Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/13/2003 08:10 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 288-CHANGING NAME OF DEPT OF COMM & ECON DEV.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MORGAN announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  288, "An Act changing the name  of the Department                                                               
of Community  and Economic Development."   [Before  the committee                                                               
is CSHB 288(STA).]                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MORGAN announced  his intent to move HB  288 from committee                                                               
today.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0116                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VIC  KOHRING, Alaska  State Legislature,  spoke as                                                               
the sponsor  of HB  288.   Representative Kohring  explained that                                                               
CSHB  288(STA)  simply changes  the  name  of the  Department  of                                                               
Community  & Economic  Development  (DCED) to  the Department  of                                                               
Commerce & Economic Development.  He  said that there seems to be                                                               
some confusion with regard to  the mission of DCED, and therefore                                                               
the name change  would clarify that the department's  focus is to                                                               
promote  commerce  and  emphasize  economic  development  in  the                                                               
state.   Representative Kohring  reminded committee  members that                                                               
Governor  Murkowski's  address  in the  fall  discussed  economic                                                               
development and  indicated his desire  to make this  name change.                                                               
Representative Kohring  emphasized that the name  change wouldn't                                                               
erode  the integrity  of the  department, but  would simply  make                                                               
it's role clear  and eliminate confusion.   Furthermore, the name                                                               
change would promote the fact that Alaska is open for business.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOHRING  acknowledged  that  previous  committees                                                               
have  had concern  with regard  to  the impact  this name  change                                                               
would have  on rural  programs.  He  indicated that  this concern                                                               
stems  from the  1999  merger  of the  Department  of Commerce  &                                                               
Economic Development with the Department  of Community & Regional                                                               
Affairs to  form the present  Department of Community  & Economic                                                               
Development.   At  that time  there  was concern  with regard  to                                                               
whether the integrity  of the Department of  Community & Regional                                                               
Affairs  would be  maintained  once the  merger  occurred.   Four                                                               
years later, the  answer is yes and the  [community and regional]                                                               
programs have remained in tact.   As a result of the 1999 merger,                                                               
the  Division  of Community  Advocacy  was  created.   Therefore,                                                               
Representative Kohring  said he  didn't believe this  name change                                                               
would impact rural  programs.  In fact, the  emphasis on commerce                                                               
is good for rural and urban Alaska.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0505                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF  asked  if  the  Department  of  Commerce  &                                                               
Economic Development was the original name.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING replied yes.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0556                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDGAR  BLATCHFORD,   Commissioner,  Department  of   Community  &                                                               
Economic  Development,  echoed  the reasoning  of  Representative                                                               
Kohring.  Over  the years, there has  been considerable confusion                                                               
with  regard to  the  mission of  the  department.   Commissioner                                                               
Blatchford opined  that there is  further confusion  because some                                                               
people  still  refer  to  the department  as  the  Department  of                                                               
Commerce.  The  desire is to send a clear  message that Alaska is                                                               
open  for  business.   He  related  his belief  that  communities                                                               
recognize the  importance of economic development.   Furthermore,                                                               
the [name change] wouldn't dilute  the mission of the department.                                                               
He  informed the  committee that  the Division  of Community  and                                                               
Business Development was reorganized and  the name changed to the                                                               
Division  of   Community  Advocacy   in  order  to   reflect  the                                                               
constitutional intent  for the department  to be an  advocate for                                                               
municipalities.   Commissioner Blatchford  said that  there needs                                                               
to be a common calling card for  all who want to do business with                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0794                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  recalled the  department's name  change to                                                               
the  Department  of  Community &  Economic  Development  and  the                                                               
concern that the department had  been a rural department in which                                                               
people  were  comfortable.   Representative  Cissna  agreed  that                                                               
changing  "Community"   to  "Commerce"  would  look   better  and                                                               
although such a change would make  it a little less confusing for                                                               
some,  it could  be  confusing  for others.    She  asked if  the                                                               
aforementioned has been addressed.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER BLATCHFORD  said that "we" recognized  that the name                                                               
change  was coming.   In  order to  strengthen the  commitment to                                                               
rural   Alaska   the   Division   of   Community   and   Business                                                               
Development's  name  was changed  to  the  Division of  Community                                                               
Advocacy.   This division  housed most of  the activities  of the                                                               
former  Department of  Community &  Regional Affairs.   He  noted                                                               
that no cost was attached to the division name change.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MORGAN,  upon determining  no one  else wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1122                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF  moved  to   report  CSHB  288(STA)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero fiscal  note.  There  being no objection, CSHB  288(STA) was                                                               
reported from  the House Community and  Regional Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      

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