Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519

02/26/2020 01:30 PM FINANCE

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Audio Topic
02:12:42 PM Start
02:13:18 PM HB205 || HB206
02:13:33 PM Amendments
03:42:22 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 15 Minutes Following Session --
+= HB 205 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 206 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 205                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain    programs;    capitalizing   funds;    making                                                                    
     appropriations under art.  IX, sec. 17(c), Constitution                                                                    
     of the State of  Alaska, from the constitutional budget                                                                    
    reserve fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 206                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive mental health  program; and providing for                                                                    
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:13:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
^AMENDMENTS                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:13:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  directed members to the  next amendment. He                                                                    
noted that  the committee  had left  off on  page 8  [of the                                                                    
"2020 Legislature  - Operating  Budget Transaction  Detail -                                                                    
House  Structure"   document  (copy  on   file)],  Amendment                                                                    
H HSS 2. [Note: amendments  were heard on 2/25/20 during the                                                                    
1:30 p.m. meeting and 2/26/20  during the 9:30 a.m. meeting.                                                                    
See separate minutes for detail.]                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Ortiz MOVED  to ADOPT Amendment H HSS  2 (copy on                                                                    
file):                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Children's Services                                                                                                        
     H HSS 2 - Part-time OCS Caseworker in Wrangell                                                                             
     Offered by Representative Ortiz                                                                                            
     1002 Fed Rcpts (Fed) 32.8                                                                                                  
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) 58.4                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Ortiz explained  the amendment.  He shared  that                                                                    
over  the  past   several  months  he  had   heard  about  a                                                                    
continuing  lack  of  Office of  Children's  Services  (OCS)                                                                    
services in  Wrangell. He detailed  there was  currently one                                                                    
OCS worker serving Wrangell out  of Petersburg; however, the                                                                    
person  also had  caseloads in  Juneau,  Hoonah, and  Sitka.                                                                    
There  had  been  a  problem  getting  needed  attention  to                                                                    
specific  issues   that  had   developed  in   the  Wrangell                                                                    
community.  The amendment  would fund  a half-time  position                                                                    
for an OCS  worker in Wrangell. He  referenced comments made                                                                    
from the  community of Wrangell  during public  testimony on                                                                    
the particular issue. The community  had come to a consensus                                                                    
that something needed  to be done and had  committed to work                                                                    
within  the   framework  of  a  half-time   caseworker.  The                                                                    
community  would  cover housing  costs  for  the worker.  He                                                                    
noted  that no  added  lease space  would  be required.  The                                                                    
community  was  committed  and  had  communicated  with  the                                                                    
Department  of  Health  and Social  Services  (DHSS)  Deputy                                                                    
Commissioner  Clinton   Lasley  and  OCS   Director  Natalie                                                                    
Norberg.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair   Ortiz   explained    there   was   an   overall                                                                    
understanding the department would  pilot the project to see                                                                    
how it  worked. The  community would pay  the other  half of                                                                    
the  position's duties  that would  involve  other types  of                                                                    
things that would  be upstream in nature  in relationship to                                                                    
some  of  the  issues  existing  in  Wrangell.  He  believed                                                                    
Mr.  Lasley and  Ms. Norberg  were on  board with  the pilot                                                                    
project. He asked for the committee's support.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:16:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston spoke  in support  of the  amendment. She                                                                    
believed it  showed a good faith  effort on the part  of the                                                                    
community  of Wrangell.  She  was  appreciative of  programs                                                                    
that communities found  important enough to put  skin in the                                                                    
game. She  noted it  was "these  kind of  partnerships" that                                                                    
the state would be looking for going into the future.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sullivan-Leonard asked  what the caseload was                                                                    
like  for one  OCS worker  in Wrangell.  She asked  what had                                                                    
occurred in the  past when there had been  an increased need                                                                    
for an  OCS worker  in Wrangell. She  asked if  a caseworker                                                                    
had been  pulled from  Juneau, Sitka,  or elsewhere  to help                                                                    
assist the community.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Ortiz  answered that  the issues in  Wrangell had                                                                    
started to emerge  a number of years back.  He detailed that                                                                    
at  one point  OCS  had a  full-time  position in  Wrangell.                                                                    
After  the position  had  been pulled  in  the past  several                                                                    
years, two  OCS positions had remained  in Petersburg, which                                                                    
meant Wrangell  had still  been getting  adequate attention.                                                                    
He elaborated  that Petersburg  was down  to one  OCS worker                                                                    
who  was responsible  for  Petersburg,  Wrangell, Kake,  and                                                                    
sometimes  Sitka  and  Juneau.  He  communicated  that  some                                                                    
unfortunate incidents  had occurred  in relationship  to the                                                                    
duties  of  the  OCS  worker. He  clarified  there  were  no                                                                    
problems  with  the  particular worker  in  terms  of  their                                                                    
diligence and  ability to do  the best they  could. However,                                                                    
some holes  had caused  unfortunate situations  in Wrangell,                                                                    
which had resulted in the  position request. He relayed that                                                                    
specific caseload  numbers varied, and  he did not  have the                                                                    
detail. The  agency was stressed thinner  and thinner around                                                                    
the state and  Wrangell had seen some  very negative impacts                                                                    
over the years due to shrinking resources.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard reasoned  that an  increase                                                                    
in PCNs was considered to  help alleviate some of the stress                                                                    
caused  by  an  increase   in  caseloads.  She  wondered  if                                                                    
something dire had  occurred that had led to the  need for a                                                                    
half-time position [in Wrangell].                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston  believed  the  committee  had  heard  in                                                                    
public testimony that the caseworker  in Petersburg had well                                                                    
over 60  cases at any  given time. The issue  was compounded                                                                    
by weather  because it was  difficult for the person  to get                                                                    
into Wrangell, which had the bulk of the caseload work.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:21:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carpenter addressed  the part-time nature and                                                                    
the  travel associated  with the  position.  He thought  the                                                                    
position cost  $72,000 plus $19,000  in travel per  year. He                                                                    
asked if  the individual would  work only in Wrangell  or if                                                                    
they would travel to other  communities. He asked what part-                                                                    
time meant.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Ortiz  answered that  the $19,200 was  a one-time                                                                    
cost for initial training of the OCS position.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being NO  further OBJECTION,  Amendment H  HSS 2  was                                                                    
ADOPTED.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon MOVED  to ADOPT Amendments H  HSS 3 and                                                                    
H HSS 4 (copy on file):                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Public Health                                                                                                              
     H HSS  3 - Restore separate  Emergency Medical Services                                                                    
     Grants    allocation,   reversing    consolidation   to                                                                    
     Emergency Programs                                                                                                         
     Linked to H HSS 4  - Restore separate Emergency Medical                                                                    
     Services Grants allocation,  reversing consolidation to                                                                    
     Emergency Programs TrIn 367163                                                                                             
     1002 Fed Rcpts (Fed) -401.3                                                                                                
     1003 GF/Match (UGF) -2,632.4                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Public Health                                                                                                              
     H HSS  4 - Restore separate  Emergency Medical Services                                                                    
     Grants    allocation,   reversing    consolidation   to                                                                    
     Emergency Programs                                                                                                         
     Linked to H HSS 3  - Restore separate Emergency Medical                                                                    
     Services Grants allocation,  reversing consolidation to                                                                    
     Emergency Programs TrOut 367162                                                                                            
     1002 Fed Rcpts (Fed) 401.3                                                                                                 
     1003 GF/Match (UGF) 2,632.4                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon explained  that  the amendments  would                                                                    
restore funding  for the  emergency medical  services grants                                                                    
into  its own  separate  allocation,  similar to  historical                                                                    
funding.   The  FY   21   governor's   budget  proposed   to                                                                    
consolidate  the  funding  for  emergency  medical  services                                                                    
grants from its own  allocation into the emergency program's                                                                    
allocation  for the  purposes of  management efficiency.  He                                                                    
continued  that given  the importance  of emergency  medical                                                                    
service  regional  organizations  in  managing  pre-hospital                                                                    
care  across Alaska,  having their  own allocation  provided                                                                    
greater transparency in  how and where the  funds were used.                                                                    
He explained that  by consolidating the funds,  there was no                                                                    
delineation that  the funds were  used for the  EMS regional                                                                    
grants. He  added that  the amendments did  not add  any new                                                                    
spending, they only  impacted how the funds  were tracked by                                                                    
the department.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There being  NO further  OBJECTION, Amendments  H HSS  3 and                                                                    
H HSS 4 were ADOPTED.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:24:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carpenter MOVED to  ADOPT Amendments H LAW 1,                                                                    
H LAW 2, H LAW 3, H LAW 4, and H LAW 5 (copy on file):                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Civil   Division    Except   Contracts    Relating   to                                                                    
     Interpretation of Janus v AFSCME                                                                                           
     H  LAW  1 -  Restore  Funding  Associated with  Outside                                                                    
     Counsel Contractual Expenditures                                                                                           
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) 400.0                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Civil   Division    Except   Contracts    Relating   to                                                                    
     Interpretation of Janus v AFSCME                                                                                           
     H LAW 2 - Remove Wordage                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Civil   Division    Except   Contracts    Relating   to                                                                    
     Interpretation of Janus v AFSCME                                                                                           
     H  LAW 3  -  Undo renaming  to  "Civil Division  Except                                                                    
     Contracts  Relating   to  Interpretation  of   Janus  v                                                                    
     AFSCME"                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Legal Contracts  Relating to Interpretation of  Janus v                                                                    
     AFSCME Decision                                                                                                            
     H LAW 4 - Remove Wordage                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Legal Contracts  Relating to Interpretation of  Janus v                                                                    
     AFSCME Decision                                                                                                            
     H LAW 5  - Remove New Appropriation  and Allocation for                                                                    
     Interpretation and  Application of  the Janus  v AFSCME                                                                    
     Decision                                                                                                                   
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) -20.0                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson OBJECTED.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carpenter  discussed the  governor's endeavor                                                                    
to align  state policy  with a  recent Alaska  Supreme Court                                                                    
decision commonly known as the  Janus decision. He stated it                                                                    
was an attempt  to protect the state  workers' civil rights.                                                                    
The legislature was faced with  deciding whether to defund a                                                                    
program  when it  disagreed with  policy  decisions. In  the                                                                    
specific case, if the program  was defunded, the legislature                                                                    
had  to  acknowledge  it  would  put  child  protection  and                                                                    
natural resources cases that fell  within the Civil Division                                                                    
in jeopardy  because of defunding. He  was against defunding                                                                    
the  Department of  Law merely  because the  legislature did                                                                    
not  like  the  policy.  He  explained  that  defunding  the                                                                    
department  would  jeopardize  other cases.  He  highlighted                                                                    
that  the cost  of the  Janus contract  was speculative.  He                                                                    
reasoned  that making  cuts would  impact current  cases. He                                                                    
remarked  that  the  concept  of   the  Janus  decision  was                                                                    
controversial. He believed the  committee should look at the                                                                    
finance aspect  of the issue,  not the policy piece.  He did                                                                    
not  believe  the  committee   should  legislate  policy  by                                                                    
stripping money from the budget.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson  opposed the amendments.  He agreed                                                                    
that it  was not a policy  call, it was a  budget tightening                                                                    
finance  call. He  noted  that the  matter  in question  was                                                                    
still in trial  court in Anchorage. He  highlighted the bond                                                                    
case where  the state was  trying to  sell bonds to  pay off                                                                    
its oil  and gas tax  credit obligation. He stated  that the                                                                    
appellate court that  would follow could be  years away, but                                                                    
the  contract  was slowly  being  drawn  on at  present.  He                                                                    
elaborated that  $100,000 had already  been extended  on the                                                                    
contract. He  reasoned it was  money that could be  saved at                                                                    
present,  given that  according to  the administration,  the                                                                    
contract was for a U.S. Supreme Court appeal.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative    Josephson   noted    that   Representative                                                                    
Carpenter had  stated that the  attorney general  was hoping                                                                    
to  bring   the  state  into  consistency   with  the  Janus                                                                    
decision. He  countered that the amendments  would bring the                                                                    
state  into  a  new  world beyond  the  Janus  decision.  He                                                                    
clarified there  was no threat to  the Child in Need  of Aid                                                                    
office or  the natural resources  office because the  cut in                                                                    
question  came  from  Labor  and  State  Affairs  where  the                                                                    
contract  money  had  come  from.   He  noted  there  was  a                                                                    
12  percent   vacancy  factor,   which  the   committee  and                                                                    
subcommittee had heard about.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:28:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Merrick opposed the  amendment. She found the                                                                    
increment  of  nearly $500,000  to  be  unacceptable in  the                                                                    
current fiscal  situation. She had spoken  with the attorney                                                                    
general directly who had assured  her that the Department of                                                                    
Law had  highly qualified attorneys capable  of handling the                                                                    
issue in-house for  a fraction of the cost.  She stated that                                                                    
the  challenge  was  not  one   of  competency  but  one  of                                                                    
capacity. She  asked the attorney general  to prioritize his                                                                    
cases  within  the  limits   of  the  department's  existing                                                                    
funding.  She believed  the money  in the  amendments seemed                                                                    
like  a discretionary  expense that  could  not be  afforded                                                                    
during the current fiscal time.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston  noted that  committee members  likely had                                                                    
varying opinions  on the  Janus decision.  She had  not been                                                                    
encouraged   by  the   attorney   general's  approach.   She                                                                    
appreciated the  Janus ruling because  she believed  it gave                                                                    
some  options to  state government  at a  time when  options                                                                    
were needed,  particularly as downsizing was  occurring. She                                                                    
believed putting  the issue on  the national scene  had been                                                                    
too hurried and too much. She  remarked that the case was in                                                                    
the state  courts and  not at the  Supreme Court  level. She                                                                    
stated that the number of cases  that made it to the Supreme                                                                    
Court   was  very   limited.  Additionally,   Supreme  Court                                                                    
decisions took  time. She  shared that  a friend/constituent                                                                    
had  just finished  two  rounds at  the  Supreme Court.  She                                                                    
stressed that  it was  a finance  decision and  she believed                                                                    
the amendments did not reflect money well spent.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative   LeBon  acknowledged   it  was   within  the                                                                    
legislature's power  to specify  how the  department handled                                                                    
the appropriations. He thought  the legislature needed to be                                                                    
careful  about   getting  too   involved  in   the  specific                                                                    
management of  policy in the  executive branch.  He recalled                                                                    
his banking days  where legal matters had  been handled both                                                                    
in-house and  outside the bank.  He explained that  at times                                                                    
the bank used  outside expertise that was  appropriate for a                                                                    
situation. He had confidence in  the department's ability to                                                                    
find  a way  to ensure  that public  employees' rights  were                                                                    
protected regardless  of the outcome  of the  amendments. He                                                                    
opposed the amendments.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Carpenter   provided   wrap   up   on   the                                                                    
amendments.  He  stated  that   the  actions  taken  in  the                                                                    
subcommittee  were  very  deliberate. He  believed  the  end                                                                    
result and  the goal was  to hamstring the governor  and the                                                                    
attorney  general in  their ability  to implement  the Janus                                                                    
decision.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson MAINTAINED his OBJECTION.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:32:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR: Sullivan-Leonard, Tilton, Carpenter                                                                                   
OPPOSED:  LeBon,  Merrick,  Ortiz, Wool,  Josephson,  Knopp,                                                                    
Foster, Johnston                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION to  adopt Amendments H LAW  1, H LAW 2,  H LAW 3,                                                                    
H LAW 4, and H LAW 5 FAILED (3/8).                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:33:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick MOVED  to ADOPT  Amendments H  MVA 1                                                                    
and H DPS 4 (copy on file):                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Military and Veterans' Affairs                                                                                             
   H MVA 1 - Transfer Civil Air Patrol from DPS to DMVA                                                                         
     Linked to H DPS 4 - Transfer Civil Air Patrol from DPS                                                                     
     to DMVA TrOut 367173                                                                                                       
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) 250.0                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Statewide Support                                                                                                          
   H DPS 4 - Transfer Civil Air Patrol from DPS to DMVA                                                                         
     Linked to H MVA 1 - Transfer Civil Air Patrol from DPS                                                                     
     to DMVA TrIn 367174                                                                                                        
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) -250.0                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Merrick  expressed excitement  about bringing                                                                    
the  noncontroversial  amendments   to  the  committee.  She                                                                    
explained  that the  amendments  would  transfer the  Alaska                                                                    
wing of  the Civil  Air Patrol  and associated  funding from                                                                    
the Department of  Public Safety (DPS) to  the Department of                                                                    
Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA).  She detailed that the                                                                    
Alaska wing of the Civil  Air Patrol (CAP) was the nonprofit                                                                    
auxiliary  arm of  the U.S.  Air  Force. Their  headquarters                                                                    
were located  on the Joint Base  Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER)                                                                    
and were activated through the  U.S. Air Force Alaska Rescue                                                                    
Coordination  Center. Although  CAP assisted  DPS in  search                                                                    
and rescue  operations, DPS  did not  have the  authority to                                                                    
task CAP  with conducting missions.  She shared that  in the                                                                    
DPS subcommittee, people had expressed  a desire to maintain                                                                    
CAP funding and $250,000 was restored to its budget.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick elaborated  that she  had spoken  to                                                                    
DPS during  the subcommittee process and  the department had                                                                    
indicated its  support for CAP, but  that it may not  be the                                                                    
department  best  suited  to  do  so.  The  amendment  would                                                                    
transfer CAP and  associated funding from DPS  to DMVA where                                                                    
it would better  align with the department  mission. She had                                                                    
spoken with the  adjunct general who had  indicated DMVA was                                                                    
ready and willing to take on the Civil Air Patrol.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Knopp  was   extremely  pleased   with  the                                                                    
amendment. He  had been  interested in  moving CAP  from DPS                                                                    
and had  contemplated the Department of  Commerce, Community                                                                    
and Economic  Development; however,  he believed DMVA  was a                                                                    
much  better   fit.  He  noted  there   had  been  committee                                                                    
discussions about the funding  - the increment had typically                                                                    
been  funded at  or slightly  above the  proposed range.  He                                                                    
highlighted  that all  of  the pilots  flying  for CAP  were                                                                    
volunteers and did not receive  wages or overtime. The funds                                                                    
went  to   paying  utility  bills  and   airplane  fuel.  He                                                                    
emphasized  it was  a  very  good value  for  the money.  He                                                                    
supported the amendment.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon  thanked  the  amendment  sponsor  for                                                                    
thinking  outside the  box. He  shared that  prior to  1985,                                                                    
DMVA had been  responsible for CAP. He reported  that it had                                                                    
been  transferred by  Governor  Bill Sheffield  to DPS.  The                                                                    
subcommittee had been told that  at times DPS was pressed to                                                                    
give CAP  the type of  support it deserved. He  reported his                                                                    
frustration at  fighting the  fight for two  years in  a row                                                                    
and was  pleased at the proposal  to address the issue  in a                                                                    
different way to achieve success.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There being  NO further  OBJECTION, Amendments  H MVA  1 and                                                                    
H DPS 4 were ADOPTED.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:37:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon MOVED to ADOPT  Amendment H MVA 2 (copy                                                                    
on file):                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Military and Veterans' Affairs                                                                                             
     H MVA 2 - Requesting Report on ALMR/SATS Transfer                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon  explained the amendment  that included                                                                    
intent language  regarding the request  for a report  on the                                                                    
Alaska  Land  Mobile  Radio System  (ALMR)  SATS  [State  of                                                                    
Alaska Telecommunications System] transfer.   He read from a                                                                    
prepared statement:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The   governor's  Fiscal   Year  21   operating  budget                                                                    
     transfers   the  Alaska   Land  Mobile   Radio  System,                                                                    
     commonly  known  as  ALMR,  and  the  State  of  Alaska                                                                    
     Telecommunications  System (SATS)  from the  Department                                                                    
     of Administration  into the Department of  Military and                                                                    
     Veterans  Affairs.  The   intent  language  would  help                                                                    
     ensure  that the  legislature is  kept apprised  of the                                                                    
     progress and  long-term outcome of  the result  of this                                                                    
     transfer.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being NO  further OBJECTION,  Amendment H  MVA 2  was                                                                    
ADOPTED.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:38:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson  MOVED to  ADOPT Amendment H  DNR 1                                                                    
(copy on file):                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Fire Suppression, Land & Water Resources                                                                                   
     H DNR 1  - Federal Receipt Authority  for Hunting Guide                                                                    
     Concession Program                                                                                                         
     1002 Fed Rcpts (Fed) 1,000.0                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson  explained the  amendment pertained                                                                    
to  an item  that  had  been vetoed  the  previous year.  He                                                                    
detailed that  big game  guides, supported  by the  Board of                                                                    
Game and the  Big Game Commercial Services  Board, had tried                                                                    
to develop  a concession  program on  state lands  for years                                                                    
(they  were currently  on  federal lands).  He  read from  a                                                                    
prepared statement:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     A concession  is fundamentally  a lease  to guide  in a                                                                    
     specific  area   that  is  awarded  on   a  merit  base                                                                    
     criterion and with a limited  duration, usually five to                                                                    
     ten  years. Alaska's  constitution's common  use clause                                                                    
     prohibits sale of hunting  guide concessions unlike our                                                                    
     fish   limited  entry   permits.   It  requires   guide                                                                    
     concessions  to be  awarded competitively.  Concessions                                                                    
     restrict  and  separate  hunting guides.  They  do  not                                                                    
     restrict   resident  hunters;   they  benefit   ethical                                                                    
     guides.  Hunting  guides  concession  programs  are  on                                                                    
     federal lands  now, not state  lands. DNR land  and BLM                                                                    
     land are only land  statuses that allow unlimited entry                                                                    
     of hunting guides.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     This  amendment, which  costs  the state  nothing -  it                                                                    
     would  be receipt  authority of  federal dollars.  This                                                                    
     amendment gives  DNR authority to accept  federal funds                                                                    
     to  implement a  guide  concession  program that  would                                                                    
     apply to  DNR and  BLM federal  land. There's  a higher                                                                    
     rate  of  Alaska  ownership of  guide  businesses  that                                                                    
     operate  on  concession  land because  the  competitive                                                                    
     criteria  for  winning  a concession  favors  Alaskans.                                                                    
     Criteria  such  as years  of  experience  hunting in  a                                                                    
     particular area.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Unregulated  state  lands  are where  many  nonresident                                                                    
     guides  without Alaska  experience  and community  ties                                                                    
     end up  operating. They often  don't win the  bids that                                                                    
     Alaskan guides  can win  on federal  lands. Unregulated                                                                    
     commercial  hunting contributes  to  user conflict  and                                                                    
     resource  shortage  and  can   force  the  decision  to                                                                    
     restrict  opportunity  for   Alaskans  through  drawing                                                                    
     hunts.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Josephson  reiterated   that  the  amendment                                                                    
would cost  the state  nothing; it would  be supported  by a                                                                    
state  fee structure  in  the  event it  came  into place  -                                                                    
meaning the federal dollars were  received and the operation                                                                    
began.  He read  from  a letter  by  former Deputy  Interior                                                                    
Secretary Joe Balash dated July 2018 (copy not on file):                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The BLM agrees  that it is in the best  interest of all                                                                    
     stakeholders  involved   to  work   collaboratively  to                                                                    
     update  Alaska's  guide  concession  program.  A  guide                                                                    
     concession  program  for  the  management  of  Alaska's                                                                    
     wildlife  and public  land  resources for  professional                                                                    
     big game  hunting guides and outfitters,  could lead to                                                                    
     a number of benefits  including enhanced enforcement of                                                                    
     game laws.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:42:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston asked  about the  concessions' terms  and                                                                    
timeframe. She  was concerned  that concessions  could build                                                                    
equity in a way that could be dicey.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Josephson answered  that  the amendment  was                                                                    
intended to  mirror the federal  lease system.  The duration                                                                    
of the concessions was five to ten years.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Knopp  opposed the amendment. He  stated that                                                                    
regardless of  the federal receipt  authority, the  plan was                                                                    
very  controversial  with many  of  the  outdoor groups  and                                                                    
resident  hunters.  He did  not  know  the position  of  the                                                                    
Alaska  Outdoor  Council.  He believed  the  plan  had  been                                                                    
vetoed   in  the   budget.   He  referenced   Representative                                                                    
Josephson's  mention that  it was  guide concessions  on DNR                                                                    
and  BLM  land. He  was  uncertain  whether there  were  any                                                                    
federal  guide concession  programs. He  was not  willing to                                                                    
support the program until the  public had an increased level                                                                    
of comfort.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Josephson  respected Representative  Knopp's                                                                    
position  but clarified  there was  a concession  on federal                                                                    
land for guiding, which had been in effect for years.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston MAINTAINED her OBJECTION.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR: Josephson                                                                                                             
OPPOSED:    LeBon,   Merrick,    Sullivan-Leonard,   Tilton,                                                                    
Carpenter, Knopp, Ortiz, Wool, Johnston, Foster                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION to adopt Amendment H DNR 1 FAILED (1/10).                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:45:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Knopp MOVED to ADOPT  Amendment H DPS 1 (copy                                                                    
on file):                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Fire and Life Safety                                                                                                       
     H DPS 1 - Add Director position to AK Fire Standards                                                                       
     Council                                                                                                                    
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) 166.4                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Knopp explained that  the amendment would add                                                                    
the director's  position back to  the Alaska  Fire Standards                                                                    
Council similar  to the Public Safety  Standards Council. He                                                                    
stated  that like  the  Civil Air  Patrol,  the entity  fell                                                                    
under  the Department  of Public  Safety (DPS).  He recalled                                                                    
that DPS Commissioner  Amanda Price had stated  that DPS had                                                                    
no  statutory obligation  or priority  related to  the Civil                                                                    
Air  Patrol  and  the  Alaska  Fire  Standards  Council.  He                                                                    
elaborated that the two entities  had been somewhat defunded                                                                    
and downsized. He furthered that  the issue had been brought                                                                    
to  his  attention by  the  Alaska  Fire Chiefs  Association                                                                    
during a recent visit. He  reported that the association had                                                                    
requested the restoration of the director position.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon shared  that  he had  chaired the  DPS                                                                    
subcommittee and had no objection to the amendment.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston WITHDREW  her OBJECTION.  There being  NO                                                                    
further OBJECTION, Amendment H DPS 1 was ADOPTED.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:47:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon MOVED to ADOPT  Amendment H DPS 2 (copy                                                                    
on file):                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska State Troopers                                                                                                      
     H DPS 2 - Requesting report regarding Court Services                                                                       
     Officer job classification pay                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon  explained that the  amendment included                                                                    
intent  language that  instructed the  Department of  Public                                                                    
Safety  (DPS)   to  provide  a  report   analyzing  the  pay                                                                    
disparity  between  a  court   services  officer  and  state                                                                    
trooper  job  classes.  He   detailed  that  court  services                                                                    
officers were  responsible for  transporting inmates  to and                                                                    
from  correctional  facilities  for  court  appearances  and                                                                    
medical care as well as  maintaining security in court rooms                                                                    
and  serving process  documents.  He  elaborated that  court                                                                    
service  officers  were  not  included  in  the  recent  pay                                                                    
classification   increase   for   the  state   trooper   job                                                                    
classification.  He  explained  that the  disparity  between                                                                    
court  service  officer  pay  and   state  trooper  pay  had                                                                    
subsequently  increased. He  relayed  that a  report on  any                                                                    
effects  the   situation  could  have  on   recruitment  and                                                                    
retention in the court service  officer job class would help                                                                    
with future policy.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carpenter asked if  the intent language would                                                                    
also to address the differences in job duties.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon answered  that the  depth of  the dive                                                                    
would  be up  to the  process itself.  He would  welcome the                                                                    
inclusion of that type of information.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Carpenter requested  a  moment  to write  up                                                                    
language that would include job duties in the amendment.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:48:57 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:50:02 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carpenter  MOVED to  AMEND Amendment H  DPS 2                                                                    
to insert  the words "job  duties" following the  word "the"                                                                    
to read "analyzing the job duties and pay disparity."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard  asked if  the  information                                                                    
Representative  LeBon   was  seeking  with  regard   to  job                                                                    
classifications, duties, and pay  could be obtained from the                                                                    
Department  of  Administration,  Division of  Personnel  and                                                                    
Labor Relations.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon  responded that they would  see how the                                                                    
information flowed to the legislature  via the department or                                                                    
in the manner  that was proposed. He was  merely looking for                                                                    
the information.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard  asked   if  the  amendment                                                                    
sponsor had sought information from  the department prior to                                                                    
offering the intent language.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon replied that he had not.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wool asked if the  intent was to identify how                                                                    
similar  court  service  officer  positions  were  to  state                                                                    
trooper positions in order to  determine how close the wages                                                                    
should  be. He  thought  it  sounded like  there  was a  pay                                                                    
disparity   between  the   two   positions  that   performed                                                                    
different jobs.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon   answered  in  the   affirmative.  He                                                                    
explained  there  was  overlap  in the  duties  of  the  two                                                                    
positions, but he  did not know the extent. The  goal was to                                                                    
understand that  both groups were being  treated equally and                                                                    
fairly in terms of pay.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wool asked  if court  service officers  were                                                                    
armed in the court room.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon replied  that  he  believed they  were                                                                    
armed.  He thought  Representative Josephson  may have  more                                                                    
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Josephson  answered that officers  were armed                                                                    
and  were called  judicial  services  officers. He  remarked                                                                    
that the  individuals brought people  into custody  and took                                                                    
them away in addition to other duties.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:53:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wool   noted   that   the   officers   also                                                                    
transported people  from prison.  He imagined  the positions                                                                    
interfaced with  the Department of  Corrections as  well. He                                                                    
remarked  that there  was a  continuum  of officers  between                                                                    
corrections  officers, court  services officers,  and police                                                                    
officers. He  knew corrections officers  were not  armed. He                                                                    
did  not know  if court  services officers  were armed  when                                                                    
transporting prisoners.  He surmised they would  find out in                                                                    
the report.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon relayed that  the intent language asked                                                                    
DPS  to evaluate  all  information available.  Additionally,                                                                    
the   report   to   the  legislature   would   include   the                                                                    
department's  fiscal  capabilities  and its  expectation  of                                                                    
employees.  He communicated  that  any  and all  information                                                                    
available should be considered in the analysis.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being NO  further OBJECTION,  Amendment H  DPS 2  was                                                                    
ADOPTED as AMENDED.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:55:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick MOVED  to  ADOPT Amendment  H DPS  3                                                                    
(copy on file):                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Village Public Safety Officer Program                                                                                      
     H DPS 3 - Reduce Funding for Village Public                                                                                
     Safety Officer Program                                                                                                     
     1004 Gen Fund (UGF) -1,000.0                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick  explained   the  amendment  with  a                                                                    
prepared statement:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     This amendment  reduces funding for the  Village Public                                                                    
     Safety Officer program. It is  with somewhat of a heavy                                                                    
     heart  that I  offer this  amendment again,  this year.                                                                    
     That means  that the program  was not able to  hire the                                                                    
     needed VPSOs  to provide village  public safety  in the                                                                    
     capacity that it  needs to. But it  has been historical                                                                    
     that the village public safety  officer program has had                                                                    
     difficulty  recruiting  and  retaining  VPSOs  and  has                                                                    
     historically had to lapse money  due primarily to those                                                                    
     unfilled positions.  For several successive  years, the                                                                    
     program  has lapsed  funds and  last year  $3.3 million                                                                    
     alone  was   lapsed.  With  this  unspent   money  it's                                                                    
     important  to get  an accurate  accountability of  what                                                                    
     our budget  is, how  much money we  spend and  on what.                                                                    
     It's hard  to shore that  up when we don't  know what's                                                                    
     coming back and what hasn't been spent.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Our public safety subcommittee added  the $1 million to                                                                    
     already $11 million that the  governor proposed. I know                                                                    
     this was done with the  best intentions to show support                                                                    
     for the  VPSO program, which I  support wholeheartedly.                                                                    
     But we can't  keep giving more funds to  a program that                                                                    
     lapses funds. I  hope that I can be  proven wrong, that                                                                    
     they  can hire  more VPSOs  and that  we can  fund that                                                                    
     through  a  supplemental  budget.  This is  no  way  to                                                                    
     slight  the VPSO  program, I  very  much support  rural                                                                    
     public  safety.  Public  safety  is  one  of  the  most                                                                    
     important  functions of  government.  This  is just  an                                                                    
     accounting issue.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon  spoke in opposition to  the amendment.                                                                    
He relayed  that the subcommittee had  a thorough discussion                                                                    
and debate  about the  VPSO program. He  shared that  he had                                                                    
wanted to  put more than  $1 million back into  the program;                                                                    
however,  he   had  hesitated  to  do   so  without  further                                                                    
discussion in  the House  and Senate.  He reported  that the                                                                    
VPSO   working  group   had  studied   the  issue   and  had                                                                    
recommended taking the  funding back to FY  18 levels, which                                                                    
would have  been an  increase in  $3 million.  He recognized                                                                    
that  some funds  in the  program  had lapsed  in the  past;                                                                    
however, he was confident the  VPSO working group was making                                                                    
progress in  a number of  areas where grantees  believed the                                                                    
program may not have been  administered as effectively as it                                                                    
could have been and that  progress was being made. He stated                                                                    
that the $1  million was a modest increase  to the program's                                                                    
budget.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard  supported  the  amendment.                                                                    
She  stated that  the committee  had talked  about the  VPSO                                                                    
program for  the past four  years. She found  it challenging                                                                    
that money  set aside for  public safety in rural  areas was                                                                    
not being  used effectively.  She elaborated that  the money                                                                    
was  not  used  to  provide   the  public  safety  that  was                                                                    
drastically  needed  in  rural  areas. She  thought  the  $1                                                                    
million reduction was important. She  wanted to see what the                                                                    
VPSO working group  recommended in regard to  a fiscal plan.                                                                    
She  reasoned  that  perhaps  additional  funding  could  be                                                                    
considered  by   the  legislature   if  the   working  group                                                                    
specified it  was needed. She  highlighted that  the program                                                                    
already had a budget of $11  million and was not filling the                                                                    
positions and  its intent.  She believed  it was  prudent to                                                                    
reduce the $1 million.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Knopp shared  that he did not sit  on the DPS                                                                    
subcommittee  and  he  was reluctant  to  undo  its  actions                                                                    
because  the increase  was modest;  however, he  agreed with                                                                    
the  amendment  sponsor  that the  program  had  experienced                                                                    
problems and  lapsing money was  not favorable.  He believed                                                                    
the sponsor's  request was reasonable. He  was interested to                                                                    
hear the number  of employed VPSOs and the  number of vacant                                                                    
positions. He wondered if any progress had been made.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:01:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick  replied  that there  were  43  VPSO                                                                    
positions  filled  and  5  vacant.  She  elaborated  that  8                                                                    
individuals  were scheduled  to  attend the  academy and  34                                                                    
VPSOs were currently operational.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon responded  to an  earlier question  by                                                                    
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard. He  relayed that  the VPSO                                                                    
working  group  had  recommended  the funding  at  the  full                                                                    
amount he  had mentioned  previously. He explained  that the                                                                    
amendment  would only  partially  fund  the working  group's                                                                    
request.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster asked for the  number vetoed by the governor                                                                    
in the FY 20 budget. He believed it was $3 million.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Merrick   believed  Co-Chair   Foster   was                                                                    
correct.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:02:23 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:03:31 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster repeated  the previous  question. He  asked                                                                    
for the amount vetoed by the governor in the FY 20 budget.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick answered  that  the  original FY  20                                                                    
budget had been $14 million  and $3 million had been vetoed.                                                                    
She  explained the  amount  that would  lapse  would not  be                                                                    
known until  the end of  the fiscal year. She  detailed that                                                                    
at the  end of  the second  quarter only  35 percent  of the                                                                    
funding  had been  distributed. She  believed it  was likely                                                                    
funding would be lapsed in the current year.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster considered  the numbers.  He reasoned  that                                                                    
the veto  of $3  million reflected about  20 percent  of the                                                                    
original $14  million budget. He  referred to  the reference                                                                    
to  lapsing funds.  He asked  if the  amendment sponsor  had                                                                    
read the VPSO working group  report. He paraphrased from the                                                                    
report that included nine  recommendations. He detailed that                                                                    
two of  the findings  under recommendation 3  specified that                                                                    
the problematic approach to grant  funding approvals had led                                                                    
to  artificial  funding  lapses  that had  been  used  as  a                                                                    
justification  for reducing  the VPSO  budget. He  had heard                                                                    
numerous  times  from  grantees  that  their  requests  were                                                                    
constantly being denied. Grantees  wanted the ability to use                                                                    
the  funds for  small items  like tires  or fuel  and larger                                                                    
items like  infrastructure. He explained that  grantees were                                                                    
not  using all  of  the money  because  their requests  were                                                                    
being denied. He noted that  the information was coming from                                                                    
the [working group] report.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Foster  noted   that  Representative   LeBon  had                                                                    
mentioned   FY  18   funding  levels.   The  working   group                                                                    
recommendation was between $13.4  million and $13.5 million.                                                                    
He explained  that the amendment would  decrease the funding                                                                    
from  $12 million  to $11  million, which  was $2.4  million                                                                    
below the recommendation. He wanted  the funding level to be                                                                    
as  close to  the $13.4  million  as possible.  He had  been                                                                    
concerned  with the  disparity. He  strongly supported  what                                                                    
the state was doing  with troopers and correctional officers                                                                    
in  terms  of recruitment  and  retention.  He believed  the                                                                    
current governor  and legislature  had made public  safety a                                                                    
priority. He  detailed that the House  Finance Committee had                                                                    
provided more  funding for personnel, salary  increases, and                                                                    
recruitment  and  retention  of  troopers  and  correctional                                                                    
officers. It  was his desire  to do  the same with  the VPSO                                                                    
program.  He referenced  backup  he had  passed out  showing                                                                    
intent language (copy on file):                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     It  is   the  intent   of  the  Legislature   that  the                                                                    
     Department  of Public  Safety  continue to  collaborate                                                                    
     with the Village Public  Safety Officer (VPSO) grantees                                                                    
     to strengthen  a recruitment  and retention  plan. This                                                                    
     plan may  include spending  for infrastructure  such as                                                                    
     VPSO housing, office space, and holding cells.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  suggested  removing the  decrement  of  $1                                                                    
million and  inserting the intent language.  He relayed that                                                                    
grantees  had been  working on  a recruitment  and retention                                                                    
plan.  He  elaborated that  audit  findings  had found  some                                                                    
fairly minor  issues that were  taking place. He  wanted the                                                                    
plan  to  be  strengthened.   He  remarked  there  had  been                                                                    
significant  media attention  over  the past  year with  the                                                                    
Anchorage Daily  News article series and  ProPublica article                                                                    
series.  The series  had highlighted  villages where  a cell                                                                    
was merely a  room and a person may just  be handcuffed to a                                                                    
chair.  He  explained  that  a  lot  of  infrastructure  was                                                                    
lacking.  He believed  the $1  million could  go a  long way                                                                    
toward helping to fix some of the problem.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  highlighted  that the  working  group  had                                                                    
referred  to unfunded  mandates. He  detailed that  unfunded                                                                    
mandates included things  such as the state  would provide a                                                                    
VPSO  to  a  village   but  the  regional  nonprofit  Native                                                                    
organizations  responsible for  coordination also  needed to                                                                    
provide things like office space,  holding cells, and other.                                                                    
He explained that the space ended  up being a cabin or shack                                                                    
that was  nothing like a  traditional jail or  holding cell.                                                                    
Meanwhile, any  other public safety  component in  the state                                                                    
had  well  equipped vehicles  and  jail  space, yet  at  the                                                                    
village   level   the   state    would   not   provide   the                                                                    
infrastructure. He believed the funding  would go a long way                                                                    
toward helping with the problem.  He stated that recruitment                                                                    
and retention  and increasing  the number  of VPSOs  was one                                                                    
component, but  the infrastructure was the  other component.                                                                    
He  asked  the amendment  sponsor  if  she had  interest  in                                                                    
removing  the  proposed  decrement  and  adding  the  intent                                                                    
language to Amendment H DPS 3.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:10:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick knew  that  the  issue impacted  Co-                                                                    
Chair Foster's district  more than any of  the other members                                                                    
on the  committee. She  requested an  "at ease"  to consider                                                                    
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:10:51 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:16:49 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster asked if Representative  Merrick had time to                                                                    
consider his suggestion.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Merrick  understood that  the issue  was very                                                                    
personal  for   Co-Chair  Foster   and  his   district.  She                                                                    
considered  the suggestion  and MOVED  to AMEND  Amendment H                                                                    
DPS 3  to add  the intent language  read by  Co-Chair Foster                                                                    
and to reduce the decrement to $500,000.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Josephson felt  badly that  he had  not been                                                                    
able to  study the  issue as  much as  he wanted.  He shared                                                                    
that his  life had  intersected with  VPSOs in  Kotzebue and                                                                    
Kalskag.  He was  concerned because  the VPSO  working group                                                                    
(headed  by Representative  Chuck  Kopp)  had recommended  a                                                                    
higher budget increment than was  included in the amendment;                                                                    
therefore,  he  had  concern  about  the  amendment  to  the                                                                    
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  thanked  Representative  Merrick  for  her                                                                    
consideration. He believed it was a good discussion.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon  appreciated the offer but  opposed the                                                                    
amendment to the amendment.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston asked  if the  language suggested  by the                                                                    
cochair was included in the amendment.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick agreed  that  she  would insert  the                                                                    
intent language suggested by Co-Chair  Foster and reduce the                                                                    
$1 million decrement to $500,000.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Knopp supported  the amendment  to Amendment                                                                    
H DPS  3. He reasoned that  the art of compromise  was about                                                                    
getting  what was  fair. He  believed the  inclusion of  the                                                                    
intent  language   represented  a  win.   Additionally,  the                                                                    
amendment would decrease the proposed decrement.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:19:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wool  had   not  delved   into  the   topic                                                                    
extensively;  however,   he  recalled   hearing  substantial                                                                    
testimony  the  previous year  in  the  House State  Affairs                                                                    
Committee  and perhaps  the  House  Judiciary Committee.  He                                                                    
noted a task force had  spent significant time on the topic.                                                                    
He highlighted that the task  force had requested more money                                                                    
than  was  proposed. He  realized  funds  had been  lapsing;                                                                    
however, he  hoped that through  the work of the  task force                                                                    
and  media  coverage  on  the severity  of  the  issue  that                                                                    
efforts would  be doubled down  to fully staff  and increase                                                                    
the  system's  functionality. He  did  not  believe it  made                                                                    
sense  to  hamstring  the  program  by  reducing  access  to                                                                    
funding. He reasoned  that any unspent funds  would lapse at                                                                    
the end of the year; the money was not lost.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wool  thought the flexibility to  utilize the                                                                    
funds was  positive. He highlighted that  holding cells were                                                                    
lacking in many communities.  He supported the expanding the                                                                    
ability  to  use  VPSO  funds as  mentioned  in  the  intent                                                                    
language provided  by Co-Chair  Foster. However, he  did not                                                                    
support the  intent language with  a $500,000  decrement. He                                                                    
stressed that the task force  had recommended $3 million and                                                                    
the subcommittee only  got $1 million. He  stressed that the                                                                    
funding was already below the  task force recommendation. He                                                                    
pointed out that some of  the task force members were former                                                                    
law  enforcement professionals  who had  more experience  on                                                                    
the  subject than  he  did. He  hoped  the department  could                                                                    
double down  its efforts and  fill vacancies.  He reiterated                                                                    
his support  for the intent  language and opposition  to the                                                                    
decrement.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sullivan-Leonard  supported the  amendment to                                                                    
Amendment H  DPS 3. She appreciated  the amendment sponsor's                                                                    
offer  for compromise.  She considered  the  history of  the                                                                    
VPSO  program and  how its  budget  had been  formed in  the                                                                    
past. She highlighted that the  past budgets brought forward                                                                    
for  the  program had  not  been  fulfilled. She  thought  a                                                                    
decrement of  $500,000 was fine.  She suggested  that issues                                                                    
pertaining  to  housing,  office space,  and  holding  cells                                                                    
would be better addressed in the capital budget.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:23:09 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:23:30 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Knopp felt  that Representative  Wool missed                                                                    
the takeaway from the amendment  to the amendment. He stated                                                                    
that  the intent  language  did far  more  than leaving  the                                                                    
$1 million  in the budget.  He stated that  in conversations                                                                    
with  grantees about  being denied  the use  of funding  for                                                                    
holding  cells,  housing,  office space,  tires,  and  fuel,                                                                    
there had been  a need for the money but  DPS had refused to                                                                    
allow  the expenditures.  He emphasized  that inserting  the                                                                    
intent language  did much more  than leaving the  $1 million                                                                    
in the budget.  He explained that once the  VPSO program had                                                                    
the  ability to  use funding  for the  aforementioned needs,                                                                    
there would no longer be  lapsed funds. He believed it would                                                                    
mean more need would be  demonstrated the following year. He                                                                    
thought  it  would  go  a   long  way  for  recruitment  and                                                                    
retention of VPSOs. He supported  the amendment to Amendment                                                                    
H DPS 3.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Johnston  agreed with  Representative Knopp  that a                                                                    
lack  of access  to funding  for support  services had  been                                                                    
hamstringing  the   VPSO  program.  Her  concern   with  the                                                                    
amendment to  the amendment was  that $500,000 would  not go                                                                    
very far for  most rural communities for  housing, a holding                                                                    
cell,  winter tires,  and other.  She  supported the  intent                                                                    
language,  but  believed the  decrement  went  in the  wrong                                                                    
direction.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  asked if Representative Merrick  had stated                                                                    
that 43 VPSO  positions were filled and  34 were operational                                                                    
because some of the individuals were in training.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Merrick nodded in the affirmative.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster pointed out that  there were about 232 small                                                                    
villages and  there was a  huge gap  in what was  needed. He                                                                    
appreciated Representative  Merrick's consideration,  but he                                                                    
did not support the amendment to Amendment H DPS 3.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Merrick  WITHDREW the amendment  to Amendment                                                                    
H DPS 3.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:27:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  asked if the  amendment sponsor  had looked                                                                    
into how  the amendment  may impact  the state  troopers. He                                                                    
explained  that  with 232  communities  and  only 40  VPSOs,                                                                    
there  were  many communities  with  no  law enforcement  or                                                                    
public  safety  presence.  He referenced  the  hub-and-spoke                                                                    
model  previously mentioned  by  the  commissioner. He  used                                                                    
Nome as  an example of  a hub community. He  elaborated that                                                                    
if there  was an  altercation, a state  trooper flew  out to                                                                    
the village  to take  care of  the problem  if there  was no                                                                    
other  law enforcement  presence.  He  explained that  there                                                                    
were numerous times  where the situation was  a problem. For                                                                    
example, there  could be a domestic  violence situation that                                                                    
occurred at  2:00 a.m.,  which could  be very  explosive. He                                                                    
detailed  that  law  enforcement  officers  approaching  the                                                                    
residence did not know whether  there were weapons involved.                                                                    
He furthered  there could be  a situation where there  was a                                                                    
trained and experienced law enforcement  responder such as a                                                                    
VPSO. Alternatively,  if a  trooper had  to travel  to reach                                                                    
the location, they  may have to charter an  airplane to deal                                                                    
with the situation.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  shared that there  were 17 villages  in his                                                                    
region  and 32  in his  district. He  explained that  at any                                                                    
given  time there  could  be a  sexual  assault, an  alcohol                                                                    
related assault, a search and  rescue, or many other things.                                                                    
He applauded the  troopers in his community  who worked very                                                                    
hard. He  wondered how the  proposed decrement  would impact                                                                    
state troopers.  He relayed  that fewer  VPSOs in  a village                                                                    
meant  more   traveling  and   callouts  for   troopers.  He                                                                    
expounded that VPSOs  were working 24 hours a day,  7 days a                                                                    
week, year-round,  with no backup.  He explained  that VPSOs                                                                    
eventually burned out.  At some point the  troopers felt the                                                                    
issue as well  or they were unable to respond  to all of the                                                                    
situations,  in  which  case village  residents  were  short                                                                    
changed.  He  wondered  if  the  amendment  sponsor  had  an                                                                    
opportunity  to  talk  to  any  of  the  grantees  or  state                                                                    
troopers about their view on the  impact of a $1 million cut                                                                    
to the VPSO program.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:30:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Merrick   appreciated   Co-Chair   Foster's                                                                    
comments.  She  believed  there   was  confusion  about  the                                                                    
intention of the amendment. She  was not intending to reduce                                                                    
the  number of  VPSOs. She  stressed that  it was  a funding                                                                    
issue.  She   would  like  to   have  a  VPSO  in   all  232                                                                    
communities;  however, she  believed it  was impractical  to                                                                    
expect  it to  happen.  She  had read  the  VPSO task  force                                                                    
report  and  it  had  been covered  a  finance  subcommittee                                                                    
meeting.  She shared  it was  her  understanding VPSOs  were                                                                    
supposed  to  be  first   responders,  not  law  enforcement                                                                    
officials. She  thought the  VPSOs were  not intended  to do                                                                    
the same  thing that  state troopers  did. She  believed the                                                                    
intent was  to tide  the situation  over until  the troopers                                                                    
arrived. She did  not believe the $1 million  cut would have                                                                    
an  impact on  the troopers.  She stated  that the  troopers                                                                    
would still go  to the community. She  reiterated support to                                                                    
have  a  VPSO  in  every community;  however,  she  did  not                                                                    
believe it  was practical.  She did  not think  the proposed                                                                    
decrement would reduce the number of VPSOs.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  replied that Representative Merrick  may be                                                                    
correct that the  amendment would not reduce  the numbers of                                                                    
VPSOs,  but  it  would  not  allow the  number  to  grow  if                                                                    
spending was  capped. He addressed  Representative Merrick's                                                                    
remarks  that  a  VPSO  was  intended  to  take  care  of  a                                                                    
situation before  a trooper could  arrive. He  was concerned                                                                    
about  the  first  moments   of  many  situations  including                                                                    
assault  or domestic  violence where  someone on  the ground                                                                    
was needed to respond.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston  MOVED to  AMEND  Amendment  H DPS  3  to                                                                    
insert  the intent  language  provided  by Co-Chair  Foster.                                                                    
Additionally,   the   amendment   would  be   amended   with                                                                    
$1 million.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  asked for clarity  on the amendment  to the                                                                    
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston read  the language  that Co-Chair  Foster                                                                    
had provided earlier (copy on file):                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     It  is   the  intent   of  the  Legislature   that  the                                                                    
     Department  of Public  Safety  continue to  collaborate                                                                    
     with the Village Public  Safety Officer (VPSO) grantees                                                                    
     to strengthen  a recruitment  and retention  plan. This                                                                    
     plan may  include spending  for infrastructure  such as                                                                    
     VPSO housing, office space, and holding cells.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  asked about the  $1 million portion  of Co-                                                                    
Chair Johnston's amendment.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston  explained  that  the  amendment  to  the                                                                    
amendment would include an increment of $1 million.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  clarified that  the amendment  to Amendment                                                                    
H  DPS  3  would  change  the  $1  million  decrement  to  a                                                                    
$1 million increment.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carpenter OBJECTED.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster spoke to the  amendment to the amendment. He                                                                    
highlighted  the VPSO  working group's  third recommendation                                                                    
to increase  funding to  FY 18 levels  of $13.4  million. He                                                                    
relayed that  the VPSO budget  was currently at  $12 million                                                                    
and  adding $1  million  would increase  the  number to  $13                                                                    
million.  He   supported  the  bipartisan   working  group's                                                                    
recommendation.  He  detailed  that the  working  group  was                                                                    
comprised  of members  from  the House  and  Senate; it  had                                                                    
taken  a  substantial amount  of  public  testimony and  had                                                                    
considered the subject in depth.  He supported the amendment                                                                    
to the amendment.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:35:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  LeBon supported  fully  funding the  program                                                                    
back   to  the   FY   18  level   per   the  working   group                                                                    
recommendations.  His decision  to  add $1  million for  the                                                                    
VPSO  program was  partially strategic  after the  large cut                                                                    
from  the prior  year with  the hope  of finding  a workable                                                                    
number   with   the   recognition  that   some   funds   had                                                                    
historically lapsed. He shared that  he had been looking for                                                                    
a middle  ground that would  satisfy enough people  and keep                                                                    
the  program  moving  forward.  He  supported  the  proposed                                                                    
amendment to Amendment H DPS 3.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wool   stated  that  the  adoption   of  the                                                                    
language would  increase spending  for things  like housing,                                                                    
office  space, holding  cells, etcetera.  He noted  that the                                                                    
intent  language  specified that  the  plan  was to  address                                                                    
recruitment  and retention.  He understood  that one  of the                                                                    
problems with hiring additional VPSOs  was a lack in housing                                                                    
and adequate  facilities such as holding  cells. He reasoned                                                                    
that  the amendment  to Amendment  H DPS  3 would  help hire                                                                    
more people.  He addressed the  statement that  troopers had                                                                    
to respond  to a  situation. He thought  having a  person on                                                                    
the  ground to  help diffuse  a situation  in the  immediate                                                                    
timeframe  was positive  and may  mean a  trooper would  not                                                                    
need to fly in.                                                                                                                 
Representative Wool  thought the  discussion was  similar to                                                                    
discussing  a  school  that  was   failing.  He  provided  a                                                                    
scenario  where an  inner city  school was  underperforming,                                                                    
and  the response  was to  cut its  funding. He  thought the                                                                    
opposite was  the case.  He remarked  that sometimes  it was                                                                    
necessary  to increase  resources (e.g.  additional teachers                                                                    
or learning  devices) if  the goal  was for  a school  to do                                                                    
well. He  stated that if  something was  underperforming and                                                                    
the goal was for  it to do well, the answer  was not to make                                                                    
financial cuts  to use the  funds elsewhere. He  thought the                                                                    
funds would be used elsewhere  if money lapsed. He supported                                                                    
the amendment to the amendment.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:38:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Merrick  asked   if   she  could   withdraw                                                                    
Amendment H DPS 3.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston  was  open   to  the  withdrawal  of  the                                                                    
original amendment. She WITHDREW  her amendment to Amendment                                                                    
H DPS 3. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Merrick WITHDREW  Amendment H  DPS 3.  There                                                                    
being NO OBJECTION,  it was so ordered.  She appreciated the                                                                    
robust discussion and observed that  much work was needed in                                                                    
the specific area.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:40:02 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:41:40 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster reported that the  meeting would adjourn for                                                                    
the  day.  He relayed  that  amendments  would continue  the                                                                    
following morning at 9:00 a.m.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB  205  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB  206  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 205 Amendment Action on 022620.pdf HFIN 2/26/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 205
HB 205 Public Testimony Rec'd by 2.23 to 2.26.20.pdf HFIN 2/26/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 205