Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, July 12, 2012, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jack Westwood, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jack Westwood, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Joe Bowen, Carroll Gibson, Vernie McGaha, Dennis Parrett, Joey Pendleton, Kathy W. Stein, Mike Wilson, and Ken Winters; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Linda Belcher, Larry Clark, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Bill Farmer, David Floyd, Jeff Greer, Martha Jane King, Jimmie Lee, Donna Mayfield, Terry Mills, Tim Moore, Rick G. Nelson, Tom Riner, Rita Smart, John Tilley, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Guests: Justice Will T. Scott, Kentucky Supreme Court; Gene Kiser, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security; Carlos Pugh, JECVO; and Steve Bullard, Department of Military Affairs.
Senator Pendleton moved to adopt the June 14, 2012, meeting minutes. Representative Floyd seconded the motion. The minutes were adopted.
Executive Reorganization Order 2012-418
Gene Kiser, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, explained Executive Reorganization Order 2012-418, pertaining to the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center. Senator Pendleton moved to adopt the order. Representative Pullin seconded the motion. The executive order was adopted.
Kentucky Access to Justice Veterans Task Force
Justice Will T. Scott, Kentucky Supreme Court, briefed the committee on the Kentucky Access to Justice Veterans Task Force. Justice Scott stated that a veterans subcommittee was formed with all the aspects of government including federal government members. The committee is a large group of members which include Co-Chair Pullin and Chair Westwood. Justice Scott stated that two of the main issues to be resolved with this committee are awareness of when a veteran interacts with the justice system and transportation issues that veterans face by which he meant connecting veterans to services available.
He stated that the committee is working towards ways to help direct police officers and pretrial officers to recognize veterans. The committee is working to get a veteran’s arrest action automatically entered into a database and hopes to have the information in the main database within a year. A paper citation form has been produced that allows a police officer to mark that the person being arrested is a veteran. Justice Scott stated that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is working on getting veteran status on driver’s licenses to allow the officer to see it immediately upon pulling over a veteran. Justice Scott stated that Judge Keller, Court of Appeals, has approved data to be placed on the clerks’ computers. This process will allow the clerks to easily sort out veterans’ cases and place them together to be handled in court.
Justice Scott spoke to the members about the importance of their support of the Little Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act. Finding ways to designate veterans on the criminal side of the justice system is progressing. Finding ways to identify veterans in civil cases is harder. If the General Assembly mandated veteran status on civil complaints and forms with this Act, veterans could be linked with appropriate services. For example, veterans can get and be eligible for a one-time program to fix a car for transportation to a job, among other services. Not all veterans would qualify for some programs, depending on the specific circumstances. Justice Scott stated that there are four legal aid groups that will help veterans with financial difficulties. There is also a subcommittee that works with over 1,100 attorneys who are veterans and who provide pro bono work for qualifying veterans. Justice Scott stated that a lot of barriers have been broken already, and with some legislative changes, it would be a concept that would be of even greater assistance.
In response to a question from Representative Floyd, Justice Scott stated that there is sufficient support for legislation to be passed for the increase in funds.
In response to a question from Senator Stein, Justice Scott stated that there is some federal money to help with assistance provided for civil issues.
Chair Westwood urged members to contact Justice Scott with any questions or advice they might have to make things more effective for the system and the veterans.
Chair Westwood announced that the August meeting date has been changed to Tuesday, August 21, 2012, at 1:00 PM in Room 154 of the Annex.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.