Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/10/2010 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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               HB 347-LEAVE FOR MILITARY SPOUSES                                                                            
8:09:29 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                                                               
8:10:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   PETE   PETERSEN,   Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
reintroduced HB  347 to the committee  as the prime sponsor.   He                                                               
summarized  that  the  bill allows  spouses  of  active  military                                                               
personnel  ten days  of unpaid  leave.   Representative  Petersen                                                               
noted an  amendment to  the bill limits  its scope  to businesses                                                               
with  20 employees  or more,  and  schools with  20 employees  or                                                               
8:13:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PEDER TERLAND, Staff to  Representative Pete Peterson, Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,  informed  the  committee  that  the  sponsor                                                               
recently learned of a change in  the Family and Medical Leave Act                                                               
(FMLA)  to  include the  spouse  of  regular military  personnel,                                                               
which was  the primary intent of  the bill.  However,  HB 347 was                                                               
written specifically  for Alaskan  troops, and conforms  to state                                                               
law.  He acknowledged the  receipt of a facsimile (FAX) contained                                                               
in the committee  packet that refutes the need for  the bill, and                                                               
reported  its  arrival was  too  late  to  review prior  to  this                                                               
scheduled hearing.   Nevertheless,  Mr. Terland pointed  out that                                                               
differences between  FMLA and  HB 347  still exist;  for example,                                                               
FMLA allows for up to five  days of leave when a covered military                                                               
member is  on leave from  deployment, and  HB 347 allows  for ten                                                               
days  of leave.   Additionally,  the bill  applies to  businesses                                                               
and, as  amended, schools  with 20 or  more employees  versus the                                                               
FMLA standard  of 50 or  more employees.  Although  not practical                                                               
given the situation of a  small business, ideally, he opined, the                                                               
legislation would be  "in the families' best  interest" and allow                                                               
the spouse of a soldier leave from any size of establishment.                                                                   
8:16:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  pointed out that bill  does not prohibit                                                               
an employer  with fewer  than 20  employees from  allowing leave,                                                               
but provides an exemption should such action cause a hardship.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  queried why  the  original  act did  not                                                               
include active duty military.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  expressed his belief that  the provision                                                               
was originally passed  at a time when a large  number of National                                                               
Guard  and Military  Reserves were  deployed for  active military                                                               
8:18:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON referred  to the document provided  in the committee                                                               
packet  and  titled, "U.S.  Department  of  Labor Wage  and  Hour                                                               
Division  Fact Sheet  #28A:   The  Family and  Medical Leave  Act                                                               
Military  Family Leave  Entitlements,"  and paraphrased  language                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
     Qualifying  Exigency Leave:   A  covered employer  must                                                                    
     grant  an  eligible  employee  up  to  a  total  of  12                                                                    
     workweeks of  unpaid leave  during the  normal 12-month                                                                    
     period established by the employer for FMLA leave ...                                                                      
CHAIR  SEATON pointed  out that  HB  347 stipulates  ten days  of                                                               
leave; however,  the October 2009,  amendment to the  FMLA allows                                                               
twelve work weeks of leave.   He observed the federal legislation                                                               
grants a greater duration of leave.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN   agreed,  but   noted  the   leave  was                                                               
determined by  a "qualifying exigency,"  the definition  of which                                                               
was unknown to him.                                                                                                             
CHAIR SEATON indicated  that the definition was  contained in the                                                               
same  document, and  included  farther  reaching situations  than                                                               
previously discussed and  connected with HB 347, such  as:  short                                                               
notice  deployment;  military   events  and  related  activities;                                                               
childcare   and   related   activities;   financial   and   legal                                                               
arrangements;  counseling; rest  and recuperation;  certain post-                                                               
deployment activities.                                                                                                          
8:21:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER turned  to  the  Pension Services  Int'l.,                                                               
Inc.,  FAX  of 3/9/10,  provided  in  the committee  packet,  and                                                               
paraphrased  from the  cover page,  second paragraph,  which read                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     In reviewing  the data, we  find that virtually  all of                                                                    
     the concerns  raised in the  bill had  been address[ed]                                                                    
     in the  Family and  Medical Leave Act  National Defense                                                                    
     Authorization  Act for  FY 2010,  which  was signed  by                                                                    
      President Obama on October 28, 2009.  Public Law 111-                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON, acknowledging  that testimony on the  bill had been                                                               
received  too  late  for  review by  the  committee  or  sponsor,                                                               
suggested holding the bill to provide that opportunity.                                                                         
8:22:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. TERLAND maintained  that the federal revision  did not expand                                                               
the exigency leave  from five days, nor did it  alter the size of                                                               
the businesses exempted.                                                                                                        
8:23:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  noted that  the federal  legislation also                                                               
included the caveat that an  employee qualifies only after having                                                               
worked at an establishment for one year.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN  expressed  his understanding  that  the                                                               
qualification requires minimum employment of 1,250 hours.                                                                       
MR.  TERLAND  pointed  out  that   HB  347  does  not  have  that                                                               
8:23:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER expressed disbelief  that an employer would                                                               
deny an  employee leave;  in fact, this  bill may  be unnecessary                                                               
government  intervention.    He   asked  if  there  are  reported                                                               
instances where employers have denied leave.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN said  he  had no  personal knowledge  to                                                               
offer, only non-specific reports that  leave had been denied.  He                                                               
acknowledged that  being short-staffed could cause  a problem for                                                               
a small business, which was  why the bill established the minimum                                                               
of 20 or more employees.                                                                                                        
8:25:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON opened public testimony.                                                                                           
8:26:04 AM                                                                                                                    
AL TAMAGNI,  SR., Owner, Pension Services  Int'l., Inc., informed                                                               
the committee he was speaking as  an individual, although he is a                                                               
member of the National  Federation of Independent Business-Alaska                                                               
(NFIB).   Mr. Tamagni indicated  that he had reviewed  the recent                                                               
updates to  the FMLA  of 1993.   He  opined that  the statistical                                                               
data used to  draft HB 347 was  null and void, due  to the recent                                                               
changes to the  federal act signed by President  Obama on October                                                               
28, 2009, and effective as recently as February, 2010.                                                                          
8:27:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. TAMAGNI directed  attention to the FAX  communication, page 1                                                               
of 4,  Fact Sheet #28,  and the heading "Employer  Coverage," and                                                               
read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                           
     The  FMLA applies  to  all  public agencies,  including                                                                    
     state,  local and  federal  employers, local  education                                                                    
     agencies  (schools), and  private-sector employers  who                                                                    
     employed 50 or  more employees in 20  or more workweeks                                                                    
     in the current or preceding calendar year ...                                                                              
MR. TAMAGNI  reported that spouses  are routinely  granted leave,                                                               
due  to  outstanding  employer  efforts  to  voluntarily  support                                                               
military  families.    Unless  there  is  compelling,  verifiable                                                               
evidence  that  HB   347  should  be  enacted,   he  opined  that                                                               
additional state  legislation is  unnecessary.   Furthermore, Mr.                                                               
Tamagni pointed out that employers  exempt from FMLA because they                                                               
employ less  than 50 employees, may  not have to comply  with the                                                               
more restrictive  state law.   He suggested legislators  "move on                                                               
to more important things."                                                                                                      
8:29:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER asked  whether Mr.  Tamagni notified  the                                                               
bill's sponsor of his findings.                                                                                                 
MR. TAMAGNI said he was not  employed by the sponsor, although he                                                               
was in recent contact with Representative Tuck.                                                                                 
8:30:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  observed the differences in  the proposed                                                               
legislation and  FMLA regarding the  number of days of  leave and                                                               
the exception  for certain  employers.  She  agreed that  a large                                                               
measure of Alaska businesses  generously support military members                                                               
and military families,  and remarked, "But, if  you're already in                                                               
compliance, then why  would there be an objection  to just having                                                               
it in law,  for those few businesses ...  critically important to                                                               
the family who might be denied leave ...?                                                                                       
MR. TAMAGNI  related that  an informal  poll of  over 100  of his                                                               
clients  indicated  there was  no  problem  associated with  this                                                               
subject  matter.    He  asked,  "Why  do  you  want  to  regulate                                                               
something that apparently  there's no evidence to  support it's a                                                               
8:32:40 AM                                                                                                                    
RIC  DAVIDGE,  State  President,  Vietnam  Veterans  of  America;                                                               
Chairman,   Alaska  Veterans   Foundation,   cited  the   primary                                                               
differences between  the proposed  state legislation  and federal                                                               
law.   As a  combat veteran,  he opined that  when a  soldier has                                                               
been in combat for twelve to  eighteen months, it takes more than                                                               
five  days  of  leave  to  make   a  difference.    He  said  his                                                               
organization supports the two amendments to the bill.                                                                           
8:33:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  closed public testimony,  and announced HB  347 was                                                               
8:34:32 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:34 a.m. to 8:37 a.m.                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 367 Sponsor Statement.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/12/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/22/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/26/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367
HB 367 Sectional Analysis.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/22/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367
HB 367 powerpoint.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367
HB 367 Letter.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367
HB 367 Background.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367
HB367-REV-TAX-03-09-10 Education Tax Credits.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
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
HB350 program flow chart.docx HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/12/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 350
CS HB 297 GPS Work-Draft.pdf HEDC 3/8/2010 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 297
GPS Responses to Rep. Seaton 3.7.10.doc HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
GPS Responses to Rep. Gardner 3.9.10.doc HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
MeyerThomasSeaton 030910.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
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
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
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
Conceptual amendment to CS HB 367 Version R.docx HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367
HB 367 Work-Draft version R.pdf HEDC 3/10/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 367