Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

02/02/2018 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 240 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
         HB 255-PLUMBING/ELECTRIC CERTIFICATE OF FITNESS                                                                    
3:25:28 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO  announced that  the next order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  255,  "An   Act  relating  to  individuals  and                                                               
employees  who  must  have certificates  of  fitness  to  perform                                                               
certain  plumbing  and electrical  work;  and  relating to  civil                                                               
penalties and violations for not  having required certificates of                                                               
3:26:00 PM                                                                                                                    
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Chris Tuck,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, introduced HB 255 on  behalf of Representative Tuck,                                                               
prime sponsor.   She read from the sponsor  statement, which read                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
     House  Bill 255  will change  enforcement policies  for                                                                    
     individuals  performing  electrical  or  plumbing  work                                                                    
     without  a   valid  certificate  of   fitness.  Current                                                                    
     enforcement   techniques  are   ineffective,  and   the                                                                    
     revisions proposed  in this  legislation will  give the                                                                    
     Department  of Labor  a  substantive  way of  enforcing                                                                    
     certificate of fitness requirements.                                                                                       
     A certificate  of fitness is  issued by  the Mechanical                                                                    
     Inspection section  of the Division  of Labor  Safety &                                                                    
     Standards  in the  Department  of  Labor and  Workforce                                                                    
     Development,   and  is   essentially  an   occupational                                                                    
     license  for performing  electrical  or plumbing  work.                                                                    
     Alaska  statute prohibits  individuals from  performing                                                                    
     these types of work without a valid certificate                                                                            
     of fitness.                                                                                                                
     The current  enforcement for operating without  a valid                                                                    
     certificate  of fitness  is  ineffective. AS  18.62.080                                                                    
     states  that  it  is  a  misdemeanor  to  perform  work                                                                    
     requiring a certificate of  fitness without having one.                                                                    
     However,   enforcement   requires  filing   a   written                                                                    
     complaint through the Department  of Law and taking the                                                                    
     matter to the superior  court, and often these offenses                                                                    
     are too  minor to  merit the  interest of  the District                                                                    
     Attorney's office.  The department's  other enforcement                                                                    
     option is to  issue a civil order to  cease and desist,                                                                    
     which  carries no  punitive sanction,  and so  provides                                                                    
     little  motivation  for  the  offender  to  remedy  the                                                                    
     situation. Therefore, offenders often go unpunished.                                                                       
     House  Bill   255  will  change  the   penalty  from  a                                                                    
     misdemeanor  to  a  violation,  which  will  allow  the                                                                    
     department to  issue citations  and civil  penalties to                                                                    
     individuals and  to employers  using employees  who are                                                                    
     operating without a valid  certificate. New sections of                                                                    
     statute added  by this legislation give  the department                                                                    
     authority  to issue  citations, outline  the procedures                                                                    
     for issuing  citations, and set  the amount of  and the                                                                    
     procedure  for   administering  civil   penalties.  The                                                                    
     penalty is set  at $125 for an individual  and $250 for                                                                    
     an  employer  for a  first  offense,  and $250  for  an                                                                    
     individual and $500 for an employer for subsequent                                                                         
3:27:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHRIS TUCK,  Alaska State  Legislature, presented                                                               
HB  255 as  prime  sponsor.   He  said  he  thought the  overview                                                               
covered the intent of HB 255.                                                                                                   
3:28:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  asked whether  Representative Tuck  held an                                                               
electrical  certificate of  fitness or  whether it  was something                                                               
with which he was familiar.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   replied  he  did  not   currently  hold  a                                                               
certificate of fitness.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH cited bill language  from page 1, line 13 of                                                               
the proposed bill, which reads as follows:                                                                                      
     (c) An  employee of an  electric utility that  does not                                                                    
     have   within  its   service  area   a  portion   of  a                                                                    
     municipality that  has a population of  more than 2,500                                                                    
     is not required to have a certificate of fitness                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked how the  exemption still protected the                                                               
people involved.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK explained that  the exemption was in existing                                                               
statute  and would  not  change  under HB  255.    He added  that                                                               
utilities  tended  to  have   different  standards  and  training                                                               
programs to fit their safety concerns.                                                                                          
3:29:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO  added that  in the  engineering profession  the state                                                               
does not  require engineers  to be licensed  if they  are working                                                               
only  on   industrial  projects   within  the  confines   of  the                                                               
organization and not engaging with the public.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK stated  that maintenance  work was  also not                                                               
covered in the proposed bill.                                                                                                   
3:30:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  asked whether Representative Tuck  had ever                                                               
held a certificate of fitness.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK answered in the affirmative.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP asked  what benefit  the certificate  gave.                                                               
He  stated he  had concerns  about increasing  penalties and  the                                                               
amount of training and paperwork required to get the card.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   answered  he  had  served   an  8,000-hour                                                               
apprenticeship  program   with  an  additional  1,400   hours  of                                                               
classroom  time.    He  explained the  training  had  ensured  he                                                               
performed his  work correctly to  make sure the public  was safe.                                                               
He underlined that  the penalty was currently  a misdemeanor with                                                               
a fine of up  to $2,500, and HB 255 would be  lowering it to $125                                                               
for the first fine.                                                                                                             
3:33:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON commented that  a certificate of fitness                                                               
was already  required in statute  and it  did not appear  that HB                                                               
255 was demonstrably changing that.                                                                                             
3:33:53 PM                                                                                                                    
DEBORAH  KELLY, Director,  Labor Standards  and Safety  Division,                                                               
Department of  Labor & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  added that                                                               
the  proposed legislation  was an  enforcement tools  bill.   She                                                               
stated that the  graduated enforcement tool proposed  in the bill                                                               
had worked  well with contractor  licensing and that she  felt it                                                               
would work well with certificates of fitness.                                                                                   
3:34:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK added  that  the structure  set  out in  the                                                               
proposed bill was no different  from someone needing a commercial                                                               
driver's  license  (CDL)  license  or  a  techniques  of  alcohol                                                               
management (TAM) card for the food and beverage service sector.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  commented  that  driving  an  80,000-pound                                                               
truck is not  the same as running  a simple sewer line.   He said                                                               
he thought the proposed  bill goes a little far.   He did not see                                                               
how  the  certificate had  served  Representative  Tuck over  and                                                               
above his  training.   He stated  he would  rather have  a strict                                                               
penalty,  and  he  said  he  was fond  of  a  policy  giving  the                                                               
department the power to write citations.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  replied that the purpose  of the certificate                                                               
of fitness was not to benefit the worker but the public.                                                                        
3:37:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES asked  whether the  8,000 hours  and 1,400                                                               
hours   of  classroom   training  are   a  requirement   for  the                                                               
certificate of fitness.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered that it  depends on the  trade, and                                                               
the only requirement  for the state of Alaska was  8,000 hours of                                                               
classroom  and   on-the-job  training.     He  deferred   to  the                                                               
MS. KELLY added that there  are several different classifications                                                               
for  plumbers.   She gave  the  example of  the simplest  license                                                               
which had a  requirement of 1,000 hours of work,  to give an idea                                                               
of the range of requirements.                                                                                                   
3:39:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES  asked  whether the  licenses  expire  and                                                               
whether they are maintained through continuing education.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK answered  in the affirmative.   He stated the                                                               
requirement was continuing  education of 16 hours  for a two-year                                                               
3:40:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  asked for confirmation of  the inclusion of                                                               
work on private property in the proposed bill.                                                                                  
MS. KELLY answered in the affirmative.                                                                                          
3:40:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked whether  homeowners would be subject to                                                               
the requirements as the bill says "person", not employer.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered that the certificate  of fitness is                                                               
for construction workers and a private citizen is exempt.                                                                       
3:41:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO clarified  that a homeowner who does  work would still                                                               
have to comply with municipal requirements for inspections.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  explained that  he  meant  exempt from  the                                                               
certificate of fitness requirements.                                                                                            
CHAIR  KITO  clarified  that  the  debate  was  not  whether  the                                                               
certificate  of  fitness  should   exist,  but  the  department's                                                               
ability to enforce.  He asked the department for confirmation.                                                                  
MS. KELLY answered  in the affirmative.  She  reiterated that the                                                               
proposed  bill  was merely  an  enforcement  tool and  would  not                                                               
change   jurisdiction,  applicability,   or  responsibility   for                                                               
maintaining a certificate of fitness.                                                                                           
3:42:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked whether  both the employee and employer                                                               
are liable.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  KITO asked  whether  he was  referring  to a  construction                                                               
company.  He  clarified that the individual doing  the work would                                                               
be required to have a certificate of fitness.                                                                                   
3:43:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered it  would be the  same thing  if an                                                               
employer asked  an employee  who did  not have a  CDL to  drive a                                                               
semi-truck across  town.  He  added that  was why the  penalty on                                                               
the employer was greater than that on the individual.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  whether the  same would  apply to  an                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK answered  if a person is not  in a registered                                                               
apprentice program, then they are probably a laborer.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked the difference  between a license and a                                                               
certificate of fitness.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK  clarified   that   the   terms  are   used                                                               
interchangeably, and the certificate of fitness is a license.                                                                   
3:46:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON asked whether  there would be any demand                                                               
on the department in terms of the expense of enforcement.                                                                       
MS.  KELLY  stated  there  would  likely be  a  small  amount  of                                                               
administrative work,  especially if there is  an appeals process,                                                               
but the division anticipated it would be minimal.                                                                               
3:46:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL gave  the example  of  a crew  working on  a                                                               
house.  He  asked whether someone could do the  work and a person                                                               
with the certificate of fitness could "sign off on it."                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered that the material  handling of pipe                                                               
did  not require  a license,  but  performing installations  did,                                                               
particularly on new construction.                                                                                               
3:47:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD  asked about the chain  of events                                                               
for inspections and whether inspectors administer misdemeanors.                                                                 
MS. KELLY gave  a general overview of the inspections.   She said                                                               
inspectors already  carry out inspections  for their  primary job                                                               
duty  and while  on site  they carry  out certificate  of fitness                                                               
checks  and give  out  cease and  desist orders.    She said  the                                                               
proposed  bill would  allow them  to issue  administrative fines.                                                               
She deferred to the mechanical inspection chief.                                                                                
3:50:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   KNOPP   asked    whether   the   Department   of                                                               
Environmental  Conservation  (DEC)  or   DLWD  had  oversight  on                                                               
3:51:13 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM HARLAN, Chief,  Mechanical Inspection Section, Department                                                               
of  Labor &  Workforce Development  (DLWD), answered  he was  not                                                               
sure he understood to which type of installations he referred.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  replied  that  he  was  asking  about  DEC                                                               
oversight on septic system installations.                                                                                       
MR.  HARLAN answered  in  the  affirmative.   He  added that  DEC                                                               
permits for installing a septic  system cover that work; however,                                                               
DLWD  licensure would  also cover  it, and  the department  would                                                               
defer to DEC permits.                                                                                                           
3:52:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL referred  to  section 3  and  asked why  the                                                               
language included "person" rather than "employer".                                                                              
MS. KELLY deferred to the Legislative Legal for clarification.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK answered  Legislative  Legal  was trying  to                                                               
make that language standard throughout all statutes.                                                                            
3:53:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO opened public testimony on HB 255.                                                                                   
3:53:56 PM                                                                                                                    
BRANDON  MCGUIRE,  UA  Local 367  Plumbers  Union,  testified  in                                                               
support  of HB  255.   He said  he felt  the proposed  bill would                                                               
strengthen enforcement.  He gave  the example of electricians and                                                               
plumbers  working in  private homes.   He  maintained that  often                                                               
those performing  the work did  not have  a current license.   He                                                               
stated  it is  his  job to  speak  with non-union,  unrepresented                                                               
workers, and he  finds that often they are not  licensed, and the                                                               
vast  majority  do  not  have  a  certificate  of  fitness.    He                                                               
underlined that  incorrect installation  was an  important health                                                               
and safety  issue.  He stated  the current problem is  that there                                                               
are "no teeth behind enforcement."                                                                                              
3:57:23 PM                                                                                                                    
BRENT HOVDEN,  Licensed Electrician,  testified in support  of HB                                                               
255.  He indicated he is  a licensed commercial electrician and a                                                               
member of  IBEW Local  1547.   He stated  the ability  to enforce                                                               
certification requirements was the only  way to make sure work is                                                               
done safely.                                                                                                                    
3:58:24 PM                                                                                                                    
JASON ROE, Plumber, spoke in support  of HB 255.  He indicated he                                                               
is a non-union  plumber in Fairbanks, Alaska, and  that he thinks                                                               
"in  this particular  instance the  union  guys are  right."   He                                                               
stated  it was  important to  license  the trades  as there  were                                                               
severe  risks such  as amoebic  dysentery and  gas explosions  at                                                               
stake.    He   stated  he  was  frequently   frustrated  by  poor                                                               
workmanship and  had complained about illegal  workmanship to the                                                               
Department of Law  (DOL).  He said he felt  DOL did not currently                                                               
have the enforcement  tools to do something about  the issue, and                                                               
the proposed bill was necessary.                                                                                                
4:00:59 PM                                                                                                                    
KYLE KAISER,  IBEW Local  1547, testified in  support of  HB 255.                                                               
He  stated it  is very  common  to find  unlicensed people  doing                                                               
electrical work.  He gave the  example of finding a work offer on                                                               
Craigslist  which   did  not  involve   proper  licensing.     He                                                               
maintained the immediate  fine of $125 would be  a huge deterrent                                                               
for the  individual working illegally  for $200 or $300  a night.                                                               
He  added it  was a  huge liability  to have  someone who  is not                                                               
trained, and  it is important to  make sure the people  doing the                                                               
job are qualified.  He said  he felt the proposed bill would help                                                               
enforcement and keep people safe.                                                                                               
4:03:49 PM                                                                                                                    
RYAN ANDREW, IBEW Local 1547, testified in support of HB 255.                                                                   
He stated the  issue of licensing was a public  safety issue.  He                                                               
added that license requirements  ensure the people doing plumbing                                                               
and electrical work are properly trained.                                                                                       
4:05:27 PM                                                                                                                    
PAUL GROSSI,  Alaska State Pipe  Trades, testified in  support of                                                               
HB  255.   He  stated  the proposed  bill  would  not change  the                                                               
requirements  for  certificates  of  fitness,  "only  change  the                                                               
current law  from a criminal to  a civil offense, which  makes it                                                               
easier for the DLWD to enforce."                                                                                                
4:06:24 PM                                                                                                                    
DEBORAH BROLLINI testified in support of  HB 255.  She stated she                                                               
hoped the  enforcement effort in  the proposed  legislation would                                                               
be passed and funded.                                                                                                           
CHAIR KITO announced  that public testimony would  remain open on                                                               
HB 255.                                                                                                                         
[HB 255 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB302 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 302
HB302 Fiscal Note DCCED CBPL 1.26.18.pdf HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 302
HB302 Version A.PDF HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 302
HB240 Supporting Documents-National Community Pharmacists Association Payments That Give You Fevers and Chills 1.29.18.pdf HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 240
HB255 Sectional Analysis 1.23.18.pdf HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 255
HB255 ver O 1.23.18.PDF HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 255
HB255 Sponsor Statement 1.23.18.pdf HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 255
HB255 Fiscal Note DOLWD MI 1.26.18.pdf HL&C 2/2/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 255