Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/27/1996 01:05 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                              

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