Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205
03/03/2022 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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SR 3-NGO SUPPORT FOR STATE VETERANS 3:43:04 PM CHAIR SHOWER reconvened the meeting and announced the consideration of SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 3 Relating to nonprofit, nongovernmental organization support for veterans in Alaska. CHAIR SHOWER stated that this is the first hearing and invited and public testimony is scheduled. He identified himself as the sponsor of SR 3, noted that the attached fiscal note is zero, and said he did not prepare a sectional analysis because the bill is short and it is a resolution. 3:43:29 PM CHAIR SHOWER paraphrased the sponsor statement for SR 3. SR 3 was introduced to encourage nonprofits that serve military veterans to keep a greater portion of the money raised for veterans, in Alaska. Alaska is home to the highest per capita of veterans of any state in the union. Local Alaskan's are very generous with their support of our veteran population. This makes Alaska a very lucrative place to raise money by nonprofits that serve veterans. This resolution was written to encourage nonprofits to honor the commitment Alaskans make to their veterans by supporting programs for veterans and encourage nonprofits to keep the greatest amount of money possible that is raised in Alaska for Alaskan veterans. CHAIR SHOWER found no questions from the committee and turned to invited testimony. 3:44:19 PM RICHARD HELLER, representing self, Butte, Alaska, testified by invitation in support of SR 3. He spoke as a 100 percent disabled veteran to offer his perspective of nonprofits in Alaska that work for veterans. He related that since 2005 he has received help from the Veterans Administration (VA) and some nonprofits in the state. MR. HELLER stated that some of the nonprofits in Alaska that benefit veterans are fair weather and he believes they need to be controlled. He noted that in Wasilla alone there are more than 3,000 nonprofits. He said he uses the term fair weather because there is no activity in the winter months. MR. HELLER related that he and a friend have been tracking money-laundering schemes for three years. They have found a national veteran nonprofit that has received millions of dollars from Alaskans with very little return or help. He emphasized that all groups need to present their 990s [return of organizations exempt from federal income tax] on a regular basis so Alaskans understand where their donations are going and what they are doing to help Alaskan veterans. He requested the state form a committee or working group that holds all nonprofits accountable for their spending in Alaska for Alaskan veterans and whether they are using Alaska or national funds. An alternative would be to at least hold legislators accountable for veteran funding issues. 3:47:57 PM RICK CASTILLO, representing self, Anchorage, Alaska, testified by invitation in support of SR 3. He stated that he is a proud U.S. Army veteran who first came to Alaska in 2007 and quickly learned about integrity, honor, and fortitude. He found integrity to be the most profound and today he believes it is essential in all aspects of business and government. It is the root of transparency. MR. CASTILLO stated that the past few decades have seen a proliferation of NGOs [non-governmental organizations], both in- state and nationally, all of which purport to assist veterans. Some operate in several states. While many of these organizations are desperately needed, he said some are opportunistic and have done little to fulfill the mission in the state from which they have solicited donations. MR. CASTILLO stressed that his support of SR 3 is not an attack on the NGOs that work to fill the gap for veterans in their communities. Rather, he supports the resolution as a process that builds on the transparency of good government that allows NGOs to benefit from grants, federal and state funding, and charitable donations. SR 3 also serves as the foundation of a strong and charitable base in Alaska. Alaskans recognize the value and input of veterans statewide and the resolution is a promise for the state to do its due diligence. It will ensure that donors across Alaska know how much of their contributions go toward the support of veterans within Alaska and how much leaves the state for uses that are unrelated to Alaska. 3:51:10 PM KYLE KAISER, VIPER Transitions, Peters Creek, Alaska, testified by invitation in support of SR 3. He stated that VIPER Transitions is an Alaska-based veteran nonprofit and his testimony today was to highlight how incredibly hard it is for local nonprofits to compete with national nonprofits. These large organizations consume all the funding and benefits, leaving very little for the local nonprofits that are doing all they can every day to support veterans. MR. KAISER related that he is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who has committed his life to helping veterans deal with their issues that also affect communities. VIPER Transitions provides training for veterans and connects them to employment opportunities across multiple industries. VIPER also connects veterans with mental health resources. MR. KAISER stated that one of the largest frustrations this start-up nonprofit faces is tied to funding. They see private donations going to groups that do not use it to benefit Alaska veterans. It goes out of state and this needs to stop. Donors should be able to see where and how their money is spent. If the money is raised in Alaska, it should stay in Alaska and if it is raised in Alaska to support Alaska veterans, it should do that. 3:54:05 PM SENATOR HOLLAND asked if VIPER Transitions was rehabilitating a C-47 in the Federal Express hanger. MR. KAISER answered yes. SENATOR HOLLAND expressed appreciation for the work they had and likely would continue to do in Alaska. CHAIR SHOWER agreed and mentioned prospects for future projects. 3:55:11 PM SEAN BENNETT, representing self, Ninilchik, Alaska, testified by invitation in support of SR 3. He spoke as the former manager of the Alaska Wounded Warrior Project. He related that for five years he flew around the state to connect with veterans who needed help. He cited the example of going fishing with Representative Laddie Shaw and Senator Josh Revak. He said Rick Castillo Kyle Kaiser with VIPER Transitions are trying to do so much for Alaska veterans and the state is not giving sufficient support. He asked the legislature to help veterans and identified Senator Shower as veterans' voice. CHAIR SHOWER said he was committed to this effort. SENATOR REINBOLD commented that volunteers and good-hearted people make the world go round. She thanked him for the work he'd done to help Alaska veterans. MR. BENNETT repeated the plea for help. CHAIR SHOWER shared that half of his son's platoon committed suicide in the last few years. 3:58:30 PM CHAIR SHOWER opened public testimony on SR 3; finding none, he closed public testimony. CHAIR SHOWER held SR 3 in committee for future consideration.
|support 6 letters.pdf||
SSTA 3/3/2022 3:30:00 PM
|SB 167opposition letter.pdf||
SSTA 3/3/2022 3:30:00 PM