Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/17/2009 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SJR 5 AK TERRITORIAL GUARD RETIREMENT BENEFITS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
*+ HB 99 DECEASED VETERAN DEATH CERTIFICATE/HONOR TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 99(MLV) Out of Committee
*+ HB 97 STATE VETERANS' CEMETERY & FUND TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
HB 97 - STATE VETERANS CEMETERY & FUND                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:15:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  97,  "An  Act  authorizing  the  Department  of                                                               
Military and  Veterans' Affairs to establish  and maintain Alaska                                                               
veterans' cemeteries, establishing  the Alaska veterans' cemetery                                                               
fund  in  the  general  fund, and  authorizing  appropriation  of                                                               
income from fees for special  request plates commemorating Alaska                                                               
veterans to that cemetery fund."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:15:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVID   GUTTENBERG,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
sponsor, indicated  that research engendered by  [a constituent's                                                               
request] led him  to discover that although  Alaska is ineligible                                                               
for another national cemetery, the  State Cemetery Grants Program                                                               
was established by  the U.S. Department of  Veterans Affairs (VA)                                                               
with the goal  of having a veterans' cemetery within  75 miles of                                                               
90 percent  of the  country's veterans.   Legislation  similar to                                                               
HB 97  has passed  the  House twice,  and  although Fairbanks  is                                                               
currently the  only community  that would  be eligible  under the                                                               
federal program, HB 97  is not specific with  regard to location.                                                               
He relayed  that his office  has written a  grant to the  VA, and                                                               
the governor has put $200,000  into the budget for "this," adding                                                               
his  hope that  this legislation  will  pass both  the House  and                                                               
Senate this time.  All criteria  regarding who can be buried in a                                                               
state veterans'  cemetery would be  established by the  VA, which                                                               
would pay 100 percent of  the costs of establishing the cemetery,                                                               
and the  state would then  be responsible for maintenance  of the                                                               
cemetery.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG, in  response to  questions, explained                                                               
that the  VA provides an  allotment of $300 for  internment; that                                                               
the  VA considers  20 acres  to be  the optimum  size for  such a                                                               
cemetery;  that  in  part,  HB  97 authorizes  the  use  of  fees                                                               
generated by  the Alaska's veterans' commemorative  license plate                                                               
program for the  purposes of a state veterans'  cemetery; that he                                                               
does not  know why previous  versions of the legislation  did not                                                               
pass  the Senate;  and  that  he doesn't  know  whether there  is                                                               
sufficient room for such a cemetery at Fort Richardson, Alaska.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRIS indicated  that he  is amenable  to having                                                               
such a cemetery in a different location.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO opined  that such  cemeteries should  be located  in                                                               
different  locations around  the  state  since Alaska's  veterans                                                               
come from different locations.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS said he supports HB 97.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:24:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STACY   OATES,   Administrative   Manager,   Director's   Office,                                                               
Department of Motor Vehicles  (DMV), Department of Administration                                                               
(DOA), in response  to a question, explained  that under [current                                                               
statute], the DMV reports the amount  of the fees it receives for                                                               
veterans'  commemorative  license  plates   to  the  Division  of                                                               
Finance, and  keeps a record of  how much money is  collected for                                                               
those specific  license plates; that  money, which goes  into the                                                               
general  fund  (GF),  is then  available  for  appropriation  for                                                               
veterans'  issues and  veterans' programs,  and, under  the bill,                                                               
that money would  then also be available for  appropriation for a                                                               
veterans cemetery fund.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS  pointed out that  all funds in the  GF are                                                               
available  for   appropriation;  that  under  the   Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution, there shall  be no dedicated funds; and  that HB 97                                                               
merely  establishes  a guideline  for  what  fees from  veterans'                                                               
commemorative license plates might be appropriated for.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:27:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM  WHEELER,   President,  Alaska  Veterans   Business  Alliance                                                               
(AVBA), after  indicating that members' packets  should include a                                                               
letter  from  Ric  Davidge,  relayed  that  he  supports  HB  97,                                                               
characterizing  it as  the right  thing  to do  and as  a way  of                                                               
thanking veterans  for their  service to the  country.   He added                                                               
that  it would  be fair  for Fairbanks  to be  the location  of a                                                               
state veterans'  cemetery so  that family  members won't  have to                                                               
drive all the way to Anchorage  to visit their buried loved ones.                                                               
He expressed  his hope that members  will support HB 97  and move                                                               
it from committee.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:28:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT  LUBY, Advocacy  Director, AARP  Alaska,  explained that  the                                                               
AARP has  a large  number of veterans  among its  membership, and                                                               
that one  of the greatest honors  that can be afforded  a veteran                                                               
and  his/her family  is  a  final resting  place  in a  veterans'                                                               
cemetery.    However,  such  families  would  prefer  to  have  a                                                               
cemetery that is close to them,  and HB 97 will offer many Alaska                                                               
veterans  and  their families  that  opportunity  via the  future                                                               
development  of one  or more  new cemeteries  - hopefully  in the                                                               
Interior,  he  added.   In  conclusion,  he  said that  the  AARP                                                               
strongly supports  HB 97, and, as  a veteran himself, that  he is                                                               
requesting passage of HB 97 for  the benefit of all veterans.  In                                                               
response to  a question,  he relayed that  compared to  any other                                                               
state, Alaska has the highest per capita number of veterans.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO,  after ascertaining  that  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 97.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:30:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRIS moved  to report  HB 97  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no  objection, HB  97 was reported  from the                                                               
House Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CS HB 99.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 99
CS HB 99 Changes.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 99
HB 97 Fact sheet.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 97 Letter of Support AARP.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 97 Letter of Support American Legion.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 97 Letter of Support Alaska Veterans Foundation.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 97 Letter of Support Disabled American Veterans.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 97 Veteran cemetary Eligability.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 99 Sample deather certificate.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 99
Sectional Analysis of HB 97.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 97
SJR 5 Delegation work on ATG benefits.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
SJR 5
SJR 5 Info on the ATG.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
SJR 5
SJR 5 U.S. House bill.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
SJR 5
SJR 5 U.S. senate bill.pdf HMLV 2/17/2009 1:00:00 PM
SJR 5