HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

March 31, 2005   Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M. & 3:00 P.M.  Tapes 51 - 54

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Donna Nelson, Chair

Rep. Phil Barnhart, Vice-Chair

Rep. Debi Farr, Vice-Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist

Rep. Dave Hunt

Rep. Betty Komp

 

MEMBER EXCUSED:            Rep. Scott Bruun

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Jim Stembridge, Committee Administrator

Erin Seiler, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:

                                                HB 3332 – Public Hearing

                                                HJR 34 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2437 – Work Session

                                                HB 2687 – Work Session

                                                HJM 2 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3103 – 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 51,  A

002

Chair Nelson

Opens the meeting at 8:41 a.m. Discusses upcoming events honoring the returning Oregon National Guard soldiers.

289

Chair Nelson

Recesses the meeting at 9:00 a.m.

290

Chair Nelson

Reconvenes the meeting at 9:05 a.m.

333

Chair Nelson

Opens a public hearing on HB 3332.

HB 3332 – PUBLIC HEARING

370

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 3332, which authorizes Public Employees’ Benefit Board to offer high deductible health benefit plan to members of Oregon National Guard and dependents of members without health insurance coverage. Submits and summarizes -1 amendments (EXHIBIT A).

380

Rep. Jeff Kropf

House District 17. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 3332 (EXHIBIT B).

TAPE 52, A

121

Chair Nelson

Addresses several amendments that need to be drafted to correct language relating to the effective date of health benefits coverage.

177

Rep. Kropf

Restates the intent of HB 3332 is to extend health and dental benefits to soldiers after demobilization.

191

Chair Nelson

Asks if mental health parity could be included as a part of a health benefits package.

204

Rep. Kropf

States that the benefits are for Oregon National Guard soldiers regardless of mobilization status.

233

Rep. Barnhart

Confirms the intent of HB 3332.

243

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Explains why Oregon National Guard members are not part of the state health care system and addresses efforts by the federal government to extend health care and dental coverage for National Guard soldiers.

316

Caldwell

Explains why the OMD does not officially support HB 3332.

325

Chair Nelson

Verifies that Oregon National Guard soldiers are not part of the Public Employees Retirements System (PERS).

338

Rep. Boquist

Speaks to recent action by the Department of Defense to pass and fund a subsidy program extending TRICARE health benefits up to eight years for Reserve soldiers.

386

Rep. Kropf

Comments on efforts to include the Oregon Reservists in as many pieces of legislation as possible.

TAPE 51, B

012

Rep. Kropf

Comments on ability to save money using high deductible health saving accounts.

039

Rep. Barnhart

Verifies that HB 3332 has the appropriate relating cause. 

048

Rep. Kropf

Points out how offering health benefits would be a “powerful tool” for retention and recruitment of Oregon National Guard soldiers.

080

Chair Nelson

Asks if the adjutant general has an insurance policy.

082

Caldwell

Confirms that the adjutant general does have an insurance policy and identifies the number of OMD employees who are state or federally employed.

140

Caldwell

Speaks to the positive work of the committee, cautioning that the fiscal reality of the state cannot be forgotten and efforts need to focus on what can realistically be done.

187

Rep. Hunt

Asks why Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB) has requested not to be the administrative body for the health benefit program.

200

Rep. Kropf

Explains why the PEBB has asked not to administrate the health benefit program.

229

Rep. Hunt

Asks why a two-to -one cost-sharing ratio would be appropriate.

235

Rep. Kropf

Explains why a two-to-one cost-sharing ratio was chosen for the health care benefit plan.

262

Rep. Kropf

Comments on experience meeting with Oregon National Guard soldiers in Iraq.

304

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 3332. Opens a public hearing on HJR 34.

HJR 34 – PUBLIC HEARING

330

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator.  Explains HJR 34, which proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution dedicating portion of net proceeds of State Lottery for services for Oregon veterans.

337

John Lindsay

Commissioner, Linn County. Testifies in support of HJR 34.

380

Lindsay

Identifies the need to provide veterans with health benefits and services.

TAPE 52, B

047

Lindsay

Speaks to the language of HJR 34 relating to County Veterans’ Service Officers.

137

Jim Willis

Director, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA). Testifies in support of HJR 34.

164

Willis

Speaks to the quality of work of County Veterans’ Service Officers and what could be accomplished if Officers were properly funded.

181

Willis

Identifies how HJR 34 reflects all the work being done on behalf of veterans, Oregon National Guard and Reserve soldiers, and their families.

209

Chair Nelson

Speaks to the amount of available lottery funds.

284

Chair Nelson

Asks why a 1 percent funding diversion was deemed adequate.

290

Lindsay

Explains how and why the one percent funding rate was determined.

336

Lindsay

Identifies how a lottery fund diversion could be used to supplement other benefits for veterans. 

347

Chair Nelson

States interest in including seniors, spouses, and disabled persons as beneficiaries of program funds.

374

Lindsay

Affirms support for this suggestion, noting that any amendment language would need to be very specific to prevent abuse of monies.

TAPE 53, A

001

Chair Nelson

Asks what amount of money is adequate to accomplish the goals set forth in HJR 34.

008

Rep. Boquist

Explains how source of funding was chosen to prevent diverting monies for other programs funded by Oregon Lottery dollars.

050

Rep. Hunt

Expresses concern about the long-term stability of lottery monies and ask whether sponsors would be willing to insert language relating to employment, education, and training.

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

 

Patricia Farrell

Chair, Yamhill Basin Council. Submits written testimony in opposition to HJR 34 (EXHIBIT C).

 

Tim Wood

Director, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Submits written testimony in opposition to HJR 34 (EXHIBIT D).

 

Allison Hensey

Legislative Coordinator, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). Submits written testimony about the fiscal impact of HJR 34 for OWEB (EXHIBIT E).

140

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HJR 34. Recesses the meeting at 10:47 a.m.

141

Chair Nelson

Reconvenes the meeting at 3:09 p.m. Opens a work session on HB 2437.

HB 2437 – WORK SESSION

146

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator.  Explains HB 2437, which removes certain limitations on eligibility for educational aid for veterans. Submits and summarizes –1 amendments (EXHIBIT F). Submits and summarizes  –2 amendments (EXHIBIT G). Submits and summarizes –3 amendments (EXHIBIT H).

176

Chair Nelson

Verifies that there are currently ten veterans utilizing the Oregon Education Aid for Veterans Program.

192

Val Conley

Veterans’ Services Division Administrator, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA). Explains how language in the law prevents a veteran from utilizing both state and Federal Veterans’ Administration Educational Entitlement funds.

206

Chair Nelson

Asks for information about the eligibility and home-of-record criteria for utilizing educational program.

226

Conley

Confirms eligibility criteria for educational assistance from ODVA and how the ODVA defines home-of-record for veterans.

234

Rep. Farr

Verifies the qualifications for veterans’ educational aid in other states.

261

Rep. Boquist

Points out that there are “around 20 states” that provide free college education for veterans.

272

Rep. Komp

Speaks in support of the current language of HB 2437.

291

Rep. Hunt

Asks for clarification on -1 amendments and the staff measure summary. 

301

Chair Nelson

Clarifies the language in –1 amendments relating amount of financial assistance a veteran would receive per year.

323

Rep. Farr

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 2437-1 amendments dated 02/14/05.

328

 

VOTE:  6-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Bruun

 

Chair Nelson

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

333

Rep. Farr

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 2437-2 amendments dated 02/14/05.

342

 

VOTE:  6-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Bruun

 

Chair Nelson

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

346

Rep. Farr

MOTION: Moves to ADOPT HB 2437-3 amendments dated

                    02/28/05.

351

 

VOTE:  6-0-1

EXCUSED:  1 - Bruun

 

Chair Nelson

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

354

Rep. Farr

MOTION: Moves HB 2437 to the floor with a DO PASS AS 

                  AMENDED recommendation and BE REFERRED to

                  the committee on Ways and Means by prior reference.

 

 

 

VOTE:  6-0-1

AYE:            In a roll call vote, all members present vote Aye.

EXCUSED:  1 - Bruun

 

Chair Nelson

The motion CARRIES.

377

Chair Nelson

Closes the work session on HB 2437.  Opens a work session on HB 2687.

HB 2687 – WORK SESSION

378

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator.  Explains HB 2687, which modifies definition of “veteran” for certain purposes. Submits and summarizes   –1 amendments (EXHIBIT I). Submits and summarizes –2 amendments (EXHIBIT J).

TAPE 54, A

001

Chair Nelson

Clarifies the language of -1 amendments and -2 amendments and reads from HB 2687. 

039

Rep. Boquist

Explains the different types of military discharge. 

060

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. States that he only knows about honorable and dishonorable discharges. 

074

Rep. Boquist

States that there is no longer administrative discharge and list the types of discharges. 

090

Rep. Barnhart

Asks what conditions would result in a person being discharged as something other than honorable.

097

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Addresses the concern of fraudulent enlistments and why an individual would not receive an honorable discharge from the military.

123

Rep. Boquist

States that currently most soldiers receive general discharge, which is not honorable, but not necessarily dishonorable.

131

Rep. Barnhart

Concurs with Rep. Boquist. 

140

Rep. Boquist

States that the appropriate language relating to veterans’ status would be “honorable conditions.”

151

Caldwell

Explains why the appropriate language relating to military discharge would be “discourage under honorable conditions.”

154

Rep. Hunt

Confirms that the terminology of  “discourage under honorable conditions” would be the most inclusive language for defining who qualifies for veteran status.

157

Caldwell

States that the current terminology can work.

171

Rep. Barnhart

Recommends -2 amendments.

180

Rep. Barnhart

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 2687-2 amendments dated

                     03/28/05.

186

 

VOTE:  5-0-2

EXCUSED:  2 - Bruun, Farr

 

Chair Nelson

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

188

Rep. Barnhart

MOTION:  Moves HB 687 to the floor with a DO PASS AS AMENDED recommendation

194

 

VOTE:  5-0-2

AYE:            In a roll call vote, all members present vote Aye.

EXCUSED:  2 - Bruun, Farr

 

Chair Nelson

The motion CARRIES.

REP. BOQUIST will lead discussion on the floor.

209

Chair Nelson

Closes the work session on HB 2687. Opens the public hearing on HJM 2. 

HJM 2 – PUBLIC HEARING

216

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator.  Explains HJM 2, which urges Congress to introduce and pass legislation to allow veterans in Oregon to receive health care from health care facilities other than Department of Veteran’s Affairs health care facilities.

219

Rep. Donna Nelson

House District 24. Testifies in support of HJM 2.

280

Rep. Hunt

Points out need to amend HJM 2 if the intent is for veterans to be able to access both Veterans’ Affairs medical facilities and non-Veterans’ Affairs medical facilities.

290

Chair Nelson

Agrees that the intent of HJM 2 is to allow veterans to have access to all medical facilities.

304

Vice-Chair Barnhart

Closes the public hearing on HJM 2.

308

Chair Nelson

Opens a public hearing on HB 3103.

HB 3103 – PUBLIC HEARING

310

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 3103, which allows State Fish and Wildlife Commission to issue hunting and angling licenses at no charge to members and recent retirees of Oregon National Guard and military reserves, members of armed forces on active federal duty and recent retirees from active federal duty. Submits fiscal statement on HB 3103 (EXHIBIT K).

347

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Speaks to the fiscal impact of HB 3103 and the budget allocation by Governor Kulongoski in the 2005-07 Governor’s Budget.

418

Chair Nelson

Questions the appropriateness of limiting participation to federal active duty soldiers. 

425

Rep. Boquist

Explains that Oregon National Guard soldiers, active duty soldiers, and Military Reserve soldiers would all be eligible for free licenses.

TAPE 53, B

011

Rep. Boquist

Clarifies the fiscal statement.

017

Chair Nelson

Asks what is meant by “active federal duty requirement.”

021

Caldwell

Explains that active federal duty would mean that a soldier is no longer in Oregon.

033

Rep. Barnhart

Clarifies that there are three categories of soldiers who qualify for a free hunting or fishing licenses in Oregon.

040

Chair Nelson

States that HB 3103 has the potential to be too broad in its application because it does apply to any soldier in the United States.

 

Val Conley

Veterans’ Services Division Administrator, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA). Explains that Oregon States Statues require that a veteran have a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or above to be entitled to a free hunting or fishing license.

086

Rep. Boquist

Points out the differences between the fiscal impact statement from Legislative Fiscal and the Governor’s budget.

109

Kris Kautz

Deputy Director for Administration, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Program. Submits and summarizes written testimony on the budgetary impact of HB 3103 (EXHIBIT L).

136

Rep. Boquist

States that the intent is not to take revenue from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and that the funds need to be fought for “down in Ways and Means.”

142

Kautz

Points out that OMD has set aside money to reimburse veterans who purchase hunting or fishing licenses.

150

Rep. Boquist

Explains the administrative process of the hunting and fishing license program.

171

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 3103.  Adjourns the meeting at 4:07 p.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. HB 3332, -1 amendments, staff, 1 p
  2. HB 3332, written testimony, Jeff Kropf, 1 p

F.      HB 2437, -1 amendments, staff, 2 pp

  1. G.     HB 2437, -2 amendments, staff, 1 p
  2. H.     HB 2437, -3 amendments, staff, 2 pp
  3. I.        HB 2687, -1 amendments, staff, 1 p
  4. J.       HB 2687, -2 amendments, staff, 1 p
  5. K.     HB 3103, fiscal statement, staff, 2 pp
  6. L.      HB 3103, written testimony, Kris Kautz, 2 pp

                 

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

  1. HJR 34, written testimony, Patricia Farrell, 1 p
  2. HJR 34, written testimony, Tim Wood, 2 pp
  3. HJR 34, written testimony, Allison Hensey, 3 pp