Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/21/2000 08:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 331-ALASKA NATL GUARD/NAVAL & STATE MILITIA                                                                                
Number 0628                                                                                                                     
CHAIR JAMES announced  the next order of business,  HOUSE BILL NO.                                                              
331,  "An Act  relating to  payment, allowances,  and benefits  of                                                              
members of the  Alaska National Guard and Alaska  Naval Militia in                                                              
active service;  relating to computation  of certain  benefits for                                                              
members  of  the  Alaska  State  Militia;  and  providing  for  an                                                              
effective date."  [Before the committee was CSHB 331(MLV).]                                                                     
CAROL   CARROLL,  Director,   Administrative  Services   Division,                                                              
Department of Military  and Veterans Affairs, said  she has online                                                              
Colonel  Craig Christensen,  Rick Turcic,  and General Westall  to                                                              
answer  questions.   She  explained  that  HB 331  proposes  three                                                              
amendments to  current statute.  The  first is to change  the name                                                              
of the  Alaska State  Militia to the  Alaska State Defense  Force.                                                              
Therefore,  Sections 1-4 and  Section 11  merely change  the name.                                                              
She explained  that in statute now  there is something  called the                                                              
Organized  Militia,  made up  of  the  National Guard,  the  Naval                                                              
Militia, and the  Alaska State Militia (to be  called Alaska State                                                              
Defense Force).                                                                                                                 
MS. CARROLL explained that second,  HB 331 streamlines the process                                                              
for calculating pay  for the National Guard and  the Naval Militia                                                              
section of Alaska's  Organized Naval Militia when  they are called                                                              
to state active  duty.  She mentioned that the  governor does that                                                              
for  search and  rescue,  an  emergency or  a  disaster.   In  the                                                              
[legislators'] packet  she had provided a two-page  description of                                                              
current  calculations used  to calculate  both pay and  allowances                                                              
for members  of the  National Guard  and the  Naval Militia.   She                                                              
informed the  committee that HB 331  will allow the  department to                                                              
multiply the minimum  base pay by 200 percent to  arrive at active                                                              
duty pay.   The  first page  shows how  many steps the  department                                                              
must perform now to accomplish payment,  and the second page shows                                                              
how much the process would be streamlined by HB 331.                                                                            
MS. CARROLL  remarked that  the third  thing that  HB 331  does is                                                              
institute a  statutory method of  paying the Alaska  State Defense                                                              
Force when  called to state active  duty.  She added that  about a                                                              
year ago  the department  was notified  by the  Department  of Law                                                              
that  the Department  of Military  and Veterans  Affairs had  been                                                              
paying the  Alaska State Defense  Force in error.   She recognized                                                              
that her  department was  paying them  the same  way as  the Naval                                                              
Militia and  the National Guard.   Since that time  the department                                                              
has been  bringing members  of the Alaska  State Defense  Force on                                                              
active  duty and  paying them  as  non-permanent state  employees.                                                              
That does  cause some  problems because  the Alaska State  Defense                                                              
Force  is a  military unit  under military  command structure  and                                                              
discipline.    The  Alaska  State   Defense  Force  also  has  the                                                              
protection  of  statute  in  that the  members  have  other  jobs;                                                              
therefore, they have a protection  from their employers to go back                                                              
to  that job  after  they have  fulfilled  their  service for  the                                                              
state.  She  said that the  fact that the department  hires Alaska                                                              
State  Defense  Force  members  as  state  employees  causes  some                                                              
confusion  in the [payment]  process.   She noted  that the  third                                                              
section of  HB 331 would  fix the  confusion because  Alaska State                                                              
Defense  Force  members  would  be  paid as  if  they  were  state                                                              
employees using  state employee pay  scales, but they  would still                                                              
be under military command discipline.                                                                                           
Number 0955                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN   asked  how  National  Guard   members  are                                                              
compensated now.                                                                                                                
Number 0964                                                                                                                     
MS. CARROLL replied that they are paid federal wages.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked at what  [pay scale] they work, and how                                                              
that is established.                                                                                                            
MS. CARROLL  answered that  all National  Guard and Naval  Militia                                                              
people  are paid  based on  their  federal pay  level and  housing                                                              
allowance, rations allowance and other factors.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the  federal pay level and allowance                                                              
are  higher  or   lower  for  a  Naval  Militia   captain  who  is                                                              
temporarily placed into a National Guard unit.                                                                                  
MS. CARROLL replied that the National  Guard and the Naval Militia                                                              
will still be paid.                                                                                                             
Number 1006                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN  asked if Alaska State Defense  Force members                                                              
are compensated upon being called  to active duty at the same rate                                                              
as  National  Guard  members  when  National  Guard  members  have                                                              
replaced  the  Alaska  State  Defense  Force at  the  scene  of  a                                                              
disaster  or  emergency.   He  further  asked  if the  formula  as                                                              
written in HB 331 compensates the  Alaska State Defense Force at a                                                              
rate comparable to the [National] Guard.                                                                                        
MS. CARROLL answered that the method  of payment is different, but                                                              
she cannot say if pay rates are different.   She said the National                                                              
Guard and the Naval Militia will be paid a daily rate.                                                                          
Number 1061                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN asked  if HB  331  pays a  higher rate  than                                                              
National Guard pay.                                                                                                             
CHAIR JAMES  pointed out that there  is a zero fiscal note  for HB
Number 1092                                                                                                                     
TOM WESTALL,  General, Alaska State  Defense Force,  testified via                                                              
teleconference from Anchorage.  He  said that Alaska State Defense                                                              
Force  soldiers,  since they  are  in state  military  formations,                                                              
would get pay  commensurate with whatever job they  happen to take                                                              
in  an  emergency  situation.   During  an  emergency  the  Alaska                                                              
Division of  Emergency Services or  [Alaska State]  Troopers would                                                              
have to  hire civil employees anyway,  and certain tasks  would be                                                              
assigned.   He explained  that to pay  Alaska State Defense  Force                                                              
members  by rank  is  cumbersome when  coming  in under  emergency                                                              
capacity because the  first one on the scene may  be an individual                                                              
with the  rank of major,  but the job  needing attention may  be a                                                              
telephone  receptionist or  telephone coordinator.   He  commented                                                              
that the major would not be paid  by his rank but would be paid by                                                              
the  classified job  description of  whatever job  that major  was                                                              
performing.   He indicated this  method of payment  is beneficial,                                                              
economically manageable  for the state, and provides  an immediate                                                              
Number 1223                                                                                                                     
GENERAL WESTALL mentioned  that the Defense Force can  call up 100                                                              
soldiers within 24  hours at any given moment.   This [capability]                                                              
provides  an  excellent  utility  for the  Division  of  Emergency                                                              
Services to go  into operation in any emergency  without having to                                                              
stop to do outside  hiring to fill all those  positions needed for                                                              
a  24-hour  operation.   In  72  hours,  the current  staffing  of                                                              
Emergency Services  would be exhausted without  some augmentation.                                                              
The State  Defense Force  supplies the  force multiplier  that can                                                              
make the  organization  operate for  24 hours  a day and  provides                                                              
immediate  emergency response.   The  Defense Force  has had  much                                                              
experience  since  1983  in  emergency  response;  therefore,  the                                                              
utility aspects are  very advantageous to the state,  plus the pay                                                              
is appropriate  to the  job being  performed instead  of paying  a                                                              
high-ranking person to do an ignominious  task.  He added that the                                                              
jobs are  already classified in  the personnel management  system;                                                              
therefore, the  department is  not changing any  pay scale  or pay                                                              
rate  but merely  providing  a service  that  is  already a  known                                                              
Number 1311                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN said  it seems  the  pay system  could be  a                                                              
nightmare if  the major  came on duty  in an ignominious  position                                                              
for three hours and then went to  another job and over a period of                                                              
24 hours he  had seven different jobs.   He asked if  the major in                                                              
such an  instance would  fill a  timecard in  for seven  different                                                              
GENERAL  WESTALL replied  that such  a scenario  does not  usually                                                              
happen.   He noted that he  has one battalion  already pre-trained                                                              
to  go   into  emergency   services  in   their  state   emergency                                                              
coordination center.   He explained  that those jobs  have already                                                              
been pre-[assigned]  and  those personnel  know exactly what  they                                                              
are going  to do  so the  emergency center  can [start]  operating                                                              
very  quickly.    He  mentioned  that  pre-trained  personnel  are                                                              
staffed  appropriate to  their rank  and so most  of them  receive                                                              
minimum  daily  pay anyway  but  there  will be  some  supervising                                                              
officers that  would naturally  take a  supervisory position.   He                                                              
indicated that  the scenario as described by  Representative Green                                                              
happens when soldiers are rapidly  deployed into the field and end                                                              
up performing  a variety of jobs.   He agreed that in  those cases                                                              
there  is some  mismatch of  Defense  ranks versus  the job  being                                                              
performed  and  occasionally  a  switch  from  one  job  title  to                                                              
another.  He remarked that Emergency  Services staff keep track of                                                              
the payroll and try to minimize administrative  nightmares, but he                                                              
acknowledged  that what  Representative Green  had described  does                                                              
occur occasionally.                                                                                                             
Number 1459                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN   said  he  is  concerned   because  if  the                                                              
department  has established  an emergency  team and then  replaces                                                              
them with soldiers  from the Naval Militia, for  example, then the                                                              
second group should receive comparable  pay.  It seems much easier                                                              
to  him that  the  department would  pay  like  [duties] for  like                                                              
[duties] instead of going through  extra work to figure pay rates.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON  inquired as to  what was the basis  for the                                                              
200 percentile.   He asked if the percentile was  supposedly going                                                              
to  hold  everybody  on  par  with  the  position  that  they  are                                                              
Number 1577                                                                                                                     
CRAIG CHRISTENSEN,  Colonel, Chief of Staff, Alaska  Army National                                                              
Guard, testified  via teleconference from  Anchorage.  He  said he                                                              
has become  familiar with the pay  system by reason of  his senior                                                              
position.   He noted  that National  Guard officers are  federally                                                              
recognized.   He added that they  have a federal  promotion system                                                              
that  requires  years  of service  and  determining  factors  that                                                              
require  education,  which system  is  totally separate  from  the                                                              
Alaska  State  Defense Force.    He  explained that  Alaska  State                                                              
Defense Force individuals  are promoted under a  different system,                                                              
are appointed and can be appointed  with no military service based                                                              
on their civilian  experience, so the department  is talking about                                                              
two totally separate systems.  He  commented that the Alaska State                                                              
Defense Force also is a cadre outfit,  meaning that it is top-rank                                                              
heavy  and  has  many  officers  in  the  cadre  leadership.    He                                                              
mentioned  that   the  Alaska  State   Defense  Force   waits  for                                                              
mobilization before filling its enlisted ranks.                                                                                 
Number 1714                                                                                                                     
COLONEL  CHRISTENSEN informed  the committee  that the  department                                                              
had reviewed  pay rates  from colonel  down to  private and  found                                                              
that it required 345 hand calculations  across pay tables to start                                                              
with basic pay entry date, years  of service, how many dependents,                                                              
ration  allowances,  cost of  living  allowance  (COLA), and  many                                                              
other calculations  to produce  payroll.   He emphasized  that the                                                              
department was seeking a simple,  equitable way to pay individuals                                                              
according to their rank and benefits  they were already receiving.                                                              
He  remarked that  the  department made  two  schedules wherein  a                                                              
captain's  pay was  calculated  using the  current  method of  345                                                              
steps  and  then  captain's  basic  military  pay  using  the  200                                                              
percentile was calculated.   He said  that 200 times the basic pay                                                              
for a captain was $18 less than he/she  would have received if pay                                                              
had been  calculated with the 345  steps; therefore, the  pay rate                                                              
is  very close.   He  added  that for  first  lieutenant pay,  the                                                              
calculations happened  to be equal, and a second  lieutenant makes                                                              
a little more  using the 200 percentile.   He stated that  the 200                                                              
percentile  initiative has  been  offered to  the Alaska  National                                                              
Guard Officer's  Association and Enlisted Associations,  and there                                                              
has been no objection from either one of those associations.                                                                    
Number 1776                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN  made a motion  to move CSHB 331(MLV)  out of                                                              
committee with  individual recommendations  and the  attached zero                                                              
fiscal  note; he  asked for  unanimous  consent.   There being  no                                                              
objection,  CSHB  331(MLV)  moved  from the  House  State  Affairs                                                              
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

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