Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

03/19/2015 01:00 PM House MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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01:04:40 PM Start
01:05:19 PM HB6
01:40:36 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 6(MLV) Out of Committee
        HB   6-EMPLOYMENT PREFERENCE FOR VETS & SPOUSES                                                                     
1:05:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HERRON  announced that the  only order of business  would be                                                              
HOUSE BILL NO. 6,  "An Act relating to a voluntary  preference for                                                              
veterans  and for  spouses and  domestic partners  of veterans  by                                                              
private employers."                                                                                                             
1:05:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  moved  to  adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                              
substitute  (CS) for HB  6, labeled  29-LS0042\N, Wayne,  3/19/15,                                                              
as the working draft.                                                                                                           
1:05:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HERRON objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                  
1:05:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK,  speaking as the  sponsor of HB  6, explained                                                              
that  Version N  removes ["spouses  and  domestic partners"]  from                                                              
the  bill because  their inclusion  would  be a  violation of  the                                                              
[Civil Rights Act of 1964].                                                                                                     
1:06:44 PM                                                                                                                    
KENDRA  KLOSTER, Staff,  Representative Chris  Tuck, Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature,  added  that  Version  N expands  the  definition  of                                                              
veteran to include members of the Alaska National Guard (AKNG).                                                                 
1:07:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  directed attention to the intent  of the bill                                                              
and  paraphrased from  the following  sponsor statement  [original                                                              
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     House  Bill   6  removes  barriers  to   employment  for                                                                   
     veterans. According  to a 2012  survey of veterans  from                                                                   
     all eras, 64%  of respondents said they had  a difficult                                                                   
     transition  from  military  service  to  civilian  life,                                                                   
     attributed  largely  to  employment  challenges.  As  of                                                                   
     June  2014,  nearly 600,000  veterans  were  unemployed.                                                                   
     The  jobless  rate for  post-  9/11 veterans  was  6.4%,                                                                   
     with  young male  veterans experiencing  a jobless  rate                                                                   
     of more  than 12%.  During 2013,  Alaska saw over  2,000                                                                   
     military  personnel  separate  from service  and  return                                                                   
     home  and the  Department  of  Defense has  stated  they                                                                   
     expect  this  number  to  rise  in  coming  years.  Many                                                                   
     states  are  making  great strides  to  improve  veteran                                                                   
     employment by  removing professional licensing  barriers                                                                   
     and   crediting  military   education  and   experience.                                                                   
     However,  employment  ultimately  depends  on  employers                                                                   
     providing   workforce  opportunities.   Although   forty                                                                   
     states  and the  District of  Columbia award  preference                                                                   
     to  veterans who  are  being considered  for  hire to  a                                                                   
     public position,  private employers are  prohibited from                                                                   
     establishing   comparable   business  hiring   policies.                                                                   
     House  Bill 6  would allow  an  optional veteran  hiring                                                                   
     preference  for private  employers  by taking  advantage                                                                   
     of an  option available  under the  Civil Rights  Act of                                                                   
     1964.  To  date,  twelve  states  have  adopted  similar                                                                   
       legislation and is supported by the United States                                                                        
     Department of Defense.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK spoke  of the "Helmets  to Hardhats"  program                                                              
which  is a  federal program  that allows  veteran preference  for                                                              
applications into  training programs.  The program  has found that                                                              
former  military personnel  have  many qualities  for  employment,                                                              
for  example,  they are  ready  to  learn  and  work hard  in  the                                                              
construction   industry,  are  responsible,   and  have   a  great                                                              
attitude.   Representative  Tuck  said  HB 6  is  an expansion  of                                                              
optional veteran hiring preference for private employers.                                                                       
1:11:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HERRON asked  what advantage  HB  6 provides  to a  private                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  responded that  a private employer  would not                                                              
be in violation  of the [Civil  Rights Act] when hiring  a veteran                                                              
over another applicant.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX questioned  what  law makes  it illegal  to                                                              
hire a veteran over another applicant.                                                                                          
MS. KLOSTER  explained that Title VII  of the Civil Rights  Act of                                                              
1964  prohibits veteran  preference  by private  employers  unless                                                              
the language  within HB  6 is enacted.   Currently,  instituting a                                                              
hiring preference  for veterans  could lead  to a lawsuit  against                                                              
private employers.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  inquired  as  to  why  the  aforementioned                                                              
training programs are not illegal.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK said  federal training  programs differ  from                                                              
an employer hiring  an employee; an employer who wants  to hire an                                                              
apprentice cannot use veteran preference.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX questioned  whether ["spouse"]  was removed                                                              
from the  bill because  although it  is not  a problem  in federal                                                              
law, to give  a preference to  a military spouse is  illegal under                                                              
current Alaska state law.                                                                                                       
MS. KLOSTER said  correct.  Although four states  included spouses                                                              
in  their legislation,  the  [Alaska  State Commission  for  Human                                                              
Rights]  prohibits   discrimination   based  on  marital   status;                                                              
therefore, Legislative  Legal Services (LLS) has  advised that the                                                              
original  language  in the  bill  held  the potential  to  violate                                                              
Alaska law.                                                                                                                     
1:14:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether the [Alaska  State Commission                                                              
for Human Rights] has written regulations.                                                                                      
MS.  KLOSTER said  yes.   Alaska  Statute  [Title  18 Chapter  80]                                                              
prohibits discrimination based on marital status.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   asked  whether  LLS  had   provided  a                                                              
written opinion in this regard.                                                                                                 
MS. KLOSTER said  no; however, LLS drafted the  proposed committee                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  asked whether Alaska  was one of  the forty                                                              
states that allow veteran preference for public employees.                                                                      
MS.  KLOSTER  said yes,  and  clarified  that information  in  the                                                              
sponsor  statement was  incorrect; in  fact, all  50 states  allow                                                              
veteran preference for public employees.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  pointed out [in Version N, on  page 1, line                                                              
15] the use of  the word "may" directed at private  employers, and                                                              
asked  whether  legislation  directed  to  public  employers  uses                                                              
"may" or "shall."                                                                                                               
1:16:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK was  unsure.  He noted the intent  of the bill                                                              
was to  provide an  employer with a  choice without  violating the                                                              
[Civil Rights Act].                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  expressed  his understanding  that  the                                                              
purpose of  the bill is  to comply with  federal law,  and without                                                              
HB 6, the state is in violation of federal law.                                                                                 
MS. KLOSTER  answered no.   At this time,  under the  Civil Rights                                                              
Act, [Title VII,  section 11], each state can pass  a law allowing                                                              
veteran  hiring  preference.     She  confirmed  that  if  private                                                              
businesses  hire based  on veteran  preference, they  would be  in                                                              
violation;  however, there  is enabling  federal legislation  that                                                              
allows HB 6.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  suggested that  since this law  has been                                                              
adopted in all 50 states, the federal law should be changed.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  observed   that  changing  federal  law  was                                                              
beyond the legislature's control.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG suggested a resolution may be in order.                                                                
1:18:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HERRON opened  public testimony  on  HB 6  and removed  his                                                              
objection.    There being  no  further  objection, Version  N  was                                                              
before the committee.                                                                                                           
1:18:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MARK SAN SOUCI,  Regional Liaison, Office of  the Deputy Assistant                                                              
Secretary  of Defense for  Military Community  and Family  Policy,                                                              
U.S. Department  of Defense (DoD), said  he is a retired  U.S. Air                                                              
Force  officer and  DoD's regional  liaison for  Alaska.   He said                                                              
his office  has learned that  many private sector  employers would                                                              
like to  hire veterans  because of their  skills, work  ethic, and                                                              
reliability,  but they are  reluctant to  do so  in fear  of being                                                              
sued  under the  Civil  Rights Act,  Title  VII.   He opined  that                                                              
private  sector   employers  are  best  suited  to   choose  their                                                              
employees,  and  since  the public  sector  has  accepted  veteran                                                              
preference hiring  practices in  all 50 states,  HB 6  would allow                                                              
the  private  sector  to  equitably compete  for  the  talents  of                                                              
returning  veterans.   Mr. San  Souci recalled  that the  National                                                              
Conference  of  State Legislators  (NCSL)  Military  and  Veterans                                                              
Affairs Task  Force has advocated  for private sector  protection.                                                              
He relayed  that data  from the Bureau  of Labor Statistics,  U.S.                                                              
Department of Labor,  reported in February 2015,  the unemployment                                                              
rate for  veterans aged 18-24 years  was 18.7 percent  versus 11.6                                                              
percent for non-veterans,  and for veterans aged  25-44 years, the                                                              
unemployment  rate was  7.4 percent  versus 5.7  percent for  non-                                                              
veterans.  For the near future, there will be more highly-                                                                      
trained  veterans coming  to Alaska  to return  to civilian  life,                                                              
and he urged that the committee move the bill.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX   understood   that  there   are   certain                                                              
categories or groups  that employers cannot  discriminate against;                                                              
for example,  it is  illegal to  not hire  someone based  on race,                                                              
religion, or marital  status.  However, she questioned  whether it                                                              
is  illegal to  give a  preference  to someone  because one  likes                                                              
their looks.  She remarked:                                                                                                     
     So I guess I'm wondering, whether or not, if under our                                                                     
     current law, whether if somebody just wants to hire a                                                                      
     veteran whether that really is, is illegal.                                                                                
1:24:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SAN  SOUCI stated that  if a private  sector company  wants to                                                              
hire veterans,  and has a preference  policy, "it can  run counter                                                              
to Title  VII of  the Civil  Rights Act  of 1964."   In fact,  the                                                              
U.S.  Equal  Opportunity Employment  Commission  interpreted  many                                                              
veteran preference  processes to  have disparate impacts  on women                                                              
and  other  groups.    Thus,  NCLS  and  DoD  have  embraced  this                                                              
legislation  so private sector  employers  can voluntarily  have a                                                              
preference policy in alignment with state law.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked for the relevant statute.                                                                        
MR. SAN  SOUCI cited Title  VII, section  11, of the  Civil Rights                                                              
Act of 1964.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  recommended   that  this   problem  be                                                              
brought  to the  attention  of the  Committee  on Suggested  State                                                              
Legislation, The Council of State Governments.                                                                                  
MR.  SAN SOUCI  said the  first state  to address  this issue  was                                                              
Washington,  followed by  Arkansas, Florida,  Idaho, Iowa,  Maine,                                                              
Massachusetts,  Minnesota, North  Carolina, North Dakota,  Oregon,                                                              
South Carolina, and Virginia.                                                                                                   
1:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
RUSSELL  BALL,  Owner, ACD  Solutions,  said  ACD Solutions  is  a                                                              
statewide IT  service provider.   The company's veteran  employees                                                              
have been found  to be some of its top employees  because of their                                                              
skills, work ethics,  and other qualities which  are beneficial to                                                              
small businesses.   Currently, ACD Solutions is  unable to include                                                              
a veteran  preference hiring  process through  its advertising  or                                                              
recruitment  materials.    Mr. Ball  said  HB  6 would  allow  his                                                              
company to communicate  its veteran preference and  accomplish two                                                              
goals:  to  show an appreciation  for the service of  veterans and                                                              
allow  employers  to attract  desired  employees,  and to  support                                                              
veterans' transitions  from military service to civilian  life and                                                              
[Additional  written   public  testimony   was  included   in  the                                                              
committee packet.]                                                                                                              
1:31:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HERRON,  after ascertaining  that  no  one else  wished  to                                                              
testify, closed public testimony on HB 6.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK   directed   attention   to   AS   39.25.159                                                              
Employment Preference  For Veterans  and Former Prisoners  of War.                                                              
He  paraphrased language  in [subsection  (a)] of  the statute  as                                                              
     What they use  the term "shall" for is when  scoring and                                                                   
     assessing  an   applicant,  that  they  shall   score  5                                                                   
     percent   preference,   5   percent  of   their   score,                                                                   
     additionally,  for  those   who  are  veterans,  and  10                                                                   
     percent for those  who happen to be prisoners  of war in                                                                   
     the past.   So it doesn't  say you shall hire  them, but                                                                   
     it does  say you shall give  them a preference  score in                                                                   
     those two conditions.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK concluded,  pointing  out  that his  training                                                              
organization  grants veterans with  electrical experience  direct-                                                              
entry into  the program,  and grants an  interview for  all others                                                              
with military  experience.   He restated the  many qualities  of a                                                              
military background,  and opined that HB 6 would  provide benefits                                                              
to private  employers.  Finally,  he said, "As Americans,  we like                                                              
to  take care  of  those who  take  care  of us,  and  why not  do                                                              
something for those that sacrificed so much for our behalf?"                                                                    
CHAIR HERRON posed  the situation in which a  private employer has                                                              
two candidates  of  equal qualifications  - one  who is a  veteran                                                              
and  one  who is  not  -  and  asked  whether HB  6  requires  the                                                              
employer to hire the veteran.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said no, it does not.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  opined  the  bill  would  also  protect                                                              
employers from being sued for discrimination.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said that is correct.                                                                                       
1:36:36 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT    DOEHL,    Deputy    Commissioner,    Office    of    the                                                              
Commissioner/Adjutant  General,   in  response  to  Chair  Herron,                                                              
confirmed by  nodding his head that  the Department of  Military &                                                              
Veterans' Affairs had no position on the bill.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES expressed  her support  for preference  for                                                              
veterans   in   hiring   which   may   contribute   to   veterans'                                                              
productivity and fulfillment.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked whether  the sponsor was  aware of                                                              
any   related  lawsuits,   or   of  the   possible   need  for   a                                                              
retroactivity clause.                                                                                                           
MS. KLOSTER said  she asked this question of  representatives from                                                              
DoD  and  NCSL, and  was  not  informed  of  any past  or  pending                                                              
lawsuits.  She agreed to notify the committee in this regard.                                                                   
1:39:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  moved  to   report  CSHB  6,  Version  29-                                                              
LS0042\N,  Wayne,  3/19/15,  out   of  committee  with  individual                                                              
recommendations  and the  accompanying zero  fiscal notes.   There                                                              
being  no objection,  CSHB 6(MLV)  was reported  out of the  House                                                              
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB6 Supporting Documents-DoD Vet Hire Protect.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Supporting Documents-Letter Dept of Defense.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Supporting Documents-NCSL Report.Giving Veterans Hiring Preference..pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Supporting Documents-Report on Veterans Employment Challenges.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Sponsor Statement.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Supporting Documents-DoD Best Practices Report.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 - Supporting Document - Veteran Hiring Protection Facts.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Fiscal Note - DOLWD 3.13.15.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Sectional Analysis.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 Fiscal Note - OOG HRC 3.13.15.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6
HB6 - CS Version N - Legislation.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB6 - Supporting Document - Letter Dixie Banner.pdf HMLV 3/19/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 6