The5th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, November 1, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tanya Pullin, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Elizabeth Tori, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Perry B. Clark, Carroll Gibson, Denise Harper Angel, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Dick Roeding, Dan Seum, Katie Stine, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Larry Belcher, Bill Farmer, David Floyd, Jeff Greer, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, Steve Riggs, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Steven Rudy, Sal Santoro, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, Ancel Smith, and John Tilley.
Guests: Larry Fohl, EPSB; Jay Trimbo, FAHCF; Captain Hung M. Nguyen, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley; Gen. (Ret.) Maxwell C. Bailey, Director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management; William Hacker, M.D., Acting Undersecretary for Health Cabinet for Health and Family Services; W. Todd Cassidy, Department of Tourism, Kentucky Commerce Cabinet; Phil Peters, State Director, AARP; Beau Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary, Kentucky Retired Teachers System; Gen. (Ret.) Julius Berthold, Cap. Steve Engels, and Col. Judy Greene-Baker, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs.
LRC Staff: Erica Warren, CSA, Clint Newman, Mustapha Jammeh, Tyler Campbell, and Rhonda Schierer.
Co-Chair Pullin called the meeting to order. The committee adopted the minutes from the October interim committee meeting unanimously by voice vote.
Co-Chair Pullin recognized Captain Hung M. Nguyen, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley. Captain Nguyen gave a presentation on the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Operations in Kentucky. He briefed the committee on USCG operations such as: personnel, marine safety units, marine safety detachments, inland river tenders, emergency response boats, missions, the sector command center, port and waterway security, recreational boating safety, waterways management, aids to navigations, prevention activates, and marine events. Captain Nguyen stated the USCG has 428 employees including active duty reservist, civilians, and 1100 volunteers serving in the Ohio Valley Sector.
Co-Chair Pullin asked Captain Nguyen how far inland from the rivers the USCG inspection responsibilities go. Captain Nguyen stated that they look at facilities near or on the waterfront.
Senator Roeding asked Captain Nguyen if he felt that barge traffic on the Ohio River is increasing. Captain Nguyen said yes.
Co-Chair Pullin expressed concern over the number of dams on the Ohio River in need of repairs and upgrading. She stated that outages for repairs can cause back up for barge traffic. She asked Captain Nguyen if he knew what repairs are needed for these dams and if there is a current plan to repair them. Captain Nguyen stated that the USCG is responsible for waterways management but limited to ensuring that a vessel can transit safely. He stated that they work with the Corps of Engineers to clear obstructions along waterways but the Corps of Engineers is the lead agency for maintaining the locks.
Representative Riggs commented on the Coast Guard Reservist Program working at Lake Cumberland and the Land Between the Lakes. He asked Captain Nguyen if they will continue the program next year. Captain Nguyen stated that they do plan to continue the program if resources are available.
Clay Bailey, Director of Emergency Management, addressed the committee on nursing home evacuations. Mr. Bailey briefed the committee on things he felt are specific threats to the state of Kentucky. He predicted that a long-term power outage caused by a fire, a flood, or an ice storm will be a major disaster for Kentucky and questioned the state's preparedness. Mr. Bailey stated that there is a regulatory requirement that professional care facilities have an evacuation plan. He stated that emergency management has trained expertise in each county to help communities make realistic evacuation plans. Mr. Bailey added that nursing homes will have specialized needs residents which could require a facility similar to a temporary hospital.
William Hacker, M.D., Commissioner, Department of Public Health, and Sandra Houchin, Deputy Inspector General, addressed the committee on long-term care planning and the special needs population plan. Dr. Hacker stated that the Department of Public Health has strengthened and expanded partnerships with various agencies and explained the training provided to long-term care facility staff. He stated there are 14 regions which have been provided funds totaling $140,000 to plan and prepare for disasters such as power outages and infrastructure emergencies. He closed stating that Kentucky has successfully established regional planning organizations to strengthen the ability of counties' responders and health professionals in a time of disaster and will continue to further develop and strengthen emergency preparedness.
Sandra Houchin, Deputy Inspector General, spoke briefly on their role in inspecting long-term care facilities. She discussed requirements they check for in each long-term facilities disaster and emergency preparedness plan. The facility must have a written evacuation plan, fire drills held at unexpected times, procedures to meet all potential emergencies and disasters, and training provided to all employees in emergency procedures. Ms. Houchin stated that the state regulation mirrors the federal regulations. She stated that surveyors mainly focus on tornadoes and fires as they are the most common disasters in Kentucky. She stated they need to improve on determining specific plans for evacuating and sheltering residents as the current requirements are vague. Ms. Houchin expressed her desire for better versed evacuation plans and standardized input on carrying out evacuations in the case of a severe disaster.
Representative Floyd asked Ms. Houchin if they have authority over assisted living. Ms. Houchin stated that they do not. Representative Floyd asked who determines what questions to ask during an inspection. Ms. Houchin said the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Representative Floyd asked Ms. Houchin for their assistance in modifying fire drills in long-term care facilities. Ms. Houchin stated they would discuss the concerns with CMS, but that since they are set at the federal level, the state has very little input.
Representative Farmer asked if there is a more broad-based regional plan or drill for multiple facilities having power outages at the same time. Dr. Hacker stated that they have had some training for multiple facilities but do not have a specific plan at this time. Representative Farmer suggested having a live drill simulated as if several counties lost power. Mr. Bailey stated they have a model for the Chemical Stock Pile Emergency Preparedness Program which simulates moving large numbers of people but not a specific plan for multiple long-term care facilities.
Representative Rollins asked Ms. Houchin if all nursing homes are required to have an emergency plan and how often they are reviewed. Ms. Houchin stated that all nursing homes are required to have an emergency plan which is reviewed every 7 to 15 months.
Senator Clark stated that he felt that facilities and citizens should have a 3-7 day plan of preparedness in order to remain in their facilities or homes. He stated that this would help provide more assistance to people with special needs during any natural disaster. Dr. Hacker agreed that all businesses, long-term care facilities, and homes should have a plan.
Co-Chair Pullin recognized W. Todd Cassidy, Department of Tourism, Kentucky Commerce Cabinet. Mr. Cassidy gave the committee an overview on certified retirement communities. He discussed legislation passed in 2001 that instructed the Commerce Cabinet to look at beginning a certified retirement communities program in Kentucky. The program worked with various agencies to look at ways to encourage retirees to move to Kentucky. A committee was formed with 12 members to create applications and criteria for certified retirement communities in Kentucky. The program succeeded in certifying Campbellsville, Danville, Glasgow, Madisonville, Maysville, Morehead, Murray, and Richmond. Mr. Cassidy stated there have been no more dollars appropriated to go back into the program to revitalize it.
Senator Tori asked if they have an aggressive program where venture capitol could be sought and encourage contractors to build a retirement community. Mr. Cassidy stated that he is not aware of a program like that in existence.
Representative Riggs stated that he believed attracting retirees to move to Kentucky is not as optimal as putting money into mature market travel.
Co-Chair Pullin recognized Phil Peters, State Director, AARP. Mr. Peters discussed the AARP's legislative priorities for the 2008 election year. He stated that they will focus on getting candidates to address economic security issues and affordable healthcare. Mr. Peters expressed concern for issues regarding Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured citizens. Mr. Peters added that the AARP will be working on consumer protection issues, affordable long-term care insurance premiums, and strengthening past legislation regarding a predatory lending bill previously passed in Kentucky.
Co-Chair Pullin recognized Beau Barnes, Deputy Executive Secretary, and Bill Leach with the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS). Co-Chair Pullin asked him to give the committee an overview on the minimal retirement benefits received by some retired teachers. Mr. Barnes discussed the basic minimum retirement allowance available to all retirees of the KTRS. He assured members that there is not really a gap in the retirement system itself. Mr. Barnes stated that prior to and in the 70's many teachers' salaries were below poverty level which generated low retirement allowances. He gave reference to graphs and correspondence which break down recipients' benefits located in members' folders and are a part of this record. Mr. Barnes added that the General Assembly produced legislation in 2003 which increased the KTRS allowance by nearly 33%. Each recipient received $440 per year of service effective July 1, 2003. He stated that recipients could include a survivor of a retiree.
Senator McGaha asked how many recipients are currently drawing the minimum contribution. Mr. Barnes said there are 2,934 as of 2003. Senator McGaha asked if there is a way to differentiate the 2,934 as to those who had full service and those who had interrupted service with a minimum number of years. Mr. Barnes stated he did not have those numbers but could get them to him. Senator McGaha asked if the people with the minimal required amount of time also get the $440. Mr. Barnes said yes. Senator McGaha asked if there is an amount of money that is being spent on the 2,934 recipients. Mr. Barnes stated that he did not have that information but could get it to him.
Co-Chair Pullin asked Mr. Barnes if he knew the number of recipients who rely solely on their retirement. Mr. Barnes stated that there was no way to track that information.
Co-Chair Pullin asked the committee to review Administrative Regulation 161 KAR 2:020 & E, implementing the Military Families Assistance Trust Fund, located in members' folders and is a part of this record. Co-Chair Pullin recognized Gen. (Ret.) Julius Berthold, Capt. Steve Engels, and Col. Judy Greene-Baker for questions from members regarding the Administrative Regulation. There were no questions and no objections were raised.
Co-Chair Pullin announced that the committee will meet on December 6, at Fort Campbell.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.