Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/23/2010 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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09:07:19 AM Start
09:07:59 AM HB274
09:24:42 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HB 274 Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Postponed>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              HB 274-ESTABLISHING PURPLE HEART DAY                                                                          
9:07:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MENARD  announced the  first  order  of business  to  come                                                               
before the committee would be HB 274.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE BERTA  GARDNER, sponsor of  HB 274, said  the bill                                                               
makes  a necessary  and important  statement by  establishing, in                                                               
perpetuity,  Purple  Heart Day  to  honor  those members  of  the                                                               
military service who have been injured or killed in battle.                                                                     
ELLIE  SICA, intern  to Representative  Gardner, said  the Purple                                                               
Heart is  awarded to any  member of the  US Armed Forces  who has                                                               
either  been  killed  or wounded  in  battle.  Approximately  1.7                                                               
million service  men and  women have  received the  Purple Heart,                                                               
including many  Alaskans.  About 500,000  Purple Heart recipients                                                               
are  still living.  She said  that on  August 7th,  1782, General                                                               
George  Washington established  the badge  of military  merit. In                                                               
1932, this badge  was reestablished as the Purple  Heart in honor                                                               
of George Washington,  his memory and those who  have been killed                                                               
or wounded in battle.                                                                                                           
She said a number of other  states recognize August 7th as Purple                                                               
Heart  Day.  HB  274  will demonstrate  that  Alaska  honors  its                                                               
veterans and Purple Heart recipients.                                                                                           
9:11:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD asked how many  other states have established Purple                                                               
Heart Day.                                                                                                                      
MS. SICA  replied that Wisconsin  annually celebrates  August 7th                                                               
by  displaying  the  American flag.  New  Mexico,  North  Dakota,                                                               
Nevada, New  York, Arizona and  Mississippi all honor it  in some                                                               
CHAIR MENARD  asked if  25 percent of  the states  currently have                                                               
Purple Heart day.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  replied  that  25 percent  is  an  over-                                                               
estimate but that Alaska can lead the way.                                                                                      
CHAIR  MENARD asked  if  Purple  Heart Day  has  been before  the                                                               
Legislature previously.                                                                                                         
MS. SICA  replied that August  7, 2009, was recognized  as Purple                                                               
Heart Day with a Governor's Proclamation.                                                                                       
SENATOR  MEYER  asked how  many  Alaskans  qualify for,  or  have                                                               
received, the Purple Heart.                                                                                                     
MS.  SICA said  the  number  of Purple  Heart  recipients is  not                                                               
recorded  by state.  The  approximate number  for  the nation  is                                                               
currently 1.7 million but that is changing every day.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  said participation in the  Military Order                                                               
of  the Purple  Heart (MOPH)  is voluntary.  The exact  number or                                                               
recipients per state  is not known because  many veterans qualify                                                               
but do not join the order.                                                                                                      
SENATOR MEYER  said he assumes  Alaska has numerous  Purple Heart                                                               
recipients due to the large military presence in Alaska.                                                                        
9:14:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD recognized Senator Paskvan as joining the meeting.                                                                 
TIM  ARMSTRONG, Chief  of  Staff, Alaska  Military  Order of  the                                                               
Purple Heart  (MOPH), spoke in  support of  HB 274. He  said over                                                               
500  recipients of  the Purple  Heart are  in Alaska  and 270  of                                                               
those  are members  of MOPH.  Everyone member  of MOPH  must show                                                               
appropriate  documentation. He  showed the  committee his  DD 214                                                               
[Defense Department, form  214] which is a one page  summary of a                                                               
person's military service, including awards and declarations.                                                                   
9:18:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. ARMSTRONG  said the MOPH would  love to see Purple  Heart Day                                                               
established in perpetuity  so that people who  suffered wounds in                                                               
action  are recognized  appropriately. He  noted that  the Purple                                                               
Heart  Highway,  between  Tok  and  Fairbanks,  is  a  tremendous                                                               
welcome to veterans entering Alaska  which has one of the highest                                                               
per capita populations of veterans.                                                                                             
RON SIEBELS,  Department Commander, Military Order  of the Purple                                                               
Heart, said  since the American  Revolution, many  Americans have                                                               
put on  a military uniform  to help  maintain a free  country. He                                                               
said the Purple Heart is an  award that no one pursues; rather it                                                               
happens during  tragic moments of  man's inability  to peacefully                                                               
coexist. Wars pass  and the combatants slowly  fade with history.                                                               
From  time to  time,  Americans  search for  the  right words  or                                                               
actions to say "thanks."                                                                                                        
9:22:32 AM                                                                                                                    
He  felt  that passage  of  HB  274  would preserve  our  elected                                                               
officials legislative  action to  say "thanks" to  Alaska's past,                                                               
present and future Purple Heart recipients.                                                                                     
9:23:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony.                                                                                           
SENATOR MEYER moved to report HB 274 from committee with                                                                        
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There                                                                   
being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                         

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