Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

03/31/2009 01:00 PM House MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 24(MLV) Out of Committee
HJR 24-FED. SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM/MILITARY                                                                                     
1:19:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  next order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 24,  Urging the United States Congress                                                               
and the  United States  Department of  Agriculture to  extend the                                                               
basic housing  allowance exclusion  to all military  families for                                                               
purposes of the school nutrition program.                                                                                       
1:19:54 PM                                                                                                                    
DANA STROMMEN,  Staff to Representative Jay  Ramras, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  HJR  24   on  behalf  of  Representative                                                               
Ramras,  prime  sponsor.   She  explained  the  resolution  urges                                                               
Congress  and  the U.  S.  Department  of Agriculture  (USDA)  to                                                               
extend  the basic  housing allowance  exclusion  to all  military                                                               
families  for the  purposes of  the school  lunch program.   This                                                               
would  enable military  families that  live  off of  the base  to                                                               
qualify for  school nutrition programs.   Because families living                                                               
off  of  the  base  receive an  additional  basic  allowance  for                                                               
housing (BAH),  many families  do not  quality for  [free] school                                                               
lunches; however, this  is an opportunity to  ensure our military                                                               
families do not have to  suffer hardships while a military member                                                               
is defending our country.                                                                                                       
1:20:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  added that  Josh Tempel, staff  to Senator                                                               
Huggins,  just  returned  from  a  tour of  duty  in  Iraq.    He                                                               
expressed his hope  that by passing this  resolution through both                                                               
bodies, the  legislature can  request regulatory  changes through                                                               
the USDA to allow children  of NCOs, and other military families,                                                               
to quality  for the free  and reduced price school  breakfast and                                                               
lunch program.                                                                                                                  
1:22:14 PM                                                                                                                    
DEAN  HAMBURG,  Chair,  Public  Policy  and  Legislation,  Alaska                                                               
School Nutrition Association, stated  he was representing members                                                               
who work  in school  meal programs  all across  Alaska.   He also                                                               
serves  as administrator  for  the school  meal  programs in  the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula Borough  School District.  Mr.  Hamburg noted his                                                               
service  as a  veteran,  and expressed  his  appreciation of  the                                                               
committee's consideration of HJR 24.   He relayed a short history                                                               
of  the USDA  school meal  program  that was  instituted in  1946                                                               
under  President   Truman.    The  school   lunch  programs  were                                                               
established  as  a  military  support  to  nutritionally  prepare                                                               
children for military  service; in fact, benefits  of the program                                                               
were  also  seen in  the  classroom.    Mr. Hamburg  opined  that                                                               
extending this  benefit to the  children of military  families is                                                               
an  appropriate  action.    Alaska  children  at  military  bases                                                               
throughout  Alaska  will  benefit   and  appreciate  the  support                                                               
offered by  HJR 24.  Mr.  Hamburg related some of  the challenges                                                               
to  military families  in Alaska  and assured  the committee  the                                                               
school  lunch  programs  are ready  to  welcome  military  family                                                               
children  to the  lunch programs.   The  Alaska School  Nutrition                                                               
Association strongly supports the passage of HJR 24.                                                                            
1:26:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTO thanked Mr. Hamburg for his naval service.                                                                          
1:26:57 PM                                                                                                                    
BARBARA BACHMEIER informed  the committee she was  a retired army                                                               
officer and  a former public  school teacher.  She  expressed her                                                               
support for  HJR 24  and pointed out  the importance  of ensuring                                                               
that all military children have  every opportunity to excel.  She                                                               
listed  some  of  the  difficulties  of  military  life  and  the                                                               
additional  demands  of  parenthood.     There  are  1.8  million                                                               
children  living in  military families,  thus  state and  federal                                                               
legislators  must   make  them   a  priority.     Regarding  this                                                               
resolution, she stated 1.2 million  children between birth and 23                                                               
years  of  age  are  dependents   of  regular  component  service                                                               
personnel, and  over 713,000 children  are dependents  of reserve                                                               
members.    Furthermore,  the   average  military  child  attends                                                               
between six and nine schools before  grade 12, and there are some                                                               
problems when  children transfer to  new schools.   Ms. Bachmeier                                                               
opined in this  instance, the military does not take  care of its                                                               
own.   Nutritious, healthful  meals have  been proven  to enhance                                                               
academic and behavioral performance.                                                                                            
1:30:39 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BACHMEIER  presented data regarding children  who suffer from                                                               
poor nutrition.   She concluded  that allowing  military families                                                               
to rely on  food stamps is a "abrogation  of our responsibilities                                                               
to let this reality go on," and urged for a legislative remedy.                                                                 
1:31:31 PM                                                                                                                    
AMY  ROUSE,  Director,  Nutrition Services,  Fairbanks  Northstar                                                               
Borough School District,  stated that in her  experience with the                                                               
Northstar  School  District  in   Fairbanks  she  deals  with  an                                                               
extraordinary  number  of military  families.    During the  meal                                                               
application process last fall, there  was an increase in contacts                                                               
from military  families whose children were  denied school meals.                                                               
For example, because the housing  allowance is counted as income,                                                               
there are  families whose  military members  have the  same rank,                                                               
yet one  family will qualify  for school meals, and  another will                                                               
not.  The  issue will be compounded as of  January 2009, when all                                                               
installation housing  will be turned  over to  private ownership;                                                               
this  means all  families  will be  receiving housing  allowances                                                               
monetarily.    Furthermore,  the  U.S.D.A.  does  not  count  the                                                               
housing   allowance  equally,   creating  "[the]   appearance  of                                                               
treating people  unfairly."  Ms.  Rouse encouraged  the committee                                                               
to endorse HJR 24.                                                                                                              
1:35:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTO  acknowledged the  receipt of  Ms. Rouse's  letter of                                                               
support for the resolution.                                                                                                     
1:35:43 PM                                                                                                                    
EDDY  JEANS, Director,  School  Finance  and Facilities  Section,                                                               
Department of  Education and  Early Development  (EED), confirmed                                                               
that  the   housing  allowance  received  by   military  families                                                               
prevents them from qualifying for  free and reduced school meals.                                                               
He pointed out  that there is no fiscal note  from his department                                                               
on   this  resolution   because  there   is  additional   federal                                                               
reimbursement for cost.                                                                                                         
1:36:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   RAMRAS   thanked    the   department   for   its                                                               
1:37:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTO closed public testimony on HJR 24.                                                                                  
1:37:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  moved to  report HJR 24,  26-LS0710\A, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
There  being no  objection, HJR  24 was  reported from  the House                                                               
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
AMENDMENT to HB24 - Conceptual (revised).pdf HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 24
HB 24 backup.pdf HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 24
HJR 24 Article.pdf HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HJR 24
HJR 24 letter of support.pdf HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HJR 24
HJR 29 Article 2.pdf HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Article.pdf HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HJR 29
Letter of Support HB 24.doc HMLV 3/31/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 24