HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

 

April 26, 2005 Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M.  Tapes 80 - 82

 

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:

                                                HJM 32 – Public Hearing

                                                HJM 33 - Public Hearing

                                                HJM 9 –   Public Hearing

                                                HJM 14 – Public Hearing

                                                HJM 34 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2932 – Public Hearing and Work Session

                                                HB 3053 – Work Session

                                                HB 2677 – Work Session

                                                HB 3331 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3333 – 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 80,  A

002

Chair Nelson

Opens the meeting at 8:43 a.m.

015

Chair Nelson

Submits and summarizes written testimony on behalf Wes Carter on Veterans’ Issues (EXHIBIT A).

134

Chair Nelson

Opens a public hearing on HJM 32 and HJM 33.

HJM 32/HJM 33 – PUBLIC HEARING

136

Rep. Jeff Kropf

House District 17. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HJM 32 (EXHIBIT B).

180

Rep. Kropf

Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HJM 33 (EXHIBIT C).

242

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HJM 32 and HJM 33. Opens a public hearing on HJM 9, HJM 14, and HJM 34.

HJM 9/HJM 14/HJM 34 – PUBLIC HEARING

250

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HJM 9, which urges Congress to pass legislation giving families of reservists’ health insurance coverage when reservist is called or ordered into active duty. Explains HJM 14, which urges Congress to fund health care for veterans without increase co-payments and user fees. Explains HJM 34, which urges Congress to pass National Guard and Reserve Bill of Rights Act of 2005 giving reservists right to quality, affordable health care.

273

Rep. Boquist

Verifies that the Department of Defense is in the process of implementing a health insurance program for families of deployed Reservists.

278

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HJM 9.

280

Chair Nelson

Expresses concern that mental, dental, and visual insurance coverage are not included in the language of HJM 14.

315

Rep. Barnhart

Notes the significant amount of testimony heard on the need for adequate funding for health, dental, and mental care for veterans.

322

Kevin O’Reilly

Government Relations/Advocacy Director, Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America. Testifies in support of HJM 14.

363

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HJM 14.

370

Stembridge

Explains that there is federal legislation pending to establish a National Guard and Reserve Bill of Rights.

390

O’Reilly

Testifies in support of HJM 34.

TAPE 81, A

002

Rep. Hunt

Verifies that the National Guard and Reserves Bill of Rights does include issues beyond healthcare.

006

Rep. Hunt

Suggests a possible amendment to HJM 34.

011

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HJM 34. Opens the public hearing and work session on HB 2932.

HB 2932 – PUBLIC HEARING AND WORK SESSION

013

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2932, which is relating to veterans. Submits and summaries -1 amendments (EXHIBIT D).

033

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of HB 2932.

041

Paula Brown

Deputy Director, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA). Testifies in support of HB 2932.

068

Rep. Bruun

Asks if HB 2932 would change, in any way, the current operations and administrative procedures of ODVA.

070

Brown

Replies that HB 2932 would not change current administrative practices at ODVA.

073

Rep. Hunt

Asks if language in -1 amendments is parallel to the language that is used to establish other departments.

078

Brown

Expresses uncertainty about whether the language parallels that of other department.

079

Rep. Hunt

Asks if the language relating to the director’s authority is the same language used to establish the oversight authority of other departments.

083

Brown

Confirms that that is the assumption.

085

Rep. Farr

Asks if there is a fiscal attached to HB 2932.

089

Brown

States that the any fiscal impact is related to minor administrative costs that will not have “a huge impact.”

103

Rep. Barnhart

Comments on how, by statute, the ODVA will not exist until HB 2932 are signed by the Governor.

127

Rep. Barnhart

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 2932-1 amendments dated 04/20/05.

 

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

 

Chair Nelson

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

130

Rep. Barnhart

MOTION:  Moves HB 2932 to the floor with a DO PASS AS AMENDED recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

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

 

Chair Nelson

The motion CARRIES.

REP. NELSON will lead discussion on the floor.

149

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing and work session on HB 2932. Opens the work session on HB 3053.

HB 3053 – WORK SESSION

154

Jim Stembridge

Explains HB 3053, which establishes Oregon Troops to Teachers program within Oregon Student Assistance Program. Submits and summarizes -1 amendments (EXHIBIT E).

168

Rep. Komp

Explains why the amendments are necessary for HB 3053.

202

Rep. Bruun

Speaks to why Merchant Marines should be included as eligible participants in Troops to Teachers program.

213

Stembridge

Notes that HB 3053 has a subsequent referral to House Education, who could amend the bill to include Merchant Marines.

223

Rep. Barnhart

Questions whether Merchant Marines involved in transportation support for military combat operations are eligible to participate in Troops to Teachers program.  

236

Jack LaBox

Representative, American Legion. Explains that Merchant Marines are not members of the military and do not have any military status.   

253

Rep. Farr

States concern regarding the omission of Merchant Marines will be addressed by the House Education Committee.

259

Rep. Barnhart

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 3053-1 amendments dated 04/12/05.

 

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

 

Chair Nelson

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

269

Rep. Barnhart

MOTION:  Moves HB 3053 to the floor with a DO PASS AS AMENDED recommendation and BE REFERRED to the committee on Education by prior reference.

278

Rep. Komp

Points out that all members of the committee will be added as sponsors of HB 3053.

290

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

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

 

Chair Nelson

The motion CARRIES.

291

Chair Nelson

Speaks to the success of the Oregon Military Departments Youth Challenge Program in Bend, Oregon.

365

Rep. Hunt

Affirms the significance of the Youth Challenge Program.

TAPE 80, B

020

Chair Nelson

Closes the work session on HB 3053. Opens the work session on HB 2677.

HB 2677 – WORK SESSION

026

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2677, which creates Oregon National Guard Life Insurance Reimbursement Program and Oregon National Guard Life Insurance Reimbursement Program Fund.

052

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Explains that OMD estimates the cost of life insurance will be $16.25 dollars per month at an average deployment of 18 months per soldiers.

059

Chair Nelson

Asks how many Oregon National Guard members are currently deployed.  

060

Caldwell

Identifies how many Oregon National Guard are currently deployed on 18 month tours.

074

Chair Nelson

Comments that fiscal impact statement is based on current deployment.

080

Caldwell

Points out that fiscal estimate needs to take into account the 1,000 Oregon National Guard soldiers “in queue” for deployment in 2006.

095

Chair Nelson

Asks whether an individual convicted of a felony can continue to serve in Oregon National Guard.  

104

Caldwell

Explains what the repercussions would be for an Oregon National Guard soldier who is convicted of a crime.  

118

Chair Nelson

Asks how many Oregon National Guard members have died in Iraq.

120

Caldwell

Confirms that ten soldiers have died in Iraq.

123

Chair Nelson

Asks whether HB 2677 should be made retroactive to include the ten soldiers who have died.

139

Rep. Boquist

Explains that there is a supplemental life insurance package being considered at the federal level and questions whether HB 2677 should go forward only as a “back stop” measure.

170

Caldwell

Notes that all the soldiers who have died have full life insurance and supplemental insurance through OMD.

182

Rep. Hunt

Expresses concern over the potential cost of HB 2677, questioning if, given the limited amount of available funds, this program meets the unmet needs of soldiers and if resources should be directed elsewhere. 

198

Caldwell

Comments that life insurance is important, but it is “not going to be in the top three on their wish list.”

222

Chair Nelson

Points out that HB 2677 is part of The Governor’s Military package.

252

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organization. Testifies that HB 2677 needs to include Reserve soldiers.

260

Chair Nelson

Asks how many Reserve soldiers have died in Iraq.

264

Caldwell

Confirms the death of three Reservists in Iraq. 

275

Chair Nelson

Closes the work session on HB 2677. Opens the public hearing on HB 3331.

HB 3331 – PUBLIC HEARING

282

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 3331, which increases pay and allowances of Adjutant General and Assistant Adjutants General. Submits and summarizes -1 amendments (EXHIBIT F).

290

Rep. Jeff Kropf

House District 17. Submits and summarize written testimony in support of HB 3331 (EXHIBIT G). Submits 2005 Military Pay Charts (EXHIBIT H).

335

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Explains the military pay system.

370

Rep. Kropf

Notes that HB 3331 has a subsequent referral to Ways and Means.

372

Chair Nelson

Asks how the pay rate of OMD compares to neighboring states.

375

Caldwell

Explains how Oregon pay compares to neighboring states.

TAPE 81, B

015

Chair Nelson

Verifies that OMD budget did not include 3.5 percent pay rise for staff.

018

Caldwell

States OMD personnel budget remains frozen.

028

Chair Nelson

Asks what the pay rate is for Adjutant General in other Western states.  

050

Rep. Kropf

Compares the pay schedules of the Adjutant General in Oregon to those in Colorado, Arizona, and, California.

057

Rep. Boquist

Asks what the pay is for Adjutant General, Assistant-Adjutant General, and how many “management days” are available to General Officers.

060

Caldwell

Lists the salaries of the Adjutant General and Assistant-Adjutant General for the OMD and how many “management days” are available to General Officers.

071

Rep. Boquist

Clarifies how many individual drill days available to a soldier.

080

Chair Nelson

Verifies that the Adjutant General and Assistant-Adjutant General are a part of the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS).

094

Caldwell

Explains how the size of the Oregon National Guard compares to Washington and California.

101

Rep. Komp

Asks how many soldiers the Adjutant General supervises.  

105

Caldwell

Identifies that the Adjutant General supervises 8,000 total people.

111

Rep. Komp

Comments on the inequity in salary of the Adjutant General compared to a middle school principal.

123

Chair Nelson

Asks if the Assistant-Adjutant General and Deputy Adjutant General is the same person.

125

Caldwell

Clarifies the difference between Deputy to the Adjutant General and Assistant-Adjutant General.

146

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if grade-of-pay for Adjutant General and Assistant-Adjutant Generals limits OMD ability to recruit individuals for these positions.

148

Caldwell

Explains why grade-of-pay does not “generally effect” recruitment.

171

Rep. Barnhart

Confirms that a General Officer would take a pay cut to become Adjutant General.

178

Rep. Kropf

Explains that the intention of HB 3331 is “really just matter of equity.”

196

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 3331. Opens the public hearing on HB 3333.

HB 3333 – PUBLIC HEARING

198

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 3333, which creates Wounded Soldier Relief Program in Oregon Military Department.

200

Rep. Jeff Kropf

House District 17. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 3333 (EXHIBIT I).

237

Chair Nelson

Asks what type of the injury soldier would to incur to access to funds from the Wounded Soldier Relief Program.

245

Colonel Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Explains how combat wounds are adjudicated by the OMD.

272

Rep. Kropf

Explains the purpose of HB 3333.

290

Chair Nelson

Explains why definition of veteran needs to be changed in HB 3333.

312

Caldwell

Recommends removing language related to definition of veteran.

352

Rep. Kropf

States willingness to draft amendments to HB 3333.

365

Chair Nelson

Comments on the need to proceed with caution because of the similarities between HB 3333 and other veteran-related bills.

386

Rep. Kropf

States that the HB 3333 is for wounded soldiers, not for veterans.

TAPE 82, A

001

Caldwell

Praises the work of Rep. Kropf on behalf of Oregon soldiers.

027

Rep. Kropf

Addresses effects to raise funds for the Oregon soldiers and the Afghan/Iraqi Freedom Memorial.

063

Lieutenant Peter Wood

Soldier, Oregon National Guard. Speaks to tour of duty in Iraq

085

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 3333. Adjourns the meeting at 10:40 a.m.

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. Veterans’ Issues, written testimony of Wes Carter, Donna Nelson, 2 pp
  2. HJM 32, written testimony, Jeff Kropf, 1 p
  3. HJM 33, written testimony, Jeff Kropf, 1 p
  4. HB 2932, -1 amendments, staff, 74 pp  
  5. HB 3053, -1 amendments, staff, 1 p
  6. HB 3331, -1 amendments, staff, 3 pp
  7. HB 3331, written testimony, Jeff Kropf, 1 p
  8. HB 3331, 2005 Military Pay Charts, Jeff Kropf, 5 pp                
  9. HB 3333, written testimony, Jeff Kropf, 1 p