Legislature(2001 - 2002)
02/08/2001 03:30 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 54-ALASKA VETERANS ADVISORY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked Mr. Laddie Shaw to testify via teleconference. MR. LADDIE SHAW, from the Office of Veterans Affairs, testified that the Alaska Veterans Advisory Council represents about 63,000 veterans in the state. The council was established by administrative order in 1996 but it has no permanence unless it is placed in state statute. MAJOR GENERAL OATES said that the purpose of the council is to look at policy issues and how the state can better serve veteran needs. Alaska has the second highest number of veterans per capita of any state in the nation so putting this into statute not only brings permanence but also recognizes the importance of veterans' contributions without replacing Veteran Service Officers, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and the Veterans Administration. SB 54 will help the state develop the policy needed to recognize its veterans. The council would give recommendations to the Governor and would be a body that would transcend individual administrations. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said that the chair of the council would also serve on the Alaska Pioneers' Home Advisory Board thus providing a link to the next bill to be heard, SB 39. MAJOR GENERAL OATES said that was correct. SENATOR PHILLIPS asked where the meetings would be held. MAJOR GENERAL OATES said that the group would meet twice annually and as Senator Phillips had mentioned in a previous conversation, it is important to change the meeting location each time. Locations aren't required or restricted but the amount of money required to send the council members to different locations would vary greatly depending on the location. CHAIRMAN PHILLIPS asked if the fiscal note needed to be changed to reflect two meetings per year. MAJOR GENERAL OATES said it was his understanding that the fiscal note isn't part of the bill itself so the change wasn't necessary. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT told Senator Phillips that they would change the fiscal note so that it isn't so site specific before moving it from committee if he preferred. MS. CAROL CARROLL, who wrote the fiscal note for SB 54, said that she would be happy to change the fiscal note to reflect two meetings per year with a rotating location. LT. COLONEL (RETIRED) PAT CAROTHERS said that under the statute, the council would meet up to four times per year. In the five years that the council has been in existence, they have found that face- to-face meetings are more productive than any other type. They have been meeting in Anchorage in the fall because the majority of membership is there. They then meet in Juneau in late January to coincide with the legislature. In May there is a third meeting and that is a telephonic meeting. Number 1465 CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if the council has had its actions hampered due to its non-permanent status. LT. COLONEL (RETIRED) CAROTHERS said they'd like this put into statute because a previous administration abolished the Veterans Advisory Council and it could happen again in another administration. When this happens, the voice for veterans suffers a loss of continuity of effort. SENATOR PHILLIPS said that meetings in rural Alaska are important as well. Face to face meetings shouldn't be held in just Anchorage and Juneau. MAJOR GENERAL OATES said he believes it is valuable for this organization to have a presence throughout the state and the fiscal note will be changed to reflect that sentiment. SENATOR DAVIS asked if rural members were represented in the 20- member council. LT. COLONEL (RETIRED) CAROTHERS said that there were rural members from Kodiak, Kotzebue and Bethel. MAJOR GENERAL OATES said that was a good point, there needs to be adequate representation throughout the state. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said that there's nothing in the wording of the bill that specifically speaks to the Pioneer/Veterans Home Advisory Board. COMMISSIONER DUNCAN said that SB 55 places a member of the Alaska Veterans Advisory Council on the Pioneer/Veterans Home Advisory Board. MAJOR GENERAL OATES wanted it understood that SB 54 should stand on its own and not be dependant on action on SB 55. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked for any other testimony. He announced that there was no CS and asked for amendments. There were none. SENATOR DAVIS made a motion that SB 54 and the rewritten fiscal note be moved from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT confirmed that Carol Carroll would rewrite the fiscal note and that SB 54 would move from committee with the rewritten note.