The6th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, December 4, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Elizabeth Tori, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Elizabeth Tori, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, Vernie McGaha, Dick Roeding, Dan Seum, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Sheldon E. Baugh, Tom Burch, Dwight D. Butler, Mike Cherry, Larry Clark, Tim Couch, Ron Crimm, Bill Farmer, David Floyd, Jeff Greer, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, Steve Riggs, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Steven Rudy, Sal Santoro, Charles Siler, Ancel Smith, and John Tilley.
Guests: Adjutant General Edward Tonini, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, Carlos Pugh, Legislative Liaison, Joint Executive Council of Veterans’ Organizations of Kentucky, Howard Howells, and Lori Grizzell; Les Beavers, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans’ Affairs; George Burgess, Commissioner, Cabinet for Economic Development, Department for Existing Business Development, and Mark Needham, Assistant to the Governor.
LRC Staff: Erica Warren, CSA, Mustapha Jammeh, Andrew Coyle, and Rhonda Schierer.
Co-Chair Tori welcomed members and guests and asked members to review the minutes from the November committee meeting for approval. The minutes were approved by a unanimous voice vote upon a motion and a second.
Co-Chair Tori called upon Adjutant General Edward Tonini, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs. Gen. Tonini gave a brief PowerPoint presentation on the Kentucky National Guard and Department of Military Affairs legislative issues for 2009. These issues included amending KRS and KAR as necessary to implement Military Family Assistance Trust Fund (MFAST) special circumstances grants and the extending of the application period following a deployment from 90 to 180 days. Gen. Tonini would like to use MFAST Special Circumstance Grants to allow expending funds to benefit multiple eligible military members or their families. Gen. Tonini gave two recent scenarios where such language would have helped. Gen. Tonini added that the fund presently has a cash balance of $522,616.20 that could be used in part to provide a service to the military families if these changes were made. Gen. Tonini finished his power point presentation by discussing the Kentucky National Guards’ veterans’ nursing home eligibility. He stated that KRS 40.325 specifically states “to provide long-term care to veterans” who are residents of Kentucky and presently the federal definition of “veteran” requires some type of federal active duty. He suggested that language could be written to allow national guard retirees a bed in a veterans’ nursing home even though it would require full cost payments. Gen. Tonini added that the Kentucky Department of Veterans’ Affairs staff has been supportive of the idea. Gen. Les Beavers, the Commissioner of the KDVA, gave alternatives for how this may be done within the federal guidelines.
After much discussion among committee members, the committee agreed to have resolutions drafted for the 2009 Regular Session that supported the necessary changes to allow National Guard soldiers without federal active duty to be eligible for placement at a veterans’ nursing home. Staff will work with the KDVA to draft a resolution.
Co-Chair Tori called on Carlos Pugh, Legislative Liaison, Joint Executive Council of Veterans’ Organizations of Kentucky (JECVO). Mr. Pugh introduced JECVO members Howard Howells and Lori Grizzell and gave a brief legislative report on JECVO. He stated that the JECVO Legislative Committee will be made up of 5 JECVO members including himself and Don Dixon, Jim Terrell, Howard Howells, and Frank Konnerman. He added that their items for discussion in the 2009 Regular Session will be to allow pull tab machines to be used at post and clubs 24/7 and not just when bingo is in session, the merit position hiring bill, fully funding KDVA, and funding the burial honors program.
Co-Chair Tori called on Commissioner Beavers to discuss legislative priorities of the KDVA. Before Gen. Beavers gave his PowerPoint presentation, he discussed the Kentucky Medal for Freedom and passed one around for committee members to see its detail. Gen. Beavers then proceeded to discuss the KDVA’s 2009 legislative agenda. Agenda items for the KDVA include support for a veterans’ hiring preference in state employment, a reduction in the number required meetings of the Governor’s Advisory Board, and an option to furlough state merit personnel. Gen. Beavers then outlined the KDVA budget items for KY 09-10, including specifics for a 4% reduction proposal requested by the governor. He also went over details about state veterans’ nursing homes, a 4th state veterans’ nursing home in Greenup County, VA community-based outpatient clinics, and state veterans’ cemeteries. Pam Cypert discussed the post 9/11 Chapter 33 GI Bill.
Co-Chair Pullin asked Gen. Beavers why the nursing homes do not bill private health insurance companies. Gen. Beavers stated that the private healthcare insurance could help with co-pays which are not plentiful, and that there are only a few patients with long-term care insurance for non VA-covered nursing home expenses.
Co-Chair Tori called on George Burgess, Commissioner, Department for Existing Business Development, Cabinet for Economic Development to discuss the economic importance of military activity in Kentucky. Each member was given a booklet of information published by the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs. Mr. Burgess stated that the military spent about $9.5 billion in Kentucky during 2006, the last year for which complete data is available. He stated that among organizations that could relocate outside of Kentucky, the military is the largest employer. The military has the 2nd largest payroll among Kentucky industries and Kentucky is ranked 9th highest among the 50 states in number of active duty military. He also stated that on a per capita basis, the military spends more in Kentucky than in any bordering state except Virginia and Missouri. Mr. Burgess added that military expenditures have risen in Kentucky over the last decade by $4.3 billion, and military retirement pay in Kentucky is over $405 million annually. Fort Knox was given major new missions during the last BRAC round. He added that the whole region will feel the economic impact of Fort Knox’s transformation, as labor, housing, and retail markets respond to the new residents and their dollars.
Co-Chair Pullin asked Mr. Burgess what the Cabinet for Economic Development is doing to keep the private businesses located at former Naval Ordinance Station in Louisville. Mr. Burgess stated that they are working with the Louisville Metro Chamber of Commerce and Brad Richardson at One Knox.
Rep. Clark expressed his concern for hiring out-of-state contractors instead of Kentucky based contractors at Fort Knox. Mark Needham, Special Assistant to Governor Beshear, responded to the concern and stated that they held two construction forums in Louisville and Elizabethtown but that some Kentucky contractors fail to bid due to being too busy with other contracts to meet deadlines.
The committee reviewed Administrative Regulation: 17 KAR3:020.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.