The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, September 4, 2003, at 2:00 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Dan Seum, presiding Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Dan Seum, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins, Tom Buford, Paul Herron Jr, Bob Jackson, Joey Pendleton, Albert Robinson, Richard Roeding, Elizabeth Tori, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Carolyn Belcher, Mary Harper, Jodie Haydon, Tanya Pullin, Steve Riggs, Tom Riner, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, and Jim Thompson.
Guests: Vince Gayezki, Paul Schlisser, Willie Dozier, and Clint Meshew
LRC Staff: Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Mike Bennett, Todd Stephens, and Wanda Gay-Hollon.
Co-Chair Seum began the meeting by informing the Committee that the Subcommittee on Military Affairs and Public Protection had met earlier in the day. Co-Chair Seum then invited Representative Haydon, Co-Chair of the Subcommittee, to report on the meeting.
Representative Haydon reported that the Subcommittee on Military Affairs and Public Protection had met that morning and heard presentations from MG D. Allen Youngman, the Adjutant General, and Malcolm Franklin, Executive Director of Kentucky Emergency Management. The Adjutant General reviewed personnel and staffing issues as well as upcoming budget and financial concerns. The Committee was especially interested in General Youngman's statement that the United States Air Force plans to reduce the number of C-130 transport planes, and this reduction would directly impact the Kentucky Air National Guard. Representative Haydon then informed the full Committee that Malcolm Franklin, Executive Director of Kentucky Emergency Management, delivered a presentation on homeland security issues and homeland security funding, and the Subcommittee requested a county-by-county breakdown of allocated grant money which Mr. Franklin agreed to provide at a later date.
Following the Subcommittee report by Representative Haydon, Co-Chair Weaver commented on the proposed reduction in C-130 transport planes. Co-Chair Weaver informed the Committee that a C-130 wing requires 12 aircraft for deployment, and he suggested that if the Kentucky Air National Guard were to lose four planes as proposed, then Kentucky's C-130 wing would be unable to deploy. Co-Chair Weaver urged the Committee to write a letter to Kentucky's Congressional delegation supporting Kentucky's C-130 wing. Co-Chair Weaver suggested that the Committee staff should work with the Adjutant General to formulate a letter to send.
Senator Robinson commented that the loss of the C-130 wing would result in the loss of millions of dollars as well as lost jobs.
Senator Buford indicated that the Committee should ask the Kentucky Congressional delegation to find the reasons for the reallocation of C-130s by the United States Air Force.
Representative Riggs and Co-Chair Weaver suggested that the Committee also send a copy of the letter to the Department of Defense.
Co-Chair Seum reiterated that staff should work with the Adjutant General to formulate the letter.
Senator Blevins then pointed out that he had recently met with Congressman Hal Rodgers who is the Chair of the Congressional subcommittee overseeing homeland security. According to Senator Blevins, Congressman Rodgers oversees a $40 billion budget and is working to attract additional dollars to Kentucky.
Following the discussion on Kentucky's C-130 wing, the meeting continued with a presentation by BG (Ret.) Les Beavers, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans' Affairs, on the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) initiative. An outline of the information discussed by General Beavers is contained in a PowerPoint presentation included as part of the meeting materials archived in the LRC library.
General Beavers said that CARES constitutes a realignment of assets to achieve better service for veterans, with a focus on the years 2012 and 2022, when the population of veterans will reach record numbers. According to General Beavers, this initiative is a shift from inpatient care to outpatient care, with much of the care provided by Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). These CBOCs will provide primary care to veterans with referral to medical centers for special needs. General Beavers indicated that the CARES program is an internal effort by the VA to shift resources, because, VA Secretary Principe wants to take underutilized space and turn it into a resource.
According to General Beavers, the CARES Commission was formed as an independent commission to review the national plan developed by VA medical centers, the Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN), and the VA central office in Washington DC. General Beavers informed the Committee that the CARES Commission would be conducting formal hearings throughout the country, and he would be attending meetings in Lexington on September 8 and Nashville on September 10. Upon completion of the nationwide hearings, General Beavers said, the CARES Commission will report back to Secretary Principe for a final decision on the plan.
Following the discussion of the CARES Commission, General Beavers focused on each VISN market that serves Kentucky. General Beavers presented a market-by-market overview of existing facilities as well as proposed new facilities, but much of his analysis focused on potential changes in the markets serving Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky.
According to General Beavers, there are three options for the VA Medical Center in Louisville: a) construction of an entirely new center; b) full renovation of the facility located at Zorn Avenue; or c) collaboration with the University of Louisville to create a hospital within a hospital. General Beavers suggested that cost analysis should determine which option will be chosen.
General Beavers continued his presentation by focusing on the VA's dual-campus facilities on Leestown Road and Cooper Drive in Lexington. General Beavers pointed out that the VA is investigating all dual-campus facilities to see what can be done to do away with one campus. The CARES plan, according to General Beavers, calls for all healthcare services at Leestown to be shifted to Cooper Drive; however, the Cooper Drive facility cannot absorb all of the primary care, mental health services, and nursing home care units at the Leestown facility. General Beavers recommended retaining some portion of the Leestown campus. He suggested the possibility of an enhanced use lease by the state as well as the possibility of a transitional shelter for homeless veterans. General Beavers also pointed out that acute inpatient psychiatry now handled at Leestown could be shared with Eastern State Hospital, the Louisville Medical Center, or the veterans' facility in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. General Beavers also mentioned at least two problems with closing the Leestown facility in favor of the Cooper Drive facility. The Cooper Drive facility has limited parking, and the transfer of services from Leestown to Cooper Drive would require extensive renovation of the Cooper Drive facility.
Following discussion of Lexington, Louisville, and other smaller markets, General Beavers addressed the Northern Kentucky market in detail. General Beavers suggested that Bellevue has one of the better clinics in the state, and the Kentucky Department of Veterans' Affairs is pushing for expansion of the Bellevue facility. According to General Beavers, there is also an inpatient domiciliary unit for recovery and rehabilitation at Fort Thomas, and there is a proposed clinic for Dry Ridge.
In summing up his presentation, General Beavers said that CARES focuses on better service for veterans through a major shift from inpatient care to outpatient care. General Beavers suggested that it is important to maintain an inpatient infrastructure to serve referrals out of primary care. General Beavers also reiterated he would be testifying to the CARES Commission regarding three areas: a) the limited number of Kentucky counties that currently meet the federal VA's access standards; b) the specifics of the CARES plan; and c) his views on the network's plan.
Co-Chair Seum asked General Beavers if the CARES plan was a reduction in services to Kentucky's veterans. General Beavers indicated that this plan would not reduce services if the state stayed involved with the medical centers, and major funding issues were resolved.
Senator Buford then asked about the total cost of the CARES plan. General Beavers said that a total cost was not known, but that for the CARES plan to succeed, funding issues would have to be resolved.
Senator Roeding questioned whether clinics are planned around the state's armories. General Beavers said that clinics are planned around the enrolled population of veterans and the projected enrolled population through 2022. General Beavers further explained that the clinics are centered around veterans, where they live, and their access to care.
Senator Roeding went on to inquire if care of veterans could be enhanced by having a transferable card that would allow veterans to go to any facility and be covered by the Federal Veterans' Administration. General Beavers indicated that this is a contract care issue. The CARES plan addresses this possibility for rural areas, and if the Veterans' Administration could contract locally, veterans would benefit.
Representative Pullin asked about plans for the clinic in Portsmouth, Ohio, which is utilized by many of her constituents. General Beavers said the Portsmouth clinic will be expanded, and a new clinic northwest of Boone County is also planned.
Co-Chair Weaver then pointed out that a letter from the co-chairs of the Committee would be prepared to send along with General Beavers to the CARES Commission hearing. General Beavers said that a letter from the co-chairs would demonstrate the concern on the part of the General Assembly.
Co-Chair Weaver then asked when the CARES Commission would decide which of the three potential options for the Louisville Medical Center is the most feasible. General Beavers indicated that if the CARES plan is passed, then a study of the issue would be authorized in December.
Co-Chair Seum reminded members of the Lexington CARES meeting, and General Beavers said that he would be testifying at approximately 10 a.m. on September 8.
Senator Roeding then asked if the satellite home in Fort Thomas was considered a rest home. General Beavers pointed out that the home in Fort Thomas was intended to be a rehabilitation facility and not a long-term care facility or a skilled care nursing home.
As General Beavers closed his presentation, Co-Chair Weaver reminded the Committee that General Beavers is a problem solver who represents Kentucky and has the attention of VA Secretary Principe.
The meeting continued with a presentation by Ray Nelson, Executive Director of the Office for Security Coordination. An outline of the information discussed by Ray Nelson is contained in a PowerPoint presentation included as part of the meeting materials archived in the LRC library. Mr. Nelson's presentation focused on statewide vulnerability assessments.
The first assessment covered by Mr. Nelson was mandated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Domestic Preparedness. According to Mr. Nelson, every state was mandated to conduct this assessment, and it is a prerequisite for funding for fiscal year 2004 federal grants. Furthermore, the results of these surveys and assessments will be used to establish the model for how funding will come to the states in fiscal year 2004. Mr. Nelson pointed out that Malcolm Franklin of Kentucky Emergency Management has been designated as the state administrative agent for this process.
Mr. Nelson went on to say that this assessment will involve all communities (rural, urban, and suburban), law enforcement, state government agencies, and the entire spectrum of emergency responders. The goal, according to Mr. Nelson, is to develop a quantifiable needs assessment to determine what is needed to handle future incidents involving weapons of mass destruction or other hazards. A framework for state homeland security strategy will come out of this assessment, and the assessment will also provide standardization where there is currently no nationwide standard.
Mr. Nelson indicated that the assessment will be done by identifying jurisdictional points-of-contact. Then, training needs will be identified and coordinated through Kentucky Emergency Management. Individuals will be taught how to use web-based assessment tools, form working groups and committees in their communities to identify requirements, and put information in to the system. Mr. Nelson stated that this process must be completed by the end of November. The state strategy is due at the Department of Homeland Security in December.
Mr. Nelson then went on to list several other vulnerability assessments that are being undertaken, including: community-based vulnerability assessments by the Department of Criminal Justice Training; force protection assessments mandated by the Department of Defense; the Kentucky Key Asset Protection Partnership in association with the United States Secret Service; the Eastern Kentucky University School-Based Safety and Security Assessment; the United States Coast Guard port security assessments; the Administrative Office of the Courts assessments; and assessments conducted by private firms.
According to Mr. Nelson, there are many ongoing assessments, but there is currently no mechanism to mandate coordination or standardization; however, there is information sharing when new assessments are discovered.
Co-Chair Seum suggested that the best way to stop terrorism is by making things more secure, and he pointed out to the members of the Committee that contact numbers for Ray Nelson could be found on the back of Mr. Nelson's presentation. These numbers could be useful for local communities.
Following the presentation by Ray Nelson, Lt. Gen (Ret.) Clay Bailey addressed the Committee regarding homeland security risk assessments he is conducting through the Department of Criminal Justice Training. An outline of the information discussed by Lt. Gen. Bailey is contained in a PowerPoint presentation included as part of the meeting materials archived in the LRC library.
Lt. Gen. Bailey began his presentation by stating that his group works directly with local communities to make recommendations to them, so they can implement policies and procedures that make sense. Lt. Gen. Bailey asserted that his focus is not on consequence management; instead, his focus is on prevention, deterrence, and reducing vulnerability. According to Lt. Gen. Bailey, three aspects of his program are red team threat assessment, multi-jurisdictional SWAT teams, and a first responders exercise and evaluation. Lt. Gen. Bailey indicated assessments are currently scheduled for Morehead (November 17-21) and Nicholasville (December 8-12), and his hope is that this program will ultimately turn into a self-assessment program.
Lt. Gen. Bailey then went on to list a number of common vulnerabilities, including utilities, water sources, schools, government buildings, railroads, bridges, dams, hospitals, communications facilities, and recreation facilities. Upon entering a community, Lt. Gen. Bailey suggested, the assessment begins with these vulnerabilities. He then continued the presentation by briefly describing his methodology as well as observations he has made. Lt. Gen. Bailey indicated a greater need for employee security awareness training. He also suggested controlling access through protection system improvements is vital and not necessarily expensive. Lt. Gen. Bailey also discussed how School Resource Officers could help make schools safer. One area of concern for Lt. Gen. Bailey was that vital records are not usually backed up offsite, and as such, many of our vital records are vulnerable.
Following Lt. Gen. Bailey's presentation, Representative Riggs asked Ray Nelson about the wisdom of taking a finite amount money and dividing it equally among 120 counties, when many counties have sparse population and no infrastructure and would never be a target of terrorism. Mr. Nelson responded by pointing out there are different "pots" of money, and some money is specifically earmarked for assessments for all counties.
Representative Riggs proceeded to ask about money for equipment, personnel, training, and responding to an attack. Mr. Nelson suggested that his agency is dealing with 57 different grants and lacks flexibility when it comes to spending the money, because many of the grants are specific as to use of the money.
Co-Chair Seum asked if any of the grants received are population specific. Malcolm Franklin of Emergency Management indicated that 80 percent of equipment money must go to local communities because of the present lack of a threat assessment. Mr. Franklin further explained that the money has been divided based on a 70 percent, 30 percent formula. That is, 70 percent is divided equally, while 30 percent goes to more populated areas. As an example, Mr. Franklin stated that for the latest grant, every county had received $48,000 plus extra dollars for population adjustment. Mr. Franklin also assured the Committee that as much as $8 million is being held in reserve pending threat assessments. This $8 million would be allocated based upon population, known threat, and infrastructure.
Representative Riggs then suggested that $48,000 spent in a county that will never be targeted takes away from more threatened areas. Ray Nelson responded by saying that Emergency Management did not want to put all of its eggs in one basket, and if only the large cities were protected, then many other valuable assets may be lost.
Senator Roeding commented that Kentucky's key assets and critical infrastructure were not being protected due to the lack of focus on areas of manufacturing, food distribution, airports, and public utilities. Senator Roeding suggested that the authorities should have looked at critical assets from the beginning.
Mr. Nelson pointed out that a risk assessment was necessary to validate areas most in need of protection. He then pointed out again that the money in question was from just one grant, and there are a total of 57 grants.
Mr. Franklin then reiterated that a pool of money will be held back, but threat assessments are necessary to validate priorities. Mr. Franklin also suggested that distribution of funds needs to be fair and consistent.
Senator Herron asked if Huntington, West Virginia, and Louisville were the only Coast Guard districts on the Ohio River. Mr. Nelson informed the committee that those two districts are known as "Port Captains," but that there are other sub-districts not specifically mentioned in the presentation.
Senator Robinson then asked Ray Nelson about the total budget for the Office for Security Coordination. Mr. Nelson said that his office isn't directly involved with all grant money coming into the Commonwealth, and that the information he receives is for the last fiscal year.
Co-Chair Seum pointed out that many grants go directly to local communities, and the state has no control over this money. Co-Chair Seum indicated that Senate Bill 46 requires Nelson to report on grant money received.
Senator Robinson then commented on lack of flexibility in these grants, and he acknowledged that the money being discussed was a small portion of the overall total, with some grants being need-based and others factoring in population.
Following Senator Robinson's comments, Ray Nelson indicated that his office is exploring more grant opportunities and delivering notice of these opportunities to county judge-executives and mayors via e-mail.
Senator Blevins asked Nelson how many of Kentucky's counties lack access to e-mail. Mr. Nelson said that he has e-mail contacts for 102 of the 120 counties, and that his office also conducts conferences, advertises, and has a website. So he believes that coverage is complete.
Senator Blevins then expressed concern over security at a low level nuclear waste dump in his district. Malcolm Franklin indicated that the site in question has been surveyed.
Co-Chair Weaver addressed the panel, asking if legislation is necessary to exclude sensitive materials, such as threat assessments, from the Freedom of Information Act and Open Records law. Mr. Nelson indicated that specific, sensitive security information needs to be protected. Mr. Nelson pointed out that under existing law his office is required to make this sensitive information public, and sensitive information should only be available on a "need to know" basis.
After ensuring that all guests received an opportunity to speak, Co-Chair Seum received a motion to adjourn. This motion was seconded, and the meeting was adjourned.