Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/27/1996 01:05 PM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 409 - DEPT OF COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Number 0073 CO-CHAIR IVAN explained that HB 409 had been the subject of extensive hearings during the past month. The committee had heard from numerous people throughout rural Alaska and the rest of the state. The committee had given the bill close scrutiny and listened to testimony about the impacts HB 409 would have on rural Alaska and those dependent on services provided by the Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCED) and the Department of Community and Regional Affairs (DCRA). In addition, the impacts had been discussed with the bill's sponsor, Representative Pete Kelly, and other members of the majority caucus. CO-CHAIR IVAN said that should the bill have made it through both legislative bodies and been sent to the Governor, there was no assurance it would not be signed. The Administration, according to the bill sponsor and testimony provided to the committee, had remained neutral on the legislation. Number 0159 CO-CHAIR IVAN expressed admiration, understanding and respect for the effort and time put into the legislation by Representative Kelly, whose intent was to prevent further cuts to services. However, Co-Chairs Ivan and Austerman, with concurrence of the majority members of the committee, Representatives Kott and Vezey, believed that HB 409 was not in the best interests of rural Alaska or the rest of the state. CO-CHAIR IVAN stated the intention of holding HB 409 in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee in order to protect those persons in both rural and urban Alaska who would have been affected had this bill been signed into law. Number 0256 CO-CHAIR ALAN AUSTERMAN affirmed his agreement with Co-Chair Ivan's statement. He believed the bill was best left in committee. If there were a savings to be made as far as DCED or DCRA was concerned, he thought that could best be made through the budget process, rather than by totally revamping the two departments and creating "the heartburn" that would have been generated in rural Alaska. He indicated he hoped the bill would not be seen again. Number 0324 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON said he was making "a short statement on behalf of the minority." He expressed appreciation for the opportunity given by Co-Chair Ivan to the people of Alaska to testify on all elements of the bill. "I appreciate the latitude that you gave to those people who did testify, whether it was here in person or over the teleconference, and the courteous way in which you treated those people who were testifying," he said. "If I had been asked about this, I would have encouraged you to do exactly what you're doing." He added, "I think you've handled this issue in a manner that has been fair to the sponsor, to the members of the committee and to the agencies - and to the people who testified on it. I just commend you for your decision." Number 0390 CO-CHAIR IVAN replied, "That commendation, of course, belongs to the rest of the committee with us here." REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT extended his appreciation for the great amount of effort put into the bill by the sponsor, Representative Kelly. He emphasized that he had gone into the original hearing open-minded. After the second or third hearing, he was not convinced that the consolidation was in people's best interests. He thought spending time to evaluate the process, to ensure the right thing was being done, was better than stepping ahead "off the deep end" and finding out the cost savings were not as great as hoped but that the disruption to lives and programs was more than intended. Representative Kott acknowledged that in many cases, programs would have continued to operate in the existing form. However, he applauded Co-Chair Ivan for taking a close look at the issue and holding the bill over. Number 0587 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY had no comment. REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA voiced her appreciation for Representative Kelly's work on HB 409 and for his statement that he would work hard to keep the Head Start program funded. She indicated willingness to work with him to keep it funded. Representative Nicholia expressed appreciation for the testimony received from people throughout the state. She believed that HB 409 would dissolve the existing bridge to rural Alaska and applauded efforts to keep the bill in committee.