Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/03/2010 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
               HB 347-LEAVE FOR MILITARY SPOUSES                                                                            
8:04:50 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON announced  the  first order  of  business would  be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 347,  "An Act  allowing certain  teachers, public                                                               
employees,  and private  sector employees  to take  leave without                                                               
pay when their  spouses are on leave from deployment  in a combat                                                               
8:05:49 AM                                                                                                                    
PEDER  TERLAND,  Intern,  Representative  Pete  Petersen,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,  introduced  HB   347,  paraphrasing  from  a                                                               
prepared  statement that  read as  follows [original  punctuation                                                               
     The leave a  solider has from a combat  zone is sacred.                                                                    
     This time with  their family is in some  cases the last                                                                    
     time they may see them.                                                                                                    
     Although HB347 is six pages  long it is really a simple                                                                    
     This  law will  apply  to school  districts, state  and                                                                    
     local  governments, and  private sector  employers with                                                                    
     20 or more  employees.  It will allow  the employees to                                                                    
     take up to  10 days of unpaid leave to  spend time with                                                                    
     their spouses before they return to combat.                                                                                
     Combat Zones are:                                                                                                          
     Arabian  Peninsula Areas  including  the Persian  Gulf;                                                                    
     Kosovo; Afghanistan.                                                                                                       
     While The  Federal Family &  Medical Leave  Act already                                                                    
     grants  up  to 12  weeks  of  job protected  leave  for                                                                    
     military family  members in many  situations, including                                                                    
     times of R&R, it is  restricted to members of the Guard                                                                    
     and  Reserves.   It does  not apply  to members  of the                                                                    
     regular Armed Forces.  This  is an inequity that exists                                                                    
     that needs to be corrected.                                                                                                
     We have  heard of opposition  to this bill and  that it                                                                    
     would place undue hardships on  employers.  In response                                                                    
     we   have   prepared   some   amendments   for   future                                                                    
     There are  ten other  states that have  enacted similar                                                                    
     The bill has a zero fiscal note.                                                                                           
8:08:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON restated HB 347 provides leave for military                                                                        
spouses.  He asked for the subject matter of the amendments.                                                                    
8:09:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. TERLAND  explained the first  and third amendments  offer two                                                               
versions of proposed  language that requires 48  hours of advance                                                               
notice  for a  leave request.    The second  amendment offers  an                                                               
exemption  from HB  347 for  school  districts with  20 or  fewer                                                               
8:10:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON noted  these  points were  raised  by small  school                                                               
districts  concerned  about  arranging  for  substitutes  without                                                               
advance  notice, and  that substitutes  may not  be available  at                                                               
8:11:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETE PETERSEN,  Alaska State Legislature, informed                                                               
the committee similar legislation was  enacted in other states to                                                               
provide a benefit for active  military equal to what is available                                                               
through  federal  legislation  to  families  of  members  of  the                                                               
National Guard and Reservists.                                                                                                  
8:12:45 AM                                                                                                                    
JEFFREY  MITTMAN, Executive  Director,  American Civil  Liberties                                                               
Union of Alaska  (ACLU of Alaska), stated the ACLU  of Alaska, in                                                               
order to  fully support HB  347, requests the  committee consider                                                               
an amendment.   He pointed out that although  the state restricts                                                               
the  marriage  of  same-sex   partners,  the  state  constitution                                                               
recognizes and  grants equal employment and  benefits to same-sex                                                               
partners.    Based  on  legal standing,  Mr.  Mittman  urged  the                                                               
legislature to include same-sex partners  in the provisions of HB
347.   He  opined  without the  inclusion  of same-sex  partners,                                                               
passage of the bill would lead to legal challenges.                                                                             
8:15:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  asked whether the  current "don't ask,  don't tell"                                                               
policy  would  "put  a  person  in the  military  at  risk"  when                                                               
applying for the benefits provided by HB 347.                                                                                   
8:15:58 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MITTMAN advised  the aforementioned  military policy  may be                                                               
overturned  soon;  nevertheless,  this  legislation  affects  the                                                               
civilian family  member, and the  "don't ask, don't  tell" policy                                                               
would not  apply.   He provided  an example  of a  violation, and                                                               
said,  "We don't  anticipate that  any but  the most  negative or                                                               
unpatriotic employers would take that step."                                                                                    
8:17:44 AM                                                                                                                    
RIC DAVIDGE, Chairman, Alaska  Veterans Foundation; State Council                                                               
President,  Vietnam  Veterans  of America  in  Alaska;  Chairman,                                                               
Municipal Commission on Military  and Veterans' Affairs, observed                                                               
that Americans want  to help, and are willing  to make sacrifices                                                               
in  support of  members of  the military  engaged in  the present                                                               
war.  He noted that immediate leave  may be needed in the case of                                                               
a  wounded  military  member, and  expressed  concern  about  the                                                               
amendment  that  will  require  48 hours  notice.    Mr.  Davidge                                                               
provided  an example  of  how leave  affects  family members  and                                                               
espoused on HB  347 as a means  for the state to  show support of                                                               
troops that is  beyond "ribbons on trees and ...  stickers on our                                                               
car."   He also spoke  in support  of the amendment  requested by                                                               
ACLU of Alaska.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR SEATON  stated his understanding that  Mr. Davidge supports                                                               
the  amendment requiring  48  hours notice  if  the amendment  is                                                               
conditioned on certain circumstances.                                                                                           
MR. DAVIDGE replied yes.                                                                                                        
8:22:12 AM                                                                                                                    
STACY BANNERMAN  informed the committee  she is an  Army National                                                               
Guard Blue  Star Wife  whose husband served  two combat  tours of                                                               
duty in  Iraq with honors.   She also is  the author of  When the                                                               
War Came Home:   The Inside Story of Reservists  and the Families                                                               
They  Leave Behind,  the founder/director  of Sanctuary  Weekends                                                               
for Women  Veterans and Camp  Howdy for  Military Kids, and  is a                                                               
recipient of the 2009 Patriotic  Employer Award from the National                                                               
Guard  Commission  for  the  Employer  Support  of  the  Guard  &                                                               
Reserve.    Ms.  Bannerman  expressed her  support  for  HB  347,                                                               
paraphrasing  from a  prepared statement,  which read  as follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
          Thank you to the Committee for considering this                                                                       
     important bill  to support the  families of  the troops                                                                    
     who are  serving or  will serve in  the war  on terror,                                                                    
     and other combat  deployments.  In a  few short months,                                                                    
     another   30,000   troops   will   be   deploying   for                                                                    
     Afghanistan - again.  The  majority of those troops are                                                                    
     married with children; most of  the spouses left behind                                                                    
     work  outside the  home.   Many  of us  have to  choose                                                                    
     between  work and  family when  our loved  one deploys.                                                                    
     It's  an  impossible  choice,  and  one  that  military                                                                    
     families should never be asked  to make when America is                                                                    
     at war.                                                                                                                    
          My husband is a Sergeant First Class with the                                                                         
     Army  National Guard,  and  his  Brigade spent  several                                                                    
     months training  at Ft. McCoy,  Wisconsin, more  than a                                                                    
     thousand  miles away  from home  and  family, prior  to                                                                    
     shipping  out  for  a  second  tour in  Iraq.    I  had                                                                    
     recently  moved  to southern  Oregon  to  accept a  new                                                                    
     position  in  order  to   implement  programs  to  help                                                                    
     military families and veterans.   I had been on the job                                                                    
     for a  few months,  and didn't have  any sick  leave or                                                                    
     vacation time  available.   It would  be more  than one                                                                    
     year before I saw my husband again.                                                                                        
          If we support the troops, and by extension,                                                                           
     military  families, then  passing  the Military  Family                                                                    
     Leave Act should  be at the top of  this nation's to-do                                                                    
     list.   Because when the  soldier goes to war,  so does                                                                    
     the family.   And when  the veteran comes  home, family                                                                    
     support  is   the  single   most  critical   factor  in                                                                    
     successful reintegration.   The  demands of the  war on                                                                    
     terror  and  the  demographics   of  the  21st  Century                                                                    
     military  are   very  different  from  the   past,  and                                                                    
     adapting  to  those   realities  must,  by  definition,                                                                    
     include expanding support for military families.                                                                           
          For the first years of the Vietnam War, married                                                                       
     men were  exempt from the  draft, and for  the duration                                                                    
     of  the  war,  married  men with  children  were  given                                                                    
     deferments  so that  they wouldn't  be  deployed as  it                                                                    
     would  constitute  too  much   of  a  hardship  on  the                                                                    
     families.  During Vietnam, the  majority of troops were                                                                    
     single  soldiers serving  one  tour, and  comparatively                                                                    
     few  citizen soldiers  served in  combat.   Today,  the                                                                    
     bulk  of   the  boots  on   the  ground  in   Iraq  and                                                                    
     Afghanistan  are married.   They  have  served, or  are                                                                    
     serving,  multiple   tours;  and  most  of   them  have                                                                    
     children.  Around 40 percent are citizen soldiers.                                                                         
8:25:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON asked about pre-deployment leave.                                                                                  
MS. BANNERMAN advised  that this legislation can  be different in                                                               
each  state;  however,  her  understanding  is  that  the  Alaska                                                               
version provides 10  days of unpaid leave per  United States Code                                                               
Title  10 status.   The  family member  can utilize  the time  at                                                               
their discretion.                                                                                                               
8:27:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON closed public testimony.                                                                                           
8:28:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  asked for  the amount  of unpaid  leave that                                                               
teachers are allowed.                                                                                                           
8:28:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN responded  that  five  days are  allowed                                                               
currently,  but  that  may  depend   on  the  availability  of  a                                                               
8:28:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked whether  the sponsor patterned the bill                                                               
after legislation enacted in other states.                                                                                      
8:29:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN explained  that HB  347 differs  in that                                                               
the bill does not allow leave  before deployment, as that date is                                                               
known  well in  advance and  families can  make arrangements  for                                                               
time off.                                                                                                                       
8:30:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  then  asked  what  brought  this  issue  to                                                               
Representative Petersen's attention.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN related  he was  a member  of the  Joint                                                               
Armed  Services Committee  and there  are two  military bases  in                                                               
close proximity to his district.                                                                                                
8:30:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  asked whether the  sponsors' intent was  to pattern                                                               
the bill on  language enacted in other states to  "then be judged                                                               
independently under Alaska law."                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  responded that the drafter  attempted to                                                               
adapt the bill to conform to Alaska statutes.                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON  surmised  the  intent  was for  the  bill  "to  be                                                               
interpreted with the Alaska Constitution  and Alaska law, and not                                                               
bringing those other cases from other jurisdictions."                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN said that is correct.                                                                                   
8:33:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH offered his support for the bill.                                                                           
8:33:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON directed  attention to the committee  packet and the                                                               
letters of support and opposition.                                                                                              
8:34:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON stated that HB 347 would be held over.                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
FY02-11LocalEffortAssessed&educationWithMills-2Pager_10-22-09.xlsx HEDC 2/19/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/3/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/12/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 350
HB350-EED-ESS-2-18-10.pdf HEDC 2/19/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/3/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 350
current program flow chart.docx HEDC 3/3/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/12/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 350
HB 347 sponsor statement.pdf HEDC 3/3/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 347
HB 347 backup.pdf HEDC 3/3/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 347
HB 347 sectional.pdf HEDC 3/3/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 347