Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/01/2003 03:15 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 228-STATE EMPLOYEES CALLED TO MILITARY DUTY                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  228, "An Act relating to state  employees who are                                                               
called  to active  duty as  reserve or  auxiliary members  of the                                                               
armed  forces  of  the  United   States;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective  date."    [HB  228  had  been  heard  and  amended  on                                                               
Number 0068                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BETH  KERTTULA, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor                                                               
of  HB 228,  reminded  members  that this  bill  would allow  the                                                               
governor to offer  members of the military the  difference in pay                                                               
between  what they  are receiving  while  on duty  and what  they                                                               
would have  received if  they had  remained in  state employment.                                                               
She commended  her staff  for work  in addressing  questions that                                                               
had arisen at the previous meeting.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA,  addressing  a  fiscal  concern  voiced                                                               
previously   by   Representative   Masek,   told   members   that                                                               
departments'  budgets  already  include  the  cost  of  full-time                                                               
salaries  and benefits  for all  state employees;  therefore, the                                                               
cost to the state would only  be the difference between the state                                                               
pay and active-duty pay, since  other benefits already would have                                                               
been  budgeted  for.    The  costs would  only  increase  if  the                                                               
person's   position  needed   to   be   filled  during   military                                                               
deployment.  Because the average  duration of activation is three                                                               
months, she  opined that  likely there wouldn't  be a  big fiscal                                                               
impact if the governor chose to use this option.                                                                                
Number 0167                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA   addressed  previous   questions  about                                                               
current  leave procedures.    She said  state  employees who  are                                                               
called  to active  duty or  who are  under [military]  orders are                                                               
treated the  same as  an employee  who takes  an unpaid  leave of                                                               
absence.   This is the  problem with the health  insurance, which                                                               
only continues  to the last day  of the month in  which the leave                                                               
is taken;  the state's retirement division  complies with federal                                                               
law on  that.   Under federal guidelines,  an individual  must be                                                               
activated for more than 180  days before military health benefits                                                               
will  begin.   Because  the  average  duration is  three  months,                                                               
however, that  leaves a  gap.   As for the  number of  people the                                                               
bill would  affect, she  noted that from  September 11,  2001, to                                                               
April 2002 there  were 180 executive-branch employees  in the Air                                                               
National Guard or  Army National Guard; of those,  41 were called                                                               
to active duty,  and of those, only 8 received  less military pay                                                               
than state pay.                                                                                                                 
Number 0286                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM commended  Representative Kerttula  for                                                               
her  effort,  saying  she  believes this  is  worthwhile  and  is                                                               
another small  way to  thank those  men and  women who  put their                                                               
lives on the line for the country.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE   MASEK   thanked  Representative   Kerttula   for                                                               
addressing her fiscal questions from the previous hearing.                                                                      
Number 0345                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted  that this  becomes  implemented                                                               
through  an  administrative  order   and  asked  how  often  that                                                               
procedure is used.                                                                                                              
Number 0413                                                                                                                     
TRACY  WENDT, Intern  for  Representative  Beth Kerttula,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, said she'd have to look into it.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG expressed  concern that  this may  be a                                                               
new  procedure  in  a  relatively   noncontroversial  bill.    He                                                               
mentioned   promulgating   emergency    regulations   under   the                                                               
Administrative Procedure Act (APA), for  instance.  He asked that                                                               
the  sponsor look  into those  issues, saying  that otherwise  he                                                               
would  move to  amend this  in the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee.  He  said he wants this to be  standardized so that it                                                               
doesn't require reinventing the wheel or result in litigation.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  referred to the phrase  "issuance of an                                                               
administrative  order"  on lines  7-8  [page  1].   He  suggested                                                               
saying  instead, "issuance  of regulations".   He  said doing  it                                                               
under the APA  would avoid saying that this isn't  subject to the                                                               
APA and so forth.  He also  suggested that if it's under the APA,                                                               
then emergency  regulations could  be issued,  for instance.   He                                                               
said there is a whole body of law about this.                                                                                   
Number 0540                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HB 228, as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying   fiscal  notes.      There   being  no   objection,                                                               
CSHB 228(MLV) was  reported from  the House Special  Committee on                                                               
Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  offered to have his  staff research the                                                               
issues he'd raised.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  said his points were  excellent and that                                                               
she  had some  answers  about the  emergency  regulations.   With                                                               
regard  to administrative  orders,  she offered  her belief  that                                                               
they exist.  [CSHB 228(MLV) was reported from committee.]                                                                       

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