Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/29/2017 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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03:19:11 PM Start
03:19:42 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
03:25:14 PM HB126
03:42:27 PM HB142
04:34:22 PM HB103
05:16:10 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+ Confirmation Hearings: TELECONFERENCED
- Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives
- Board of Pharmacy
- Board of Professional Counselors
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
         HB 126-ORGANIZED MILITIA: WORKERS COMPENSATION                                                                     
3:25:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO announced that the next order of business would be CS                                                                
FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 126(MLV) "An Act relating to workers'                                                                        
compensation benefits for members of the organized militia."                                                                    
3:25:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  noted that  when the  legislature modernized                                                               
the judicial system for the  military during the last legislative                                                               
session, it recognized the need  for other changes to the current                                                               
military  code.   He read  the sponsor  statement, which  read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     The   Alaska  State   Legislature  and   Department  of                                                                    
     Military  and  Veterans'   Affairs  have  been  working                                                                    
     together to modernize the 1955  Alaska Military Code by                                                                    
     providing statutory changes that  will better serve our                                                                    
     Alaska organized militia.                                                                                                  
     House  Bill  126  would  expand  workers'  compensation                                                                    
     coverage  to  the  organized  militia  while  they  are                                                                    
     participating  training  exercises.  Currently,  Alaska                                                                    
     statutes   already   provides   workers'   compensation                                                                    
     coverage during  active state  service, but  not during                                                                    
     training. By expending [sic]  this protection, we could                                                                    
     potentially  provide  a fiscally  significant  coverage                                                                    
     and save the state money in the future.                                                                                    
     This  issue came  to light  during an  incident when  a                                                                    
     member of  the Alaska  State Defense Force  suffered an                                                                    
     injury  during  a training  exercise  that  led to  his                                                                    
     inability to work. Since  workers' compensation was not                                                                    
     available, this injury ultimately  cost the state twice                                                                    
     the amount  of the entire  annual budget of  the Alaska                                                                    
     State Defense  Force. The  Risk Management  Division of                                                                    
     the  Alaska  Department   of  Administration  estimates                                                                    
     there would  be little to  no additional cost  to cover                                                                    
     the Alaska  State Defense Force members  under existing                                                                    
     state workers' compensation policies.                                                                                      
     As we face tight fiscal  times, it is important that we                                                                    
     are taking  steps to ensure  cost savings where  we can                                                                    
     and  pass  responsible  legislation that  will  protect                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  stated that  this  was  one of  four  bills                                                               
updating  the  Military  Code  of Alaska;  HB  126  would  expand                                                               
workers compensation for the militia and save the state money.                                                                  
3:28:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SULLIVAN-LEONARD  asked   if   there  were   any                                                               
statistics on  members that were  injured during  training within                                                               
the last 10 years.                                                                                                              
3:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Chris Tuck,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Tuck,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB  126,  said that  currently  the  Alaska State  Defense  Force                                                               
(ASDF) has  76 members that  participate and that the  only known                                                               
incident  was  a  leg  injury.     She  noted  that  the  injured                                                               
individual intended  to bring the  matter to court, but  the case                                                               
eventually settled out of court.   She said it was this case that                                                               
brought the bill to  life.  She made the point  that if the state                                                               
is  going to  cover members  during their  active state  service,                                                               
then it will want to cover them for their training as well.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD  requested confirmation  that the                                                               
injury described was the only one in the last 10 years.                                                                         
MS. KLOUSTER  stated that it  was the only  one of which  she was                                                               
aware.    She  suggested  Department of  Military  and  Veterans'                                                               
Affairs Deputy Commissioner Bob Doehl could confirm this.                                                                       
3:29:59 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  DOEHL, Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of Military  and                                                               
Veterans' Affairs (DMVA), stated  that the department supports HB
126 as it  provides predictability and sound  risk management for                                                               
the  training activities  of ASDF.    He remarked  that even  one                                                               
injury  can  be  "budget  busting,"   as  was  evidenced  in  the                                                               
previously  discussed case.   He  also stated  that the  proposed                                                               
bill  would  create  parity  with  volunteer  search  and  rescue                                                               
groups, volunteer firefighters, and  the [Alaska] National Guard,                                                               
all of which are in a paid status with federal training.                                                                        
3:31:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  if  anyone could  provide  him  with                                                               
information on the militia in  Alaska; for example, what it does,                                                               
how  many members  exist, and  how it  differs from  the National                                                               
3:32:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER DOEHL  said  that the  organized militia  in                                                               
Alaska consists of four components;  the best known being the Air                                                               
and  Army National  Guards,  which make  up  about 4,000  members                                                               
combined.  The  two lesser known components are  the Alaska Naval                                                               
Militia made  up of Navy  and Marine Corps reservists,  and ASDF,                                                               
which is the  group to which this bill pertains.   He stated that                                                               
ASDF is a state-only militia,  having no federal affiliation, and                                                               
it trains  to augment the  National Guard at times  when disaster                                                               
response needs  exceed the  capacity of the  National Guard.   He                                                               
stated  that ASDF  has  communications  detachments running  high                                                               
frequency  and satellite  radios, water  purification units,  and                                                               
generators,  and  recently  ASDF  ran  the  phone  bank  for  the                                                               
disaster  assistance  center  after  the storms  in  Gambell  and                                                               
Savoonga.   Their  duties of  ASDF  include basic  first aid  and                                                               
other training.   Last  year during the  fires, ASDF  ran shelter                                                               
management at evacuation points.   Deputy Commissioner Doehl said                                                               
that  members  are  paid  only  when  they  are  in  active  duty                                                               
assisting in a disaster; preparation  for a disaster is performed                                                               
on their own time.                                                                                                              
3:33:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked how ASDF's schedule  is different from                                                               
the National Guard, regarding whether  their training periods are                                                               
specified or as needed.                                                                                                         
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DOEHL  responded   by  saying  that  ASDF's                                                               
training consists  of one weekend  each month  to be ready  for a                                                               
disaster.   He  explained that  unlike the  National Guard,  ASDF                                                               
members do  not deploy  or go  to federal  training but  may have                                                               
periods  of annual  training greater  than the  one weekend  each                                                               
month or  take courses like  officer candidate school.   Training                                                               
is specialized.   He  said currently ASDF  does not  have weapons                                                               
training like the National Guard.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked if ASDF members are paid for training.                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DOEHL answered that  they are not paid at all                                                               
when  in training;  they  are only  paid  when performing  actual                                                               
operational duties.   All training time is  volunteer time, which                                                               
adds up to thousands of hours among all the volunteers.                                                                         
3:35:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  inquired further  about the  general nature                                                               
of ASDF training.  He stated that  he did not want to refer to it                                                               
as administrative or  clerical; however, it did not  appear to be                                                               
the same  as the training  or fieldwork provided to  the National                                                               
Guard and Reserves.                                                                                                             
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER DOEHL  offered his  understanding that  ASDF                                                               
members are  trained in the field  rather than at a  desk setting                                                               
when,  for  example,  operating generators  or  other  equipment,                                                               
performing litter  drills, or providing  first aid training.   He                                                               
also  included  the  example  of  [members]  setting  up  a  high                                                               
frequency  radio and  erecting an  antenna in  a field  expedient                                                               
site.  He  said that they don't, for example,  work in protective                                                               
chemical  gear,  but that  there  are  some physically  demanding                                                               
requirements for working in an emergency environment.                                                                           
3:36:14 PM                                                                                                                    
COLONEL  JOHN  JAMES,  Commander,   Alaska  State  Defense  Force                                                               
(ASDF),  Department  of  Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA),                                                               
confirmed that  Deputy Commissioner  Doehl's comments  were "spot                                                               
on."   He added that  ASDF augments  the National Guard  when the                                                               
latter has "capability gaps" or  personnel shortages.  While some                                                               
of the responsibilities include  administrative duties or perhaps                                                               
operating  a  radio,  there  are times  when  ASDF  augments  the                                                               
National Guard in the field  with more strenuous types of duties.                                                               
He said  their purpose is  to augment  and be a  force multiplier                                                               
for  the National  Guard, and  the department  feels this  is how                                                               
they can be most effective.                                                                                                     
3:37:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL noted  the  zero-fiscal note  and asked  how                                                               
there  can  be  zero  cost  when the  state  would  be  providing                                                               
workers' compensation benefits.                                                                                                 
3:37:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   said  he  would  let   the  Department  of                                                               
Administration respond to that question.                                                                                        
3:37:52 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIE   MARX,  Director,   Division  of   Workers'  Compensation,                                                               
Department of  Labor & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  said there                                                               
were a  few fiscal notes Chair  Kito attached to this  bill.  One                                                               
is from the Division of  Workers' Compensation, which administers                                                               
but does  not pay workers' compensation  benefits.  It is  a zero                                                               
fiscal note because the bill would  not require any change in the                                                               
administration  of the  Alaska Workers'  Compensation  Act.   She                                                               
then  deferred to  the  Division of  Risk  Management, which  she                                                               
described as the  employer arm of the state, to  speak to its own                                                               
fiscal note.   She said  the Division  of Risk Management  is the                                                               
entity that  would pay  benefits if  there was  a work  injury or                                                               
3:38:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT JORDAN,  Director, Division of Risk  Management, Department                                                               
of  Administration   (DOA),  said  that  the   Division  of  Risk                                                               
Management covers similar  groups, such as Search  and Rescue for                                                               
the Department of Public Safety  (DPS) and some Emergency Medical                                                               
Technicians, and  they are not calculated  as full-time employees                                                               
(FTEs).    He said  that  the  militia  members in  question  are                                                               
already  covered  for  active  duty,   and  adding  coverage  for                                                               
training is  a low risk,  which is the  reason for a  zero fiscal                                                               
note.   He added that Risk  Management has no way  of calculating                                                               
the risk for  these people, because they are  not calculated into                                                               
the FTEs of their departments.                                                                                                  
3:39:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  stated his  understanding is  that workers'                                                               
compensation  typically  extends to  employees  and  the cost  is                                                               
covered  by  employer/employee  contributions; however,  in  this                                                               
case the  legislature is  being asked to  extend that  benefit to                                                               
volunteers that are not employees  and are not compensated unless                                                               
they are on official business.   He said this situation brings to                                                               
mind a  discussion held about  extending the "life  benefits" for                                                               
non-profit  emergency medical  service  members  that respond  to                                                               
accidents on  the highway, in  the same fashion as  public safety                                                               
officers,  yet don't  receive  the same  benefits  as the  public                                                               
safety officers.   He asked if it would be  normal to extend this                                                               
type  of benefit  to volunteers  or if  the legislature  would be                                                               
creating a precedence.                                                                                                          
MR.  JORDAN said  it would  be  normal for  them to  do this  for                                                               
volunteers  and  would  not  create  a  precedence  by  providing                                                               
workers' compensation  for this group.   He said the  Division of                                                               
Risk Management is self-insured and  its rates are different from                                                               
what you  might see at  a private  entity.  The  division insures                                                               
several  volunteer  groups,  like search  and  rescue,  emergency                                                               
medical  technicians operating  in  an  unincorporated city,  and                                                               
even high  school students involved  in work programs  within the                                                               
3:42:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO announced that HB 126 was held over.                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB142 Fiscal Note DOLWD-UI 3.1.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Sponsor Statement 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Letter of Opposition Agosti 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Letter of Opposition NFIB 3.7.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Letter of Support Miller 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-MWBA Analysis 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Resolution AWIB 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Unemployment Insurance Handbook 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-WBA charts 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB126 Fiscal Note DOA-DRM 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Fiscal Note DOLWD-WC 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Fiscal Note MVA-COM 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Memo of Changes L&C 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Sponsor Statement 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Supporting Document-Letter Adjutant General Hummel 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB103 Supporting Documents-AS 08.72.273 Removal of foreign bodies 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 1 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 3 3.29.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 2 3.29.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 4 3.29.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103