Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/04/2004 08:02 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 385-SECURITY;DIV. HOMELAND SECURITY/EMER. MGT                                                                              
Number 0200                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  next order  of business                                                                    
would  be  CS FOR  SENATE  BILL  NO.  385(JUD) am,  "An  Act                                                                    
relating  to   homeland  security,  to  civil   defense,  to                                                                    
emergencies  and to  disasters, including  disasters in  the                                                                    
event  of  attacks,  outbreaks of  disease,  or  threats  of                                                                    
attack  or  outbreak  of disease;  establishing  the  Alaska                                                                    
division of  homeland security  and emergency  management in                                                                    
the  Department  of  Military   and  Veterans'  Affairs  and                                                                    
relating  to  the  functions  of   that  division  and  that                                                                    
department; and providing for an effective date."                                                                               
Number 0219                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to  adopt CSSB 385(JUD)am [as                                                                    
the  work draft].   [No  further  action occurred  regarding                                                                    
this motion.]                                                                                                                   
Number 0230                                                                                                                     
JOHN  CRAMER,  Director, Administrative  Services  Division,                                                                    
Department of Military &  Veterans' Affairs (DMVA), reviewed                                                                    
a  portion  of  the   sponsor  statement  [included  in  the                                                                    
committee packet].   He  listed the  primary purpose  of the                                                                    
legislation as  follows:  One,  to amend the  existing civil                                                                    
defense  statutes  to  update  them  for  homeland  security                                                                    
purposes; two,  to amend existing disaster  statutes to make                                                                    
them  applicable  to  homeland   security  in  outbreaks  of                                                                    
disease; three,  to combine two  divisions in the  DMVA into                                                                    
the  single division  of the  Division of  Homeland Security                                                                    
and  Emergency  Management;  and   four,  to  establish  the                                                                    
Homeland Security  And Emergency Management  subcommittee as                                                                    
a  legislative  subcommittee  of the  Joint  Armed  Services                                                                    
Number 0294                                                                                                                     
MR.  CRAMER stated  that the  civil defense  chapter in  the                                                                    
DMVA  statute, AS  26.20, was  enacted in  1951, during  the                                                                    
Cold  War.    The  proposed legislation  would  update  that                                                                    
chapter  to  make  it  relevant  to  homeland  security;  it                                                                    
specifies that  DMVA shall coordinate homeland  security and                                                                    
civil defense  functions in the  state, in  cooperation with                                                                    
and with  assistance from  other state  agencies.   It would                                                                    
authorize the  DMVA to  undertake certain  homeland security                                                                    
planning and  preparedness activities,  and it  also repeals                                                                    
obsolete and  potentially far-reaching civil  defense powers                                                                    
and requirements  existing today.  The  bill would authorize                                                                    
the  governor  to  declare  an  emergency  and  to  exercise                                                                    
specified  emergency  powers in  the  event  of a  terrorist                                                                    
attack  or  a credible  threat  of  imminent attack  in  the                                                                    
state.  Mr.  Cramer explained that in order  for a situation                                                                    
to  be  considered  a  credible  threat,  it  would  require                                                                    
certification by  the commissioner of DMVA,  in consultation                                                                    
with  the commissioner  of the  Department of  Public Safety                                                                    
(DPS), based  on specific,  reliable information  that there                                                                    
is a high probability of an  attack in the near future.  The                                                                    
bill  would  also  authorize  the   governor  to  declare  a                                                                    
disaster, and exercise his/her disaster  powers in the event                                                                    
of an  attack or imminent  threat of attack, or  an outbreak                                                                    
of disease  or an  imminent threat of  an outbreak  - again,                                                                    
requiring certification of  the threat.  He  noted that such                                                                    
declarations would  be effective for  a maximum of  30 days,                                                                    
and  the   legislature  may  also  terminate   the  declared                                                                    
emergency or disaster at any time.                                                                                              
Number 0749                                                                                                                     
SENATOR FRED  DYSON, Alaska State  Legislature, as  chair of                                                                    
the Senate  Health, Education  and Social  Services Standing                                                                    
Committee  ("SHES"),  sponsor  of  SB 385,  noted  that  the                                                                    
fundamental  change  [proposed  via  SB  385]  reflects  the                                                                    
difference of the  threats that are faced in  what he termed                                                                    
"asymmetrical warfare,"  where there  is no  clearly defined                                                                    
enemy from  a specific location.   He opined that it  may be                                                                    
necessary  to intervene  before an  attack happens,  and the                                                                    
bill  would  allow  the  department   and  the  governor  to                                                                    
initiate  action  when there  is  a  credible threat  of  an                                                                    
imminent terrorist  attack.  He described  preparations that                                                                    
had been  made during a  recent threat of attack  on Valdez,                                                                    
Alaska,  to   protect  the  area,   though  no   attack  was                                                                    
forthcoming.   He  indicated that  the reason  for that  may                                                                    
have been that "the bad  guys saw the preparation and quit,"                                                                    
or  it may  have  been that  the  information regarding  the                                                                    
threat may not have been  accurate.  However, the bill would                                                                    
authorize what  the department thinks  needs to be  done and                                                                    
what was done at the time [of the threat to Valdez].                                                                            
SENATOR DYSON noted  that the bill also  addresses the issue                                                                    
of  roadblocks.     He  said  it  would   allow  people  the                                                                    
opportunity to turn around if  they come across a roadblock.                                                                    
He reiterated some of the  other changes that Mr. Cramer had                                                                    
previously  reviewed.    He  stated   his  belief  that  the                                                                    
government needs  to have the  option of acting ahead  of an                                                                    
Number 0735                                                                                                                     
SENATOR DYSON emphasized the  importance of maritime safety.                                                                    
He noted, "Ninety-five  percent of our freight  moves ... by                                                                    
boat and without that we're in  trouble."  He said there are                                                                    
a  lot  of  hazardous  materials that  come  out  of  Prince                                                                    
Rupert, Canada.   He also noted that 600,000  people come by                                                                    
cruise ship, and mentioned the oil  out of Valdez.  He said,                                                                    
"Those things move us up  on the probable targets that would                                                                    
attract  terrorist  attention."   He  indicated  that a  big                                                                    
impact would  be made in  just 3.5 days without  the ability                                                                    
to ship oil to the Lower 48.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON reminded  members  that he  is  on the  Joint                                                                    
Armed Services  Committee, and on the  Military and Veterans                                                                    
Affairs finance subcommittee.  He continued as follows:                                                                         
     I did not  want to ask the  Department of Military                                                                         
     &   Veterans'   Affairs  questions   about   their                                                                         
     preparedness  in open  meetings,  because I  would                                                                         
     not want our  enemies to know even  the little bit                                                                         
     that I know, let  alone the embarrassing questions                                                                         
     that  I  might want  to  be  asking these  fellows                                                                         
     about   their   preparedness.     So   this   bill                                                                         
     authorizes a  vetted subcommittee of  military and                                                                         
     veterans' affairs  who must  pass a  security test                                                                         
     [and] sign  an agreement on confidentiality  to be                                                                         
     insiders and  be ...  the legislature's  audit and                                                                         
Number 0864                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG,  regarding Senator  Dyson's  last                                                                    
point, noted  that the House  Special Committee  on Military                                                                    
and  Veterans' Affairs  would  normally  have oversight  "on                                                                    
that and  on this bill."   He asked how Senator  Dyson would                                                                    
feel about having that committee involved.                                                                                      
SENATOR DYSON replied, "I'm not sure that's precluded."                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he would  like to see that put                                                                    
in the bill, because normally  those on that committee would                                                                    
have jurisdiction over the department.                                                                                          
SENATOR DYSON  responded, "The way it's  set up now is  as a                                                                    
subcommittee  of  that,  and  if you  have  members  of  the                                                                    
special committee that  are also ... [members]  of the joint                                                                    
committee,  they could  certainly  be  a part  of  it."   He                                                                    
cautioned that adding  an amendment so late  in this process                                                                    
may complicate matters.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he  doesn't want to jeopardize                                                                    
the bill, but he thinks it's a good idea.                                                                                       
Number 0980                                                                                                                     
SENATOR DYSON stated  that a fair amount of  effort was made                                                                    
to "get  everybody on  board," including  maintaining active                                                                    
communication  with   the  [Alaska  Civil   Liberties  Union                                                                    
Number 1007                                                                                                                     
JAMES  N. BUTLER  III, Attorney  at Law,  Baldwin &  Butler,                                                                    
LLC, informed the  committee that most of  his work involves                                                                    
oil  companies and  public  sector clients  in  the area  of                                                                    
incident    management,   and    emergency   response    and                                                                    
preparedness.      He  noted   that   he   has  served   for                                                                    
approximately one  year as the public  representative on the                                                                    
State Emergency  Response Commission  (SERC), and  that SERC                                                                    
has  not had  a  chance to  take a  formal  position on  the                                                                    
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
MR. BUTLER stated that he  is in complete agreement that the                                                                    
proposed authorities  to act and  take what  are anticipated                                                                    
to be fairly new powers -  such as limiting public access to                                                                    
open areas  - is  an important step  forward.   He expressed                                                                    
concern, however, that there is  more complexity to the bill                                                                    
than seems  to be suggested.   He illustrated that  it's not                                                                    
crystal clear  who, specifically,  at the state  agency will                                                                    
be in  charge of these  events.   Noting that the  bill uses                                                                    
the term "coordination" a lot,  he warned that providing for                                                                    
a  unified  command  structure  should  be  a  part  of  the                                                                    
planning process.                                                                                                               
MR.  BUTLER said  he  hopes  that the  committee  has had  a                                                                    
chance to  review administrative  order 170 (AO  170), which                                                                    
he said was developed years ago  as an attempt to develop an                                                                    
actual standardized  system to manage the  resources used in                                                                    
emergency management in Alaska.  He stated:                                                                                     
     Recognizing  that  the homeland  security  threats                                                                         
     are,  in  many  cases,  almost more  of  a  police                                                                         
     function than an  emergency management function, I                                                                         
     think that ... we  might be missing an opportunity                                                                         
     to make sure that Alaska  - like many other states                                                                         
     - has a system that  is required to be followed in                                                                         
     order  to  get  some  of  the  pass-through  money                                                                         
     ensuring  standardization and  more effective  use                                                                         
     of limited resources.                                                                                                      
MR. BUTLER  directed attention to  page 19, Section 14.   He                                                                    
said  he's heard  a  lot of  testimony  regarding issues  of                                                                    
borders, oil terminals, marine trade,  and cruise ships.  He                                                                    
said  he  thinks  it's  important  to  understand  that  the                                                                    
requirements of  the chapter  may not apply  to many  of the                                                                    
examples  that  have  been  used,   because  most  of  those                                                                    
facilities are already subject  to federal homeland security                                                                    
requirements.  He  stated that he thinks this  is an example                                                                    
of why  it's so  important to understand,  holistically, how                                                                    
this "fix"  is going to fit  in to that federal  system.  He                                                                    
said  he's aware  that the  both DPS  and the  Department of                                                                    
Transportation &  Public Facilities (DOT&PF) have  the right                                                                    
to limit access to roads.  He continued as follows:                                                                             
     I think  it's important for the  committee to look                                                                         
     at the  section that  describes the power  of this                                                                         
     new  division, and  understand what  it is  doing.                                                                         
     It's creating  a police function  authority within                                                                         
     the  division to  investigate  and assess  threats                                                                         
     from  attack.    It's looking  at  organizing  the                                                                         
     chains of  command and, in fact,  coordinating the                                                                         
     deployment of  the state militia.   While  I don't                                                                         
     have a  problem with that, necessarily,  I want to                                                                         
     make   sure   that   the   legislature   has   the                                                                         
     opportunity  to clearly  understand that  we'll be                                                                         
     relying on  future plans and,  to the  extent that                                                                         
     there's assumptions  in those plans, I  think none                                                                         
     of us want to see that happen.                                                                                             
MR. BUTLER stated that while  he applauded the legislature's                                                                    
interest to  monitor and keep  track of the  developments in                                                                    
"this particular area," he is  concerned that more levels of                                                                    
oversight  would   be  created,  which  would   create  more                                                                    
potential for  confusion over who  is responsible  for what.                                                                    
He  suggested that  the committee  get information  on SERC,                                                                    
which  has  many  of the  same  responsibilities  that  this                                                                    
committee would  have regarding the response  to a disaster.                                                                    
He   indicated  he   understands  that   the  committee   is                                                                    
considering  the  issues  revolving around  pre-disaster  or                                                                    
pre-attack.   He said, "So,  it's adding more pieces  to the                                                                    
equation  that might  be a  net  benefit, but  I think  that                                                                    
before we  create committees that have  requirements to meet                                                                    
in  secret to  talk about  how planning  occurs, I  think we                                                                    
should tread cautiously."                                                                                                       
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that SB 385 would be held over.                                                                       

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