The1st meeting of the 2003 Session Break of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, January 30, 2003, at 1:30 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Dan Seum, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Dan Seum, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Paul Herron Jr, Joey Pendleton, Albert Robinson, Elizabeth Tori, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Sheldon Baugh, Carolyn Belcher, Tom Burch, Bill Farmer, Danny Ford, Mary Harper, Jodie Haydon, Fred Nesler, Tanya Pullin, Tom Riner, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, and Jim Thompson.
Guests: Jim Halvatgis, Ellen Kershaw, Howard H. Howells, Cash Centers, Gay Dwyer, and Donna Brown.
LRC Staff: Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Mike Bennett, Todd Stephens, Wanda Gay-Hollon, and Penny Gardner.
Co-Chair Weaver opened the meeting by calling members' attention to page four of the meeting minutes from the December 5, 2002, meeting at Fort Knox, Kentucky. At that meeting, he asked General Fuller of the United States Army Recruiting Command what the Kentucky General Assembly could do to assist in recruitment efforts. General Fuller responded by saying that it would be a great benefit to many soldiers and their families who are stationed in Kentucky to be able to attend local higher educational institutions without having to pay out-of-state-tuition fees. Co-Chair Weaver said that after researching the issue he discovered that soldiers and their families stationed in Kentucky do not have to pay out-of-state tuition fees to attend Kentucky's higher education institutions. There is an administrative regulation covering this issue. He said that he would contact General Fuller and make him aware of the regulation so that he could then publicize that information and use it for recruiting purposes.
Co-Chair Weaver asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the December 5, 2002, meeting. Representative Burch made a motion to approve the minutes. Senator Herron seconded the motion. The minutes were approved as submitted.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Co-Chair Seum to introduce and welcome the new Senate committee members. Co-Chair Seum read the names of the new Senate committee members. The new Senate committee members are: Senator Robert L. "Bob" Jackson, Senator Daniel Mongiardo, Senator Virgil Moore, and Senator Ed Worley.
Co-Chair Seum introduced and thanked his Senate Subcommittee Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs are Senator Albert Robinson of the Subcommittee on Military Affairs and Public Protection and Senator Elizabeth Tori of the Subcommittee on Seniors and Veterans.
Co-Chair Weaver introduced new House committee members. The new House committee members are: Representative Bill Farmer, Representative Mary Harper, and Representative Tanya Pullin.
Co-Chair Weaver asked Scott Varland, Committee Staff Administrator, to read a Resolution, requested by Representative Steve Riggs, honoring and memorializing Glen H. Craft. The Resolution was adopted by voice vote.
Co-Chair Weaver asked MG D. Allen Youngman, Adjutant General, to present his report on the Readiness of the Commonwealth To Respond to Acts of War or Terrorism.
General Youngman said that the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 258 during the 2002 Session. That legislation requires the Adjutant General to prepare annually, and submit to the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection, a report on the state's readiness to deal with acts of war, weapons of mass destruction, or acts of terrorism. He stated that this was the first report of such kind presented to the committee and asked for members' feedback as to whether or not sufficient detail was provided.
General Youngman summarized the report by stating that we are better off today than we were a year ago. He said that preparations for dealing with, and preventing, acts of terrorism in the Commonwealth did not begin on September 11. He said that we have had a mature planning process in place for a number of years. However, there are many areas that did not receive a lot of attention or resources prior to that time. General Youngman said that those who must respond are better trained and equipped than they were. He said that there will always be more to be done, and he will continue to make recommendations as to where priorities should be shifted.
General Youngman said that most of the resources expended in the area of homeland security will be federal resources. It would be a challenge to maintain situational awareness as to the status of funding. Many federal agencies are instructed by Congress to directly fund local agencies and communities, and there is currently no way to track those funds coming into the state.
General Youngman thanked the committee for its continued interest in the area of homeland security and asked members if they had any questions regarding the report.
Representative Tom Riner asked General Youngman if the state's computer system was centralized so that there was a state mainframe that all the service support went through. Representative Riner said that North Carolina and Ohio have saved millions of dollars by centralizing through a state mainframe. General Youngman deferred that question to Aldona Valicenti, Chief Information Officer, Governor's Office for Technology (GOT). Ms. Valicenti responded by saying that the state has only one mainframe, and that it has been centralized for many years. She noted that Kentucky has been a leader among the states in centralizing the main frame operation.
Co-Chair Seum asked General Youngman to make a copy of his presentation available to committee staff. General Youngman agreed to do so.
Co-Chair Seum asked General Youngman if moving the date the report was due to be given to the committee back thirty days would assist or hinder the efforts to complete the report. Co-Chair Seum said that it might be beneficial for members to receive the report earlier so that they would have additional time to study the report before a legislative session began. General Youngman responded by saying that moving the date the report was due back thirty days would not have any impact on preparing the report.
Representative Haydon asked General Youngman how many Kentucky Guardsmen had been activated. General Youngman responded by saying that the total to date was approximately 2,700.
Representative Haydon asked General Youngman what percentage of the total force had been activated. General Youngman responded by saying that the percentage was approximately 1/3 of the force thus far.
Representative Haydon asked General Youngman how those totals compared with national totals. General Youngman responded by saying that Kentucky was in the top tier of states in terms of percentage committed at this time.
Representative Haydon asked General Youngman how long it had been since the system had been taxed so heavily. General Youngman responded by saying that the system had not been so taxed since World War II. He said they reached the 1,100 mark during Desert Storm, approximately 600 during Vietnam, and approximately 900 during the Korean War.
Representative Haydon said that Kentuckians are playing a prominent roll in the defense of the country. The average citizen is not aware of what is taking place across the state in the homes of our Guardsmen. He suggested it would be a good time for a public relations program. He also suggested it would be a good time to promote recruitment.
General Youngman said that small communities are very well aware when a unit mobilizes. The community send offs and the welcome home ceremonies have been incredible. One of the more prominent stories that should be relayed is that this week the 35th Infantry Division stationed in Kentucky has deployed to Germany for a rehearsal exercise in anticipation of taking over the peacekeeping effort in Bosnia next month. General Youngman said that the Bosnia peacekeeping operation that required seventeen thousand active army men and women and a three star General is going to be commanded by a one star General from the Kentucky National Guard, an everyday citizen soldier, along with several hundred of his national counterparts. The operation will be 100% National Guard.
Co-Chair Weaver asked General Youngman to comment on why there is a need for the Guard throughout the United States, both Army and Air, to be activated in a time of war. Co-Chair Weaver said that he believes it is due to the Army downsizing ten years ago. General Youngman responded by saying downsizing at the end of the cold war obviously played a large roll in the armed services becoming much smaller. He said that in downsizing one of the challenges faced by national leadership was to maintain the representation provided by the Guard and Reserve. General Youngman said that in addition it cost less to maintain forces in the Guard and Reserve. He said that we all remember very vividly the outcome in Vietnam when the decision was made not to activate the Guard and Reserve, but to expand the Army simply by the draft. General Youngman said that the American people do not have an adequate understanding of what we were getting into. He said that when forces are structured so that the Guard and Reserve are critical components, it forces a public awareness. He said that there is a stake by the American people in the operation, because it is their relatives, friends, and neighbors involved.
Representative Farmer commented that the term weapons of mass destruction was referred to on a regular basis in the report Readiness of the Commonwealth To Respond to Acts of War or Terrorism, but that term was never defined. General Youngman responded by saying that he was taking notes on areas that needed to be improved upon for next year's report and that adding definitions had been noted. General Youngman said that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falls into one of five categories; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high yield conventional explosives.
Representative Farmer said that the report Readiness of the Commonwealth To Respond to Acts of War or Terrorism indicated that local first responders would respond to a WMD event. He asked who would respond to such an event if the local responders themselves were rendered unable to respond. General Youngman responded by saying that dynamic has been factored into plans at all levels. The people closest to an event, depending on the kind of event, may themselves be in need of assistance rather than being able to provide assistance.
Representative Baugh said that he is concerned about the perception that terrorists would target large metropolitan areas and large gatherings of people only and not rural areas. Rural areas are attractive targets for terrorists, because they can accomplish the same goal in a rural area as in an urban area without being highly trained or having expertise to carry out an attack. He gave an example of a terrorist targeting a rural water system. Representative Baugh asked what could be done to protect rural areas. General Youngman responded by saying that no one involved in homeland security makes the assumption that the threat of a terrorist attack is only an urban danger. It is a rural one as well, and plans to respond to such an event reflect that thinking.
Representative Baugh asked Dr. Rice Leach, Commissioner of Public Health, what preparations health departments have taken to combat biologic threats. Dr. Leach responded by saying that the steps taken to deal with such a threat are to detect, identify, intercept, and neutralize. Even in the worst of cases there is a day or two before infection turns into serious illness. That allows for anyone exposed to be vaccinated.
Senator Westwood asked General Youngman what the average citizen should be looking for regarding suspicious activity. General Youngman responded by saying that there is no general consensus as to what the average citizen should be looking for. There is a debate going on nationally as to whether we want to turn the average neighbor into an informer. However, citizens should report anything of importance. He said that the first step is to come to a consensus as to what we want the average citizen to look for.
Co-Chair Weaver commented that according to the report Readiness of the Commonwealth To Respond to Acts of War or Terrorism ninety-eight counties have had their local emergency operations plans updated or totally rewritten to reflect the realities of a post 911 world. Twenty-two counties have not updated their plans. Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Malcolm Franklin, Director of the Division of Emergency Management, why twenty-two counties have not updated or rewritten their plans. Mr. Franklin responded by saying that he was working with those counties individually, and that some funding is being withheld from the emergency management programs that have not met their requirements in a number of different areas. He has been traveling to the counties affected and visiting with county judges executives from those counties. The response from them has been excellent. Mr. Franklin said that the incentive to those counties affected is the additional supplemental funding for 2003 which will allow him to steer a significant amount of money to every county based on population to update the rest of their plans this coming year. He would concentrate on those counties that need to update their plans, but he expects all plans to be updated this year by using an incentive.
Co-Chair Weaver said that the emergency management offices in all one hundred twenty counties are key to a good homeland security plan. He said that it may not have been important who was holding those positions ten years ago. It is very important today. He said that in order to be a Property Valuation Administrator (PVA) or a Circuit Court Clerk you must pass a test before you are elected to that position. In Emergency Management, the County Judge Executive appoints whomever he or she wants in that position without any concern for qualifications. Co-Chair Weaver said that he was concerned about that situation because the emphasis is not on qualifications. He suggested that anyone placed in such a position meet minimal requirements for the job, because it is such an important position. Co-Chair Weaver asked Mr. Franklin if he agreed? Mr. Franklin responded by saying that he agreed 100%.
Co-Chair Weaver said that he was concerned about the flow of federal homeland security funds being stove piped to states without any architectural plan. He noted wireless communications as an example. He said that when the Pentagon was attacked the responders could not communicate with each other. He asked General Youngman if there was anything in place to oversee that federal funds were being spent correctly or being spent according to some plan. General Youngman responded by saying that Co-Chair Weaver had identified one of the critical areas that is of great concern to him. He said that under the current strategy states will have a strategy that will be in some way connected to the national strategy. General Youngman said that when the money actually flows, it may or may not be compatible with the state strategy. He said that interoperability communications is one of the highest concerns he has. General Youngman said that a national dialogue is taking place on this subject. The question is how do we get a state strategy that supports a national strategy with the national strategy funding the state strategy. General Youngman said many of these funds come with strings attached to them. He said that 75% must be spent at the local level, for example. General Youngman said that in some instances, at the state level, no one knew about a grant being awarded until they read about it in the newspaper. He said that grant applications do not flow through state homeland security coordinators. They go directly to the federal agency that has the funds. We have a lot of work to do in this area.
Co-Chair Weaver asked General Youngman to attempt to track funds that were being sent to state agencies, how that money was awarded, and how it improved the overall posture for homeland security for the state of Kentucky. He asked General Youngman to include that information in next year's report to the committee. Co-Chair Weaver asked General Youngman to also include in the report any money that bypassed the agencies and was stove piped to a local entity that may not have benefited the overall plan at all.
General Youngman said he wanted to make clear that he was not suggesting that all federal funds must flow through the state office. He would like for the federal agency that received an application for funds to know whether or not the state office was aware of the grant application and had an opinion as to whether or not the proceeds would be compatible with the state strategy.
Dr. Rice Leach spoke about the $15 million grant the Department of Public Health received. He said the grant he received had five components. One component is a response team. Dr. Leach said that Dr. William Hacker is in charge of the response team. He said that the Department of Public Health cannot respond without Emergency Management, the Kentucky State Police, and a group of others. He has written to the various leadership in the different operational units to get together to plan. The first year the money was spent on the health piece, but there will be more money coming. Dr. Leach said that if the Department of Public Health could not get their health piece until the State Police got something they had to find a way to get the State Police what they needed.
Aldona Valicenti added her comments on the discussion of wireless interoperability issues. Those issues have existed in public safety for many years. Recent events have brought the issues forward. Ms. Valicenti said that when you look at the New York and Washington D. C. incidents, people responded with radios and cell phones. Equipment failed to work together because purchasing had been done individually for departments, municipalities, and localities without considering how it was going to fit in with the whole. She said that at the state and federal level, we have an understanding now that it is going to take planning for us to be able to do that better. Ms. Valicenti asked that committee members insist that the federal government create standards so that equipment can interoperate. Ms. Valicenti said that the same standards are requested from the people who produce the equipment.
Representative Ford asked General Youngman to state the criteria to determine whether an act is a terrorist act or simply a criminal act, and if there is a difference in the two acts? General Youngman responded by saying that a terrorist act is always a criminal act, but a criminal act is not necessarily a terrorist act. Federal law has defined a terrorist act.
Co-Chair Seum told General Youngman that he has introduced legislation, SB 46, that would require the Division of Emergency Management to maintain a record of federal homeland security funding coming into Kentucky and to amend the KRS to require the Adjutant General of Kentucky to report to the Kentucky General Assembly on homeland security.
Co-Chair Seum announced that there was a brief article in The Courier Journal reporting that Kentucky Congressman Harold Rogers has been appointed to head a House Appropriation Subcommittee that would oversee federal spending in the new Department of Homeland Security.
Co-Chair Weaver commented that it was very important for Kentucky that Congressman Rogers hold such a position. He said that it was his understanding that there would be regional centers for command, control, and communication. He said that Kentucky was in a central location, so it was an ideal place to have a regional control center. Co-Chair Weaver said that such a center would be good for Kentucky's economy.
Representative Nesler made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Representative Baugh seconded the motion. The motion carried. The meeting adjourned.
A hard copy of the PowerPoint presentation that was given during the meeting is filed in the committee meeting folder located in the LRC Library.