Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/05/2004 02:08 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 385-SECURITY;DIV. HOMELAND SECURITY/EMER. MGT The committee took up SB 385. CHAIR DYSON said he understands that in response to terrorism threats, the governor has issued an executive proclamation to coordinate activities, the administration has prepared a house bill, and the HES committee has sponsored SB 385. MR. DAVID LIEBERSBACH, acting assistant commissioner for the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Director of the Alaska Division of Emergency Services within the Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs, testified that the primary purpose of SB 385 is to revise AS 26.20, a statute enacted in 1951, and to update it to reflect the current situation with homeland security. For the most part, "civil defense" references in existing statute will now reflect "homeland security and civil defense." This bill is not related to the federal Patriot Act, but is a result of Alaska needing to include homeland security. Mr. Liebersbach explained SB 385 would consolidate the Division of Homeland Security and Division of Emergency Services, and eliminate the position of assistant commissioner (his position); there would be one instead of two directors. There is a zero fiscal note, and if successful, $100,000 would be given back. MR. LIEBERSBACH referenced AS 26.20, and said SB 385 would repeal obsolete provisions, and gave the following examples: 1) authorizing the establishment of local organizations for civil defense, with authority to issue orders and adopt regulations; 2) giving civil defense orders and regulations adopted by the governor, DMVA, local districts, and other authorized agencies, the "effect of law;" 3) automatically suspending conflicting laws, ordinances or regulations; 4) directing the federal government and local law enforcement to enforce civil defense orders and regulations; and 5) prohibiting civil defense organizations from participating in any form of political activity. SB 385 would also formalize the combining of personnel from the Division of Emergency Services and DMVA; Alaska's homeland security issues will be coordinated by the DMVA. CHAIR DYSON noted that concerns have been expressed by other divisions/departments such as DPS, DEC, and [DOT&PF], and asked Mr. Liebersbach to comment. MR. LIEBERSBACH replied the solutions to those concerns have been incorporated into the final draft of SB 385. "Direct" has been modified to "coordinate," so that DMVA will not be directing personnel of other agencies without expressed authorization for delegation by the governor, as "these departments are all directed by the governor." There was also concern about DPS authority to establish roadblocks. DMVA will only assist in manning or taking care of roadblocks in consultation with DOT&PF and DPS. There are instances where National Guard personnel or state defense forces can staff roadblocks, since troopers don't have that capability. During the holiday season in Valdez, this was done to provide personnel to staff roadblocks during a heightened security situation. CHAIR DYSON asked Mr. Liebersbach about other concerns DPS might have. TAPE 04-19, SIDE B CHAIR DYSON asked if DPS was aware of the meeting today. MR. WES KELLER, staff to Chair Dyson, responded DPS was aware of this meeting; he was not sure if [DOT&PF] was aware of the meeting. MR. LIEBERSBACH said concerns of DEC, DOT&PF, and DPS were with the oversight of homeland security planning, and the directing of plans by those agencies. That language was revised to "coordinating the plans" rather than "directing them." CHAIR DYSON referred to the deletion of "districts of the state," and asked if this was in reference to judicial districts. MR. LIEBERSBACH said he didn't know but would find out. Every agency of the state has districts or regions that are different; they recognize political subdivisions and local political authority. He said he didn't know of existing civil defense districts currently in use. CHAIR DYSON referenced p.2, lines 26 and 27, and considered including British Columbia (B.C.) and the Yukon Territory, but said this may already be covered in paragraph (3). He asked about Mr. Liebersbach's reference to training a state defense force to be military police. At the end of that process, if the governor declares an emergency, some police powers - such as arrest - would be involved; he asked if this was correct. MR. JOHN CRAMER, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs, said he believes the volunteers would not have arresting powers, but would be utilized and activated during times of disaster or crises. The training process includes a military police-type academy, and at the end of that training, they are considered to be constables. MR. LIEBERSBACH added that before being certified, there is orientation and oversight from the state troopers. Generally those people work in conjunction with either local or state law enforcement so someone from those agencies is supporting or working with them. CHAIR DYSON asked about concern that this had an intrusive Patriot Act aspect. MR. CRAMER explained that earlier iterations of HB 185 (from last year) included provisions in proposed language that would have allowed the Division of Homeland Security to exercise certain powers. Some of those had to do with confiscating certain assets or equipment; that language has been taken out of the bill. CHAIR DYSON asked if there was a provision in state law, or this bill, providing that if equipment in private ownership is needed, it could be commandeered for public purpose for a period of time. MR. CRAMER said he believes that assumption is correct, that existing law allows for the state, in certain instances, to acquire personal property, and there must be fair compensation for its use. He said he didn't believe this was included in this legislation. CHAIR DYSON read from page 7, line 29, as follows: "plan and make arrangements for the availability and use of private facilities, services, and property and, if necessary..." and asked if "property" included, not only real estate, but also an airplane, boat, or dump truck. He suggested possibly defining "property" to include other useful equipment. He also suggested that - throughout the bill - the use of "coordination" of federal, state, local and private agencies, also include cross- border coordination, "to work with our neighbors." MR. LIEBERSBACH said under AS 26.23, the governor has authority to enter into compacts with other states and bordering provinces. Under that authority, recognized by the U.S. Congress, Alaska entered into a compact with the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, for exactly this type of work. He added, "We could bring that forward." CHAIR DYSON said, "Only if you think it is necessary." He noted Idaho and Montana have been working with B.C. and Alberta and have addressed practicalities such as firefighting equipment, air fuel capacity, equipment and personnel compatibility, and border crossing documentation. MR. LIEBERSBACH said a homeland security exercise was already scheduled for September with the Yukon Territory, but they could look into this issue further. CHAIR DYSON announced SB 385 would be held in committee until Wednesday. MR. AL STOREY, Division of State Troopers, testified they had not yet seen a copy of SB 385, and would get back with the committee later in the week. CHAIR DYSON asked that the commissioner be notified that most of his concerns had been addressed. There being no further business to come before the committee, he adjourned the meeting at 3:12 p.m.