Legislature(1999 - 2000)

02/24/2000 04:40 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
             HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON                                                                                         
           MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                                       
                 February 24, 2000                                                                                              
                     4:40 p.m.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Lisa Murkowski, Chairman                                                                                         
Representative Brian Porter                                                                                                     
Representative Pete Kott                                                                                                        
Representative Sharon Cissna                                                                                                    
Representative Eric Croft                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jeannette James                                                                                                  
Representative Gail Phillips                                                                                                    
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 330                                                                                                              
"An Act establishing Prisoners of War and Missing in Action                                                                     
Recognition Days and Women Veterans Day; and providing for an                                                                   
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 330 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 331                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to payment, allowances, and benefits of members of                                                             
the Alaska National Guard and Alaska Naval Militia in active                                                                    
service; relating to computation of certain benefits for members of                                                             
the Alaska State Militia; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 332                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to payment, benefits, and work status of members                                                               
in the active service of the Alaska State Militia; and providing                                                                
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 330                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: POW/MIA DAY & WOMEN VETERANS DAY                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 2/02/00      2065     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 2/02/00      2065     (H)  MLV, STA                                                                                            
 2/02/00      2065     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DMVA)                                                                             
 2/02/00      2065     (H)  GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                       
 2/02/00      2065     (H)  REFERRED TO MLV                                                                                     
 2/24/00               (H)  MLV AT  4:30 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 331                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: ALASKA NATL GUARD/NAVAL & STATE MILITIA                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 2/02/00      2067     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 2/02/00      2067     (H)  MLV, STA, FIN                                                                                       
 2/02/00      2067     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DMVA)                                                                             
 2/02/00      2067     (H)  GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                       
 2/02/00      2067     (H)  REFERRED TO MLV                                                                                     
 2/24/00               (H)  MLV AT  4:30 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 332                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: MEMBERS OF ALASKA STATE MILITIA                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 2/02/00      2069     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 2/02/00      2069     (H)  MLV, STA, FIN                                                                                       
 2/02/00      2069     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DMVA)                                                                             
 2/02/00      2069     (H)  GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                       
 2/02/00      2069     (H)  REFERRED TO MLV                                                                                     
 2/24/00               (H)  MLV AT  4:30 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
LADDIE SHAW, State Veteran Affairs Coordinator                                                                                  
Department of Military & Veterans Affairs                                                                                       
PO Box 5800                                                                                                                     
Camp Denali                                                                                                                     
Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-0800                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 330.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ED KNOEBEL                                                                                                                      
PO Box 84                                                                                                                       
Glennallen, Alaska 99588                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on HB 330, HB 331 and HB 332.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CAROL CARROLL, Director                                                                                                         
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Administrative Services Division                                                                                                
Department of Military & Veterans Affairs                                                                                       
400 Willoughby Avenue, Suite 500                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented HB 331 and HB 332.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CRAIG CHRISTENSEN, Colonel                                                                                                      
Deputy STARC Commander                                                                                                          
Alaska Army National Guard                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans Affairs                                                                                       
PO Box 5800                                                                                                                     
Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-0800                                                                                              
National Guard Armory                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 331.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
RICK TURCIC, Administrative Officer                                                                                             
Fort Richardson Office                                                                                                          
Administrative Services Division                                                                                                
Department of Military & Veterans Affairs                                                                                       
PO Box 5800                                                                                                                     
Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-0800                                                                                              
National Guard Armory                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 331.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS S. WESTALL, Brigadier General                                                                                            
49th Civil Support Brigade                                                                                                      
Alaska State Defense Force/Alaska State Militia                                                                                 
PO Box 5800                                                                                                                     
Fort Richardson, Alaska 99505-0800                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 332.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-05, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN LISA MURKOWSKI called the House Special Committee on                                                                   
Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting to order at 4:40 p.m.                                                                    
Members present at the call to order were Representatives                                                                       
Murkowski, Porter and Croft.  Representatives Kott and Cissna                                                                   
arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 330 - POW/MIA DAY & WOMEN VETERANS DAY                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced the first order of business as HB 330,                                                             
"An Act establishing Prisoners of War and Missing in Action                                                                     
Recognition Days and Women Veterans Day; and providing for an                                                                   
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0105                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LADDIE SHAW, State Veteran Affairs Coordinator, Department of                                                                   
Military & Veterans Affairs, testified via teleconference from                                                                  
Anchorage.  The department fully supports the bill.  Having spent                                                               
quality time with a number of prisoners of war from World War II                                                                
and Korea, he said, they put a tremendous value on this type of                                                                 
recognition.  He also noted that there was standing room only last                                                              
November [1999] for the first acknowledged day for women veterans.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0221                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI asked Mr. Shaw whether the dates reflected in                                                                
the bill are in conjunction with nationally recognized dates.  In                                                               
other words:  How have these dates been arrived at?                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHAW replied there are two dates for prisoner of war/missing in                                                             
action recognition.  One is a recognition and one is a noted                                                                    
federal day of recognition.  The date in September is a nationally                                                              
recognized holiday.  The date in April is for the Fall of Batan.                                                                
The individuals who have presented the April date are from the                                                                  
World War II Era.  The individuals who have presented the September                                                             
date are from the Vietnam Era.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI asked Mr. Shaw, What about the Women Veterans                                                                
Day of November 9?                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHAW replied that date has been acknowledged as a day of                                                                    
recognition.  He's not sure, however, whether or not it's a                                                                     
nationally observed day.  He is only aware of the observance held                                                               
in Anchorage.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0400                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI pointed out that November 9 is only two days                                                                 
before the nationally recognized Veterans Day of November 11.  She                                                              
wondered whether there would be any overshadowing.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHAW replied he can't say for sure why November 9 was chosen,                                                               
but he has attended both events, and they were both well-attended                                                               
by each group.  There wasn't a lack of recognition for either day.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0556                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ED KNOEBEL testified via teleconference from Glennallen as a                                                                    
retired veteran of World War II.  He's all for the bill.  It's                                                                  
about time the women are recognized.  He said, "They helped take                                                                
part just as much as some of the men did."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0618                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER made a motion to move HB 330 out of                                                                 
committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal                                                              
note.  There being no objection, HB 330 so moved from the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HB 331 - ALASKA NATL GUARD/NAVAL & STATE MILITIA                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced the next order of business as HB 331,                                                              
"An Act relating to payment, allowances, and benefits of members of                                                             
the Alaska National Guard and Alaska Naval Militia in active                                                                    
service; relating to computation of certain benefits for members of                                                             
the Alaska State Militia; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0646                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CAROL CARROLL, Director, Central Office, Administrative Services                                                                
Division, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, came before                                                                
the committee to present HB 331.  The purpose of the bill is to                                                                 
streamline administrative processes for the department when                                                                     
individuals of the Alaska National Guard and Alaska Naval Militia                                                               
are called to active service for the state.  The bill would change                                                              
the current method of calculating pay and allowances to a simple                                                                
rate of 200 percent of the minimum daily basic pay [Section 1].                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL further explained Section 2, of the bill, would change                                                              
the current method of calculating workers' compensation [benefits]                                                              
to the same simple rate of 200 percent of the minimum daily basic                                                               
pay.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL further explained Section 3, of the bill, is complex;                                                               
it is based on HB 332, which deals with members of the Alaska State                                                             
Defense Force/Alaska State Militia.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL distributed to the committee members a handout                                                                      
entitled, "Calculation of State Active Duty," which illustrates the                                                             
current steps and proposed steps in calculating daily base pay and                                                              
allowances.  She pointed out that one staff person for the                                                                      
department calculates the figures manually - Rick Turcic.  He is                                                                
online to answer any technical questions.  The current method                                                                   
calculates allowances separately, while the proposed method takes                                                               
an individual's base pay and multiplies that figure by 200 percent,                                                             
thereby cutting administrative overhead and burden.  She indicated                                                              
that the change really doesn't impact pay, even though some would                                                               
be paid more and some would be paid less.  It would depend on an                                                                
individual's years of service.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0934                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT asked Ms. Carroll, How much less and how                                                               
much more would a member's pay be affected?                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL replied a general, for example, would get $365 a day                                                                
under the bill compared to $337.  She pointed out that most                                                                     
generals are not called to active service, however.  She further                                                                
cited a technical or staff sergeant would get a minimum of $101 a                                                               
day under the bill.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CRAIG CHRISTENSEN, Colonel, Deputy STARC Commander, Alaska Army                                                                 
National Guard, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs,                                                                      
testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  He interjected and                                                                
stated most colonels have over 20 years of service; most lieutenant                                                             
colonels have over 16 years of service; and most majors have over                                                               
12 years of service.  He further noted the following estimated base                                                             
pay changes under the bill:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Colonel - $3 less per day;                                                                                                 
     Lieutenant Colonel - $36 less per day;                                                                                     
     Major - $25 less per day;                                                                                                  
     Captain - $18 less per day;                                                                                                
     First Lieutenant - "a wash";                                                                                               
     Second Lieutenant - $23 more per day;                                                                                      
     Warrant Officer - $20 to $25 less per day, depending on                                                                    
     an individual's range;                                                                                                     
     W2 - "a wash";                                                                                                             
     Junior W1 - $11 more per day;                                                                                              
     First Sergeants - $11 more per day;                                                                                        
     Master Sergeants - $20 less per day;                                                                                       
     Below E8 - state minimum per day of $105.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said he doesn't mind the "guys at the top"                                                                  
getting less.  He doesn't want the "guys at the bottom" to be                                                                   
affected; they are the ones who need it the most.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CAROL CARROLL pointed out that her comment earlier meant the                                                                    
proposed changes wouldn't cost the state because they would average                                                             
out, but there may be some individual differences.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL CHRISTENSEN echoed the earlier comments of Ms. Carroll in                                                               
that the administrative burden doesn't seem to make sense when                                                                  
parity can be reached in a more efficient and streamlined manner.                                                               
He asked that the committee members support the bill.  It would                                                                 
help the Alaska National Guard and state provide immediate pay                                                                  
transactions and minimize any errors.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1204                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI asked Colonel Christensen how other states                                                                   
calculate these benefits.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL CHRISTENSEN replied it varies [from state-to-state].  Some                                                              
states do a manual calculation like Alaska, while a number of                                                                   
states, especially the western states, have changed their                                                                       
procedures to what the bill proposes.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1260                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RICK TURCIC, Administrative Officer, Fort Richardson Office,                                                                    
Administrative Services Division, Department of Military & Veterans                                                             
Affairs, testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  The current                                                              
procedure is extremely work intensive, especially in the case of a                                                              
disaster.  He explained that calculating daily base pay requires                                                                
345 separate calculations because of pay grades and pay raises.  In                                                             
addition, calculating allowances forces him to utilize the                                                                      
Department of Defense's Web Site in order to get current figures;                                                               
they change periodically.  He also has to factor marital status and                                                             
number of dependents, which all affect what figure to use.  The                                                                 
proposed system, therefore, would save the department a lot of work                                                             
and would minimize the possibility of any errors.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Ed KNOEBEL testified via teleconference from Glennallen.  He                                                                    
suggested including language to indicate whichever calculation is                                                               
higher, but he's not so sure that would work.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI closed the meeting to public testimony.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced that the bill would be held over in                                                                
order to incorporate provisions from HB 332.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB 332 - MEMBERS OF ALASKA STATE MILITIA                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced the next order of business as HB 332,                                                              
"An Act relating to payment, benefits, and work status of members                                                               
in the active service of the Alaska State Militia; and providing                                                                
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CAROL CARROLL, Director, Central Office, Administrative Services                                                                
Division, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, came before                                                                
the committee to present HB 332.  The purpose of the bill is to                                                                 
provide a statutory method to pay members of the Alaska State                                                                   
Defense Force/Alaska State Militia when called to active service.                                                               
She noted that the defense force/militia is part of the organized                                                               
militia, but they are treated differently than the Alaska National                                                              
Guard and Alaska Naval Militia - the national guard and militia are                                                             
federally based and have a federal pay structure.  The bill                                                                     
suggests that the members of the defense force/militia would be                                                                 
paid as if they were state employees.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARROLL further stated the department was notified last year by                                                             
the Department of Law that they were paying members of the defense                                                              
force/militia inappropriately.  Since that time, the department has                                                             
been paying those members as non-permanent state employees, which                                                               
creates some discomfort and confusion.  The bill, therefore,                                                                    
clarifies that they are members of the Alaska State Defense                                                                     
Force/Alaska State Militia; that they are under its command                                                                     
structure; that they are subject to its discipline; but that they                                                               
are to be paid using a state scale.  The bill would also change how                                                             
they are paid for workers' compensation [benefits].  She further                                                                
pointed out that HB 332 is referred to in HB 331, and that merging                                                              
them would simplify both bills.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1536                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS S. WESTALL, Brigadier General, 49th Civil Support Brigade,                                                               
Alaska State Defense Force/Alaska State Militia, testified via                                                                  
teleconference from Anchorage.  The defense force/militia does a                                                                
lot of volunteer work without pay and will continue to do so, but                                                               
there are times when the governor needs them for state missions,                                                                
i.e. disasters.  They are called under Title 26, which gives them                                                               
a full range of duties and protections.  For instance, when under                                                               
Title 26 their jobs are protected, but when under Title 39 as state                                                             
employees their jobs are not protected.  Furthermore, a reason that                                                             
they need some compensation is because those who volunteer in the                                                               
spirit of a true militia, as George Washington envisioned, give                                                                 
time away from their jobs and families, when they have house                                                                    
payments and car payments like everybody else.  They don't expect                                                               
to get rich, but they need some compensation and protection so that                                                             
they can continue their lives.  He said, "Can you imagine asking                                                                
your employer if you can go do another job?  They might just ask                                                                
you to continue doing it."  This is a very important bill for the                                                               
Alaska State Defense Force/Alaska State Militia.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1654                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI asked General Westall whether it's correct to                                                                
say that the defense force/militia members receive some                                                                         
compensation when called on by the governor, but that they perform                                                              
many volunteer services.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL WESTALL replied that's correct.  He cited that the defense                                                              
force/militia will provide military police support for the Iditarod                                                             
restart for the City of Wasilla, so that the city doesn't have to                                                               
uncover their normal patrols.  He pointed out that it's important                                                               
to keep in mind when they are called on for a disaster they have to                                                             
go; they cannot say no.  He said, "I have to tell you something.                                                                
They have never, never, ever not wanted to report for duty.                                                                     
Everyone is so excited about being in the defense force that                                                                    
they're very anxious to do this.  And, that's why we do a lot of                                                                
these unpaid services."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1756                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ED KNOEBEL testified via teleconference from Glennallen.  As a                                                                  
member of a defense force, he understands that a person is covered                                                              
under workers' compensation when traveling to and from state duty.                                                              
He asked whether the bill would extend that [benefit] to volunteer                                                              
duty.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL WESTALL answered yes.  The current statute and proposed                                                                 
statute would cover an individual in an unpaid status.  An                                                                      
individual under orders, however, is covered from portal-to-portal,                                                             
which gives additional protection.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI closed the meeting to public testimony.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced that the bill would be held over in                                                                
order to "fine-tune" it.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, Chairman                                                                  
Murkowski adjourned the House Special Committee on Military and                                                                 
Veterans' Affairs meeting at 5:10 p.m.                                                                                          

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