Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

05/07/2019 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HJR 19 SUPPORT 2020 DECENNIAL CENSUS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 19(TRB) Out of Committee
*+ HB 69 REPEAL AK PUBLIC BROADCASTING COMM. TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HB 69-REPEAL AK PUBLIC BROADCASTING COMM.                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
8:58:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL NO.  69,  "An  Act  repealing the  Alaska  Public                                                               
Broadcasting Commission; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:59:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELLY  TSHIBAKA,  Commissioner,   Department  of  Administration,                                                               
introduced HB 69.  She  said the proposed legislation would bring                                                               
statutes into  alignment with  Governor Mike  Dunleavy's proposed                                                               
budget,  which  would  rescind  funding  for  the  Alaska  Public                                                               
Broadcasting Commission (APBC).   She informed the committee that                                                               
Kelly Hanke would provide a PowerPoint.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:01:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELLY HANKE,  Legislative Liaison, Department  of Administration,                                                               
read  "informational  documentation"   provided  by  Commissioner                                                               
Tshibaka [and  included in the  committee packet], which  read as                                                               
follows  [original  punctuation  provided, with  some  formatting                                                               
changes]:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                             HB 69                                                                                              
          Repeal Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission                                                                          
                  Informational Documentation                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Across  Alaska,  183   rural  and  village  communities                                                                    
     receive  emergency  notifications through  a  satellite                                                                    
     service,  Alaska Rural  Communications Service  (ARCS),                                                                    
     made available  via a  contract between  the Department                                                                    
     of Administration  (DOA) and AT&T.  These notifications                                                                    
     include tsunami,  extreme weather, and  child abduction                                                                    
     alerts.   The  population  of the  183  communities  is                                                                    
     approximately 102,291.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska  Public Broadcasting,  Inc.  (APBI) has  managed                                                                    
     ARCS  and  served  as the  DOA's  source  of  satellite                                                                    
     expertise.  ARCS  also is  used  to  provide a  mix  of                                                                    
     public and commercial television network content.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     FY19  funding for  the  satellite  service is  $879,500                                                                    
     which   includes  the   DOA/AT&T   contract  and   some                                                                    
     management  contracts with  APBI. The  contract details                                                                    
     between the  State of  Alaska and  AT&T is  internal to                                                                    
     the DOA.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     For  the 3-year  period  from 2015  through 2018  there                                                                    
     were 29 emergency alerts on  ARCS. ARCS alerts are sent                                                                    
     statewide,   regardless   of   the  location   of   the                                                                    
     emergency:                                                                                                                 
               3 Tsunami Warnings                                                                                               
               4 Amber Alerts                                                                                                   
               22 Extreme Weather Warnings                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Total costs for operating  the system from 2015 through                                                                    
     2018  was  $3,809,500.  On  average,  each  alert  cost                                                                    
     $131,362.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Of  the   183  communities,  90  have   more  than  one                                                                    
     alternative  way of  receiving emergency  alerts (e.g.,                                                                    
     symmetrical    broadband     service,    fiber    optic                                                                    
     connectivity,   telephony).  In   addition,  APBI   has                                                                    
     confirmed  all 183  communities  can receive  emergency                                                                    
     alerts via telephone;  however, widespread distribution                                                                    
     of  the  information  would not  occur  as  quickly  or                                                                    
     effectively.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Included with  this document,  please find  graphs that                                                                    
     illustrate the above information.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          The emergency alerts that the Alaska Public                                                                           
      Broadcasting Commission pushes do not include forest                                                                      
     fire alerts.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:04:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE began the PowerPoint  presentation.  She drew attention                                                               
to slide 2, titled "AKPBC  Rural Communities," and noted that the                                                               
blue area  of the  circle graph shows  the Alaska  population [of                                                               
736,239,  88 percent]  versus the  orange area,  which shows  the                                                               
rural site community population of  102,291, [12 percent].  Slide                                                               
3,  titled "AKPBC  Rural  Sites -  Community  Size," depicts  bar                                                               
graphs  showing  that the  average  community  size is  565,  the                                                               
largest  is Fort  Wainwright,  with 7,374,  and  the smallest  is                                                               
Bettles,  with   a  community  size   of  13.    The   median  is                                                               
approximately 237.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:05:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  referred back  to slide 2,  and noted  that by                                                               
adding the two  numbers together, it appears  that the department                                                               
is saying Alaska's population is approximately 838,000.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:05:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE  answered that  the numbers came  to her  from "another                                                               
department,"  and  she  stated her  assumption  that  "these  are                                                               
probably older numbers."  She  said DOA worked directly with APBI                                                               
to get a lot of the information.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND said  she does  not think  Alaska's population                                                               
has  been declining,  and she  would like  explanation about  the                                                               
numbers that have been provided for the graph on slide 2.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:06:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND, in response to  Co-Chair Hannan clarified that                                                               
the  graph  on slide  2  "appears  to  be representing  too  many                                                               
Alaskans."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:07:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REVAK  suggested  that  the number  in  blue  may                                                               
represent the  entire population; the  maker of the  circle graph                                                               
may have  forgotten to subtract the  number in orange to  get the                                                               
number in blue.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE  said she would  have to check to  see if that  is what                                                               
happened.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:07:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON,  referring to  slide 3, noted  that Fort                                                               
Wainwright is  completely within the  City of Fairbanks,  thus he                                                               
questioned what "Wainwright" means in the graph.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HANNAN  asked,  "Fort  Wainwright  or  the  Village  of                                                               
Wainwright?"                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE apologized and explained  that the graph should read as                                                               
the Village of Wainwright.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:08:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND observed  that the graph on slide  3 shows [the                                                               
Village  of] Wainwright  as having  a population  of 7,374.   She                                                               
said a  quick "Google search" shows  that as of 2010  the village                                                               
had 556 people.   She told Co-Chair Hannan that  she has "serious                                                               
concerns with the numbers in this PowerPoint."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE said, "These numbers  actually came directly from AKPBC                                                               
as  to who  they service."   She  said she  could check  with the                                                               
commission regarding the numbers.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:09:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON surmised  the number  could include  the                                                               
area around Wainwright.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE answered that could be possible.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN  noted that AKPBC  would be testifying  and could                                                               
be asked to clarify.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:10:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HANKE moved  on  to  slide 4,  titled  "Emergency Alerts  By                                                               
Year."   She noted  the alerts  on the bar  graph show  for years                                                               
2015 through  2018.  She said  the alerts "go out  to everybody."                                                               
To  slide 5,  "Emergency Alerts  by  Type," she  said the  graphs                                                               
lists tsunami,  extreme weather, amber alerts,  and total alerts.                                                               
She offered  her understanding  that the  graph does  not include                                                               
earthquakes.  She  showed slide 6, titled  "AKPBC Rural Community                                                               
Sites By Population,"  and she explained the  sites listed depict                                                               
the number of people the commission reaches through its system.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:11:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MOLLY  KABLER, Executive  Director,  Alaska Public  Broadcasting,                                                               
Inc., explained  that APBI is  a small nonprofit which  serves in                                                               
an  executive  capacity  for  APBC.   Regarding  the  system  and                                                               
information  just  discussed,  she explained  that  Alaska  Rural                                                               
Communications System  (ARCS) is not  under the purview  of APBC;                                                               
therefore, HB 69 has no direct  relevance to ARCS.  She said ARCS                                                               
is a low-powered television system  owned by the State of Alaska,                                                               
and APBI,  under contract with the  Department of Administration,                                                               
manages ARCS;  however, HB 69  is actually about the  APBC, which                                                               
is, under  statute, a  group of  nine commissioners  appointed by                                                               
the governor  that oversee  Alaska Public  Broadcasting stations.                                                               
She further  clarified that there  are 27 licensees of  radio and                                                               
television stations  funded through  APBC.  She  explained, "ARCS                                                               
is something  that we collaborate  with and share  some services,                                                               
... but the commission has no oversight of ARCS."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:13:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS  asked   if  the   commission  is                                                               
responsible for  the allocation of  resources among  public radio                                                               
stations in Alaska on "an equitable and rational basis."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. KABLER answered that is correct.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS offered  his understanding that the                                                               
role the commission  plays is similar to the role  the Council on                                                               
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault  (CDVSA) plays in dispersing                                                               
resources  to domestic  violence  and  sexual assault  prevention                                                               
organizations.    In  other  words,  one  main  entity  with  the                                                               
expertise is charged  with distributing the resources.   He asked                                                               
Ms.  Kabler to  describe the  process and  considerations of  the                                                               
commission.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KABLER responded  that  the  commission spends  considerable                                                               
time learning how the 27  licensees serve their communities, work                                                               
together, receive  federal funding, and how  that federal funding                                                               
may  match that  which comes  through the  commission.   It is  a                                                               
complex system.   She  said there  is a  large annual  survey and                                                               
there are service reports, which  help in understanding where the                                                               
dollars go.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:16:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked how Ms. Kabler's  clarification may                                                               
relate to the PowerPoint slides the committee had just viewed.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. KABLER answered that she had  not seen the slides before, and                                                               
while  some  of  the  community   names  are  that  of  the  ARCS                                                               
community, she did not compile the information.  She continued:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     I'm a  little surprised, because although  we work well                                                                    
     together  with the  commissioner of  the Department  of                                                                    
     Administration and  the liaison,  Kelly Hanke,  this is                                                                    
     not  under the  purview of  the commission.   So,  this                                                                    
     isn't particularly relevant  to the bill.   ... I think                                                                    
     this demonstrates  the problem  ... that there's  a lot                                                                    
     of detail  here, and it's,  in my mind, the  reason why                                                                    
     we  have  the  Alaska Public  Broadcasting  Commission:                                                                    
     ...  those are  nine volunteers  from around  the state                                                                    
     that  understand  what   public  broadcasting  does  in                                                                    
     communities  and spend  their time  and energy  on that                                                                    
     topic.  They don't actually  work on ARCS for this ARCS                                                                    
     information that's been presented  by the Department of                                                                    
     Administration.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:18:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN mentioned  the governor's  proposed budget                                                               
and suggested  that without  any funding in  place it  would make                                                               
sense  to eliminate  the commission,  but with  funding still  in                                                               
place,  it would  "be  in  our interest  to  keep the  commission                                                               
running."  He asked, "Have I got that right?"                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. KABLER answered  yes.  She said at this  point both bodies of                                                               
the legislature have included funding  for public broadcasting in                                                               
their  budget  proposals and,  while  HB  69 "would  represent  a                                                               
companion  to   eliminating  funding,"  she  surmised   that  the                                                               
Department  of  Administration  would  support  the  need  for  a                                                               
commission "if there's going to be funding coming through."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:19:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked if  nine commissioners  would still                                                               
be necessary if funding was cut in half.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KABLER answered  yes, because  regardless of  the amount  of                                                               
money, the  process would  be the  same for  those commissioners.                                                               
In response  to follow-up questions from  Representative Jackson,                                                               
she  reviewed  that there  are  27  stations,  and they  are  all                                                               
broadcast  licensees  that  are   licensed  through  the  Federal                                                               
Communications  Commission  (FCC);  therefore they  all  have  an                                                               
over-the-air  broadcast  component,  and   most  have  a  digital                                                               
stream, as well.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:20:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN asked  for the Section Analysis  [included in the                                                               
committee packet] to be covered.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:21:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HANKE reviewed the Sectional  Analysis, which read as follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
    Sections   1   through   3:   repeal   state   statutes                                                                   
     establishing the Alaska Public Broadcasting                                                                                
        Commission and removes responsibilities from the                                                                        
     Department of Administration pursuant to                                                                                   
     Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission activities.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
    Section   4:   provides    that   the   Alaska   Public                                                                   
     Broadcasting Commission transfer all assets to the                                                                         
    Commissioner   of   Administration   and   allows   the                                                                     
     Commissioner to transfer the assets at no cost                                                                             
     to Alaska nonprofit broadcasting entities.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
      Section 5: establishes an effective date of June 30,                                                                    
     2019.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN  next asked someone  to speak to the  four fiscal                                                               
notes included in the committee packet.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:22:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  TSHIBAKA  said each  of  the  fiscal notes  in  the                                                               
committee  packet   assumes  that  funding  for   APBC  is  being                                                               
repealed.   The  commission carries  all the  funding for  radio,                                                               
television, and emergency satellite  service, which are separated                                                               
in  the  fiscal notes.    Commissioner  Tshibaka highlighted  the                                                               
amounts  in each  fiscal note  and  the entity  assigned to  each                                                               
amount:    [fiscal   note  1],  $46.7  thousand   to  the  Public                                                               
Broadcasting Commission;  [fiscal note  2], $2,036.6  thousand to                                                               
radio;  [fiscal  note  3], $633.3  thousand  to  television;  and                                                               
[fiscal note 4], $879.5 thousand to satellite.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:24:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON asked  for clarification  regarding what                                                               
was proposed under HB 69.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  TSHIBAKA responded  that HB  69 would  transfer any                                                               
assets  in the  commission to  the Department  of Administration;                                                               
however,  the  intent is  that  "it  goes  in parallel  with  the                                                               
proposal to eliminate  all of the funding  under the commission."                                                               
She continued,  "And so,  there would be  very minimal  assets at                                                               
this point  that transfer into the  Department of Administration.                                                               
And so, when  we represent the fiscal note as  carrying all these                                                               
consequences, it's  because it's  supposed to  be read  in tandem                                                               
with the other proposal."                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  said the Division of  Homeland Security,                                                               
through  the   U.S.  Department  of  Veterans'   Affairs  (DMVA),                                                               
administers the  emergency alert  system (EAS).   He said  he has                                                               
read that "the FCC is a  mandated function that we're supposed to                                                               
do."    He   asked  Ms.  Tshibaka  if  she   has  considered  how                                                               
eliminating   the  satellite   funding   would  affect   Alaska's                                                               
emergency alert  system and whether  the state would then  be out                                                               
of compliance with federal mandate.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   TSHIBAKA  said   the  commission   has  considered                                                               
alternative  ways  of  reaching  communities if  it  cannot  fund                                                               
satellite service.   She said there are  approximately 91 smaller                                                               
communities  that would  have emergency  connectivity  only to  a                                                               
telephone;  other  communities  have  multiple  ways  of  sending                                                               
emergency alerts, such  as through fiber optic cables.   She said                                                               
the department would have to work  with DMVA or the Department of                                                               
Public Safety  (DPS) to develop  emergency management  plans "for                                                               
each of those communities."   She said telephone is obviously not                                                               
as  optimal a  method by  which to  reach a  mass audience  as is                                                               
satellite,  so  the department  would  have  to work  with  those                                                               
communities  to development  emergency management  plans specific                                                               
to each community.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   THOMPSON   expressed    curiosity   about   "the                                                               
television side of it being unfunded."   He said, "No we've got a                                                               
hundred and  some thousand people in  the state that have  no ...                                                               
ability to see  what's going on with our  state legislature, with                                                               
Gavel to Gavel."  He asked if  it was "part of this" to eliminate                                                               
the ability of people to watch Gavel to Gavel.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  TSHIBAKA answered  that  HB 69  only addresses  the                                                               
commission  and "the  group  that Ms.  Kabler  runs" and  whether                                                               
"they would  be part  of deciding  who these funds  go to."   She                                                               
said  "the broader  package" considers  whether to  eliminate the                                                               
commission altogether and the state  funding of those funds.  She                                                               
said,  "Altogether, what  that would  represent is  a 17  percent                                                               
reduction in  funding for public  broadcasting across  the state;                                                               
83  percent  of  the  funds  -  local  and  federal  -  would  be                                                               
preserved."     That  said,  she  remarked   that  Representative                                                               
Thompson  is correct  that  the  communities currently  receiving                                                               
television service  through the  satellite funds would  no longer                                                               
be able  to receive that  service if the legislature  decides not                                                               
to fund the service.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON asked  for information  regarding fiscal                                                               
note 4, which shows a proposed reduction of $879,500.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER TSHIBAKA  explained that amount reflects  a contract                                                               
the state  had with  AT&T for  satellite service.   Approximately                                                               
$719,000  was  for  the  actual   use  of  the  satellite,  while                                                               
approximately $160,000 was for  maintenance agreements to service                                                               
the satellite.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON expressed  that he  does not  understand                                                               
how eliminating that  satellite is going to help  anybody in such                                                               
a vast  state with  so many  miles between locales.   He  said he                                                               
thinks  this would  be a  disservice  to anyone  living in  rural                                                               
Alaska, and this bothers him.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  TSHIBAKA   responded  that   the  reason   for  the                                                               
PowerPoint  that was  given was  to provide  the numbers  for the                                                               
legislature in  order for  them to best  make a  difficult policy                                                               
decision.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON said, "I  understand on the ... emergency                                                               
alert system,  but how about  just for Gavel  to Gavel?   I mean,                                                               
that television,  I'm sure that  connection must be  utilized for                                                               
that also, isn't it, in rural areas?"                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER TSHIBAKA deferred to Ms. Kabler.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:31:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN  said Ms. Kabler  was nodding in  the affirmative                                                               
that ARCS carries Gavel to Gavel as part of its programming.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:31:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON concluded  that the  committee was  being                                                               
told that ARCS  carries Gavel to Gavel; however,  she pointed out                                                               
that  the  committee  had  been  told  that  Public  Broadcasting                                                               
Service  (PBS)   was  a   different  entity.     She   asked  for                                                               
clarification.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:32:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KABLER explained  that the  challenge  is that  many of  the                                                               
services  being   discussed  are   created  by  one   entity  and                                                               
distributed by  another.  She said  Gavel to Gavel is  created by                                                               
KTOO in Juneau, Alaska, and is  part of PBS, which is overseen by                                                               
APBC.  However,  ARCS, which is not under  APBC, also distributes                                                               
[Gavel to  Gavel] as  a service  to Alaskans.   She said  ARCS is                                                               
owned  by  the  State of  Alaska.    She  said  this is  why  the                                                               
commission is  of value, because  it understands  this integrated                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:33:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN opened public testimony on HB 69.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:34:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL  LORD said  she is  a  mother, small  business owner,  and                                                               
member  of the  Homer  City  Council, but  she  is testifying  on                                                               
behalf of herself.   She emphasized the  important service public                                                               
broadcasting provides, not only by  providing Gavel to Gavel, but                                                               
also by airing  city council and borough assembly  meetings.  She                                                               
said people "from every shade  of the political spectrum" tune in                                                               
to listen.   Ms. Lord  shared that a  couple months ago,  an all-                                                               
hazards  training  through  Federal Emergency  Management  Agency                                                               
(FEMA)  and Texas  A&M University  was held  in Homer,  and local                                                               
public radio  was "a major player"  in the discussion.   She said                                                               
in all communities, public broadcasting  is important.  She said,                                                               
"Suggesting  that   we  spend  time  and   money  recreating  the                                                               
important value  that they provide currently  seems irresponsible                                                               
at best."   Ms. Lord  concluded by  stating her opposition  to HB                                                               
69.   She said  she believes  it is  completely unwise  to divest                                                               
from a  critical and wide-ranging  statewide tool  that leverages                                                               
local and federal support to  assist in the response to disasters                                                               
and helps engage  Alaskans and local and state  government."  She                                                               
encouraged the committee not to move HB 69 out of committee.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:36:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  COONS, President,  Greater Alaska  Chapter, Association  of                                                               
Mature American Citizens (AMAC),  said AMAC comprises 200 members                                                               
in the  valley and  Anchorage area of  Alaska -  all conservative                                                               
seniors fully in support of  Governor Dunleavy's proposed budget.                                                               
He stated full support of HB 69.   He said the state is in a $1.6                                                               
million deficit.   He mentioned  $3.5 million in state  funds and                                                               
federal, local, tribal, and private  entities in relation to PBS.                                                               
He also  mentioned "Pick, Click,  Give" - a program  available to                                                               
Alaskans to  donate from their  permanent fund  dividends (PFDs).                                                               
He opined that  Alaska needs to join the 14  other states working                                                               
toward PBS  getting donations and  grants from  private entities.                                                               
He  said  ARCS and  Gavel  to  Gavel  get donations  "from  other                                                               
people," whose names are listed  "on their shows."  He encouraged                                                               
the committee to move HB 69 out of committee.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:38:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARL BERGER said  he serves on the APBC, but  he is testifying on                                                               
behalf of  himself.  He  said "we"  have raised money  for public                                                               
broadcasting  from many  sources;  however, the  amount of  money                                                               
that  the  state gives  to  stations  is  important in  terms  of                                                               
obtaining federal match  money or replacing equipment.   He said,                                                               
"The loss of  state funds would prevent stations  from being able                                                               
to  do  that."    He  talked  about  how  [HB  69  proposes]  the                                                               
transference of  power of key broadcasting  decisions and funding                                                               
to  the executive  branch  and change  of  the current  statewide                                                               
geographic  representation, which  he  said has  worked well  for                                                               
many years.   He  encouraged continuing  with the  current system                                                               
and stated his opposition to HB 69.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:40:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BILL TREMBLAY,  President, KFSK Public Radio  Board, testified in                                                               
opposition  to HB  69.   He  said Petersburg  is  a community  of                                                               
approximately 3,200, 1,200 of which  are subscribers to the radio                                                               
station.   He  noted  that in  his  transmittal letter,  Governor                                                               
Dunleavy had noted  that the function of the  commission could be                                                               
accomplished  using   nongovernmental  entities  that   could  be                                                               
attuned to be more responsive  to local broadcasting needs of the                                                               
community.  He said, "Saying  that is one thing; identifying what                                                               
those are is  totally something different."  He  said the program                                                               
manager of  KFSK works hard  to increase funding  through various                                                               
grants,  and  he  opined  that   saying  that  "it  can  be  done                                                               
elsewhere" is  not useful.   He said  the governor  stated during                                                               
campaigning  that  he  does   not  support  public  broadcasting;                                                               
therefore,   Mr.   Tremblay    indicated   that   [the   proposed                                                               
legislation]  is   a  move  toward  eliminating   the  commission                                                               
altogether.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.   TREMBLAY   reminded   the   committee   that   during   the                                                               
administration   of   former   Governor   Bill   Walker,   public                                                               
broadcasting  already had  to absorb  a 48  percent reduction  in                                                               
state funding  to local  stations, which  increased the  need for                                                               
fundraising.  He said, "The  state levels, as identified for this                                                               
year, only represent 16 percent  of what our total station budget                                                               
is; however,  it's a  critical component  in meeting  our federal                                                               
matches, which  we probably  won't do  without the  state funds."                                                               
Mr. Tremblay  said the commission  is important  in understanding                                                               
"how  things move  across the  state" and  for the  allocation of                                                               
funds to  all the  resources.   He indicated  that the  people of                                                               
Petersburg  consider  the local  radio  station  as an  essential                                                               
service and don't  want it to lose any more  than it already has.                                                               
Regarding  an emergency  response system,  he opined  that it  is                                                               
irresponsible  to remove  funding without  having an  alternative                                                               
plan in place.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:42:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RUSSELL LYMAN  testified in opposition  to HB  69.  He  said APBC                                                               
makes  decisions that  keep  public  broadcasting operating,  and                                                               
this broadcasting  is vital because it  provides communities with                                                               
emergency  information,  local government  meeting  broadcasting,                                                               
and  safety information.   He  asked the  committee to  "block HB                                                               
69."                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:44:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA MEIRS  said she is  "a part  of" KCAW radio  station, [in                                                               
Sitka, Alaska], and strongly opposes HB  69.  She said she thinks                                                               
there  is   "a  primary   misunderstanding  around   what  public                                                               
broadcasting does," and  it would be shortsighted  to destroy the                                                               
infrastructure  that   allows  communities  to   share  important                                                               
information.   She characterized  herself as "a  strong supporter                                                               
of public broadcasting  in general," and she  urged the committee                                                               
not to pass HB 69 out of committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:45:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHARLIE  WILBER testified  in opposition  to HB  69.   He opined,                                                               
"Maintaining  the   Alaska  Public  Broadcasting   Commission  is                                                               
essential  to  protecting the  economic  health  and vitality  of                                                               
public  broadcasting in  Alaska."   He said  doing away  with the                                                               
commission would  lead to the elimination  of public broadcasting                                                               
in Alaska, and  he urged that it must be  maintained.  Mr. Wilber                                                               
said  the community  of Sitka  depends upon  local radio  to stay                                                               
informed regarding  local, state, and  legislative news -  all of                                                               
which he said are "very important."   He asked the committee [not                                                               
to pass] HB 69.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:46:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KARY BIRDSALL,  Member, Board of  Directors, KTNA  Radio, pointed                                                               
out that  Representative Kreiss-Thompkins  is the only  member of                                                               
the House Community and Regional  Affairs Standing Committee that                                                               
does  not live  in a  large population  center, and  Talkeetna is                                                               
even less  populated than  Sitka.  He  listed local  news, public                                                               
safety,  public  access,  unifying  community,  "so  many  little                                                               
things that make up day-to-day  life," and political campaigning,                                                               
and  said "all  this would  be gone  without public  radio."   He                                                               
named  people on  other stations  across  the state  that can  be                                                               
heard  on public  radio.   He talked  about the  support that  is                                                               
available,  both  educational  and  technical.   He  said  public                                                               
broadcasting in  Alaska does  not pay for  itself.   He explained                                                               
that it costs the state less  than .03 percent of its budget, and                                                               
communities   triple  that   investment   with  member   pledges,                                                               
volunteer  support, and  grants, but  communities need  the state                                                               
money  in  order to  leverage  the  other  money.   Mr.  Birdsall                                                               
stated, "I know  this legislation does not  expressly kill public                                                               
broadcasting in  Alaska, but  it's a pretty  sizable nail  in our                                                               
coffin."  He  urged the committee to advise  the executive branch                                                               
that repealing APBC  is against the best interest of  Alaska.  He                                                               
posited  that  communities  are  what  make  Alaska,  and  public                                                               
broadcasting connects those communities and the state.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:47:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
FRANK KELTY, Mayor, City of  Unalaska, testified in opposition to                                                               
HB 69.   He said public broadcasting is important  to the City of                                                               
Unalaska, because  it is  a link to  the emergency  alert system.                                                               
He  said  the  city  works  closely with  DPS  to  get  emergency                                                               
information to  the City of  Unalaska, which  is "on the  Ring of                                                               
Fire" and  has seen numerous  earthquakes and  subsequent tsunami                                                               
drills.  He  said the City of Unalaska has  given its local radio                                                               
station a  grant of  over $100,000.   The  loss of  funding would                                                               
cripple  the radio  station.   Without the  station, the  City of                                                               
Unalaska would have no access to  public radio, because it is too                                                               
far west  to receive satellite  programming from  National Public                                                               
Radio (NPR).  Mayor Kelty  said that [without its radio service],                                                               
the community would no longer  receive programming for the Alaska                                                               
Public Radio  Network, and "the statewide  emergency system would                                                               
suffer."   He  explained  that  the City  of  Unalaska relies  on                                                               
statewide satellite  services for several of  its emergency alert                                                               
channels.  He said he had  heard someone comment that the cost of                                                               
each alert is $100,000, and he  opined that that is a small price                                                               
to pay to save even one person.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:50:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LIN   DAVIS  remarked   that  "the   quest   to  abolish   public                                                               
broadcasting ... [is] making the  rounds of state capitals."  She                                                               
called  HB  69 "a  democracy  alert."    She opined  that  public                                                               
television and radio  need to be separate  from politics, because                                                               
"none of us" wants state-run  Alaska broadcasting.  She said, "If                                                               
HB 69 passes, we  will need Voice of America to  let us know what                                                               
is really going  on."  She indicated there have  been 50 years of                                                               
attacks on public broadcasting, and  PBS and NPR "continue to win                                                               
bipartisan congressional funding support."   She opined, "It is a                                                               
tsunami alarm for Alaska that  certain political leaders continue                                                               
to wage war against  public tv and radio.  There  is no reason to                                                               
pass HB 69."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:51:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MAUREEN LONGWORTH,  M.D., said  she has been  a physician  for 29                                                               
years and has  practiced medicine from Ketchikan to  Bethel.  She                                                               
said, "Like most  Americans in repeated surveys over  the past 30                                                               
years, I also  rely on PBS to deliver nonpartisan  facts by radio                                                               
and   television."     She   said   this  broadcasting   benefits                                                               
communities,  health, homes,  education, and  gives all  families                                                               
equal  access  while  providing  "local  news,  safety  messages,                                                               
public health  warnings, and  community social  news."   She said                                                               
she  has   championed  community  outreach,   cancer  prevention,                                                               
palliative  care, public  health education,  and patient  rights.                                                               
She talked  about the growth  of some  of her efforts  in Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, and she said she  thinks "these kinds of activities would                                                               
not mushroom into the awareness  they are today ... [without] the                                                               
word of public  radio."  She said partisan  broadcasting would be                                                               
a restriction of democracy; therefore,  funneling funds through a                                                               
state entity  would take away the  current nonpartisan management                                                               
of a public service.   She asked the committee to  stop HB 69 and                                                               
vote instead to preserve the state's democracy.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:54:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK  SPRINGER said  he is  a consumer  of broadcast  media.   To                                                               
Representative  Jackson's previous  question,  he explained  that                                                               
Alaska's  broadcasting  is  traditional AM/FM  broadcasting;  the                                                               
television  station in  Bethel broadcasts  in digital,  with four                                                               
channels, which is  the current requirement of the FCC.   He said                                                               
the nice thing  about analog radio is that he  can leave town, as                                                               
is  typical  for the  traveling  communities  of Bethel  and  the                                                               
Yukon-Kuskokwim  area, and  bring an  inexpensive radio  along to                                                               
receive public  broadcasting.   He characterized  broadcasting as                                                               
"a  quilt that  covers  the  state" and  the  commission as  "the                                                               
quilters  that  keep  that  system tied  together."    He  stated                                                               
opposition to HB 69 and urged  the committee to "keep the bill in                                                               
committee for further  study."  He indicated  that he appreciated                                                               
the  legislature's  support  of  "a  robust  public  broadcasting                                                               
system."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:56:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HANS JAMES  opined that broadcast  radio is an  essential service                                                               
and [the commission] is part  of that service that provides news,                                                               
weather, and  alerts.  In  springtime, there are  swollen rivers,                                                               
and  the community  has  had great  need  for public  fundraising                                                               
through radio stations.  He stated his opposition to HB 69.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:58:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HANNAN announced  that public  testimony would  be held                                                               
open.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:58:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN,  on behalf  of a committee  member no  longer in                                                               
the  room, asked  Commissioner Tshibaka  to  clarify whether  the                                                               
$879,00 in fiscal  note 4 is currently used to  pay for emergency                                                               
notification for rural Alaska.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER TSHIBAKA answered yes.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:58:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JACKSON  asked  whether the  majority  of  public                                                               
broadcasting is paid for federally.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER TSHIBAKA offered her understanding  that it is not -                                                               
the  majority of  the  funds are  raised  locally and  subsidized                                                               
federally - but she deferred to Ms. Kabler for confirmation.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:59:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KABLER stated that the  funding for each station is different                                                               
depending  on  the size  of  the  station.   She  said,  "There's                                                               
significant federal  funding, local  funding, and  state funding;                                                               
it's a  complement of all  three that  funds each station."   She                                                               
said for  small stations, a  larger percentage of the  funding is                                                               
sourced federally,  and that  is because there  are only  so many                                                               
people in the  community from which to raise  money.  Conversely,                                                               
in  large communities,  the majority  of the  funding is  sourced                                                               
from local members and businesses.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JACKSON  asked if "the  stations would be  able to                                                               
continue to move on" should the state cut funding.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. KABLER answered that if the  funding from the State of Alaska                                                               
is  cut, then  the impact  would be  that matching  federal funds                                                               
would  be reduced.    She said  the tipping  point  upon which  a                                                               
station  would no  longer be  viable would  vary from  station to                                                               
station.   Funding cuts  have already been  faced in  fiscal year                                                               
2016  (FY 16)  and FY  17.   She said  cuts result  in diminished                                                               
service, but said  she cannot predict at what  point funding cuts                                                               
would cause the  end of each station.  She  reemphasized that the                                                               
biggest  impact of  state funding  loss would  be to  the smaller                                                               
stations.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:01:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HANNAN [announced that HB 69 was held over].                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB0069 version A.PDF HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB0069 Sponsor Statement 3.27.19.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB0069 Sectional Analysis 3.27.19.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB069 Fiscal Note 1 Broadcasting Commission.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB069 Fiscal Note 2 Public Broadcasting Radio.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB069 Fiscal Note 3 Public Broadcasting TV.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB069 Fiscal Note 4 Public Broadcasting Satellite Infra.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB0069 Additional Documents 3.27.19.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HJR019 ver S CS.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HJR 19
HB069 Letters of Support.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69
HB 069 Letters of Opposition - Consolidated 5.10.19.pdf HCRA 5/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
HB 69