Legislature(2009 - 2010)SENATE FINANCE 532

02/25/2009 09:00 AM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 45 VETERANS' CEMETERIES/FUND/LICENSE PLATES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ SB 13 MEDICAL ASSISTANCE ELIGIBILITY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ SB 87 MEDICAL ASSISTANCE ELIGIBILITY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
SENATE BILL NO. 45                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act relating  to state  employment preferences  for                                                                   
     veterans,  former prisoners of  war, and members  of the                                                                   
     Alaska  National Guard;  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 the  legislature to appropriate  income from                                                                   
     fees  collected for  commemorative  veterans' plates  to                                                                   
     the Alaska veterans' cemetery fund."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SHARON   LONG,   STAFF,  SENATOR   HUGGINS,   presented   the                                                                   
legislation to create a new veterans'  cemetery in Fairbanks.                                                                   
Fairbanks is home  to a significant military  population, but                                                                   
does  not  have  a  designated  veterans'  cemetery.  Alaskan                                                                   
veterans' cemeteries are located  in Sitka and Anchorage. The                                                                   
Veteran Cemetery  Fund will  be a  subaccount of the  general                                                                   
fund  pending legislation.  The fund  would receive  deposits                                                                   
through  appropriation,  and proceeds  from  the purchase  of                                                                   
special Veterans' license plates.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins stated that the  proposed cemetery is a state                                                                   
veterans'  cemetery,  while  the   cemeteries  in  Sitka  and                                                                   
Anchorage  are national  veterans'  cemeteries.  For a  state                                                                   
cemetery,  the state contributes  the  land, and the  federal                                                                   
government builds the cemetery.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:07:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins   maintained  that  veterans   in  Fairbanks                                                                   
deserve the state's  efforts. The land cost  is $750,000. The                                                                   
operation  costs  are the  responsibility  of  the state  and                                                                   
equal approximately  $250,000 per  year. He stated  that $250                                                                   
thousand were removed the upcoming  budget for this effort by                                                                   
the Governor, which delays the project by one year.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:08:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  noted his  support for  SB 45. He  informed                                                                   
that Bethel  developed  a veterans' cemetery,  with the  city                                                                   
absorbing  some   costs.  He  wondered  if   the  legislation                                                                   
utilizes fees to assist municipal veterans' cemeteries.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:09:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins commented on Bethel's  successful efforts. He                                                                   
noted  that  Bethel  received   a  grant  to  assist  in  the                                                                   
cemetery's establishment.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman expressed  concern  about creating  another                                                                   
fund  while  the legislature  worked  to  eliminate  existing                                                                   
funds.  He asked  why the  expense  was not  included in  the                                                                   
capital budget  process, which  would eliminate the  need for                                                                   
an additional fund.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins   answered  that  veterans   are  purchasing                                                                   
cemetery  license plates  to  display pride  in  representing                                                                   
their country  and supporting  their cause. He  preferred not                                                                   
to debate  the amount of existing  funds and the  creation of                                                                   
new funds.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:12:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  asked about  the new  fiscal note  from the                                                                   
Department of  Military and  Veterans Affairs (DMVA)  showing                                                                   
$750  thousand  in  general  fund   appropriations  for  site                                                                   
planning and architectural design  work. The funding reflects                                                                   
an approximately $5 million federal match in FY11.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  explained that  the legislation was  a group                                                                   
effort  shared by  Senator  Thomas, Senator  Therriault,  and                                                                   
himself.  He stressed  that  the effort  was  to benefit  the                                                                   
community and to support veterans.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MCHUGH PIERRE,  LIAISON, DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY  AND VETERANS                                                                   
AFFAIRS, discussed  the fiscal note.  The current plan  is to                                                                   
accumulate $750 thousand over  three years, beginning in FY11                                                                   
and ending in FY13, with the receipt  of the federal money in                                                                   
FY14. Currently,  34 cemeteries  exist in the  national queue                                                                   
before Alaska.  Eight cemeteries  achieve funding  each year.                                                                   
The  pre-application  will be  submitted  next  week and  the                                                                   
veterans' affairs  administrator will review  the application                                                                   
with   the  federal   veterans'  administrator   in  DC,   to                                                                   
recommended changes.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Pierre  explained  that the  fiscal  note  reflects  the                                                                   
bill's monetary requirement. The  bill requires $750 thousand                                                                   
in  capital  money.  A  land   donation  from  the  state  is                                                                   
necessary.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman stated  that the  federal government  might                                                                   
produce funds for SB 45.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:15:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  clarified that the  $750 thousand is  in the                                                                   
Governor's  budget.  Mr.  Pierre  stated  that  the  original                                                                   
estimate for the  project was $1 million, budgeted  from 2010                                                                   
to 2013,  spanning four years,  but the current low  price of                                                                   
oil led to removal of the first year.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman asked  about the  possibility of  beginning                                                                   
the  first year  with  a smaller  sum  of money.  Mr.  Pierre                                                                   
answered  that there  would  not be  official  action by  the                                                                   
federal  veteran's association  until the  $750 thousand  was                                                                   
appropriated.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Thomas wanted greater  understanding of the requested                                                                   
funds. He understood the federal  action fund contingency. He                                                                   
asked about the federal government's time limits.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Pierre  answered that the  application period is  July 2,                                                                   
2008  to July  2 2009.  He believed  that  date would  remain                                                                   
consistent  as long  as the  legislature  allocated the  $750                                                                   
thousand. The project  will be delayed by one  fiscal year if                                                                   
the date is missed.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:18:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman  emphasized  that  the  committee  requires                                                                   
additional   information   from  the   administration   about                                                                   
removing  $250 thousand  from  the FY10  capital budget.  Mr.                                                                   
Pierre  explained  that  the expense  spans  four  years.  He                                                                   
clarified  that the  fiscal  note  is not  a  request by  the                                                                   
administration  or by DMVA.  The $750 thousand  appropriation                                                                   
is necessary to receive federal funding in one year.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins intended  to  pursue additional  information                                                                   
regarding  the  Governor's  budget items.  He  supposed  that                                                                   
there  were  substitute  items that  this  legislation  could                                                                   
submit to enable this effort.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:20:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  MOVED to ADOPT CSSB45 (STA)  as the working                                                                   
document.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Thomas  MOVED to  ADOPT  Amendment  1,  26-LS0277\P.2,                                                                 
Bullock/Wayne:                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, following line 7:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "*  Section 1.  The uncodified  law of  the State  of                                                               
     Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                         
          LEGISLATIVE INTENT. It is the intent of the                                                                           
     legislature   that,  during   fiscal   year  2010,   the                                                                   
     Department  of   Military  and  Veterans'   Affairs,  in                                                                   
     cooperation   with   federal  authorities,   begin   the                                                                   
     planning  and design  of an  Alaska veterans'  cemetery,                                                                   
     authorized by  AS 44.35.035, enacted by sec.  10 of this                                                                   
     Act, to  be located in or  near Fairbanks, and  that the                                                                   
     Department  of Military and  Veterans' Affairs  submit a                                                                   
     report  on the  status of  the cemetery  project to  the                                                                   
     president of the senate and  the speaker of the house of                                                                   
     representatives before December 15, 2009."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 8:                                                                                                            
          Delete "Section 1"                                                                                                  
          Insert "Sec. 2"                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman OBJECTED for discussion                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Thomas  explained the amendment expresses  the intent                                                                   
that DMVA  begin planning the  design of the  dedicated state                                                                   
veterans'  cemetery in  the Interior  during the coming  year                                                                   
and  provide  the  legislature  with  a  status  report  this                                                                   
December. The  amendment was constructed  with the  idea that                                                                   
projects move forward quickly  when information is adequately                                                                   
provided.  The  status  reports  will  keep  the  legislature                                                                   
informed  about the  use of  the $750  thousand while  aiding                                                                   
understanding  of the cemetery's  architectural design  while                                                                   
monitoring the  federal process.  He noted that  construction                                                                   
would not be included in the fiscal budget until FY11.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  supported the  amendment because  it brought                                                                   
about accountability.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:23:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson wanted  to know the  department's position  on                                                                   
the legislation,  and he understood  that they  were required                                                                   
to coordinate with the Department  of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                   
to acquire  land for the  cemetery. Mr. Pierre  answered that                                                                   
the department's  intention was to move forward  with all due                                                                   
diligence to pursue  this project. The project  is a priority                                                                   
to  the  veteran's  community  and the  goal  is  to  proceed                                                                   
quickly  in a  responsible manner.  The department  supported                                                                   
the amendment.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GENE   THERRIAULT,  SPONSOR,   commented   that  the                                                                   
Fairbanks Borough  government was  in support of  the effort,                                                                   
and was willing to aid in locating  land for the cemetery. He                                                                   
expressed awareness  about potential  land. He supported  the                                                                   
amendment and felt that it lent focus and communication.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman REMOVED his objection                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Amendment 1 was ADOPTED                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:26:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  stated that  one section  of the bill  deals                                                                   
with hiring preferences. He noted  that a representative from                                                                   
the administration  was present  to speak. He  expressed that                                                                   
the bill does  have a personnel hiring portion  that deserves                                                                   
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
NICKI  NEAL,  DIRECTOR,  DIVISION   OF  PERSONNEL  AND  LABOR                                                                   
RELATIONS,  DEPARTMENT  OF ADMINISTRATION,  stated  that  the                                                                   
bill  only  clarifies  the  language  as  opposed  to  making                                                                   
changes to the existing current preference.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  noted one change  expanding the  cemetery to                                                                   
include the National Guard.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Neal noticed  that the  summery  by Legislative  Council                                                                   
stated   that   National  Guard   Members   already   receive                                                                   
preference.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:28:44 AM     AT EASE                                                                                                        
9:28:56 AM     RECONVENED                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Neal  discussed  section 6  line 16 and  the language  on                                                                   
Page  7 of  the bill.  The language  deletes  members of  the                                                                   
National Guard and moves it to section 7.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins asked  if members of the National  Guard were                                                                   
denied preference.  Ms. Neal could not recall  an instance in                                                                   
which veterans  did not  have preference. Veteran  applicants                                                                   
receive  consideration and  opportunities  to interview,  but                                                                   
they must first meet the minimum  qualifications for the job.                                                                   
She wondered if the problem was  that the person did not meet                                                                   
the minimum qualifications and  therefore, did not advance to                                                                   
consideration or interview.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked how  the veteran's  cemetery applies  to                                                                   
the Alaska territory or guard  members when disputes exist as                                                                   
to whether or not they are veterans.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Neal  asked  if  the  question  was  about  the  veteran                                                                   
cemeteries.  Senator  Olson answered  yes  and  asked if  the                                                                   
Alaska   Guard  members   that  were   part  of  the   Alaska                                                                   
Territorial  Guard  (ATG) were  eligible  for  burial in  the                                                                   
veteran cemeteries.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:31:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Pierre  answered that  ATG members  will be eligible  for                                                                   
burial  in  the veteran  cemetery.  Recognition  as  veterans                                                                   
occurs once they receive official discharge from the Army.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  how many  veterans  have completed  the                                                                   
paperwork establishing them as  veterans. Mr. Pierre answered                                                                   
that  there  are  1200  to  1500  applications  pending  with                                                                   
approximately  700  certifications  delivered.  He  explained                                                                   
that the  majority of  buried veterans  exist on record.  The                                                                   
remaining veterans are difficult to locate.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson asked  if living ATG members were  not eligible                                                                   
for burial in the veteran cemetery.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Pierre  answered that the  opposite was true,  and stated                                                                   
that the living ATG members who  have received their official                                                                   
discharge certificate  are eligible for burial  in a national                                                                   
cemetery or a state veteran cemetery.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:33:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT LUBY,  ADVOCACY DIRECTOR,  ALASKA ASSOCIATION  OF RETIRED                                                                   
PERSONS (AARP), ANCHORAGE (testified  via teleconference). He                                                                   
stated that AARP  strongly supports SB45. He  maintained that                                                                   
SB  45  would  offer many  veterans  and  their  families  an                                                                   
opportunity to have a closer burial.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH    FIELDS,    SELF,     FAIRBANKS    (testified    via                                                                   
teleconference). He spoke in support  of SB 45. He maintained                                                                   
that  Fairbanks  was  the appropriate  location  for  such  a                                                                   
cemetery.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SB45   was  HEARD   and  HELD   in   Committee  for   further                                                                   
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:38:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
2009-02-25 Denali KidCare, CHIP.PDF SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
2009-02-25 Denali KidCare, CHIP.PDF SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 87
Prese Release.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB 45 Changes in CS vs.P.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB 45 Sponsor Stmt.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB 45 Support. Am Legion,VFW,DAV.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
Repercussions.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
Poverty Guidelines.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
Kaiser Report.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
Background of SCHIP.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
SB 45 Support Ak Com on Aging022309.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
Amendment 1 Thonmas.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB 45 Support. US Sen Begich 022009.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB 45 Support.AARP to SFIN co Chairs.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB 45 vs E sectional.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
SB013-DHSS-PAFS-02-24-09.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
SB013-DHSS-PAFS-02-24-09.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
SCHIP Cost Sharing Rules.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
SB45-DMVA-VS-2-23-09.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 45
sectional.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
Sponsor statement 4 - No Child Left Uninsured.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 87
sponsor statement.pdf SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 13
Wielechowski kid's health care facts 2.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 87
Wielechowski kid's health care facts 3.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 87
Wielechowski kid's health care facts 4.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 87
Wielechowski kid's health care facts.doc SFIN 2/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
SB 87