Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/08/2001 03:30 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                                                                 

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