Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB 120-HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEE PROTECTION                                                                                        
CHAIR WILSON announced that the first order of business would be                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO.  120 "An Act relating to safety  devices and sharp                                                               
instruments  for  the  prevention  of the  spread  of  bloodborne                                                               
pathogens  in  health  care  employees;   and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON passed the gavel to Vice Chair Seaton.                                                                             
3:08:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON, sponsor  to  HB  120, stated  that  HB 120  brings                                                               
Alaska   standards  into   compliance   with  federal   standards                                                               
concerning  bloodborne pathogen  protection.    She related  that                                                               
Alaska's  laws are  in compliance  with federal  standards except                                                               
concerning  doctor offices  with less  than  25 people.   At  the                                                               
time, she  said, "we were  thinking that  maybe that was  an area                                                               
that it would cost too much for  people ... we were kind of being                                                               
worried about  small businesses and  so, that's why  they weren't                                                               
included at the  time.  Since then, we have  learned so much more                                                               
about bloodborne  pathogens and the  possibility of not  only the                                                               
patients, but  the workers  themselves, getting  AIDS, hepatitis,                                                               
or  some type  of blood  disease ...  all of  the offices  are in                                                               
compliance  with  it anyway,  this  is  just  a  way to  get  our                                                               
statutes into compliance with it."   She said that the passing of                                                               
HB 120 will bring Alaska  into compliance with federal standards,                                                               
secure  federal  grant  funds,  and  will  clarify  the  standard                                                               
practices for employees in doctor offices.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  KOHRING  inquired as  to  the  number of  medical                                                               
establishments affected by this bill.                                                                                           
CHAIR WILSON  said that  dental offices  across the  state, small                                                               
doctor's offices, and veterinarians are affected.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING  asked if anyone in  the medical community                                                               
objects to this legislation.                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON stated  that she is not aware of  anyone who objects                                                               
to this legislation.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KOHRING  inquired as  to  the  necessity of  this                                                               
legislation, if everyone is in compliance.                                                                                      
CHAIR WILSON  pointed out that  legislation is necessary  for two                                                               
reasons:   specific grant availability, and  clarification on the                                                               
interpretation of the standards.                                                                                                
3:12:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER inquired  as to  sponsor statement  of HB
120  repealing  two  exemptions,   one  referring  to  intra-oral                                                               
procedures  and the  other referring  to  health care  facilities                                                               
with less than 25 employees.                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON directed  Representative Gardner  to the  Sectional                                                               
Analysis  of  HB  120;  she  explained  that  Section  2  exempts                                                               
employers with fewer than 25 full-time employees.                                                                               
CAMILLE  SOLEIL, Executive  Director, Alaska  Nurses Association,                                                               
(ANA), stated that  the ANA supports HB 120.   She explained that                                                               
the standards laid out in  the statute, with the clarification of                                                               
this  bill,  provide clear  and  consistent  protection for  both                                                               
patients and health care workers.                                                                                               
GREY  MITCHELL, Director,  Labor Standards  and Safety  Division,                                                               
Department  of Labor  and Workforce  Development, stated  that he                                                               
directs  the Occupational  Safety and  Health Program  for Alaska                                                               
and that this program operates  under a special jurisdiction from                                                               
the  federal  government.    He   explained  that  based  on  the                                                               
Occupational Safety and Health Act  of 1970, states can apply for                                                               
and receive  a special jurisdiction to  cover occupational safety                                                               
and health  within their  state.   The catch, he  said,   is that                                                               
when a state does apply for  that, they have to agree to maintain                                                               
standards that  are at least  as effective as  federal standards.                                                               
He   said  that   the  federal   Occupational  Safety   &  Health                                                               
Administration, (OSHA), came  out with a broad  set of bloodborne                                                               
pathogen protection  standards that  force the revision  of state                                                               
requirements.    He  stated  that  the  [Department  of  Labor  &                                                               
Workforce Development] strongly supports HB 120.                                                                                
VICE CHAIR SEATON  inquired as to coverage for  dentists under HB
MR.  MITCHELL  stated that  the  federal  standards were  adopted                                                               
under a  separate statute.   He explained that  [Alaskan] statute                                                               
"18.60.020" allows  for the adoption  of federal  regulations and                                                               
the  [Department of  Labor &  Workforce Development]  has adopted                                                               
the federal  guidelines on  bloodborne pathogens.   He  said that                                                               
the state law conflicts with  the adopted federal standards.  The                                                               
dentists, he  related, are complying with  the federal standards,                                                               
because of the liabilities associated.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  asked what other bloodborne  pathogens are                                                               
included in this legislation.                                                                                                   
MR.  MITCHELL  said  that   hepatitis  and  sexually  transmitted                                                               
diseases are  higher in  Alaska than  in other  states.   He said                                                               
that it  makes sense  to make  sure that  the protections  are in                                                               
place [through  legislation] for  health care  businesses dealing                                                               
with blood, needles,  and cutting instruments that  may have been                                                               
contaminated.  He continued:                                                                                                    
     [this bill] maintains our Alaska  program, which in our                                                                    
     conversations with  the dental  society ... was  one of                                                                    
     their concerns  ... they wanted  to make sure  that the                                                                    
     Alaska   Occupational   Safety   and   Health   Program                                                                    
     maintained jurisdiction  in Alaska  ... right  now, you                                                                    
     can get  a hearing in  front of  a group of  people who                                                                    
     are Alaskans,  in Alaska,  on an  issue that  you might                                                                    
     dispute.  If federal OSHA  was to take over, you'd have                                                                    
     to  go down  to Seattle,  or  San Francisco  to have  a                                                                    
     hearing on  an issue that  you disputed ... there  is a                                                                    
     lot of support behind keeping the program in Alaska.                                                                       
3:20:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING  moved to report  HB 120 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  "zero"                                                               
fiscal  notes.   There being  no objection,  HB 120  was reported                                                               
from  the House  Health, Education  and Social  Services Standing                                                               
[VICE CHAIR SEATON passed the gavel back to Chair Wilson.]                                                                      

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