998 04:35 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 356 - JOINT TASK FORCE ON MILITARY BASES                                    
Number 1313                                                                    
CHAIR MASEK announced the last order of business would be HB 356               
"An Act establishing the Joint Committee on Military Bases in                  
Alaska; and providing for an effective date," sponsored by                     
Representative Mulder.  Chair Masek noted there is a proposed                  
committee substitute.                                                          
Number 1330                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER moved to adopt the proposed committee                    
substitute dated 3/3/98.  There being no objection, the committee              
substitute was adopted.                                                        
Number 1355                                                                    
TIM SULLIVAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Eldon Mulder,            
Alaska State Legislature, came before the committee to explain the             
legislation.  He informed the committee that there have been recent            
calls from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense and many others              
asking for another base realignment and closure committee process.             
He said the committee members have an article written about the                
acting secretary of the Air Force saying that if a new base                    
realignment and closure (BRAC) committee does not occur, he will               
start shutting down bases on his own.  Mr. Sullivan said for that              
reason, Representative Mulder introduced HB 356.  He read from the             
sponsor statement:                                                             
"House Bill 356 would establish a joint House and Senate Committee             
on Military Bases in Alaska.  This committee would monitor the                 
activities of a new BRAC Commission, work to strengthen the                    
military presence in Alaska and, in the case of a reauthorized BRAC            
process, work with the military, the administration and the                    
affected communities to protect our bases from closure.                        
"This joint committee will have an existence longer than that                  
called for in the Uniform Rules because of the reactivation of the             
federal BRAC Commission.  Creating this joint committee for longer             
than the duration of the current Twentieth Legislature requires a              
change in statute, and cannot be done by means of a concurrent                 
resolution, hence this bill.  The joint committee would expire on              
the date the Twenty-Second Legislature convenes.  This time frame              
corresponds with the activity period of the Base Realignment and               
Closure Commission, which will again be reviewing all military                 
facilities in North America for justification of their continued               
"The attention by BRAC given to Alaska bases in the past presents              
a considerable challenge, and necessitates vigilance and a strong              
unified response from the legislature.  The military establishment             
in Alaska accounts for approximately $1.7 billion throughout the               
Alaskan economy.  In addition, the base closures experienced to                
date (Adak Naval Air Facility, Erickson Air Force Base, Galena Air             
Force Base, King Salmon Air Force Base and Fort Greely) have shown             
that the process requires considerable attention on the part of                
state government to monitor the economic impact and the reuse                  
potential of such base closures.  This joint committee would                   
provide that critical focus."                                                  
Number 1462                                                                    
CHAIR MASEK asked Mr. Sullivan to explain the difference between               
the committee substitute and the original version of the bill.                 
MR. SULLIVAN informed the committee there are two changes.  The                
first is on page 1, line 14, which changes the number from $2.7                
billion annually to $1.7 billion annually.  He said this change was            
made to represent draw downs that have already occurred in Alaska.             
It also removed retirees that had been included in the earlier                 
number.  The number is based on current military personnel and                 
their activities.  Mr. Sullivan referred to Section 2, page 2,                 
subsections (3), (4) and (5), and said it made the individuals who             
were to be appointed, individuals rather than members of the                   
legislature.  He said he believes those are the changes.                       
Number 1491                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA asked why the wording was changed to                   
include individuals as opposed to a member of the legislature.                 
MR. SULLIVAN said it is his understanding that there would be a                
better representation, across the state, of individuals who have               
some close workings with previous base realignment closure                     
commissions and/or work in the military area.                                  
REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA asked how a public member from Juneau would            
have information on the closure of bases.                                      
Number 1549                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MULDER responded that the possibility or specter of             
opportunity would come under subsection (5).  He said, "An                     
individual who is a state resident and appointed jointly by the                
president and speaker after consideration of the recommendation of             
the commissioner of Military and Veterans' Affairs, I think for the            
fiscal note they were trying to give it a broad perspective of what            
the options out there were to make sure that the fiscal note was               
adequately addressed."  Representative Mulder said he doesn't know             
if there is anybody in Juneau that is concerned or interested or               
wants to be involved, but it recognizes that the possibility                   
exists.  He said he believes the more important point about the                
public members is the fact that there are a number of individuals              
who are retired from the military and they reside in Fairbanks,                
Anchorage and throughout the state who are tremendous resources and            
who would have the opportunity of being immense help to the interim            
Number 1640                                                                    
CHRIS NELSON, Legislative Staff to the Senate Majority, Alaska                 
State Legislature, testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  He            
said, "In 1995, I was the chief of staff to the legislature's Joint            
Task Force on Military Bases, that headed up our efforts to defend             
our bases from the 1995 BRAC.  I would hope that the committee                 
would consider the fact that we are not alone in having bases that             
are being threatened by future closure initiatives and that other              
jurisdictions, right now, are moving just as we are moving to get              
ready to defend their bases.  In January, the Colorado Springs                 
Chamber of Commerce retained R. Duffy Wall (ph), a lobbying firm in            
Washington, D.C., that was their 1995 BRAC team in Washington, to              
begin to prepare a defense strategy to save Fort Carson.  The state            
of New York, each year, has a line item budget to support its                  
military bases within the state that the state government                      
appropriates.  Each year, the state of New York will be spending               
$7.8 million for all of its bases.  We expect a large portion of               
that will go to try to defend Fort Drum.  The state of California,             
likewise, has an agency in the state government completely devoted             
to military bases, the reuse of closed bases and defending their               
current bases from future BRAC closures.  So there are people that             
are already moving towards preparing their bases for defense in a              
BRAC 2001 and I think that HB 356 is a very prudent and careful                
measure that puts Alaska on an equal footing.  It involves members             
of the legislature.  It also, at this time, provides for public                
members that can bring a new perspective into this thing.  I think             
that it provides for a broadly based organization that can start               
the process now so that we don't get caught flat footed."  He said             
in 1994 and 1995, Alaska came into the game rather late.  Mr.                  
Nelson said he believes this is a great opportunity to be ahead of             
the curve for BRAC 2001 and to pull together a lot of the people               
who were involved in BRAC 1995, and keep our institutional memory              
Number 1774                                                                    
TIM ROGERS, Legislative Program Coordinator, Municipality of                   
Anchorage, came before the committee to testify in support of CSHB
356.  He said the military is a very important and vital resource              
for the state of Alaska.  It provides significant economic                     
resources to the state.  He said the municipality is concerned that            
there may be some threat to that resource in the future.  Mr.                  
Rogers pointed out that the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce has just             
recently formed their own BRAC Committee and the Municipality of               
Anchorage is working with the chamber on that committee.  Mr.                  
Rogers stated that if it weren't for the joint task force that was             
appointed in 1994, he is thoroughly certain that the negative                  
impact on Anchorage would have been much more severe if nothing was            
done.  He urged passage of the legislation.                                    
Number 1847                                                                    
CHAIR MASEK said she would hold the HB 356 over until the next                 
meeting as she wants to review the fiscal note.                                

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