Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

03/04/2021 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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Heard & Held
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         SB 40-VETERANS' BENEFITS SERVICES; DISCLOSURE                                                                      
3:50:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  announced the consideration  of SENATE BILL  NO. 44                                                               
"An Act requiring  the Board of Fisheries  to prioritize personal                                                               
use fisheries  when implementing fishing restrictions  to achieve                                                               
a management goal."                                                                                                             
He noted who was available to answer questions.                                                                                 
3:51:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SETH DUGAN, Staff, Senator Josh  Revak, Alaska State Legislature,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, presented SB 12  on behalf of the sponsor reading                                                               
the following into the record:                                                                                                  
     SB  40  is an  act  relating  to veteran  benefits  and                                                                    
     veteran  benefit  services.  SB  40  seeks  to  protect                                                                    
     Veterans and their families from  a person who provides                                                                    
     veteran  benefits services  or veteran  benefits appeal                                                                    
     services for compensation.                                                                                                 
     This will  require these  providers to  notify veterans                                                                    
     and their families about the  free services provided by                                                                    
     veteran service organizations before  they take them on                                                                    
     as  a  client.  The  veteran   must  sign  and  date  a                                                                    
     disclosure form affirming that  they know free services                                                                    
     are  available. This  will  create increased  awareness                                                                    
     among Veterans,  their dependents, and  their survivors                                                                    
     of the available services.                                                                                                 
     There is a statewide  network of advocates available to                                                                    
     assist  them  in  obtaining   the  benefits  they  have                                                                    
     earned. Providers who  fail to comply are  subject to a                                                                    
     civil  penalty  of  up  to   $1,000  dollars  for  each                                                                    
3:53:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER asked if there was a sectional analysis.                                                                           
MR.  CRAFT answered  that the  bill is  just one  section and  an                                                               
analysis was not prepared.                                                                                                      
SENATOR  KAWASAKI asked  if there  were businesses  that do  this                                                               
MR. CRAFT said yes.                                                                                                             
3:54:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  asked how a  veteran would know  these services                                                               
were available free of charge.                                                                                                  
3:54:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  reminded the members  about a meeting last  year of                                                               
40-50 people  who discussed  how to  get information  to veterans                                                               
who have fallen  through the cracks. He confirmed  that there are                                                               
organizations  that  help  veterans   but  they  charge  for  the                                                               
service.  He related  that most  veterans receive  "out briefing"                                                               
when they leave the military but  for a number of reasons many do                                                               
not take advantage  of the free services. When  they realize they                                                               
need help, they may find someone who takes advantage of them.                                                                   
3:56:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HOLLAND  added  that many  agencies  like  the  American                                                               
Legion,  the VFW,  and Disabled  American Veterans  help veterans                                                               
without cost but many  also do it at cost and that  may be what a                                                               
veteran finds first.                                                                                                            
MR. CRAFT suggested that Mr. Bowen could add to the discussion.                                                                 
3:58:23 PM                                                                                                                    
VERDIE BOWEN, Director, Office of  Veteran Affairs, Department of                                                               
Military & Veterans Affairs  (DMVA), Anchorage, Alaska, described                                                               
the different  ways that  for-profit organizations  and attorneys                                                               
seek and  reach out to veterans.  He said veterans who  sign with                                                               
these  individuals or  organizations lose  a percentage  of their                                                               
disability  payment. The  highest loss  his office  has seen  was                                                               
$20,000  and  the  veteran  did   not  remember  talking  to  the                                                               
attorney. He  described it as  positive that his office  has only                                                               
heard about attorneys from out-of-state  who have taken advantage                                                               
of veterans who are living in Alaska.                                                                                           
He  explained   that  the   Appeals  Modernization   Act  allowed                                                               
attorneys to  register within the  VA system and  receive payment                                                               
for  their  services  before  the veteran.  SB  40  ensures  that                                                               
veterans  receive information  up front  about free  services. He                                                               
acknowledged that  some people  will still  sign with  for profit                                                               
attorneys and organizations but he  believes the numbers would be                                                               
more  limited  once  veterans  know they  can  receive  the  same                                                               
benefits without charge.                                                                                                        
CHAIR SHOWER commented on the difficulty getting a claim through                                                                
the VA.                                                                                                                         
4:01:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. CRAFT added that this is a growing movement nationwide.                                                                     
Iowa, Minnesota, California, and Washington have adopted similar                                                                
legislation and other states are considering it.                                                                                
CHAIR SHOWER noted that legislation passed several years ago to                                                                 
protect unwary members of the military from loan sharks.                                                                        
4:02:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER held SB 40 in committee for future consideration.                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 12 Bill.PDF SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 12
SB 12 Sectional Analysis.pdf HL&C 5/12/2021 3:15:00 PM
SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 12
SB 12 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 12
SB7 Sectional Analysis.pdf SJUD 2/16/2022 1:30:00 PM
SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 7
SB7 Supporting Documents.pdf SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 7
SB7 Written Testimonies.pdf SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 7
SB7 Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 2/16/2022 1:30:00 PM
SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 7
SB 7 Bill Text.PDF SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 7
SB 40 Bill.pdf SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 40
SB 40 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 40
SB 40 VSO duties.pdf HL&C 5/3/2021 3:15:00 PM
SSTA 3/4/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 40