Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532
04/26/2018 09:00 AM Senate FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 150 "An Act relating to pay, allowances, and benefits for members of the organized militia." 9:55:33 AM REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK, SPONSOR, offered a Sponsor Statement: House Bill 150 is part of the ongoing efforts by the Alaska State Legislature and the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs to modernize the 1955 Alaska Military Code by providing statutory changes that will better serve our Alaska organized militia. House Bill 150 would authorize the same pay, allowance and benefits for the organized militia whether they are called into state active duty by the Governor or Adjutant General or called to service under federal active duty by the President. The current pay system for the organized militia is based on compensation for the specific duty when called into active state service. Under the federal active duty, service members are paid based on their grade and rank, not by the specific duty they are assigned to. The current pay system is not stable or reliable for our organized militia and creates a difficult accounting system that requires many hours to determine each member's pay. House Bill 150 will create a streamlined approach to the accounting system by aligning the pay, allowances and benefits for the Alaska organized militia whether if called to state or federal active duty. Our service members deserve a reliable pay structure, regardless of where they are called to duty. 9:57:44 AM KENDRA KLOSTER, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK, reviewed the sections of the bill. She said that Section 1 would clarify when members of the organized militia were in active state duty their wages would mirror the wages of the federal active service. Section 2 would treat all the organized militia as one entity for a compensation system and would retain eligibility for travel allowances under the state system. Section 3 was the base rate for worker's compensation calculations. Section 4 specified members of the Alaska Naval Militia, Air Guard, and Army Guard would continue to accrue benefits, paid into the Alaska National Guard and Naval Militia retirement system. Section 5 would repeal the definition of member because the langue was redundant. 9:58:57 AM Co-Chair MacKinnon OPENED public testimony. BRIAN DUFFY, DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, JBER (via teleconference), announced that he was available to provide additional comments. Senator von Imhof looked at an example of a pay grid for the 2015 Sockeye fire that was prepared by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (copy on file). She wondered whether the biggest savings, as a result of the legislation, would be the administrative expense because the new system would be more streamlined. She understood that the pay would vary on whether the federal alignment pay was more or less than the state hazard pay, depending on the position. Mr. Duffy agreed. Co-Chair MacKinnon asked whether the change would affect state or federal pensions. Mr. Duffy answered in the negative. 10:02:05 AM Senator Stevens asked for an explanation of pay by specific duty; specific duty as compare to rank and grade. Mr. Duffy used the example of an active duty member performing administrative duties in the morning and manning a traffic control point in the evening. He said that the variety of duties that could be performed form day to day, even hour to hour, had its own pay scale. He said that the equation would include the time, multiplied by the amount of pay for that specific job on that specific day. The new method would pay a daily rate, by rank, and based on current pay scales. Senator Stevens though that the old system sounded difficult. 10:03:45 AM BOB DOEHL, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, JBER (via teleconference), testified in support of the bill. He offered several examples of ways that the bill would benefit the department and military personnel. Senator Olson asked what the bill would do for recruitment. Mr. Doehl believed that the bill would increase recruitment. 10:05:44 AM COL. JOHN JAMES, DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, JBER (via teleconference), testified in support of the bill. He believed that the proposal would provide equal pay for equal services. 10:06:57 AM Co-Chair MacKinnon CLOSED public testimony. Vice-Chair Bishop discussed FN 2 from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The fiscal impact was indeterminate. He read from the analysis: The fiscal impact of this legislation cannot be accurately determined at this time. The nature, severity, and duration of any state disaster will determine the number of members called to active duty and the extent of their service. Due to multiple unknown factors, such as when disasters will happen, the number of militia members called into active status, their ranks, and other factors, the Department is unable to calculate the estimated fiscal impact to the state and therefore submits an indeterminate fiscal note. While the Department cannot predict future calls to active duty, it can look back to recent examples to provide real-life perspectives on the potential financial impact of HB 150 on future events. Co-Chair MacKinnon asked for a cost example that could provide further detail. Representative Tuck referenced the Sockeye Fire as a look back that would be studied to find ways to save the state money. 10:09:00 AM Senator von Imhof looked at the Sockeye Fire example, and considered the administrative hours used to calculate the payroll at the time. She wondered about how the new system would compare. Co-Chair MacKinnon thought knowing administrative costs would be helpful. She wanted to know state and federal dollar breakdown of pay. Vice-Chair Bishop summarized that the bill was supported by common sense. He thought Mr. Duffy had explained it well. He thought the bill would create greater efficiency. Senator Stevens assumed that National Guard members deployed to the Middle East were paid on a federal scale. Representative Tuck answered in the affirmative. Senator Stevens thought that the change in pay could be confusing to troops. Representative Tuck stated that the bill would simplify the matter. 10:12:26 AM Representative Tuck thanked the committee and expressed that the bill was a way to make things easier for members of the National Guard. He agreed to provide the committee with a further example of how the bill would save the state money. HB 150 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. Co-Chair MacKinnon discussed housekeeping.