HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

March 29, 2005   Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M.  Tapes 48 - 50

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Donna Nelson, Chair

Rep. Phil Barnhart, Vice-Chair

Rep. Debi Farr, Vice-Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist

Rep. Scott Bruun

Rep. Dave Hunt

Rep. Betty Komp

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Jim Stembridge, Committee Administrator

Erin Seiler, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:

                                                HB 2843 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2134 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2470 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2471 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3327 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2818 – Public Hearing

                                   

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 48, A

001

Chair Nelson

Opens the meeting at 8:35 a.m. Opens a public hearing on HB 2843.

HB 2843 - PUBLIC HEARING

023

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2843, which requires waiver of occupational and professional license, certificate, permit and registration fees for veterans.

026

Jim Willis

Director, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA). Speaks to the “laudable intent” and “unintended consequences” associated with the bill.

044

Chair Nelson

Speaks to the original intent of the bill and why it needs to be amended to reflect the change to the statutory definition of veteran in Oregon.  

064

Rep. Farr

Confirms that the intention was to waive fees for just occupational and professional licenses.  

067

Chair Nelson

Explains why no specific dates were set for applying for the waiver.

089

Rep. Boquist

States that the intent of the bill is “to get veterans up on their feet and functioning” as a piece of a larger employment package and asks what the “latitude” should be for applying for a license waiver.

099

Willis

Explains the challenge of determining the scope of eligibility for the waiver program, suggesting that the theaters of combat determine eligibility.

125

Kevin O’Reilly

Government Relations/Advocacy Director, Oregon Paralyzed Veterans’ of America. Testifies in support of HB 2843.

150

Chair Nelson

Verifies that there are not any particular types of professional or occupational licenses that paralyzed veterans require.

162

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies that HB 2843 is “too expensive for the State of Oregon,” suggesting that a veteran be limited to a one time only waiver.

The following written testimony is submitted for the record without public testimony:

 

Robin Freeman

Legislative Liaison, Oregon Department of Transportation. Submits written testimony in opposition to HB 2843 (EXHIBIT A).

177

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing HB 2843. Opens a public hearing on HB 2134.

HB 2134 – PUBLIC HEARING

185

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2134, which modifies employment rights of state employees on active state service.

192

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department. Testifies in support of HB 2134.

242

Chair Nelson

Asks if HB 2134 is funded in the Oregon Military Department budget.

247

Caldwell

Explains that state active duty commitments are not funded in the Oregon Military Department budget, but a soldier’s full-time position is funded by agency budget.

276

Chair Nelson

Verifies what is meant by base salary and what state employees qualify for protection under HB 2134.

287

Chair Nelson

Clarifies the meaning of the language about the continuation of sponsored health plan.

309

Chair Nelson

Cites language that could be considered discriminatory to some soldiers.  

331

Caldwell

Verifies that any employee who works for any subdivision of the State of Oregon is considered a public employee and protected under HB 2134.

340

Rep. Hunt

Confirms that the bill would amend statute to include employment rights protection for state employees.

360

Rep. Barnhart

Points out that it clear that it applies only to state employees, but the question is whether it should apply to employees of any government subdivision in the state.

370

Caldwell

Explains why the Oregon Military Department asked for HB 2134 to be introduced and the statute regarding state employee rights’ be amended.

378

Rep. Boquist

Asks what protections are there for private employees called up for state duty and what percentages of private employees receive a supplemental salary from employers.

388

Caldwell

Speaks to what employment protections exist for public employees versus private employees.

TAPE 49, A

009

Chair Nelson

Suggests a possible tax credit for private employers who supplement salaries and benefits for Oregon National Guard soldiers.

017

Rep. Boquist

Asks if state active duty pay is calculated from a rank or per day structure.

023

Caldwell

Explains the pay and benefit structure for Oregon National Guard soldiers.

053

Rep. Komp

Clarifies what the fiscal impact is for HB 2134.

057

Caldwell

Explains the challenge of determining what the fiscal impact would be when a state employee, in a funded agency position, is called up for duty, in an unfunded state military position.

139

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2134. Opens a public hearing on HB 2470.

HB 2470 – PUBLIC HEARING

141

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2470, which modifies requirements for public employers regarding continuation of leave benefits for public officers and employees on military leave.

153

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2470.

185

Chair Nelson

Opens a public hearing on HB 2470 and HB 2471

HB 2470/HB 2471 – PUBLIC HEARINGS

187

Rep. Mike Schaufler

House District 28. Testifies in support of HB 2470 and HB 2471.

239

Chair Nelson

Speaks to concerns regarding the exclusion of private employees from the benefits of HB 2470 and HB 2471.

250

Chair Nelson

Points out several discrepancies in the language of HB 2470 that should be amended.

287

Rep. Bruun

Asks if HB 2470 and HB 2471 are applicable to all public employees or just State of Oregon employees.

294

Rep. Schaufler

Affirms that the intent is for all public employees, not just those in Oregon.

308

Chair Nelson

Raises the question of whether HB 2470 and HB 2471 should be retroactive to military conflicts before the Afghan-Iraqi conflicts.  

320

Rep. Farr

Asks whether the fifteen days of leave per year is designed to cover annual training or the pre-deployment training of a National Guard or Reserve soldier.

361

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department. Clarifies current law which allows for fifteen days of military leave and discusses the dispute regarding the meaning of annual training.

402

Chair Nelson

Asks why HB 2470 limits a soldier to one year of hospitalization.

TAPE 48, B

004

Caldwell

Points out that the language relating to a one year limit on hospitalization is “old language” and “pretty meaningless in the big picture” because it does not reflect how the system of medical care currently operates.

030

Chair Nelson

Questions whether or not this should be made retroactive.

034

Caldwell

Explains the protection afforded to National Guard and Reserve soldiers by the Uniform Services Employment/Reemployment Rights Act 1994 (USERA).

070

Chair Nelson

Explains the protections given to military personnel by USERA.

116

John Powell

Representative, Oregon State Sheriff’s Association (OSSA). Testifies that HB 2470 needs to clarify the applicability of the language regarding the accrual of vacation and sick leave.

146

Powell

Questions whether HB 2471 provides fifteen days leave in addition to the two weeks already authorized.

153

Rep. Boquist

Agrees that the language in HB 2471could be interpreted to mean that a soldier would receive an additional fifteen days of leave, in addition to the two weeks already authorized.

170

Michelle Deister

Senior Staff Associate, League of Oregon Cities. Testifies in opposition to HB 2470.

216

Chair Nelson

Asks about possible amendment that would make HB 2471 acceptable to the League of Oregon Cities.

219

Deister

States that it would likely be more acceptable if cities were given some additional funds so that it is not an entirely unfunded mandate for local governments.

231

Rep. Farr

Asks if League of Oregon Cities would support HB 2471 if it applied only to Oregon National Guard soldiers called up on active duty.

240

Rep. Boquist

Explains that many collective bargaining agreements already cover the fifteen days of annual training.

258

Rep. Farr

Asks if League of Oregon Cities would support HB 2470 if it applied only to Oregon National Guard soldiers on active duty because typical length of duty is eighteen months. 

265

Deister

Explains how restricting applicability to Oregon National Guard soldiers could still impose financial hardships on cities.

281

Rep. Boquist

Explains the difference in the potential fiscal impact of covering active duty soldiers versus drilling Reservists. 

301

Deister

Comments on the “do diligence” of personnel offices throughout the state to adhere to all the provisions of USERA.

322

Jason Leon

Political Coordinator, Oregon AFSCME Council 75. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 2470 (EXHIBIT B).

363

Rep. Farr

Comments on the need to amend HB 2470.

383

Mary Botkin

Political Coordinator, Oregon AFSCME Council 75. Speaks to the intent of Oregon AFSCME Council 75 to prevent returning soldiers from losing seniority or employee status and ensuring employers abide by collective bargaining agreements.

TAPE 49, B

060

Rep. Boquist

Comments on the continued lack of clarity regarding the intent of HB 2471.

071

Botkin

Explains that the intention of HB 2471 is to protect employees, covered by collective bargaining agreements, from having to use vacation time to meet training requirements by identifying under law an additional number of days for training not under the employee’s discretion.

110

Chair Nelson

Asks what the training requirement is for Oregon National Guard and Reserve soldiers.

112

Caldwell

Explains what the training requirements are for Oregon National Guard and Reserve soldiers.  

126

Rep. Farr

Speaks to the original intent of the HB 2471.

140

Caldwell

Explains the difference between pre-deployment train-up and annual training and that the intent of HB 2471 is to prevent penalizing soldiers who are going to pre-mobilization training, not annual training.

176

Botkin

Points out that Oregon AFSCME is “trying to make sure that all training needs are being met under the law.”

188

Caldwell

Comments on how current military circumstances have resulted in National Guard and Reserve soldiers being deployed for indeterminate periods of time and under these circumstance, if HB 2471 is read literally, it does provide an additional 15 days leave. 

203

Chair Nelson

Reiterates the need to provide assistance to employees who are in private enterprise.

217

Botkin

Suggests an amendment to HB 2470 to eliminate concern regarding one year time limit on hospitalization.  

242

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2470 and HB 2471. Opens a public hearing on HB 3327.

HB 3327 – PUBLIC HEARING

261

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 3327, which provides tax credit for employers who hire veterans of United States military.

265

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on 3327. Opens the public hearing on HB 2818.

HB 2818 – PUBLIC HEARING

275

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2818, which requires the Employment Department to refer unemployment insurance recipient who is spouse or dependent of individual deployed on active military duty to JOBS Plus Program job before referring other unemployment insurance recipients to program job.

278

Tim Nesbitt

President, Oregon AFL-CIO. Testifies in opposition of HB 2818.

324

Chair Nelson

Asks why Oregon AFL-CIO has a problem providing assistance to the spouses and dependents of deployed soldiers.

346

Nesbitt

Explains how job referrals could run counter to purpose of JOBS Plus Program and to the financial health of the family.

368

Rep. Farr

Asks if the JOBS Plus Program “kicks in” after unemployment benefits expire and what are considered to be low wages.

375

Nesbitt

Considers anything under nine or ten dollars per hour a low wage job.

387

Rep. Farr

Questions whether it would still be considered low wage employment if an individual earned eight dollars at a JOBS Plus jobs instead of seven dollars per hour at non-JOBS Plus position.

394

Greg Hickman

Deputy Director, Oregon Employment Department.

402

Rep. Farr

Restates question regarding the purpose of JOBS Plus Program.

TAPE 50, A

001

Hickman

Explains the purpose, target, and eligibility qualifications for JOBS Plus Program.

010

Chair Nelson

Asks why the spouse of a deployed soldier could not be “given top priority” for a JOBS Plus job referral if the family is in “critical, bad shape.”

028

Hickman

Explains that all individuals eligible for JOBS Plus Program have access to all JOBS Plus referral listing.

047

Chair Nelson

Asks what can be done so that the OED will “give these military families priority treatment.”

054

Hickman

Speaks to the potential consequences for OED and all JOBS Plus Program participants of HB 2818. Submits written testimony on behalf of Gwyn Harvey in opposition to HB 2818 (EXHIBIT C).

085

Nesbitt

Clarifies the concerns of Oregon AFL-CIO and OED regarding HB 2818.

104

Chair Nelson

Expresses the need to provide financial support and protect all soldiers and their families.

153

Rep. Hunt

Speaks to the potential consequences of HB 2818, in particular, how using job referrals in this matter could negatively impact those people who are most likely to exhaust unemployment benefits.

179

Tamara Brickman

Legislative Coordinator, OED. Points out that the JOBS Plus Program already has identified and referred out spouses and family members of deployed military personnel.  

189

Rep. Boquist

Concurs that HB 2818 could have unintended consequences for all parties involved and that the best option could be to create a priority category for families within the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

206

Rep. Farr

Asks if an individual who has exhausted unemployment benefits can still participate in JOBS Plus Program.

211

Hickman

States that an individual would not be eligible for JOBS Plus Program if they have exhausted benefits.

220

Chair Nelson

Asks if the issue is because military does not pay taxes.

224

Hickman

States that the OED objection to HB 2818 is not because the military does not pay because both the state and federal government are considered reimbursing employers.

243

Chair Nelson

Comments about importance of having a job.

257

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2818. Adjourns the meeting at 10:44 a.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

  1. HB 2470, written testimony, Jason Leon, 1 p
  2. HB 2818, written testimony of Gwyn Harvey, Greg Hickman, 1 p

 

The following written testimony is submitted for the record without public testimony:

  1. HB 2843, written testimony, Robin Freeman, 2 pp