Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 4th Meeting

of the 2003 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> October 2, 2003

 

The<MeetNo2> 4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on<Day> Thursday,<MeetMDY2> October 2, 2003, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Dan Seum, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins, Tom Buford, Paul Herron Jr, Virgil Moore, Joey Pendleton, Albert Robinson, Katie Stine, Elizabeth Tori, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Carolyn Belcher, Tom Burch, Bill Farmer, Danny Ford, Mary Harper, Jodie Haydon, Tanya Pullin, Tom Riner, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, and Jim Thompson.

 

Guests:† No guests signed in.

 

LRC Staff:† Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Mike Bennett, Todd Stephens, and Wanda Gay-Hollon.

A quorum being present Co-Chair Weaver began the meeting. He asked Senator Moore to lead the Committee and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The first order of business was the approval of the minutes of the September 4, 2003, meeting. Representative Belcher made a motion for approval. The motion was seconded. Co-Chair Weaver asked for any comments or discussion on the minutes.

Co-Chair Weaver drew the attention of the Committee to a staff memorandum, ďFederal Department of Homeland Security Grant Program for Kentucky.Ē He explained that the memorandum included a county-by-county breakdown of homeland security equipment funding allocations. He asked the Committee for approval to send the memorandum to Malcolm Franklin, Director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management for his review. Mr. Franklin would review the memorandum for accuracy and provide the Committee with a current breakdown of county-by-county expenditures from homeland security grants by the November Committee meeting. Representative Belcher made a motion to approve the request. Senator Moore seconded the motion. The Committee approved the motion.

Co-Chair Weaver reminded the Committee that LRC staff was working with the Adjutant General to draft a letter discouraging the United States Air National Guard from reassigning eight of the Kentucky Air National Guard's C-130 aircraft to other states. He noted that the Adjutant Generalís office had not provided the necessary information to draft the letter. He asked the Committee to approve that LRC staff continue to work to gather the information, and that staff draft the letter for the November meeting. Representative Burch made a motion to approve the request. Senator Pendleton seconded the motion. The Committee approved the motion.

Senator Robinson made a motion to amend the second motion to include a timeframe for the Adjutant General to provide the requested information to LRC staff so that the letter would be complete by the November meeting. Co-Chair Seum seconded the motion. The Committee approved the amendment.

Senator Stine stated that the Committee should inquire at the November meeting as to why the requested information was not provided in a timely manner.

Representative Thompson made a motion for approval of the minutes. A second was made by Senator Herron. The Committee approved the minutes.

The next order of business was the reading of a resolution adjourning the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection in honor of Sgt. Darrin K. Potter. Senator Moore made a motion for passage of the resolution.† Co-Chair Seum made a second. The resolution was adopted.

The next order of business was the reading of a resolution adjourning the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection in honor of Major General John R. Groves, Jr.

Representative Siler made a motion to amend the resolution to include that General Groves was also a member of the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. Co-Chair Seum made a second. The Committee approved the amendment.

Co-Chair Weaver made a motion to amend the resolution to include that General Groves served as the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs from the time of his appointment as Adjutant General until the appointment of the first full-time Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. Senator Pendleton made a second. The Committee approved the amendment.

Senator Tori reported that the Subcommittee on Seniors and Veterans had met that morning and heard presentations regarding the federal Department of Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) program. General Les Beavers, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, discussed Veteransí Administration plans to close the Leestown Road facility and transfer operations to the Cooper Drive location. She said that members of the Subcommittee agreed that the full Committee should send a letter to Kentuckyís Congressional delegation expressing support for the preservation of veteransí healthcare facilities and services.

Senator Moore made a motion to adopt the report. The motion received a second. The Committee accepted the report.

Co-Chair Weaver noted the return of Senator Robinsonís son from military deployment in Baghdad. He said the Committee was thankful for his safe return. The Committee showed their support with applause.

Co-Chair Weaver introduced Aldona Valicenti, Chief Information Officer, Governorís Office for Technology. She was joined by Rodney Murphy, Executive Director of Office of Infrastructure Services, Governorís Office for Technology. An outline of the information discussed by Ms. Valicenti is contained in the meeting materials archived in the LRC library.

Ms. Valicenti began her presentation on wireless interoperability and the implementation of 2003 HB 309. She noted that the issue of communications interoperability has been an issue not only for Kentucky but for the entire nation. This problem was exhibited in the emergency response efforts following the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. The various groups responding to the attacks could not communicate with one another through their standard communications equipment.

Wireless interoperability is the ability of public safety agencies to talk to one another via wireless communications systems to exchange voice and data with one another in real time. This communication did not occur during the events of September 11th. The goal for wireless interoperability is to have effective, reliable, and secure communications.

A problem with achieving interoperability is that individual jurisdictions have invested in local solutions without considering the need to work with others. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that funding has been provided to individual agencies without regard to a larger solution. The Governorís Office for Technology (GOT) has been working with several groups within the Commonwealth to address this issue. Efforts began in 1998 with the passage of HB 45. This legislation established the Kentucky Criminal Justice Council. The Council was given the responsibility of establishing a Unified Criminal Justice Information System.

The Wireless Steering Committee was established on May 18, 2001. This committee developed the Commonwealth of Kentucky Wireless Strategic Plan. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Police, and other law enforcement agencies were chosen to coordinate a pilot project to test traditional land mobile radio and satellite radio initiatives. The Public Safety Working Group was formed in February, 2002. The Group was given the responsibilities of coordinating a 700MHz plan for the Commonwealth and applying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the Public Safety 700MHz License. The license was granted. The Working Group will continue as part of the Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Executive Committee (KWIEC) authorized by 2003 HB 309.

Mr. Murphy discussed KWIEC. The passage of 2003 HB 309 established KWIEC to advise the Chief Information Officer (CIO) regarding initiatives to achieve public safety voice and data communications interoperability. The bill requires the CIO to establish and implement a statewide public safety interoperability plan. KWIECís membership was expanded to include local stakeholders. 2003 HB 309 formalized KWIEC by adopting a nationally recognized title for the organization.

Ms. Valicenti discussed the additional legislative support needed to fulfill the stateís wireless strategy. Four requests were presented:

1.      Allow KWIEC to establish required standards for interoperability;

2.      Require that all agencies in the Commonwealth installing or upgrading communications systems present all plans for review and recommendations by KWIEC;

3.      Require all agencies in the Commonwealth submitting grant applications or utilizing other funds for communications systems and equipment to present all project plans to KWEIC for review and recommendation; and

4.      Support funding requests for maintenance and technology upgrades for KEWS infrastructure.

Mr. Murphy spoke about the Kentucky Emergency Wireless System (KEWS). KEWS serves state and federal agencies. In addition, local governments are showing more interest in using KEWS. KEWS is a key link to achieving public safety wireless interoperability within the Commonwealth. KEWS is a licensed microwave backbone that interconnects the stateís communications towers to allow for communications among different jurisdictions. It is a very stable and effective system that can provide interoperability. The problem with KEWS is that the technology is 25 years old. The technology is antiquated analog technology, while modern communications systems are digital. GOTís six year Capital Plan includes a funding request to upgrade KEWS.

Ms. Valicenti concluded the presentation. She stated that partnerships were the key to achieving public safety wireless interoperability. Cooperation among all levels of government can provide the resources and necessary funding.

Representative Burch asked how much money was required to upgrade KEWS. Mr. Murphy said the upgrade would cost $27 million. Representative Burch asked if KEWS was controlled by the stateís communications towers. Mr. Murphy said yes. He explained that interoperability could be achieved without using KEWS infrastructure. However, this solution would require additional changes to the stateís communications network. Representative Burch asked if satellite phones could be a solution. Mr. Murphy said that satellite phone technology is expanding. The Center for Rural Development has used satellite phone technology in their plans. A drawback to satellite technology is that the service is commercially operated and expensive. Representative Burch asked if satellite technology provided the same level of communications security as a tower system. Mr. Murphy responded that a properly implemented satellite technology system is secure. Representative Burch asked about the physical security of a tower based system. Mr. Murphy stated that many of the towers are difficult to reach because of surrounding terrain. However, the towers could be a point of failure for the communications system. Representative Burch asked how many towers would have to fail before the entire system would not operate. Mr. Murphy said that the system is designed to operate even if towers fail. He guessed that 10-12 simultaneous tower failures would crash the system. Representative Burch asked if investing in the $27 million KEWS upgrade would add physical security to the towers. Mr. Murphy said the upgrade included enhancing the equipment shacks at the towersí bases.

Representative Riner asked if upgrading KEWS would allow for communications with federal agencies. Mr. Murphy said it would. Representative Riner asked if a backup communications system is available if KEWS fails as a result of a catastrophic event. Mr. Murphy said there is no backup communications system available should KEWS fail as a result of a catastrophic event.

Co-Chair Seum asked how long it would take to complete the KEWS upgrade. Ms. Valicenti said that the upgrade would take several months. Co-Chair Seum asked what Michigan had done to achieve wireless interoperability. Ms. Valicenti responded that Michigan had implemented an 800MHz system at a cost of $300 million. She added that the system was only for the Michigan State Police. Michigan has not implemented wireless interoperability for local governments or other state agencies.

Representative Farmer asked if there is an industrial standard for the 700MHz spectrum. Ms. Valicenti said that no standard currently exists. Mr. Murphy added that a proposed standard has been developed, but vendors are waiting for the 700MHz spectrum to be fully available before producing equipment.

Senator Buford asked if investing in a statewide system would be a better solution. Mr. Murphy said GOT has three proposals in the six year Capital Plan. The first proposal would fund the $27 million KEWS upgrade. Base radio capacity for voice communications would cost $40 million. The third proposal is a data communications system costing $22 million. Senator Buford asked if it would be beneficial to form a cooperative with surrounding states. Mr. Murphy said Kentucky already belongs to a consortium of states. However, radio communications requires infrastructure development for which each state must bear the cost.

Co-Chair Weaver asked if KWIEC should be given authority to approve the upgrade or installation of all wireless communications systems by state agencies. Ms. Valicenti said GOT would support legislation granting that authority. Co-Chair Weaver asked if GOT has any oversight of the projects funded directly with federal grants. Ms. Valicenti said that GOT has no authority over those projects, but GOT has input. Mr. Murphy added that the communities pursuing local solutions have cooperated with GOT to ensure that their implementations will be compatible with state systems. Representative Weaver said he would work with GOT to produce legislation that would grant KWIEC authority to approve all wireless interoperability implementations.

Co-Chair Weaver introduced Kim Allen, Secretary, Louisville Metro Cabinet for Public Protection. She was joined by David Nicholson, Executive Director, Louisville Metro Criminal Justice Commission.

Louisville became the nationís 16th largest city in January 2003. The merger of Louisville and Jefferson County has brought changes to the public safety sector. Police services have been consolidated. Emergency medical services are currently being consolidated.

The consolidation of the two governments has presented numerous public safety wireless interoperability challenges. Louisville Metro public safety agencies have disparate radio systems. There are nine separate dispatch facilities. The merged government is dealing with several different Computer Aided Dispatch systems, mobile data platforms, and Record Management Systems. Mayor Jerry Abramson has established public safety as a top priority. Mayor Abramsonís goal is to establish a combined public safety communication center. The center would include police, fire, and emergency medical services. The system would also allow seamless interoperability with Public Health and local hospitals. The initiative is called the MetroSafe Emergency Communications Network.

Congresswoman Northup, Congressman Rogers, and Senator Bunning have been instrumental in securing federal funding for MetroSafe. $18 million of local government funds are earmarked to finance development of MetroSafe. In June, the findings of a comprehensive assessment estimated the minimum cost at $76 million.

Louisville Metro has been in contact with over 30 vendors to investigate possible interoperability solutions. Several applications formerly used by the military are being evaluated. Louisville Metro has worked with GOT to ensure that the implemented plan will adhere to statewide standards.

Louisville Metro is pursuing an interim transition plan funded by a $6 million federal grant. The transition plan will address the urgent need for radio interoperability among urban and suburban police departments. The plan will also migrate the police mobile data terminals and other mobile data applications to common platforms.

Louisville Metro received a $6 million Community Oriented Policing (COP) grant from the United States Department of Justice. The award requires a 25% local match bringing the award total to $8 million. The goal is to achieve voice and data interoperability for all agencies and jurisdictions within Jefferson County.

Co-Chair Weaver thanked Ms. Allen. He introduced Walter Atherton, Deputy Director, Daviess County Emergency Management.

Daviess County is expanding a Computer Aided Dispatch system from the county into the city. The County is also adding cross band radio capability and upgrading mobile data systems.

KEWS provides counties with the ability to communicate with Frankfort. KEWS is important in providing a redundant system of communications in the case of an emergency.

Mr. Atherton spoke about the 700MHz system. FCC rules require that public safety dispatch centers using the 700MHz spectrum also monitor Mutual Aid Frequencies. Mr. Atherton believes that the FCC has made interoperability possible by implementing rules that match the capabilities of current technology.

Co-Chair Weaver introduced Lonnie Lawson, Executive Director, Center for Rural Development. Mr. Lawson was joined by Danny Ball, Program Manager for Public Safety Programs, Center for Rural Development. Mr. Lawson discussed the Law Enforcement Technology (LET) program.

The Center of Rural Development covers a 42 county service territory in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. There are 110 law enforcement agencies within the 42 county territory. The offices were ill-equipped before implementation of LET. One-third did not have a single computer. Another third had equipment that was significantly outdated. The LET project was intended to benefit local law enforcement while implementing a program that works in conjunction with the stateís wireless communications initiatives. The LET program has provided a new computer, printer, scanner, and digital camera to each of the 110 law enforcement agencies. Also, mobile computers were installed in law enforcement vehicles.

The Center for Rural Development has participated in pilot programs sponsored by GOT. Pilot projects occurred in Adair, Harlan, Laurel, Perry, Pike, and Taylor counties. The projects were very successful.

The Center for Rural Development has several goals that include: supporting interoperability; meeting the needs of law enforcement in the service area; and building a sustainable wireless interoperability system. Mr. Lawson concluded his remarks by outlining four critical steps to meeting the Centerís goals:

1.      Building a low cost public safety backbone;

2.      Developing a model that does not prohibit participation of local departments;

3.      Continuing partnerships with all stakeholders; and

4.      Maintaining open communications among participants.

Co-Chair Seum asked if Louisville Metro would be seeking state appropriations to continue the development of MetroSafe. Mr. Nicholson said that Louisville Metro would continue to seek funding from the stateís homeland security grants awards. Co-Chair Seum mentioned Louisville Councilman Dan Johnsonís work in securing funding for Louisville Metroís interoperability efforts.

Senator Blevins asked about the success of the wireless interoperability pilot projects in the more mountainous areas. Mr. Lawson said the projects had been very successful as a result of creative solutions. For example, communications antennas were tilted to reach low lying valleys. The LET program also requires that vendors guarantee 90% coverage on all Southern and Eastern Kentucky roads. This requirement is difficult to achieve and requires that vendors use existing infrastructure. KEWS infrastructure is a vital component to the success.

Co-Chair Seum made a motion to adjourn. Senator Robinson made a second to the motion. The Committee adjourned.