Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

03/05/2019 01:00 PM House MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
01:00:58 PM Start
01:02:03 PM HB56
01:17:51 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                         March 5, 2019                                                                                          
                           1:00 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Sharon Jackson                                                                                                   
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Chris Tuck, Vice Chair                                                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 56                                                                                                               
"An Act establishing May 15 of each year as Hmong-American                                                                      
Veterans Day."                                                                                                                  
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB  56                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ESTABLISH HMONG-AMERICAN VETERANS DAY                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TARR                                                                                              
02/20/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/20/19       (H)       MLV, CRA                                                                                               
03/05/19       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As the prime sponsor, presented HB 56.                                                                   
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:00:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GABRIELLE LEDOUX  called  the House  Special Committee  on                                                             
Military  and Veterans'  Affairs meeting  to order  at 1:00  p.m.                                                               
Representatives  Kopp,  Thompson,  Jackson,  Tarr,  Rauscher  and                                                               
LeDoux were present at the call to order.                                                                                       
          HB 56-ESTABLISH HMONG-AMERICAN VETERANS DAY                                                                       
1:02:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LEDOUX announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 56 "An  Act establishing May  15 of each  year as                                                               
Hmong-American Veterans Day."                                                                                                   
1:03:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN  TARR, Alaska State  Legislature, introduced                                                               
HB  56 as  prime  sponsor.   She  said  efforts  to honor  Hmong-                                                               
American veterans remind  her of the phrase "a promise  made is a                                                               
promise kept."                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR provided  background  information about  the                                                               
Hmong who  fought alongside  Americans during  the Secret  War in                                                               
Laos.   She said the  Hmong successfully rescued  downed American                                                               
soldiers  and assisted  in disrupting  enemy supply  routes along                                                               
the  Ho Chi  Minh Trail.   She  said tens  of thousands  of Hmong                                                               
participated  in the  war effort  and thousands  of veterans  now                                                               
reside in the United States.  She said the number of Hmong-                                                                     
American veterans in Alaska is  relatively small, but highlighted                                                               
the  pride shown  by Anchorage's  Hmong-American community.   She                                                               
said the community  has waited decades for  the veterans' service                                                               
to be acknowledged.                                                                                                             
1:05:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR recognized  other  efforts  to honor  Hmong-                                                               
American veterans.  She referenced  House Concurrent Resolution 3                                                               
[passed in the Twenty-Eighth  Alaska State Legislature] sponsored                                                               
by  Chair LeDoux  that  proclaimed May  15  to be  Hmong-American                                                               
Veterans  Day.   She  said  HB 56  would  make that  proclamation                                                               
permanent.     Representative  Tarr  shared  efforts   to  ensure                                                               
recognition of veteran status on  Alaska state driver's licenses,                                                               
which she  said would be very  meaningful.  She also  spoke about                                                               
efforts  to make  Hmong-American veterans  eligible for  military                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  explained May  15 was chosen  to acknowledge                                                               
the anniversary  of the United  States government's  first public                                                               
recognition  of  Hmong contributions  during  the  Secret War  in                                                               
Laos.   She said HB  56 would  enable celebration of  and sharing                                                               
about the Hmong-American veterans' service to the United States.                                                                
1:08:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  praised   Representative  Tarr  and  her                                                               
staff.    She recognized  that  there  are Hmong-American  Purple                                                               
Heart recipients  and intelligence officials who  are not allowed                                                               
to return to  their homeland.  She stressed the  importance of HB
1:09:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER asked  how many  Hmong-American veterans                                                               
reside in Alaska.                                                                                                               
1:09:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR answered  approximately 65.   She  clarified                                                               
these   individuals   are   veterans  who   qualify   as   having                                                               
participated  during  the  years  of  the war.    She  noted  the                                                               
youngest  of these  individuals are  now  in their  late 50s  and                                                               
early  60s.    She  said   the  establishment  of  Hmong-American                                                               
Veterans Day is important for  the veterans' families, especially                                                               
children  and   grandchildren.    She  said   the  Hmong-American                                                               
veterans  were considered  traitors  in their  homeland and  were                                                               
forced  to adopt  a new  home.   She spoke  to the  importance of                                                               
understanding and honoring one's family history.                                                                                
1:11:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked if  any  other  event or  holiday                                                               
occurs on May 15.                                                                                                               
1:11:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  answered she did not  recall any conflicting                                                               
holiday.  She said her office would double-check to be certain.                                                                 
1:12:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON   said  nearly   3,000  members   of  the                                                               
Anchorage Hmong community  hold an annual celebration  on May 15.                                                               
She  noted  there  has  never  been a  conflict  with  any  other                                                               
1:12:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP stated  that the month of May  is notable for                                                               
days of  memorial observance.   He cited Memorial Day  and Police                                                               
Officer Memorial  Week.   He said  May is the  ideal month  for a                                                               
Hmong-American  Veterans  Day.    He said  recognition  of  Hmong                                                               
sacrifices during the war is overdue.                                                                                           
1:13:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   THOMPSON   thanked   Representative   Tarr   for                                                               
introducing HB  56.   He recalled  House Bill  67 [passed  in the                                                               
Twenty-Eighth  Alaska  State  Legislature], which  he  sponsored,                                                               
that established March  26 of each year as  Vietnam Veterans Day.                                                               
He said House  Bill 67 was long  overdue then, and HB  56 is long                                                               
overdue  now.    He  mentioned   the  importance  of  choosing  a                                                               
meaningful date  and noted that  March 26 was chosen  for Vietnam                                                               
Veterans Day  because it  is the anniversary  of the  last troops                                                               
and civilian contractors being pulled out of Vietnam.                                                                           
1:14:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR praised  the  Ken  Burns documentary  series                                                               
"The  Vietnam   War"  for  its  telling   of  the  Hmong-American                                                               
veterans' story.   She echoed  that recognition for the  group is                                                               
long overdue.                                                                                                                   
1:14:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   THOMPSON    mentioned   that    "welcome   home"                                                               
certificates were  issued to Vietnam  veterans after  the passage                                                               
of House Bill  56.  He said he received  more feedback from those                                                               
certificates than anything else he  has done as a representative.                                                               
He recalled wives of veterans  telling him the certificates meant                                                               
a great deal to their husbands.                                                                                                 
1:15:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LEDOUX  said similar certificates were  presented to Hmong-                                                               
American  veterans   after  the   passage  of   House  Concurrent                                                               
Resolution 3.   She shared  her regret  that the State  of Alaska                                                               
can only do so much on  its own to honor Hmong-American veterans.                                                               
She said  promises were made to  the Hmong in Laos  by the United                                                               
States military and the CIA  representatives.  She said they were                                                               
promised they  would be treated  as veterans if they  fought with                                                               
the United States.   She mentioned it took over  a generation for                                                               
promises  made  to  Filipino  veterans  of World  War  II  to  be                                                               
honored.  She  said it was her hope  that Hmong-American veterans                                                               
will still  be alive when  the federal government  finally honors                                                               
its  commitment to  them.   She  said she  is  hopeful, "but  the                                                               
wheels of justice go exceedingly slowly."                                                                                       
1:17:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LEDOUX said  HB  56 would  be  held over.    She said  the                                                               
committee would  hear public testimony  on the bill  on Thursday,                                                               
March  7, 2019,  and  that she  expected  to move  HB  56 out  of                                                               
committee that day.                                                                                                             
1:17:51 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and Veterans'  Affairs meeting was                                                               
adjourned at 1:18 P.M.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB056 ver A 2.26.19.pdf HMLV 3/5/2019 1:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Sectional Analysis ver A 2.26.19.pdf HMLV 3/5/2019 1:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Sponsor Statement 2.26.19.pdf HMLV 3/5/2019 1:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56
HB056 Supporting Documents- Article ADN -Hmong veterans honored in Anchorage 2.26.19.pdf HMLV 3/5/2019 1:00:00 PM
HMLV 3/7/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 56