The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, June 5, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tanya Pullin, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:††††† Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Perry B. Clark, Carroll Gibson, Denise Harper Angel, Joey Pendleton, Jerry P. Rhoads, Dorsey Ridley, Dick Roeding, Dan Seum, Katie Stine, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Sheldon E. Baugh, Larry Belcher, Tom Burch, Dwight D. Butler, Larry Clark, Tim Couch, Bill Farmer, David Floyd, Jim Glenn, Jeff Greer, Tim Moore, Rick G. Nelson, Fred Nesler, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Steven Rudy, Sal Santoro, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, Ancel Smith, John Tilley, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Guests:† Rodney Brewer, Commissioner, Kentucky State Police; and Dr. William Hacker, Commissioner, Public Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
LRC Staff:† Erica Warren, CSA, Mustapha Jammeh, Andrew Coyle, Clint Newman, and Rhonda Schierer.
Co-Chair Pullin began the meeting by reading two Committee Resolutions honoring the following soldiers who lost their lives in the Global War on Terrorism: Sergeant Adam J. Kohlhaas and Specialist Jeremy R. Gullett. She asked the committee to observe a moment of silence to honor the memories of these fallen soldiers. Both resolutions were unanimously adopted by voice vote.
Co-Chair Pullin explained to the committee that she had seen a video on how to thank soldiers for their service and presented the Gratitude Campaign video for the committee to watch. Representative Larry Clark suggested that a copy of the video be sent to all members of the General Assembly.
Co-Chair Pullin introduced and welcomed Commissioner Rodney Brewer with the Kentucky State Police to the committee. Commissioner Brewer gave an overview of the Kentucky State Policeís (KSP) role and mission on public safety through education and enforcement. Commissioner Brewer added that KSPís sworn man power strength levels were more in 1978 than in 2008. He stated that there are 950 sworn troopers, 20 of which are deployed on military status, and seven disabled. This level of sworn man power handling the workload for the state of Kentucky is the lowest in thirty years.
Commissioner Brewer described and expressed interest in the New DNA Statute.† He stated that information obtained through a DNA swab is placed into a database of former offenders and that it has shown an increase in the percentage of arrests in other states. He expressed the need for funding, stating they have done 10,000 swabs but currently need funding for approximately 62,000.
Commissioner Brewer added that there are 20-22 Drug Task Forces in Kentucky who work with Homeland Security Offices and look at potential threats and targets in Kentucky. The KSP uses a Deconfliction Program which searches a central database to see if a target is being worked on by another agency. This program is used in every drug case. The KSP also uses the Automated Critical Asset Management System (ASCAM), which is a centralized database put into use in the event of terror attacks and how to respond with the available resources. Commissioner Brewer also mentioned mobile data computers placed in every trooperís car which allow the KSP to search databases as they drive around. He added that recovery from vehicle theft alone has improved by 20% using the mobile data computers and that the KSP fully pays for them.
Commissioner Brewer stated that recruiting and retaining qualified people and gasoline and fuel consumption are the two major challenges the KSP is facing.† He added that the KSPís current vehicle fleet is in poor shape and they are looking into using more fuel efficient cars when the budget permits upgrading the fleet.† Commissioner Brewer also mentioned that every penny increased in fuel costs the KSP $15,000 to run the fleet. Co-Chair Pullin thanked Commissioner Brewer for his hard work and dedication and for the Kentucky State Police who provide protection for the General Assembly.
Representative Larry Clark asked about the number of recruits in class for the KSP. Commissioner Brewer said they can only train and house about 90 recruits at one time with the existing facilities and there is a high attrition rate at about 15%. He added that the KSP has 127 people who are eligible to retire. Commissioner Brewer expressed concern that they may not have appropriate funds to afford classes in the upcoming year. He added that they were funded for 1,000 recruits last year but are waiting to hear what will be in their budget for the upcoming year.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked what the cost is for testing inmates with the DNA swab method that was unfunded.† Commissioner Brewer stated it cost $3.72 per DNA swab kit and that they bought 10,000 with DNA monies. He added that the $3.72 is just the cost of the kit, not the cost of processing it. He stated it is well into the hundreds of dollars to run the test.
Representative Webb-Edgington stated that she heard that the Attorney General had a press conference relating to a new cyber crimes unit division inside the Attorney Generalís office.† She stated that it appears to mirror the KSPís Internet Crimes Against Childrenís Unit which has been in place since 1998. She said she was curious for the taxpayers of the commonwealth and asked Commissioner Brewer what his position was on the issue. He said currently there are about 22 local agencies that are participating in the Crimes Against Childrenís Unit and that it has been an extremely successful endeavor and is funded by federal monies. He stated they welcome any qualified agencies who want to participate.
Representative Farmer asked if the cost of fuel for KSP is subject to the state gasoline tax or any federal fuel taxes and is there any way to get that money back if they are paying it. Commissioner Brewer replied that the KSP operates under FLEET ONE which is exempt from state and federal taxes. He added that prices fluctuate but they do pay considerably less than the pump price.
Representative Santoro commented that the KSP Academy was very antiquated. Commissioner Brewer agreed and stated that a 21st century trooper needs a 21st century building as their complex is poor and completely outdated. He added that they have been in the building for 25 years and are hopeful for a new facility. Representative Pullin suggested that the committee members visit the facility to see the current conditions. Commission Brewer stated that they would love to have the committee visit their facilities and see firsthand the conditions of their building.
Senator Gibson asked about the effect Homeland Security funding reductions will have on the KSP. Commissioner Brewer stated that the KSP traditionally receives $800,000 a year for homeland security issues but funds have been cut 67% which means cut backs and possible layoffs.
Representative Baugh asked if there was an age requirement for the recruiting of KSP officers and if they recruit people out of the state. Commissioner Brewer stated that there is no age requirement at the academy and they do go to recruit some out of state.
Co-Chair Pullin introduced Dr. William Hacker, Commissioner, Public Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services.† Commissioner Hacker gave a Power Point presentation on Health and Medical Disaster Planning, which is a part of this record. Representative Pullin asked Commissioner Hacker to brief the committee on the Bullitt County event. Commissioner Hacker said that a little over a year ago there was a train derailment and the plume of the flame went up into the flight path of Standiford Field. Many people responding were developing respiratory symptoms. Public Health was asked to help provide some nebulizers. Public Health distributed 20 cases of nebulizers to the Emergency Management Systems (EMS). He added that 500 people were displaced and several shelters were opened. He stated that Public Health does not run the shelters but supports the process. He stated that these kinds of events were team events which include emergency management, law enforcement, and sometimes even federal operations.
Representative Moore asked how much duplication there is between state, local, and federal costs and activities. Commissioner Hacker stated that there is no duplication. He added that public health and law enforcement are totally different. Representative Moore asked how much training and practice goes to faith-based groups and whether they integrated those groups into the state plan. Commissioner Hacker stated that they do the best they can to try to prepare every organization, and faith-based groups do participate in training, and that all organizations are welcome.
Senator Pendleton thanked Commissioner Hacker and expressed his concerns with the president of Murray State cutting monies going to the diagnostic lab in Hopkinsville and losing $150,000 in federal money for the lab. He stated that Hopkinsville tests both animals and humans, especially for anthrax, and asked how they would address another anthrax scare with the loss of 15-20 people due to the cutbacks.† Commissioner Hacker stated that he shared Senator Pendletonís concerns with the cutbacks and with federal dollars being reduced it is difficult to sustain the efforts.
††††††††††† Co-Chair Pullin announced that there would not be a committee meeting on our regular July meeting date.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.