Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/14/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HB 3-NATL GUARD LEAVE/REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS                                                                        
3:40:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the final  order of business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL NO.  3, "An  Act relating to  the employment                                                               
rights of employees in the state  who are members of the National                                                               
Guard  of another  state, territory,  or district  of the  United                                                               
[Before  the committee  was committee  substitute (CS)  for HB  3                                                               
3:40:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  presented  HB  3, as  prime  sponsor.    He                                                               
relayed that HB 3 would  allow for employment rights of employees                                                               
of the  state who are  members of  the National Guard  of another                                                               
state,  territory,  or  district  of   the  United  States.    He                                                               
paraphrased  from the  Sponsor  Statement,  which read  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     House  Bill   3  seeks  to  correct   a  deficiency  in                                                                    
     employment protections for Alaskans  who are serving in                                                                    
     the  National Guard.  This is  a  nationwide effort  to                                                                    
     ensure those who  serve their nation for  all 50 states                                                                    
     when  called  to duty  -  regardless  of their  service                                                                    
     location  -  will  have reemployment  rights  to  their                                                                    
     Alaskan  civilian  job  after  completing  the  various                                                                    
     critical  duties when  called by  a governor  for state                                                                    
     active duty.                                                                                                               
     The National  Guard is  a hybrid  state-federal entity.                                                                    
     While  National Guard  members are  subject to  federal                                                                    
     call to  duty by  the President  of the  United States,                                                                    
     they can  also be  called up for  state active  duty by                                                                    
     the Governor  to respond to  state emergencies  such as                                                                    
     fires, tornadoes and floods.                                                                                               
     The  federal  law  Uniformed  Services  Employment  and                                                                    
     Reemployment  Rights Act  (USERRA) protects  members of                                                                    
     the Army  or Air  National Guard  when they  are called                                                                    
     away from their civilian jobs for federal service.                                                                         
     However, USERRA  does not apply  when a  National Guard                                                                    
     member must leave  their job for state  active duty. If                                                                    
     National Guard members are  to have reemployment rights                                                                    
     after state active duty, it must be through state law.                                                                     
     Alaska currently  has a law that  applies to employment                                                                    
     protections  to  the   public  and  private  employees.                                                                    
     However,  it is  explicitly limited  to members  of the                                                                    
     Alaska Army  or Air  National Guard. There  are several                                                                    
     Alaskan residents  who serve  in the National  Guard of                                                                    
     another  state. These  Alaskans currently  do not  have                                                                    
     the reemployment protections for their employment.                                                                         
     By passing House Bill 3,  we will extend the employment                                                                    
     protections  to   Alaskans  who  are  serving   in  any                                                                    
     National   Guard.  The   Department   of  Defense   has                                                                    
     identified this  legislation as a  key quality  of life                                                                    
     issue  and  is actively  seeking  to  make this  policy                                                                    
     change across the nation. So  far, 28 other states have                                                                    
     passed  similar  legislation  and 3  other  states  are                                                                    
     taking it up this session.                                                                                                 
3:43:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  asked for  an  explanation  as to  why  an                                                               
Alaskan would  be serving in  another state's National  Guard and                                                               
not Alaska's.   He also asked  how many people would  be impacted                                                               
by HB 3.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  responded  that   there  are  many  Alaskan                                                               
workers, who live  and raise families in Alaska,  but are members                                                               
of  the National  Guard in  other states.   He  asserted that  if                                                               
those guard  members are called back  to the state in  which they                                                               
serve, then HB 3 would enable  them to resume their employment in                                                               
Alaska upon return,  like a Guard member who was  called to serve                                                               
oversees by the President of the United States.                                                                                 
3:44:38 PM                                                                                                                    
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Chris Tuck,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Tuck,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB  3, relayed  that  recent  data from  the  U.S. Department  of                                                               
Defense (DoD)  identified 33 individuals  in Alaska who  serve in                                                               
the National  Guard in 19 other  states.  She conceded  that this                                                               
number is the result of self-reporting, and there may be more.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH   asked  for  clarification  on   how  this                                                               
situation  occurs.   He  asked  if  someone,  who served  in  the                                                               
National Guard of  another state and moved to  Alaska, would have                                                               
the opportunity  to transfer  his/her National  Guard affiliation                                                               
to Alaska.                                                                                                                      
MS. KLOSTER  responded that there  is a process  for transferring                                                               
to another  state's National Guard,  and some members  are called                                                               
back  to the  original state  of  service before  the process  is                                                               
3:46:27 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  DOEHL,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Military  &                                                               
Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA),  cited  reasons why  members  of  the                                                               
National Guard would be living  in one state and performing guard                                                               
duty  in  another.     He  explained  that   often  the  civilian                                                               
professional personal life  of a guard member "gets  out of sync"                                                               
with his/her  military career.   He  relayed that  this situation                                                               
occurs  most often  with students,  military  spouses, and  those                                                               
with civilian careers  requiring frequent work out of  state.  He                                                               
stated that  for professional  reasons, guard  members go  out of                                                               
state to get  training and experience that cannot  be obtained in                                                               
Alaska.   He added  that this  situation also  occurs due  to the                                                               
time it  takes to get into  the Alaska National Guard  (ANG).  He                                                               
contended that when  he moved to Alaska, getting into  ANG was an                                                               
11-month  process.   He mentioned  that guard  members leave  the                                                               
state for professional  development.  An Alaska  guard member may                                                               
start  his/her career  Outside  in a  position  not available  in                                                               
Alaska, which  would make him/her  far more valuable to  ANG upon                                                               
MR. DOEHL related  three personal examples in  which his military                                                               
career was out of sync with  his personal life.  After graduating                                                               
from  college,  he  moved  to  another  state  for  a  job  while                                                               
continuing to "drill"  in his original state.   After getting off                                                               
active duty and  finishing law school, he  continued to affiliate                                                               
with  the  [Army]   Reserve  in  the  Midwest   while  living  in                                                               
Washington,  D.C.,  to  finish  command  tour  of  the  unit  and                                                               
transition for  two years.   When he moved  to Alaska and  was in                                                               
the process  of transferring  to ANG, he  continued to  travel to                                                               
Newport  News, Virginia,  to command  a unit  and maintain  pilot                                                               
MR. DOEHL  noted the  money spent by  the United  States training                                                               
him as a  military pilot, which was "well into  six figures."  He                                                               
also  noted  the money  saved  because  he maintained  his  pilot                                                               
proficiency  in another  state while  he  was in  the process  of                                                               
joining the Alaska Air National Guard  (AK ANG).  He offered that                                                               
"cross-state affiliation"  may be  common Outside, where  one can                                                               
drive  across three  states in  an hour;  however, for  the guard                                                               
member living in Alaska, the  time, distance, and cost factors of                                                               
an  Outside   National  Guard  affiliation   highly  incentivizes                                                               
finding a path  into ANG.  He emphasized that  DMVA supports HB 3                                                               
because  it  would  be conducive  to  developing  a  professional                                                               
militia in  Alaska; it  would allow a  continuity of  service for                                                               
those Alaskans whose life plans  require them to move Outside for                                                               
a period;  and it also  would incentivize new Alaskans  to remain                                                               
engaged with  the military from  a prior affiliation,  until they                                                               
can become  a member of ANG.   He concluded that  maintaining the                                                               
participation  and  readiness  of these  guard  members  supports                                                               
recruitment,  saves  money,  and  provides  for  a  more  capable                                                               
National Guard serving Alaskans.                                                                                                
3:50:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked if there  are employers who won't take                                                               
back employees  who have  been serving in  the National  Guard in                                                               
another state.                                                                                                                  
MR. DOEHL answered that since  there is currently no mechanism in                                                               
place to address  this situation, no incidents  have been brought                                                               
to  the attention  of DMVA.   He  mentioned that  USERRA protects                                                               
[the employment  of] guard  members who  have been  mobilized for                                                               
periods of  service for federal  duties.  He mentioned  that most                                                               
state active duty  is of short duration; however, in  the case of                                                               
[the after effects  of] Hurricane Katrina, guard  duty lasted for                                                               
months, resulting  in difficult decisions and  adverse actions by                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked for  confirmation that currently there                                                               
are  no guard  members who  have been  denied the  opportunity to                                                               
return to his/her job.  He  suggested that HB 3 was introduced to                                                               
be proactive and not to address any current situations.                                                                         
MR. DOEHL responded that is correct.                                                                                            
3:52:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  if  a member  of  the National  Guard                                                               
serves one  weekend per month and  two weeks per year.   He asked                                                               
if a  guard member, who  is currently living  in Alaska but  is a                                                               
member  of another  state's National  Guard, flies  back to  that                                                               
state with that frequency.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK responded yes.                                                                                              
MR. DOEHL  answered that the bare  minimum participation averages                                                               
one weekend per  month and two weeks of continuous  training.  He                                                               
offered  that National  Guard duty  has  not been  at that  "bare                                                               
minimum"  level  of  training since  [the  terrorist  attacks  of                                                               
September 11,  2001].   He added  that in  his case,  to maintain                                                               
flight proficiency,  monthly and  twice monthly  training periods                                                               
were  required.     He  said  that  depending   on  the  military                                                               
occupational  skills,  some  guard  members can  go  out  once  a                                                               
quarter for six days to  fulfill the training requirements rather                                                               
than monthly, to save time and  expense.  He added that there are                                                               
already  federal  protections in  place  for  drill weekends  and                                                               
annual training.   He  asserted that  HB 3  would apply  to state                                                               
active duty for specific disasters and state needs.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  mentioned that  he didn't realize  there was                                                               
so much specialized training associated  with the National Guard.                                                               
He  offered  that   by  joining  other  states   that  allow  the                                                               
[employment]  protection, Alaska  would  increase  the number  of                                                               
guard  members  joining  ANG, as  opposed  to  maintaining  their                                                               
membership in another state's National  Guard.  He suggested that                                                               
a guard member  from another state would move to  Alaska and keep                                                               
up his/her  out-of-state National  Guard membership  until he/she                                                               
could transition to ANG.                                                                                                        
MR. DOEHL  responded that the  protections [in HB 3}  would allow                                                               
an  individual  to  continue  to   participate  with  an  Outside                                                               
organization.  He maintained, however,  that travel time and cost                                                               
incentivize affiliation in ANG for  those guard members and added                                                               
that Alaska is the best place to train.                                                                                         
3:56:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened public testimony on HB 3.                                                                           
MARK  SAN  SOUCI,  Regional State  Liaison,  U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Defense  (DoD),  testified  that  28  states  are  providing  the                                                               
protection that would  be offered in HB 3 and  three other states                                                               
have  introduced  legislation.   He  offered  the example  of  an                                                               
Alaskan  resident, who  is  a  member of  the  National Guard  in                                                               
Washington or  Oregon, being  called up  for 30  days to  fight a                                                               
forest  fire.   He  suggested that  without  the protection  that                                                               
would be  offered under HB  3, he/she  might be fired  because of                                                               
his/her absence.   He mentioned that DoD addressed this  as a key                                                               
issue three  years ago.   He reiterated  that there are  33 self-                                                               
reported guard members in Alaska serving  in 19 other states.  He                                                               
went  on to  list  the states:    Alabama, Arkansas,  California,                                                               
Florida,  Hawaii,  Massachusetts, Minnesota,  Missouri,  Montana,                                                               
North  Carolina,   North  Dakota,   Nevada,  New   York,  Oregon,                                                               
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and  West Virginia.  He added                                                               
that these guard  members are serving in the  other states either                                                               
for professional development  or because they are  in the process                                                               
of transferring to ANG.  He concluded  that the intent of HB 3 is                                                               
to  protect those  Alaskans who  are  doing that  "good duty"  of                                                               
serving in the National Guard in other states.                                                                                  
3:59:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS closed public testimony on HB 3.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP asked  if HB  3 would  apply to  people who                                                               
work two weeks on and two weeks  off in Alaska and are members of                                                               
a National Guard in another state.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   replied  yes,   because  their   place  of                                                               
employment is  in Alaska.   The proposed legislation  would apply                                                               
to Alaskan employers.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK mentioned that HB  3 was amended in the House                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and Veterans'  Affairs meeting [of                                                               
2/2/2017] to insert  a new subsection (h) under  Section 3, which                                                               
states  that there  would be  an exemption  for the  reemployment                                                               
rights of  a guard member  "if the employer's  circumstances have                                                               
changed,  making employment  impossible or  unreasonable, or  the                                                               
employment would impose any undue  hardship on the employer."  He                                                               
asserted  that this  amendment created  a balance:   making  sure                                                               
that a National  Guard member, serving honorably,  would have the                                                               
ability return  to his/her job  if it didn't create  any hardship                                                               
on the employer at the same time.                                                                                               
[HB 3 was held over.]                                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB003 ver D 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB003 Sponsor Statement 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB003 Memo of Changes 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB003 Fiscal Note DOLWD 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB003 Fiscal Note MVA 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB003 Supporting Document-Letter Dept of Defense 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB003 Supporting Document-Dept of Defense One Pager 2.7.17.pdf HSTA 2/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 3