Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

04/18/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         April 18, 2017                                                                                         
                           3:06 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Chair                                                                                   
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Andy Josephson (alternate)                                                                                       
Representative Chuck Kopp (alternate)                                                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 235                                                                                                              
"An Act creating the North Star Medal."                                                                                         
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 125                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to a veteran's designation on an identification                                                                
card or a driver's license for Hmong veterans and Lao veterans."                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 224                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to reemployment of persons who retire under the                                                                
teachers' retirement system."                                                                                                   
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 235                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: NORTH STAR MEDAL                                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                    
04/16/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/16/17       (H)       STA                                                                                                    
04/18/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
BILL: HB 125                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LAO/HMONG VETERAN DRIVER'S LIC. & ID CARD                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) TARR                                                                                              
02/15/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/15/17       (H)       MLV, STA                                                                                               
04/04/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
04/04/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/04/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
04/06/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
04/06/17       (H)       Moved HB 125 Out of Committee                                                                          
04/06/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
04/07/17       (H)       MLV RPT 5DP 1NR                                                                                        
04/07/17       (H)       DP:    SPOHNHOLZ,   REINBOLD,    PARISH,                                                               
                         SADDLER, TUCK                                                                                          
04/07/17       (H)       NR: RAUSCHER                                                                                           
04/18/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
BILL: HB 224                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) JOHNSTON                                                                                          
04/10/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/10/17       (H)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
04/18/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
STEPHANIE GILARDI, Staff                                                                                                        
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 235 on behalf of                                                                            
Representative Kreiss-Tomkins, prime sponsor.                                                                                   
BOB LYNN                                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
WALT MONEGAN, Commissioner Designee                                                                                             
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
ED MERCER, Deputy Chief                                                                                                         
Juneau Police Department (JPD)                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
DAVID CAMPBELL, Lieutenant                                                                                                      
Juneau Police Department (JPD)                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
DARYL WEBSTER, Assistant Superintendent                                                                                         
Lemon Creek Correctional Center (LCCC)                                                                                          
Department of Corrections (DOC)                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
TROY LARUE, Division Operations Manager                                                                                         
Statewide Aviation                                                                                                              
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
STEVE BEAR, Colonel, Director                                                                                                   
Division of Alaska Wildlife Troopers (AWT)                                                                                      
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
NICK SZABO, Vice President                                                                                                      
Alaska Search and Rescue Association (ASARA)                                                                                    
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 235.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 125, as prime sponsor.                                                                      
VERDIE BOWEN, Director                                                                                                          
Veterans Affairs                                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 125.                                                                          
MAI XIONG                                                                                                                       
Hmong Alaska Community Inc.                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 125.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER JOHNSTON                                                                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 224, as prime sponsor.                                                                      
ROBERT ERVINE, Staff                                                                                                            
Representative Jennifer Johnston                                                                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented the Sectional Analysis  of HB 224                                                             
on behalf of Representative Johnston, prime sponsor.                                                                            
LISA PARADY, PhD, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA)                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified and  answered questions during the                                                             
hearing  on HB  224, with  the use  of a  PowerPoint presentation                                                               
NORM WOOTEN, Executive Director                                                                                                 
Alaska Association of School Boards (AASB)                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 224.                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:06:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS  called  the  House State  Affairs                                                             
Standing   Committee    meeting   to    order   at    3:06   p.m.                                                               
Representatives  Tuck,  Wool,   Birch,  and  Kreiss-Tomkins  were                                                               
present  at  the  call  to order.    Representatives  LeDoux  and                                                               
Johnson arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                 
                    HB 235-NORTH STAR MEDAL                                                                                 
3:07:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the first  order of business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 235,  "An Act  creating the  North Star                                                               
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS,  as prime  sponsor of  HB 235,  stated that                                                               
the intent  of HB 235  is to  recognize first responders  and law                                                               
enforcement personnel  at the state  level like the  Purple Heart                                                               
does  on the  national level.    He mentioned  that the  proposed                                                               
legislation was  the idea of  former Representative Bob  Lynn and                                                               
resulted from collaboration with Mr. Lynn.                                                                                      
3:09:14 PM                                                                                                                    
STEPHANIE   GILARDI,  Staff,   Representative  Jonathan   Kreiss-                                                               
Tomkins, Alaska  State Legislature,  on behalf  of Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins,  prime sponsor  of  HB 235,  stated  that HB  235                                                               
would create the North Star Medal,  which would serve as a symbol                                                               
of gratitude  from the people  of Alaska to first  responders and                                                               
law enforcement personnel.  She  asserted that the medal is meant                                                               
to  be  a  rare  and  high  honor  awarded  by  the  governor  to                                                               
individuals who are  injured or killed in the line  of duty while                                                               
exhibiting  great   courage  in  the  service   of  their  fellow                                                               
Alaskans.  She said that  firefighters, peace officers, emergency                                                               
medical  technicians   (EMTs),  and   search  and   rescue  (SAR)                                                               
volunteers would all be eligible for  the award.  The category of                                                               
peace  officer includes  police officers,  Village Public  Safety                                                               
Officers (VPSOs), Alaska State  Trooper (AST) troopers, municipal                                                               
police, and corrections officers.                                                                                               
MS. GILARDI relayed  that other states, such  as Idaho, Illinois,                                                               
Oregon, and Texas, have similar  awards honoring first responders                                                               
and  law  enforcement for  meritorious  conduct  and/or death  or                                                               
injury in  the line of  duty.   She maintained that  the proposed                                                               
legislation  would  create an  award  that  would honor  Alaska's                                                               
fallen heroes.                                                                                                                  
MS.  GILARDI  stated that  there  is  one comparable  award  that                                                               
currently  exists in  Alaska  -  the Alaska  Medal  of Heroism  -                                                               
created  by  the legislature  in  1965,  which has  been  awarded                                                               
several  times  to recognize  heroic  and  valorous deeds.    She                                                               
offered  that the  difference  [between that  medal  and the  one                                                               
currently being  proposed] is  that the  Alaska Medal  of Heroism                                                               
can  be awarded  to  any person  and most  often  is awarded  for                                                               
spontaneous acts  of bravery,  such as  saving people  from fire,                                                               
car crashes, or airplane wrecks.   The North Star Medal would not                                                               
duplicate this award.   While the recipients of  the Alaska Medal                                                               
of  Heroism are  ordinary  citizens  responding to  extraordinary                                                               
events with courage, the North  Star Medal would honor people who                                                               
"show up" each day knowing that  during their work, they could be                                                               
asked to sacrifice their lives to protect their fellow Alaskans.                                                                
MS. GILARDI  relayed that  nominations for  the North  Star Medal                                                               
may originate  within communities  and [state] departments.   The                                                               
nominee  names   would  be  passed  on   to  the  highest-ranking                                                               
supervisor in  that department and forwarded  to the commissioner                                                               
of the  Department of Public  Safety (DPS), who would  review the                                                               
nominations  and pass  them on  to the  governor.   She said  the                                                               
medals would be  awarded by the governor in  a ceremony occurring                                                               
no more  than once per year;  if the honoree is  no longer living                                                               
or unable to  accept the award, it would be  presented to his/her                                                               
next of kin.                                                                                                                    
MS.  GILARDI related  that staff  has been  working closely  with                                                               
DPS;  the DPS  already creates  and  designs awards  for its  own                                                               
employees  and would  be amenable  to  designing this  one.   She                                                               
thanked  Commissioner  Monegan  for  assisting  with  naming  the                                                               
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  mentioned that  HB 235 would  complement HB
23  [signed  into  law  6/21/17],   which  created  benefits  for                                                               
survivors of those felled in the line of duty.                                                                                  
3:13:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked  if the Purple Heart may  be awarded to                                                               
a  member of  the  [Alaska] National  Guard or  a  member of  the                                                               
organized militia of Alaska who respond to emergencies.                                                                         
MS. GILARDI responded  that there is a military  honor, which was                                                               
created in 2007  - the Alaska Declaration of Honor  - that may be                                                               
awarded to members of the military such as guardsmen.                                                                           
3:13:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked  which award - the  North Star Medal                                                               
or the Alaska  Medal of Heroism - would be  appropriate for a SAR                                                               
MS. GILARDI answered  that she included the  SAR volunteers among                                                               
those  eligible  for  the  North Star  Medal  because  they  work                                                               
closely with law  enforcement and have made  commitments to serve                                                               
in an organization  devoted to helping other people;  they are on                                                               
call  like  first  responders;  and   they  are  willing  to  put                                                               
themselves in danger.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON offered that  SAR volunteers would be like                                                               
volunteer  firefighters who  are members  of an  active volunteer                                                               
MS. GILARDI replied, that's correct.                                                                                            
3:15:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  referred to  the  letter,  included in  the                                                               
committee   packet,  from   the   Alaska  Correctional   Officers                                                               
Association  (ACOA) and  asked for  confirmation that  this group                                                               
would be included under the category "peace officers."                                                                          
MS. GILARDI answered, "Yes they are."                                                                                           
3:16:05 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB LYNN  testified, "There  is a medal  that Alaska  needs, that                                                               
too many people deserve, but nobody  wants."  He relayed that the                                                               
U.S.  Armed Forces  has the  Purple  Heart, which  is awarded  to                                                               
someone  who is  wounded  or  killed in  a  hostile  action.   He                                                               
maintained that  Alaska law enforcement heroes  and those working                                                               
with  them, who  are  wounded  or killed  by  hostile actions  by                                                               
opponents of  law and order -  thugs, criminals, and the  scum of                                                               
humanity - are  deserving of such a  medal.  He said  that HB 235                                                               
proposes  such a  medal, which  would be  titled the  "North Star                                                               
Medal."   He offered that  Alaska's budget issues  are important,                                                               
but  so   is  honoring  law  enforcement   through  the  proposed                                                               
legislation.  He stated that without  the help and support of the                                                               
military overseas and law enforcement  at home, all other issues,                                                               
including budget issues,  are moot.  He maintained  that when law                                                               
enforcement  officers   are  wounded  or  killed   on  behalf  of                                                               
Alaskans, there needs  to be special recognition by  the State of                                                               
Alaska; that  is what  is proposed  under HB 235;  and it  is the                                                               
least Alaska can do.                                                                                                            
MR. LYNN  stated that he has  a special interest in  the proposed                                                               
legislation due to  having been a law officer  himself and having                                                               
many family members  in law enforcement.  He said,  "By the grace                                                               
of God,  none of our family  were ever wounded or  killed, but we                                                               
had comrades  and friends  who were."   He maintained  that these                                                               
people  should have  been awarded  special  recognition by  their                                                               
states, just  as a  member of  the military  is awarded  a Purple                                                               
Heart by  a grateful nation.   He urged the committee  to pass HB
3:19:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  expressed his appreciation and  support for                                                               
the proposed legislation.                                                                                                       
3:20:27 PM                                                                                                                    
WALT MONEGAN, Commissioner Designee,  Department of Public Safety                                                               
(DPS),  stated that  his father,  Walt Monegan,  Jr., was  a U.S.                                                               
(Marine Corps)  marine, killed  in action  during the  Korean War                                                               
and  posthumously  awarded  the  Congressional  Medal  of  Honor.                                                               
Commissioner  Monegan  relayed that  he  was  in utero  when  his                                                               
father died, so  never met his father.  He  stated that the medal                                                               
is proudly  displayed in his  home and  has served as  a physical                                                               
reminder since childhood that "I,  too, must believe in something                                                               
larger than myself."                                                                                                            
Commissioner  Monegan offered  that  the  award being  considered                                                               
under HB  235 is  a similar  form of  recognition [as  the Purple                                                               
Heart]  of a  first  responder who  has answered  a  threat in  a                                                               
manner that is above and beyond  the call of duty.  He maintained                                                               
that the medal  will honor its wearer and his/her  family, and it                                                               
will serve  as a reminder  that there  are still brave  and noble                                                               
Alaskans  who  also  believe  in  things  that  are  bigger  than                                                               
3:22:10 PM                                                                                                                    
ED MERCER, Deputy Chief, Juneau  Police Department (JPD), relayed                                                               
a story of heroism and sacrifice  as follows:  On April 2015, two                                                               
general police officers responded to  a call involving an airline                                                               
passenger  who violated  a rule  on the  airplane.   The officers                                                               
contacted  the  passenger  near  the  tarmac,  who  provided  the                                                               
officers  with a  fake name,  then became  increasingly agitated.                                                               
The  man took  off  running  toward the  restricted  area of  the                                                               
tarmac, and both officers pursued him.   After a brief chase, the                                                               
officers tackled  the man;  the man tried  to take  one officer's                                                               
handgun; and the  other officer tried to subdue  the man applying                                                               
several  soft- and  hard-hand techniques  to no  avail.   The man                                                               
continued  to try  to remove  the  officer's gun,  but the  other                                                               
officer hit the man until the  man stopped.  The man then started                                                               
to grab the officer's taser and  was stopped only after the other                                                               
officer pulled out  his taser and demanded the man  to stop.  The                                                               
man  was  arrested,   and  JPD  learned  that  the   man  had  an                                                               
outstanding  warrant  in another  state.    Although no  one  was                                                               
killed in this incident, one  of the officers sustained an injury                                                               
resulting in months of missed work, surgery, and rehabilitation.                                                                
MR.  MERCER  stated that  he  believes  policing  is one  of  the                                                               
noblest  professions a  person can  undertake.   It  is one  with                                                               
incredible  rewards  and  responsibilities; however,  it  is  not                                                               
without risk or sacrifice.  He  said that the story he related is                                                               
just  one  example, and  he  maintained  that across  Alaska  law                                                               
enforcement, fire fighters, first  responders, and SAR volunteers                                                               
risk their lives  daily in service to the  communities of Alaska.                                                               
He asserted  that it is  for this reason  he supports HB  235 and                                                               
the North Star Medal.                                                                                                           
3:24:32 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  CAMPBELL, Lieutenant,  Juneau  Police Department,  relayed                                                               
that in preparation for testifying,  he walked through the police                                                               
department and  asked each officer he  encountered whether he/she                                                               
had  ever been  injured or  assaulted in  the line  of duty.   He                                                               
stated that except  for two officers, every officer  with whom he                                                               
spoke had been assaulted.  He  offered that he has been assaulted                                                               
four times over the course of his  22 years with JPD.  He related                                                               
the story  of one officer:   The  officer arrested a  suspect who                                                               
sucker  punched him,  grabbed him  in  a headlock,  and tried  to                                                               
gouge  out his  eye.   The  officer was  rescued  by an  off-duty                                                               
police officer from  Colorado; the suspect was  tasered and taken                                                               
into custody.   The officer missed  time from work while  his eye                                                               
was recovering from a scratched cornea.                                                                                         
MR.  CAMPBELL  attested  to  the  humility  of  that  officer  in                                                               
relating his story and of all  the officers who told Mr. Campbell                                                               
of their injuries  on the job.   He stated that he  looked at the                                                               
Law  Enforcement Officers  Killed and  Assaulted (LEOKA)  Program                                                               
statistics for  2016 and learned  that for JPD with  55 officers,                                                               
there were 20 reports of officers  injured in the line of duty by                                                               
assaultive behavior.                                                                                                            
MR. CAMPBELL maintained that the North  Star Medal is a good idea                                                               
for two reasons.  First,  it would counteract "police cynicism" -                                                               
the tendency  of police officers  to contract a negative  view of                                                               
society  after  dealing  with  negative things  every  day.    He                                                               
maintained that  two of  his favorite  days of  the year  are the                                                               
[National]  Police Memorial  Day and  the National  Night Out  in                                                               
Juneau, because  regular citizens  come out  to these  events and                                                               
thank the police for the work  they do; it demonstrates to police                                                               
officers that  there are good  people "out there" who  care about                                                               
them.   He asserted  that this  medal would  represent a  show of                                                               
support and respect from the highest office in the state.                                                                       
MR. CAMPBELL offered the second  reason that the North Star Medal                                                               
is  a good  idea:   the  average  citizen in  the  state may  not                                                               
realize how dangerous  it is to be a law  enforcement officer; it                                                               
would  be a  reminder that  not  just those  making the  ultimate                                                               
sacrifice should be  recognized, but people who  get assaulted on                                                               
a regular  basis.  He suggested  that the award may  counter some                                                               
of the  negative rhetoric against  police officers,  heard across                                                               
the nation.                                                                                                                     
3:27:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHNSON  thanked   the  officers   for  serving;                                                               
mentioned that  she has attended  the [National]  Police Memorial                                                               
Day  in Anchorage;  and expressed  her support  for the  proposed                                                               
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS concurred.                                                                                                 
3:28:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked if any  police officers  have received                                                               
the Alaska Medal of Heroism.                                                                                                    
MR.  CAMPBELL replied  that  he  did not  know,  but  JPD has  an                                                               
internal process  to bestow awards;  the officer in  Mr. Mercer's                                                               
narration  was  given a  local  award.    He maintained  that  he                                                               
supports  the North  Star Medal  for law  enforcement as  well as                                                               
civilians, because  he believes that statewide  recognition would                                                               
"go a  long way" to let  Alaskans know that sacrifices  are being                                                               
3:29:54 PM                                                                                                                    
DARYL    WEBSTER,   Assistant    Superintendent,   Lemon    Creek                                                               
Correctional  Center  (LCCC),  Department of  Corrections  (DOC),                                                               
testified  that he  is in  support of  HB 235,  because he  was a                                                               
police officer for 28 years before  working for DOC.  He said his                                                               
father  was  a  police  officer;  and as  a  child,  Mr.  Webster                                                               
experienced his  first police officer  funeral when  his father's                                                               
best friend  was shot to  death, while  on duty, by  a barricaded                                                               
armed robber.   He relayed that  during the time he  was a police                                                               
officer, he  attended the funerals  of two of his  coworkers, who                                                               
were shot  to death.   He added that  many of his  coworkers have                                                               
been injured, as has he.                                                                                                        
MR. WEBSTER asserted that he  is sensitive to the sacrifices that                                                               
Alaska's first  responders make  and the  need to  recognize them                                                               
for those sacrifices.  He maintained  that the award would send a                                                               
message to  Alaska's emergency service workers  that Alaskans are                                                               
aware of  what they  do.  He  offered that it  is easy  for first                                                               
responders   to   feel  that   their   work   and  suffering   is                                                               
unappreciated  except  by  their   coworkers;  they  need  to  be                                                               
reminded that  Alaskans understand "what they're  going through."                                                               
He asserted  that workers in  this field recognize that  they may                                                               
be injured  or killed, but  they want it  to mean something.   He                                                               
offered that sometimes all that is  needed is a small but sincere                                                               
gesture to  inspire other people to  heroic service, and it  is a                                                               
gesture worth making.                                                                                                           
MR. WEBSTER reiterated that the  award would demonstrate Alaska's                                                               
recognition  that the  sacrifice  of an  officer  is not  his/her                                                               
sacrifice  alone   but  is  the  sacrifice   of  his/her  family,                                                               
colleagues,  and  society.    He  offered  his  support  for  the                                                               
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
3:32:20 PM                                                                                                                    
TROY  LARUE,  Division  Operations Manager,  Statewide  Aviation,                                                               
Department  of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF),                                                               
testified  that   he  has  worked   with  many   dedicated  first                                                               
responders across  the state for 20  years.  He said  that Alaska                                                               
has an  extremely diverse  population in all  walks of  life, but                                                               
saving lives transcends all personal  differences.  He maintained                                                               
that  emergency responders,  whether  volunteers  or paid  staff,                                                               
spend countless hours  in training and preparation  to save lives                                                               
and  property.    He  stated that  when  an  emergency  responder                                                               
arrives  at  a  scene,  most  of  the  time  he/she  has  limited                                                               
information as  to what  he/she might be  facing; the  first rule                                                               
for a responder is "to stay the  rescuer and not join the list of                                                               
people  who need  to be  rescued."   He  said that  unfortunately                                                               
there are occasions  when some of Alaska's  first responders find                                                               
themselves in harm's way; and Alaska  needs a clear vision of how                                                               
it  honors  its  fallen  and injured  emergency  personnel.    He                                                               
expressed his  belief that  HB 235  is more  than a  provision to                                                               
hand  out  awards;  it  is  a method  to  show  appreciation  for                                                               
personal sacrifice when tragedy strikes.                                                                                        
3:34:23 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE  BEAR,  Colonel,  Director,  Division  of  Alaska  Wildlife                                                               
Troopers  (AWT), Department  of  Public  Safety (DPS),  testified                                                               
that the  Purple Heart  was created  for military  personnel many                                                               
years ago, because it realized  the importance of recognizing the                                                               
sacrifices that people  make, and the North Star  Medal would "go                                                               
a long  way" towards doing  the same.   He mentioned that  in his                                                               
many years  with DPS  and the  military, he  has become  aware of                                                               
many people deserving of such a  medal and the importance of such                                                               
recognition  to their  families.   He offered  that these  public                                                               
servants work  for individual departments but  serve all citizens                                                               
of the  State of Alaska.   He expressed his appreciation  for the                                                               
inclusion  of SAR  volunteers, because  there are  many organized                                                               
SAR  groups who  save many  lives every  year; and  without their                                                               
service, there would be many more deaths in Alaska.                                                                             
3:36:43 PM                                                                                                                    
NICK SZABO, Vice President, Alaska  Search and Rescue Association                                                               
(ASARA),  referred  to the  letter  from  Corey Aist,  President,                                                               
ASARA [included in  the committee packet].  He  stated that ASARA                                                               
represents  over 750  SAR volunteers  across the  state, who  are                                                               
organized into  about 50  SAR teams;  most are  unpaid volunteers                                                               
dispatched by the Alaska State  Troopers (AST) [DPS] to assist in                                                               
searching  for and  rescuing lost  people in  the wilderness  and                                                               
back country.   He  pointed out  that HB 235  would not  cost the                                                               
state money.   He  maintained that ASARA  fully supports  HB 235,                                                               
and he urged the committee to support the proposed legislation.                                                                 
3:38:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  reiterated   that  she  appreciates  the                                                               
proposed  legislation, especially  considering  the  size of  the                                                               
state and the abundance of outdoor activity in the state.                                                                       
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 235 would be held over.                                                                  
        HB 125-LAO/HMONG VETERAN DRIVER'S LIC. & ID CARD                                                                    
3:40:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that  the next order  of business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 125,  "An Act  relating to  a veteran's                                                               
designation on an  identification card or a  driver's license for                                                               
Hmong veterans and Lao veterans."                                                                                               
3:40:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GERAN TARR,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                               
sponsor  of HB  125,  stated that  the  intent of  HB  125 is  to                                                               
recognize Hmong  veterans living in  Alaska for their  service to                                                               
the country by designating their  driver's licenses.  She offered                                                               
that  many people  do not  know about  the service  of the  Hmong                                                               
veterans.   During the  Vietnam War, there  was a  United Nations                                                               
(UN) agreement that  forbid the U.S. from  committing U.S. troops                                                               
in  Laos.   As a  result, the  Central Intelligence  Agency (CIA)                                                               
launched a covert operation training  and funding Hmong soldiers:                                                               
first to retrieve the bodies  of pilots whose planes had crashed;                                                               
and  then  to block  supplies  and  attack North  Vietnamese  and                                                               
Communist  troops.   An  estimated 30,000  people,  more than  10                                                               
percent of the Hmong population in  Laos, were killed in the war,                                                               
and  about 100,000  Hmong  became refugees  inside  Laos; and  it                                                               
remains a hostile situation for those refugees to this day.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  said that beginning  in the late  1970s, the                                                               
U.S.  and other  nations  began resettling  the Hmong;  currently                                                               
6,000 Hmong  live in Alaska.   She relayed that it  has been more                                                               
than 40  years since  the Vietnam War  ended, but  Hmong veterans                                                               
have never received proper recognition  for their service.  There                                                               
have  been  efforts at  the  national  level: U.S.  Senator  Lisa                                                               
Murkowski  introduced legislation  in Congress  that would  allow                                                               
Hmong  veterans  to  be  buried  in  national  cemeteries  [Hmong                                                               
Veterans'   Service  Recognition   Act].     Representative  Tarr                                                               
maintained  that General  Vang Pao,  a well-known  leader in  the                                                               
Hmong [American] community, wished to  be buried at the Arlington                                                               
National Cemetery upon his death, but the law did not allow it.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  relayed that the proposed  legislation would                                                               
allow  a  designation  on  a  driver's  license  identifying  the                                                               
individual as  a veteran,  thus making  him/her eligible  for any                                                               
services   or  benefits   available  to   someone  with   such  a                                                               
designation.   She requested the  committee to move  the proposed                                                               
legislation forward; there are only  a few dozen people who would                                                               
qualify; they  can verify  their service; and  they are  in their                                                               
sixties and  seventies.  She  expressed her hope that  Alaska can                                                               
honor their service before they've all passed away.                                                                             
3:43:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH pointed out the  many letters of support for                                                               
the proposed legislation.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  confirmed  there  were  about  435  letters                                                               
demonstrating strong support for HB 125.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH asked  if the  Hmong soldiers  were in  the                                                               
employ  of  U.S.  as  military  personnel.   He  asked,  in  what                                                               
capacity  were they  working -  as mercenaries,  independents, or                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR  replied   that  because   direct  military                                                               
involvement  was  forbidden  by   the  UN  agreement,  the  Hmong                                                               
involvement was a  covert operation and was often  referred to as                                                               
the "Secret War."   The CIA recruited young  Hmong individuals to                                                               
fight alongside American  soldiers; some were as  young as eight,                                                               
nine, and ten years old.   They were told that they would receive                                                               
recognition for their service.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR   relayed  that  former   President  William                                                               
Clinton signed legislation [Hmong  Veterans Naturalization Act of                                                               
2000]  easing   the  U.S.  citizenship  requirements   for  Hmong                                                               
immigrants  who  fought in  the  Secret  War.   There  have  been                                                               
several  iterations  of  the legislation  introduced  by  Senator                                                               
Murkowski.    Representative  Tarr   maintained  that  it  is  an                                                               
important story to  tell; many Americans are unaware  of it; U.S.                                                               
always honors  veterans for  their service;  and many  Hmong died                                                               
fighting alongside of U.S. soldiers.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR quoted  the testimony  of Chue  Chou Tchang,                                                               
the  national  chairman  of  the  Special  Guerrilla  Unit  -  an                                                               
association of  Hmong fighters in  the U.S.  Speaking  through an                                                               
interpreter,  Mr.  Tchang  stated,  "We  were  American  soldiers                                                               
fighting alongside  American soldiers.  We  fought like brothers.                                                               
We died  together.   Coming to  this country,  we'd like  to rest                                                               
with the American soldiers that fought with us."                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH   asked  if   the  former   Hmong  soldiers                                                               
qualified  as veterans  at the  federal level,  and the  proposed                                                               
legislation would allow them to  qualify as veterans at the state                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  answered that the  shame is that  they don't                                                               
qualify as  veterans; they receive  no veterans benefits  such as                                                               
medical  care or  pensions;  and  they are  not  permitted to  be                                                               
buried in  national cemeteries.  She  stated that it has  been an                                                               
ongoing  effort to  recognize their  service  in some  way.   She                                                               
maintained that  the state has jurisdiction  over license plates,                                                               
but  that  would confer  only  social  recognition, not  personal                                                               
benefit.     She   asserted  that   with  the   driver's  license                                                               
designation, they could receive local veteran discounts.                                                                        
3:47:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX expressed  her support  for HB  125.   She                                                               
opined  that the  necessity for  this legislation  is sad;  these                                                               
Hmong were promised  that they would be treated  as veterans; and                                                               
it  is unfortunate  when promises  are made  and not  kept.   She                                                               
pointed  out  a similar  situation  with  Filipino soldiers,  who                                                               
fought with the  U.S. during World War II but  never received the                                                               
compensation that  they were promised.   She maintained  that the                                                               
Filipino  veterans did  not receive  recognition or  compensation                                                               
until the  [American Recovery and  Reinvestment Act of  2009] was                                                               
passed; the issue was very  important to Senator Daniel Inouye of                                                               
Hawaii, who  advocated for it.   She said that the  Filipinos who                                                               
finally  received   recognition  were   in  their   eighties  and                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX maintained  that at  the state  level, not                                                               
much more  can be  done than  what is  proposed by  HB 125.   She                                                               
noted that  HJR 17  has been  introduced encouraging  Congress to                                                               
allow Hmong veterans  burial rights at national  ceremonies.  She                                                               
maintained  that the  fact  that General  Chue  Chou Tchang,  who                                                               
wanted desperately  to be buried at  Arlington National Cemetery,                                                               
was  not permitted  to  be buried  at a  national  cemetery is  a                                                               
tragedy and a travesty.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR concurred.    She mentioned  that the  Hmong                                                               
Veterans'   Service  Recognition   Act,  introduced   by  Senator                                                               
Murkowski,  identifies two  very specific  categories of  people.                                                               
The first  is someone who  was naturalized pursuant to  the Hmong                                                               
Veterans'  Naturalization Act  of  2000 and  who  resided in  the                                                               
United State  at the time  of death.   The second is  someone who                                                               
the Secretary of  Veterans Affairs (VA) determined  served with a                                                               
special guerrilla unit or irregular  forces operating from a base                                                               
in Laos in support of the  U.S. Armed Forces between February 28,                                                               
1961, and May  7, 1975, and who  at the time of  death resided in                                                               
the United  States and was  a U.S.  citizen or an  alien lawfully                                                               
admitted for permanent residence.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  stated that  under the  proposed legislation                                                               
she believes the  number of people who would qualify  is 48.  She                                                               
maintained that  the Hmong  veterans have  indicated to  her that                                                               
they  are  very proud  of  their  service  and  are proud  to  be                                                               
American citizens.  As an  ethnic minority in Laos, losing 30,000                                                               
of their number was a devastating  blow to their community.  They                                                               
had to resettle elsewhere and  reinvigorate their community.  She                                                               
maintained that it is time that Alaska honors their service.                                                                    
3:52:19 PM                                                                                                                    
VERDIE  BOWEN, Director,  Veterans Affairs  (VA), testified  that                                                               
the  Hmong served  in  Laos  in locations  where  the U.S.  Armed                                                               
Forces could not and would not  because of the laws in existence.                                                               
They  were  enlisted by  the  CIA  to  perform the  functions  of                                                               
setting up listening posts and  radar sites to observe the enemy.                                                               
He maintained that  the most significant aspect  of their service                                                               
was  that about  30,000 Hmong  soldiers faced  over 75,000  North                                                               
Vietnamese soldiers -  a much stronger force.  He  said that most                                                               
of the Hmong were young men  and children; they were able to hold                                                               
their own; and at the end of  the war they immigrated to the U.S.                                                               
He mentioned  that he is  not clear on  all the promises  made to                                                               
the Hmong by the CIA, as  they were not recorded, but he believes                                                               
that there were many.                                                                                                           
MR. BOWEN offered  that the designation on  the driver's licenses                                                               
under the proposed  legislation would accomplish two  things:  it                                                               
would provide them  the ability to receive some  benefits; and it                                                               
would  provide these  Hmong fighters  living in  Alaska a  "thank                                                               
you" from people  who recognize their service.  He  said that the                                                               
only time Alaskans become aware  of Hmong veterans is on Memorial                                                               
Day in May,  and that would be  a good time to  pass the proposed                                                               
legislation.   This legislation  would serve  to thank  the Hmong                                                               
for their  service and showcase  support for  Senator Murkowski's                                                               
proposed legislation authorizing burial in national cemeteries.                                                                 
3:54:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  relayed  that  he  supports  the  proposed                                                               
legislation; it is arguably 40 to  50 years late; but the country                                                               
is "late to the table" in  thanking its Vietnam [War] veterans as                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  if military  officers  may  attend                                                               
Veterans Day and Memorial Day events in their military capacity.                                                                
MR.  BOWEN answered,  yes,  they  are.   He  added  that a  Hmong                                                               
memorial was  placed at the Arlington  National Cemetery sometime                                                               
around 2003  or 2004.   He maintained that military  officers may                                                               
attend those events.                                                                                                            
3:56:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked   if  veteran  organizations  have                                                               
commented on the proposed legislations.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  responded  that  many  of  the  435  signed                                                               
letters  of  support had  been  distributed  through Veterans  of                                                               
Foreign Wars (VFW)  halls; and in many cases the  post with which                                                               
a Hmong veteran  was associated was included  with the signature.                                                               
She said  that the Hmong  veteran groups work closely  with local                                                               
VFW  posts; she  mentioned  several collaborative  efforts.   She                                                               
stated that  as far as she  is aware, every indication  points to                                                               
solidarity and support of one group for the other.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   stated  that  although  she   does  not                                                               
discount the service  of the Hmong fighting for  their own rights                                                               
in  their own  homeland, it  is  different from  a United  States                                                               
military  veteran.    She said  that  she  supported  legislation                                                               
recognizing  African  American  soldiers working  on  the  Alaska                                                               
Highway  [SB 46,  signed into  law 5/1/17];  she offered  that if                                                               
legislators  begin  identifying   foreign  collaborators  in  the                                                               
multiple overseas  situations involving  the CIA, then  there are                                                               
many  more to  be considered,  such as  the Iraqi  collaborators.                                                               
She  maintained that  offering the  Hmong asylum  in the  U.S. is                                                               
warranted,  but  she relayed  that  she  does  not want  to  take                                                               
anything away  from the U.S.  military veterans who fought  "in a                                                               
foreign  war  in  a  foreign  country to  defend  people."    She                                                               
maintained  that she  does not  think  the two  groups should  be                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  responded that this situation  is different;                                                               
the Hmong soldiers fought alongside  American soldiers instead of                                                               
being  like a  traditional  ally.   They  were  fighting for  the                                                               
Americans in this  instance; there is a  specific designation for                                                               
people who  would qualify; and  there are specific  service dates                                                               
that need to be verified.                                                                                                       
MR.  BOWEN  referred  to  a document  modeled  after  the  Alaska                                                               
Territorial  Guard (ATG)  application,  which  would be  verified                                                               
against the  records that the  Hmong currently have  showing that                                                               
they fought  during the  [specified] period.   He said  that what                                                               
makes the  Hmong unique is the  fact that prior to  the war, they                                                               
had no  country; they  were people  of the  hills.   They aligned                                                               
themselves  with the  CIA and  the  U.S. thinking  that the  U.S.                                                               
would bring them to the U.S. to  provide them a home.  Because of                                                               
how the war  ended, that did not  happen.  To this  day the Hmong                                                               
are continuously  hunted and killed by  the (indisc.) communists.                                                               
He reiterated  that they are a  people with no country  or place,                                                               
except the U.S. as they immigrate to the U.S.                                                                                   
4:02:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  pointed out that the  legislation proposes a                                                               
veteran's  designation  on  an identification  card  or  driver's                                                               
license,  not a  full on  veteran status.   About  Representative                                                               
Johnson's point,  he gave  the example of  the U.S.  Armed Forces                                                               
fighting alongside  the Northern Alliance in  Afghanistan against                                                               
the Taliban  at the  time the  U.S. first  sent soldiers  to that                                                               
country.   He  mentioned that  the U.S.  has had  the support  of                                                               
foreign  forces often,  and sometimes  members  of these  foreign                                                               
forces have been offered asylum.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TARR   reiterated   that  under   the   proposed                                                               
legislation,  the Hmong  would not  receive  Veterans heath  care                                                               
benefits  or pensions.   It  would merely  offer them  some local                                                               
4:04:04 PM                                                                                                                    
MAI  XIONG,  Hmong  Alaska Community  Inc.,  testified  that  she                                                               
supported HB  125.  She stated  that the Hmong were  recruited by                                                               
the CIA  to help  the U.S. win  the war.   (indisc.)   She stated                                                               
that her  dad is  also a  veteran who  fought in  that war.   She                                                               
maintained that  the Hmong  were brought  to America  because the                                                               
U.S. lost  the war, not because  they wanted to come  to the U.S.                                                               
She expressed that she supported  the designated driver's license                                                               
under the  proposed legislation.   She  mentioned that  the Hmong                                                               
have been in the  U.S. for over 42 years and  are just asking for                                                               
this one thing.  (indisc.)                                                                                                      
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 125 would be held over.                                                                  
        HB 224-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS & ADMIN                                                                     
4:06:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the final  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 224,  "An Act relating to reemployment of                                                               
persons who retire under the teachers' retirement system."                                                                      
4:07:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JENNIFER JOHNSTON,  Alaska State  Legislature, as                                                               
prime  sponsor of  HB 224,  stated  that Alaska  has many  budget                                                               
challenges  and  has  challenges   in  recruiting  and  retaining                                                               
qualified teachers in  the rural areas.  She said  that even with                                                               
the  University of  Alaska Anchorage  (UAA) graduating  qualified                                                               
teachers, there  is still a  teacher shortage; and  districts are                                                               
struggling every year to fill the positions.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  relayed that  HB 224 would  allow school                                                               
districts  to rehire  retired educators  to work  as contractors,                                                               
which  would  offer savings  to  the  district.   Under  HB  224,                                                               
educators younger  than age 62 may  be rehired after one  year of                                                               
retirement;  educators age  62  and older  may  be rehired  after                                                               
three months  of retirement.   If the  school district  uses this                                                               
tool, it must  contribute [12.6] percent salary  base rate toward                                                               
paying down  the unfunded  liability of the  pension fund  of the                                                               
Teachers'  Retirement  System  (TRS)  but won't  be  required  to                                                               
contribute other costs beyond the salary.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  maintained that the two  benefits of the                                                               
proposed legislation are  cost savings and expanding  the pool of                                                               
qualified teachers.   She added  that it also might  provide some                                                               
mentorship within school districts.                                                                                             
4:09:18 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  ERVINE, Staff,  Representative Jennifer  Johnston, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  on behalf  of Representative  Johnston, prime                                                               
sponsor of HB  224, stated that Section 1 of  HB 224 would modify                                                               
the terms  of the teacher  employment and tenure to  allow school                                                               
districts to rehire educators who  have retired under the defined                                                               
benefit plan or  the defined contribution plan - Tier  II or Tier                                                               
III.   Section 1 clarifies  that if  an educator is  younger than                                                               
age 62, he/she  must be retired for a year  before being rehired,                                                               
or if  age 62 or older,  must be retired for  three months before                                                               
being  rehired.    Section  1 also  would  require  employers  to                                                               
contribute to TRS for reemployed educators.                                                                                     
MR. ERVINE  relayed that Section  2 would allow for  retirees who                                                               
are rehired,  as permitted by  Section 1, to continue  to receive                                                               
their retirement benefits during the period of reemployment.                                                                    
MR.  ERVINE  said  that  Section  3  would  ensure  that  retired                                                               
teachers who are rehired don't  accrue more benefits.  He relayed                                                               
that Section  4 would  clarify in the  TRS statutes  that members                                                               
will continue  to receive benefits,  and deductions for  TRS will                                                               
not come  from their salaries but  from the school district  in a                                                               
separate  payment.    Section  4   also  states  that  reemployed                                                               
educators   will  not   receive   credited   time  during   their                                                               
MR.  ERVINE stated  that  Section 5  would  further clarify  that                                                               
school districts  will have to contribute  to TRS.  He  said that                                                               
Section 6  would apply the provision  of HB 224 to  the contracts                                                               
that are made.                                                                                                                  
4:11:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL summarized:   a retired teacher  goes back to                                                               
work; he/she  still collects retirement; and  the school district                                                               
pays into  the TRS fund,  but the rehired  teacher does not.   He                                                               
asked if normally a teacher pays into the fund.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON responded  that  with both  TRS and  the                                                               
Public  Employees' Retirement  System (PERS),  the public  agency                                                               
employer pays  an assessed fee.   The fee for teachers  is [12.6]                                                               
percent of the  salary base, which is  both defined contributions                                                               
and  contributing  contributions.    She said  that  the  rehired                                                               
teacher would  be part  of that  salary base.   The fee  for PERS                                                               
employees is 22 percent of the salary base.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  if  there would  be  any  difference                                                               
between the  contribution levels  of the rehired  retired teacher                                                               
and the  regular teacher.  He  stated that he would  like to know                                                               
what the difference  would be between the two teachers  as far as                                                               
TRS is concerned.                                                                                                               
MR. ERVINE answered  that there would be no  difference; it would                                                               
be the same contribution level.                                                                                                 
4:12:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  referred to  the "cost  savings" mentioned                                                               
in  the sponsor  statement  [included in  the committee  packet].                                                               
She asked,  if the  contributions are at  the same  level, "where                                                               
are the cost savings coming from?"                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  replied that the retired  employee would                                                               
continue  to receive  health  care and  other  benefits from  the                                                               
retirement  system.   She  maintained  that  the school  district                                                               
might not have to  pay as much to hire the  retired teacher as it                                                               
would a teacher without health  care benefits or other retirement                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked if the  school district would have to                                                               
pay into TRS for the rehired retired teacher.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON explained  that when  PERS and  TRS were                                                               
changed in  2008, the  whole base salary  for the  hiring entity,                                                               
such as  a municipality  or a school  district, was  assessed for                                                               
the  amount  that the  entity  must  pay towards  the  retirement                                                               
system  - 22  percent  [for PERS,  12.6 percent  for  TRS].   The                                                               
rehired  retired  teacher would  be  part  of that  salary  base;                                                               
therefore, the  entity would be  paying for the  teacher's salary                                                               
as it's "prorated out towards the pension."                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  for the  source of  savings if  the                                                               
school  district  is paying  into  the  retirement system.    She                                                               
conceded  that  savings  are  not   necessarily  needed  for  the                                                               
proposed legislation to make sense.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON  responded  that the  principle  savings                                                               
would be derived  from the teacher not requiring  the health care                                                               
benefits  that other  teachers would  require.   She agreed  that                                                               
satisfying  the need  for  teachers may  be  more important  than                                                               
saving  money under  the proposed  legislation.   She  maintained                                                               
that the intent of HB 224 is to enlarge the pool of teachers.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  offered a  scenario:    Two teachers  are                                                               
being considered for  hire; each would be paid  $50,000 per year.                                                               
One  teacher is  a retired  teacher  wanting to  be rehired;  the                                                               
other teacher  is a  new teacher.   Representative  LeDoux asked,                                                               
"Can you explain to me how it would work for each one?"                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON replied  that  for the  new hire,  there                                                               
would be  encumbered costs  - a health  care plan,  payments into                                                               
the retirement system, and continuing education incentives.                                                                     
4:17:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  what Representative  Johnston means                                                               
by "encumbered costs."                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  replied that the benefits  that a person                                                               
receives along  with his/her salary  is what she is  referring to                                                               
as encumbered costs.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON explained that  the rehired teacher would                                                               
not necessarily need  the health care benefits  or the continuing                                                               
education incentives;  the only  additional expense would  be the                                                               
salary base formula going into the pension fund.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX summarized  by saying  the rehire  doesn't                                                               
have as many encumbered costs.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON concurred,  but  reminded the  committee                                                               
that the  most important  aspect of  the proposed  legislation is                                                               
not cost savings but addressing  the teacher shortage by allowing                                                               
school districts access to a larger teacher pool.                                                                               
4:19:26 PM                                                                                                                    
LISA PARADY,  PhD, Executive Director,  Alaska Council  of School                                                               
Administrators  (ACSA),   testified  that  she   is  representing                                                               
superintendents,  secondary  and  elementary  school  principals,                                                               
school   business   officials,    and   other   school   district                                                               
administrators.    In  response  to  Representative  LeDoux,  she                                                               
stated that  the proposed legislation  is focused on  "supply and                                                               
demand" - trying to increase the  teacher pool.  She relayed that                                                               
the  retiree would  be rehired  in an  "at-will" situation.   She                                                               
maintained  that  one  can  be  retired from  any  state  in  the                                                               
country,  come  to  Alaska,  and  be  employed  as  an  educator;                                                               
Alaska's own retired teachers are prohibited from doing so.                                                                     
DR.  PARADY maintained  that the  intent of  HB 224  is to  allow                                                               
retired  teachers  to  be  employed  under  an  at-will  contract                                                               
without impacting their retirement benefits.   She stated that in                                                               
a  compromise  with  the   Department  of  Administration  (DOA),                                                               
included in the proposed legislation  is the requirement that the                                                               
districts pay the  12.6 percent employer contribution  to TRS, as                                                               
they would  with a  non-retired employee.   She relayed  that the                                                               
rehired  retiree   would  be  under  contract   with  the  school                                                               
district, and  the legislature  would not  be involved  with that                                                               
DR.  PARADY suggested  there  may  be cost  savings  if a  school                                                               
district negotiated a lower salary  with the employee than he/she                                                               
received  before retirement.   She  reiterated that  the employee                                                               
would not be availing themselves  of the benefits offered through                                                               
the school district, because  his/her [retirement] benefits would                                                               
be  intact.   She  offered  that  the  school district  would  be                                                               
willing to  pay the  additional amount to  TRS because  it needed                                                               
the employee;  the employee would  not pay into TRS  because they                                                               
would be an independent at-will  employee under contract with the                                                               
district.   She added  that the  district might  decide to  pay a                                                               
greater salary  for a "high  need" position  - such as  a special                                                               
education teacher  - but less  for a  teacher in a  position that                                                               
the school  district decided was  of lesser  value to them.   She                                                               
reiterated that  the intent  of the  proposed legislation  is not                                                               
cost savings but the teacher shortage crisis.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked  why a teacher would  retire, then go                                                               
back to work.                                                                                                                   
4:23:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PARADY  replied  that  the  proposed  legislation  does  not                                                               
address  the retiree's  intent.    HB 224  would  allow a  school                                                               
district to avail itself of the  services of a retired person if,                                                               
in  fact, there  is someone  available  who is  willing to  work;                                                               
currently a  retired teacher  is prohibited from  doing so.   She                                                               
maintained  that  the  proposed   legislation  would  provide  an                                                               
additional   tool  to   school   districts;  it   is  not   about                                                               
incentivizing  someone  to  retire  or  not  to  retire.    If  a                                                               
community  has  retired educators  and  the  school district  has                                                               
trouble  filling a  teaching  position, HB  224  would allow  the                                                               
school district to  hire a retired educator who  is familiar with                                                               
both Alaska students and the state and is willing to teach.                                                                     
DR.  PARADY  reviewed  for  the  committee  the  history  of  the                                                               
provision under  the proposed legislation.   Previous legislation                                                               
with  this  provision  was  in existence  starting  in  2001  and                                                               
sunsetting  in  2009.    At  the point  of  sunset,  the  teacher                                                               
shortage  was reaching  a crisis  level.   She  relayed that  DOA                                                               
reported  that 325  retired teachers  were rehired  from 2001  to                                                               
2010,  and  because the  teachers  were  counted each  year,  the                                                               
actual number of teachers rehired may  have been much lower.  She                                                               
relayed that the average period  of reemployment was 18.7 months;                                                               
the shortest period  3 months; and the longest  period 46 months.                                                               
The  employer employing  the largest  number of  retired teachers                                                               
was  the Lower  Kuskokwim School  District (LKSD);  and the  most                                                               
employed in  one year was  181.   She reported that  the position                                                               
with  the highest  number of  rehires  was "teacher"  at 149;  18                                                               
superintendents;  22 principals;  45 special  education teachers;                                                               
and 12 psychologists.                                                                                                           
DR.  PARADY   referred  to  Slide   3  of  the   ACSA  PowerPoint                                                               
presentation handout and relayed  that Alaska is "working against                                                               
a backdrop of  a teacher shortage nationally."   She offered that                                                               
the Alaska  Teacher Placement (ATP) center  [University of Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks (UAF)]  currently lists 602 openings;  there were about                                                               
700 vacancies at the  start of the year.  At  last year's ATP job                                                               
fair, 35  school districts participated with  185 school district                                                               
personnel  in attendance,  and there  were  265 candidates;  this                                                               
year there  were 212 candidates at  the job fair.   She said that                                                               
historically the  ATP job fair  attracts hundreds of  people from                                                               
all over the country, but  now the applicant pools are shrinking.                                                               
She mentioned that  currently there are 250  teaching jobs listed                                                               
and  given that  school districts  have been  actively recruiting                                                               
for  the   past  three  months,   the  number  of   vacancies  is                                                               
staggeringly high  for Alaska.   She stated that in  Alaska, many                                                               
of the  school districts have  started the school  year unstaffed                                                               
and remain  so.  She  added that this  is common in  rural school                                                               
districts where  the turnover  is high  but historically  has not                                                               
been common in the urban school districts.                                                                                      
DR. PARADY relayed  that there are about 100  positions that were                                                               
not  filled, which  means they  are  being filled  with anyone  -                                                               
substitutes and paraprofessionals  - just to fill the  gaps.  She                                                               
referred to Slide  4 and mentioned that the  University of Alaska                                                               
[UA]  pipelines  teachers  into Alaska  teaching  positions,  but                                                               
there are  not enough teachers to  fill the void.   She said that                                                               
the UA  Colleges and  Schools of Education  produce about  200 to                                                               
250  new teachers  per  year, which  is not  enough  to fill  the                                                               
existing gap.  She relayed that  UA President [Jim] Johnsen has a                                                               
goal of UA  preparing 90 percent of the annual  hired teachers by                                                               
2025.   It  is an  ambitious goal  which ACSA  supports, but  she                                                               
maintained that the  shortage needs to be addressed  now, and the                                                               
proposed legislation may  help to alleviate the gap  until the UA                                                               
Strategic Pathways initiative produces results.                                                                                 
4:29:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  what  the rationale  was  for  not                                                               
allowing the school districts to hire retired teachers.                                                                         
DR. PARADY responded that she  did not know the specific reasons;                                                               
she  conjectured it  was  related  to the  state  not wanting  to                                                               
interfere with the retirement system.   She maintained that under                                                               
the current  staffing crisis,  putting Alaska's  retired teachers                                                               
on equal footing  with all other retired teachers  in the country                                                               
and  allowing Alaska's  retired teachers  to  be in  the pool  of                                                               
applicants balances out that concern.   She maintained that there                                                               
are safeguards included  in the proposed legislation:   the delay                                                               
period before rehiring  and the age consideration.   She referred                                                               
to Slide 12, which states that  rural and remote schools have the                                                               
highest  turnover rate  of principals  and teachers.   The  slide                                                               
illustrates  the  urban  rural   comparisons:    urban  principal                                                               
turnover is  21 percent;  urban teacher  turnover is  14 percent;                                                               
rural remote principal  turnover is 32 percent;  and rural remote                                                               
teacher  turnover  is   31  percent.    She   said  that  student                                                               
achievement depends on hiring high quality teachers.                                                                            
4:33:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  how long  an educator  must work  and                                                               
what  age an  educator  must  be to  retire  with  benefits.   He                                                               
relayed that  Alaska is  having a hard  time filling  trooper and                                                               
Village Public  Safety Officer (VPSA)  positions, and  Alaska has                                                               
the highest  unemployment rate in  the country.  He  asked, "What                                                               
gives?"   He  asked if  it is  just in  salary and  benefits that                                                               
Alaska  is unable  to compete  with other  states.   He mentioned                                                               
that  Alaska  historically  "outperformed" other  states  in  the                                                               
salary and benefits it offered.                                                                                                 
DR. PARADY  answered, "That absolutely  is a consideration.   She                                                               
related that  there is  a national  shortage of  teachers because                                                               
people are  not choosing education  as a profession.   Alaska has                                                               
lost  competitiveness;  it used  to  lead  the country  with  its                                                               
salary and benefit package; and it has lost that momentum.                                                                      
4:35:41 PM                                                                                                                    
NORM  WOOTEN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Association of  School                                                               
Boards  (AASB),  stated  that the  previous  retire  rehire  bill                                                               
[House Bill 161, passed into  law during the Twenty-Fourth Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  2005-2006] was for employees  working under a                                                               
waiver  for  hard  to  fill  positions,  which  included  special                                                               
education  teachers  and   secondary  education  mathematics  and                                                               
science teachers.   Generally elementary positions  are easier to                                                               
fill because there are more elementary teachers.                                                                                
MR. WOOTEN maintained  that when the sunset clause  of House Bill                                                               
161  went into  effect  in  2009, AASB  adopted  a resolution  in                                                               
support  of  continuing  the program  and  continues  to  support                                                               
retire rehire  to this day.   He  relayed that the  retire rehire                                                               
program was  initiated for good  reasons, and the  primary reason                                                               
was  to fill  the  positions that  are difficult  to  fill.   The                                                               
conditions of teacher shortage in  Alaska still exist despite the                                                               
arbitrary deadline of the sunset clause.                                                                                        
MR. WOOTEN  testified that the  irony of Alaska's  prohibition is                                                               
that a  teacher can retire  in any  other state, come  to Alaska,                                                               
and  be hired  as  a teacher;  however,  Alaska retired  teachers                                                               
wanting  to teach  again in  Alaska cannot  do so.   Some  people                                                               
"fail"  at  retirement;  and  he  is an  example  of  that.    He                                                               
maintained that  many people  go back  to work  after retirement,                                                               
because  they feel  like they  made a  mistake by  retiring.   He                                                               
reiterated  that Alaska  school  districts need  the services  of                                                               
these retired teachers.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  pointed  out that  the  provisions  under                                                               
House Bill 161  expired in 2009, and  it is now 2017.   She asked                                                               
if  there have  been  efforts made  in  previous legislatures  to                                                               
reinstitute the retire rehire program.                                                                                          
MR. WOOTEN responded  yes.  The AASB has worked  hard to get this                                                               
accomplished, and  "this is the  first time we've gotten  it this                                                               
far ...."                                                                                                                       
4:38:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  presented a  scenario: A teacher  retires at                                                               
the  time  he/she is  eligible  to  retire; the  teacher  decides                                                               
he/she  wants to  go back  to  teaching after  being retired  six                                                               
months;  he/she negotiates  a contract  with the  school district                                                               
possibly at a  lower pay level; he/she receives  a teacher salary                                                               
and a retirement check, therefore,  makes more money than another                                                               
teacher.    He asked  if  that  would be  a  problem  and if  the                                                               
additional teaching  time would increase the  retirement payments                                                               
when the teacher retires fully.                                                                                                 
MR.  WOOTEN replied  that the  decision to  retire is  a personal                                                               
choice.  He  maintained that when he retired from  his first job,                                                               
he was hired back as a  contractor; therefore, he was getting two                                                               
salaries  - a  contractor salary  and a  retirement salary  - and                                                               
other workers were not getting  two salaries.  He maintained that                                                               
it is a decision that everyone faces  - to stay at his/her job or                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  conceded that  as a  contractor, one  is not                                                               
getting all the benefits that employees receive.                                                                                
MR. WOOTEN  answered, that's correct.   He said that  he received                                                               
no benefits when he returned to work as a contractor.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  if  a returning  teacher  would  get                                                               
benefits, since he/she  would come back as an employee.   He also                                                               
asked if  that additional work  would enhance  his/her retirement                                                               
MR.  WOODEN expressed  that he  is not  qualified to  answer that                                                               
4:42:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  pointed out  that a returning  retiree would                                                               
be  exempt from  any collective  bargaining agreements.   Someone                                                               
coming from another state would not  be exempt but would be under                                                               
a  collective bargaining  agreement.   He asked  if there  is any                                                               
reason Alaska  would not want employees  working under collective                                                               
bargaining agreements.                                                                                                          
MR. WOOTEN  responded that when  school districts have  a choice,                                                               
they   prefer   long-term   employees;   the   current   proposed                                                               
legislation  is a  stopgap measure  to employ  people in  hard to                                                               
fill positions.  He said a  school district is not going to staff                                                               
its  entire  school  with contracted  retired  teachers,  because                                                               
these teachers  are temporary; they  are not  permanent employees                                                               
with long-term teaching aspirations.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  suggested  that  it is  "cheaper"  for  the                                                               
school district to  hire the temporary employee  than a long-term                                                               
employee  receiving benefits  under  collective  bargaining.   He                                                               
suggested that  it is  illogical to  hire temporary  employees if                                                               
the school district wants long-term employees.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  stated  that  with  the  Senate's  cuts  to                                                               
education, there  will be an  estimated 700  teachers terminated.                                                               
He maintained  if that occurs,  Alaska may have teachers  to fill                                                               
the shortage.                                                                                                                   
4:44:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX referred  to the  statement:   Some people                                                               
realize after retirement that they want  to go back to work.  She                                                               
asked if there  is a way that a person  could re-enter the school                                                               
system,  not  take  retirement benefits,  and  become  a  regular                                                               
employee again,  or if once  the person has retired,  "there's no                                                               
going back."                                                                                                                    
MR.  WOOTEN  answered  that  a   retired  teacher  can  come  off                                                               
retirement and go back into the system.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  maintained  if  that  is  the  case,  the                                                               
proposed legislation is unnecessary.                                                                                            
MR.  WOOTEN stated  that the  magnitude of  the problem  of being                                                               
unable to fill positions is great.   He relayed his experience at                                                               
Kodiak:  when he served on  the school board 30 years ago, school                                                               
administrators  were able  to fill  every position  from the  job                                                               
fair in  Anchorage; when  he got  off the  school board  25 years                                                               
later,  the administrators  needed  to attend  eight  to ten  job                                                               
fairs across  the country to  find teachers.  He  maintained that                                                               
the teacher  shortage in Alaska is  huge, and it is  a nationwide                                                               
shortage as well.   He said that he doubts  very seriously that a                                                               
retired  teacher receiving  retirement  pay would  be willing  to                                                               
give up the  retirement pay to re-enter the system  if he/she had                                                               
the opportunity to draw both retirement and a contracted salary.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  maintained that  was  the  point she  was                                                               
making.   The proposed legislation would  incentivize retirement,                                                               
because the  teacher could retire,  take some time off,  and come                                                               
back and receive both a salary  and retirement.  She said without                                                               
HB 224, the teacher would need to decide to stay or not stay.                                                                   
[HB 224 was held over.]                                                                                                         
4:48:23 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
State Affairs Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 4:48                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB235 Sponsor Statement 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Supporting Document NCSL Awards for Law Enforcement or First Responders 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Letter of Support - Juneau Police Department 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Letter of Support Public Safety Employees Association 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Letter of support - Chief Martines Fairbanks Airport 4.15.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Letter of Support - City and Borough of Juneau 4.16.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 ver D 4.17.17.PDF HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB0125 ver 30LS0467D 3.27.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB0125 Sponsor Statement 3.27.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB0125 Letter of Support 002 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB0125 Letter of Support 001 Berkowitz 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB0125 Letters of Support 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 125
HB 224 Sponsor Statement 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB 224 Sectional Analysis 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB244 Fiscal Note DOA 4.15.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 244
HB 224 Letter of Support Nikiski.PDF HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB 224 Letter of Support Juneau.PDF HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB 224 Letter of Support Dillingham.PDF HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB235 Letter of Support ACOA 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Fiscal Note DPS 4.17.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Letter of Support ASARA 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB235 Letter of Support Anchorage Police Dept 4.12.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB224 Letter of Support Nome Public Schools 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB224 Letters of Support 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB 224 Letter of Support Hoonah City Schools 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB 224 Letter of Support Southwest Region 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB235 Letter of Support APDEA 4.18.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 235
HB 224 Supporting Document - Letter LYSD 5.19.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB 224 Supporting Document - Letter NWABSD 5.19.17.pdf HSTA 4/18/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 224