Legislature(2013 - 2014)HOUSE FINANCE 519

02/18/2014 01:30 PM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 211 EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 211(FIN) Out of Committee
+ HB 263 EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 263(HSS) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 211                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to the education and employment of                                                                        
     individuals with disabilities."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:17:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  moved the House Labor  and Commerce                                                                    
Committee bill version before the committee.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VASILIOS GIALOPSOS,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  CHARISSE MILLET,                                                                    
relayed that the bill would  make Alaska an Employment First                                                                    
state. He  explained that goal  for departmental  and agency                                                                    
levels dealing  with disabled individuals  would be  to work                                                                    
towards  a  primary  objective  of  gainful  employment.  He                                                                    
detailed that more than 25  other states had adopted similar                                                                    
legislation  recognizing the  problem of  expanding Medicaid                                                                    
and   healthcare  costs   and  the   underrepresentation  of                                                                    
disabled individuals  in the workforce who  were without the                                                                    
appropriate tools. Additionally,  the bill addressed whether                                                                    
the desired outcome  was currently met with  the funds spent                                                                    
on individuals with disabilities.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Gialopsos communicated that  the bill would implement an                                                                    
external body that would collect  silos of data to be vested                                                                    
in the Alaska Mental Health  Trust Authority. The data would                                                                    
work  towards determining  whether departments  and agencies                                                                    
were  currently producing  the  preferred outcomes;  whether                                                                    
individuals  receiving benefits  were getting  the requisite                                                                    
training, and  whether benefits were enabling  recipients to                                                                    
reach the  desired outcome. Additionally, the  bill language                                                                    
worked  to  prevent  individuals   with  a  disability  from                                                                    
feeling  that  their  disability  kept  them  from  being  a                                                                    
gainful  member  of  society.  Gainful  employment  enriched                                                                    
individuals'  lives,  enabled  them to  increase  their  net                                                                    
worth,  and   reduced  healthcare  costs.  He   stated  that                                                                    
individuals   statistically   led  healthier   lives,   were                                                                    
psychologically much  happier, and that the  broader society                                                                    
benefitted from the contributions as well.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Gialopsos provided  a sectional  analysis  of the  bill                                                                    
(copy on  file). Sections 1  through 5  required departments                                                                    
working  with disabled  individuals  to  ensure the  primary                                                                    
objective  of gainful  employment.  Sections 1  and 2  dealt                                                                    
with  the Department  of  Education  and Early  Development;                                                                    
Sections  3 and  4 dealt  with the  Department of  Labor and                                                                    
Workforce   Development  (DLWD),   Division  of   Vocational                                                                    
Rehabilitation; and  Section 5 dealt with  the Department of                                                                    
Health  and Social  Services. He  discussed an  oversight in                                                                    
Section 2; the  section dealt with a  requirement related to                                                                    
transition  services. He  detailed that  transition services                                                                    
pertained to children  with disabilities over the  age of 15                                                                    
who  had   an  Individualized  Education  Plan   (IEP).  The                                                                    
original bill language  aimed to ensure that as  part of the                                                                    
transition services that school  districts make it a primary                                                                    
objective to  help the  students become  gainfully employed.                                                                    
The language  had inadvertently precluded the  potential for                                                                    
any postsecondary education. He  believed a change should be                                                                    
made to fix the error.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:22:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD SANDERS, PROGRAM  COORDINATOR, GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL ON                                                                    
DISABILITIES  AND  SPECIAL EDUCATION  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
was available for questions. He  relayed that the bill was a                                                                    
priority  of the  council's.  He shared  that  he worked  on                                                                    
employment   programs   including  the   Alaska   Integrated                                                                    
Employment  Initiative.  He  had previously  worked  on  the                                                                    
Disability  Employment Initiative  with DLWD  over the  past                                                                    
three  years.  He agreed  that  the  initiative was  seeking                                                                    
employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze remarked  that  Representative Millet  had                                                                    
read song lyrics by Rich  Sanders' father on the House floor                                                                    
during  an  earthquake  resolution. He  explained  that  Don                                                                    
Sanders was a former educator,  gold miner, and musician. He                                                                    
asked Mr. Sanders  if his parents were  from Seward, Alaska.                                                                    
Mr. Sanders replied in the affirmative.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:26:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CATHERINE BABUSCIO,  MAT-SU REGIONAL MEDICAL  CENTER, PALMER                                                                    
(via teleconference), testified in  support of the bill. She                                                                    
spoke  to  a program  called  Project  Search, which  was  a                                                                    
collaboration with  the Mat-Su Borough School  District, the                                                                    
Governor's  Council on  Disabilities,  and  the Division  of                                                                    
Vocational Rehabilitation.  She detailed that  the business-                                                                    
led vocational program was for  adult students aged 18 to 22                                                                    
who experience  disabilities. The ultimate program  goal was                                                                    
securing   employment   within   the   community.   Students                                                                    
experienced full emersion at the  hospital worksites and had                                                                    
three 10-week rotations; students  were then placed based on                                                                    
their   skills  and   experience.  There   had  been   three                                                                    
successful program completions since  2011; all students who                                                                    
completed the  program had achieved employment.  The average                                                                    
wage of  those employed was  greater than $13 per  hour. She                                                                    
communicated  that  the  medical   center  had  employed  20                                                                    
percent  of  the  program's  participants;  the  individuals                                                                    
apply  competitively and  were currently  successful members                                                                    
of  the  workforce.  She elaborated  that  the  program  had                                                                    
greatly benefitted the  organization by measurable increased                                                                    
employee satisfaction and dedicated skilled workers.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze commented  on the  great employees  at the                                                                    
medical center.  He was impressed  by the  employees' strong                                                                    
work ethic  and the pride  they took  in their jobs.  He had                                                                    
been  pleased  to see  the  medical  center featured  in  an                                                                    
educational and promotional video.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:29:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ART DELAUNE, GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL  ON DISABILITIES AND SPECIAL                                                                    
EDUCATION, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), spoke in support                                                                    
of  the bill.  He  shared  that his  son  had Fetal  Alcohol                                                                    
Syndrome and  other mental health  issues. He  discussed his                                                                    
son's personal story related to  high school and graduation.                                                                    
He detailed  that his  son had worked  with the  Division of                                                                    
Vocational Rehabilitation to find a  career path, but he had                                                                    
not  been  satisfied with  the  job  options that  had  been                                                                    
suggested. Subsequently,  his son  had become  involved with                                                                    
Project Discovery where a  division counselor and employment                                                                    
specialist worked  to determine a person's  skills, desires,                                                                    
and  how they  would fit  into  the community.  His son  had                                                                    
voiced interest  in working  as a  meat cutter;  the program                                                                    
had enabled him to work as  an apprentice meat cutter at the                                                                    
local  Fred Meyer.  His son  was integrated  in a  workplace                                                                    
with  people without  disabilities and  was making  the same                                                                    
wage as others at his skill  level. He shared that his son's                                                                    
self-esteem had  grown tremendously.  His son  was currently                                                                    
receiving state Medicaid  benefits; he was hoping  to get on                                                                    
his own  insurance in  the future. He  pointed to  his son's                                                                    
experience as proof  of success and spoke  in strong support                                                                    
of the legislation.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:33:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MILLIE RYAN,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REACH, INC.,  testified in                                                                    
support of the legislation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Research  tells   us  that   vocational  rehabilitation                                                                    
     funded  supported employment  services for  individuals                                                                    
     with severe  disabilities is  cost-effective regardless                                                                    
     of the  type or  severity of  disability. In  2009, Dr.                                                                    
     Robert  Cimera from  Kent  State University  determined                                                                    
     the  average benefit  cost-ratio across  17 states  was                                                                    
     1.46.  He also  found  that  when supported  employment                                                                    
     agencies like REACH had  financial incentives to reduce                                                                    
     paid job coach support and  use the natural supports of                                                                    
     the  business  supervisor   and  coworkers  that  their                                                                    
     average cost decreased by 57.6  percent. Data across 42                                                                    
     states including  Alaska, that establish  Medicaid buy-                                                                    
     in programs currently shows  that buy-in enrollees earn                                                                    
     more money, work more hours,  contribute more in taxes,                                                                    
     and   rely   less   on  Medicaid   than   people   with                                                                    
     disabilities  on regular  Medicaid. Mathematica  policy                                                                    
     research  prepared  an  expenditure  report  on  buy-in                                                                    
     enrollees in  2005 and 2006.  In Alaska  average annual                                                                    
     Medicaid expenditures for  buy-in enrollees was $15,288                                                                    
     compared  to  $23,865  for  individuals  who  were  not                                                                    
     enrolled in the buy-in,  which represents a significant                                                                    
     decrease in  expenditures. In  summary, House  Bill 211                                                                    
     not only  makes sense  for Alaskans  with disabilities,                                                                    
     it also makes sense for the State of Alaska.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:36:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:36:57 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:37:40 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman MOVED to ADOPT corrected Amendment 1                                                                         
(offered by Co-Chair Stoltze by request):                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, Line 15                                                                                                            
     Following "disabilities" remove "."                                                                                        
     Following "disabilities"  insert ", or  become enrolled                                                                    
     in post-secondary education."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Holmes OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Gialopsos relayed  that  the  proposed amendment  would                                                                    
modify  Section  2, page  1,  line  15  by adding  that  for                                                                    
transition services,  a school district's  primary objective                                                                    
and preferred outcome  is not just to help  a student become                                                                    
gainfully  employed  in  an integrated  workplace  alongside                                                                    
individuals  without   disabilities,  but  also   to  become                                                                    
enrolled  in postsecondary  education if  the individual  so                                                                    
desired. He explained that if  an individual with an IEP was                                                                    
able  to  enroll in  a  postsecondary  course of  any  kind,                                                                    
transition   services   should   not  dissuade   them   from                                                                    
furthering their educational opportunities.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holmes WITHDREW  her OBJECTION.  There being                                                                    
NO further OBJECTION, corrected Amendment 1 was ADOPTED.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  pointed to  the  absence  of a  fiscal                                                                    
impact  note and  wondered if  the department  was currently                                                                    
providing similar services offered under the legislation.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:40:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LES MORSE, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND                                                                    
EARLY  DEVELOPMENT, answered  that the  bill used  data that                                                                    
was  currently  collected  by the  department  and  did  not                                                                    
create an  additional burden for the  department's workload.                                                                    
He relayed that the only  extra effort involved the transfer                                                                    
of  data  the  department  currently  collected  to  another                                                                    
agency.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  asked about potential  costs associated                                                                    
with  teaching  people  with  disabilities  skills  to  work                                                                    
alongside people  without disabilities.  He wondered  if the                                                                    
training  was currently  taking  place.  Mr. Morse  answered                                                                    
that under current law students in  the age range (age 15 or                                                                    
16  and up)  were required  to  have a  transition plan  for                                                                    
employment or postsecondary education.  He believed with the                                                                    
collection of  the data  there may be  more effort  put into                                                                    
the work. He  noted that significant work  was currently put                                                                    
into IEPs.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Costello  addressed  the  four  zero  fiscal                                                                    
notes including  three previously  published notes  from the                                                                    
Department of  Administration, the Department of  Health and                                                                    
Social Services,  and the Department of  Labor and Workforce                                                                    
Development,  and  one  new  note  from  the  Department  of                                                                    
Education and Early Development.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  MOVED to  REPORT CSHB  211(FIN) out                                                                    
of  committee   with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There being NO  OBJECTION CSHB 211(FIN) was  REPORTED out of                                                                    
committee with a  "do pass" recommendation and  with one new                                                                    
zero fiscal note from the  Department of Education and Early                                                                    
Development  and  three  previously  published  zero  fiscal                                                                    
notes: FN1 (ADM); FN2 (DHS); FN3 (LWF).                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman discussed the schedule for the following                                                                     
day.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 211- Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Supporting Document-Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education Summary of HB 211.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Supporting Document-SILC Letter of Support.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211-Sectional Analysis.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Supporting document-State Employment Leadership Network Report.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211-Supporting Document NACDD Report.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
ACoA Support HB 263.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB 263 Combined Letters of Support.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB 263 SBP Fact Sheet (01-31-14).pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB 263 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
CSHB211 Supporting Document-AHFC Letter.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Amendment #1 Stoltze by Request.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
Changes to HB 263 HHSS.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB263(2014) letter of support.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263