Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

03/22/2019 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
03:18:55 PM Start
03:20:00 PM HB48
03:24:57 PM Confirmation Hearing(s): Alcohol Beverage Control Board
03:41:05 PM HB79
05:06:01 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: Alcohol TELECONFERENCED
Beverage and Control Board
+= HB 79 PEACE OFFICER/FIREFIGHTER RETIRE BENEFITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 44 AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINES: FEES TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 48 TEMP STATE EMPLOYEES IN PART EXEMPT SVCE TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 48 Out of Committee
        HB  79-PEACE OFFICER/FIREFIGHTER RETIRE BENEFITS                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:41:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  announced that  the final  order of business  would                                                              
be  HOUSE  BILL NO.  79,  "An  Act relating  to  participation  of                                                              
certain peace  officers and  firefighters  in the defined  benefit                                                              
and   defined  contribution   plans  of   the  Public   Employees'                                                              
Retirement  System of  Alaska; relating  to  eligibility of  peace                                                              
officers  and  firefighters  for medical,  disability,  and  death                                                              
benefits;  relating   to  liability   of  the  Public   Employees'                                                              
Retirement  System  of  Alaska;  and providing  for  an  effective                                                              
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:41:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHUCK KOPP,  Alaska  State  Legislature, as  prime                                                              
sponsor of HB 79,  summarized key aspects of the  bill.  He stated                                                              
that HB  79 is a  hybrid piece of  legislation and  different than                                                              
any other  defined benefits bill  that the state has  seen before.                                                              
He  highlighted  the multiple  levers  that keep  unforeseen  risk                                                              
contained, including  the eligibility age requirement  of 55 years                                                              
old, keeping the  health retirement account from  Tier 4, limiting                                                              
post  retirement  pension adjustments  if  the plan  becomes  less                                                              
than 90 percent  funded, and the ability to increase  the employee                                                              
contribution.    He admitted  that  there  are "less  than  ideal"                                                              
aspects  of the current  bill, however,  it is  those things  that                                                              
"make the  numbers work" and  keep the state's unfunded  liability                                                              
to  an  absolute minimum.    He  remarked  that the  current  plan                                                              
assures employees of  a future cash benefit payout,  a health plan                                                              
that  will  bridge them  to  Medicare,  and certainty  that  their                                                              
spouses will be covered as well.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:44:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  inquired as to what the  eligibility age is                                                              
for spousal coverage.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP explained  that the  spouse's eligibility  is                                                              
tied to  the actual  employee, meaning that  once the  employee is                                                              
eligible their partner will be too.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:45:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL asked  for  clarification on  what  happens if  the                                                              
plan becomes less than 90 percent funded.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP   replied  that  the  plan's   percentage  of                                                              
funding  is determined  by the  actuaries who  decide whether  the                                                              
amount  of  contribution  coming  into the  system  is  enough  to                                                              
generate the projected  load going out in the future.   The Alaska                                                              
Retirement  and Management  (ARM)  Board [Division  of  Retirement                                                              
and Benefits (DRB)]  would perform a reanalysis every  year and if                                                              
the projection  comes in under 90  percent that's when  the levers                                                              
come in to play for course corrections.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP,  responding to a follow up  question from Co-                                                              
Chair Wool,  said that  those levers  include increasing  employee                                                              
contribution  from 8  percent to  10 percent  and withholding  the                                                              
Post-Retirement Pension Adjustment (PRPA).                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:47:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEN  TRUITT,  Staff,  Representative   Chuck  Kopp,  Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative  Kopp, prime  sponsor of                                                              
HB 79,  added that  if the  employee contribution  is raised,  the                                                              
employer contribution can be too.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  sought clarification  on whether both  the employer                                                              
and employee  will automatically  contribute  more if the  funding                                                              
falls below 90 percent or if there are variables.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. TRUITT explained  that the 90 percent threshold  is a specific                                                              
lever to the [PRPA].   Once the ARM Board goes  through its annual                                                              
actuarial reevaluation  and finds  that there are  deficiencies or                                                              
accruing liabilities,  that's when  the adjustments would  be made                                                              
to both  the employee  and employer  contributions until  the fund                                                              
increases.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:49:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL opened public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:49:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL  MIRANDA,  Firefighter, Anchorage  Fire  Department;  Member,                                                              
Alaska Professional  Firefighters  Association, noted  he is  an 8                                                              
year  firefighter paramedic  with  the Anchorage  Fire  Department                                                              
[AFD] and a  Tier 4 member.   He stated there is wide  support for                                                              
HB  79 within  the  Alaska Professional  Firefighters  Association                                                              
which  consists  of over  500  professional firefighters  and  EMS                                                              
[Emergency  Professional  Services]  personnel across  the  state.                                                              
He  explained that  in 2006  Alaska  began placing  all state  and                                                              
municipal employees  into the new Defined Contribution  (DC) plan,                                                              
Tier  4,   which  he  believes   has  generated   many  unintended                                                              
consequences.    He  described the  clearest  consequence  as  the                                                              
competitive  disadvantage  Alaska  now  faces  in  recruiting  and                                                              
retaining   public   safety   employees.      Another   unintended                                                              
consequence from the  switch to Tier 4 is the  lack of "retirement                                                              
security" that  Tier 4  provides for  public safety employees  who                                                              
dedicate a career  to serving Alaska in jobs that  take a physical                                                              
and mental toll.   He pointed out that, for years,  a professional                                                              
actuary  expressed that  Tier  4 would  be  inadequate for  public                                                              
safety  in retirement;  however, this  has now  been validated  by                                                              
testimony  from  the state  investment  officer  at a  recent  ARM                                                              
Board  meeting   as  well   as  additional   predictions   by  the                                                              
Department  of Administration  (DOA).   Mr.  Miranda continued  by                                                              
stating that  all the  tools and  benefit modifications  contained                                                              
in  HB   79  help  to  provide   a  reasonable   and  conservative                                                              
retirement plan for  public safety employees, reduce  risk for the                                                              
state,  and  make  Alaska  competitive   in  the  recruitment  and                                                              
retention of public  safety employees.  He said it  is a bill that                                                              
both  management and  labor strongly  agree  on.   He offered  his                                                              
belief  that  becoming  competitive   will  help  Alaska's  public                                                              
safety  agencies  retain  highly   skilled  employees  and  better                                                              
fulfill  their missions  and responsibilities  to the  communities                                                              
they serve,  as well as conserve  important dollars that  are lost                                                              
when  employees   leave  the  state.    The   Alaska  Professional                                                              
Firefighters  Association, he  said, strongly  supports HB  79 and                                                              
recognizes  it is a  good compromise  to address  the issues  that                                                              
public safety faces in Alaska today.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:55:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SEAN  CASE,  Captain, Anchorage  Police  Department,  stated  that                                                              
recruitment is  something that a  Defined Benefit (DB)  plan could                                                              
help with.   Having a retirement  package that allows  for defined                                                              
benefits attracts  future employees,  which is something  that the                                                              
department is struggling  with.  He noted that the  intake for the                                                              
last two  academies was 35  percent lower  than usual.   He opined                                                              
that  having  an  increased  workforce could  impact  crime  in  a                                                              
positive because  more officers could  be available on  the street                                                              
to initiate  activity.  He added  that working in  law enforcement                                                              
is  a tough  job  that is  both  mentally and  physically  taxing.                                                              
Over  the last  7  years, he  said,  the use  of  force rates  has                                                              
increased by  37 percent within  the Anchorage Police  Department,                                                              
indicating  that violence on  police officers  is increasing.   He                                                              
offered  his belief  that  as a  community,  it  is beneficial  to                                                              
provide a  retirement system to  the employees who  dedicate their                                                              
lives to public service.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:58:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JODIE  HETTRICK, Fire  Chief, Anchorage  Fire Department,  offered                                                              
her belief  that the  current retirement  and benefits  system has                                                              
had a  negative effect  on public  safety and  recruitment  at the                                                              
AFD.   She stated  that prior  to Tier  4 implementation,  the AFD                                                              
would  receive  between 800-1,000  firefighter  applications  each                                                              
year.   Most  recently, she  said,  the number  of applicants  has                                                              
decreased to  305, majority of whom  are from Alaska.   She opined                                                              
that other states  with a DB plan are taking employees  away.  She                                                              
further  noted  that   as  a  parent  of  two   children  who  are                                                              
interested in EMS  as a career, she discourages  them from looking                                                              
at  jobs in  Alaska because  of  the lack  of long-term  financial                                                              
healthcare that this state has to offer.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:02:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK VAUGHAN,  Officer, Juneau  Police Department,  stated that                                                              
he has worked as  a law enforcement officer for the  last 8 years;                                                              
5 years  in Alaska  and 3 years  in Oregon.   He pointed  out that                                                              
when  he lived  in Oregon  his DB  plan was  completely state  and                                                              
employer   funded   and  significantly   more   competitive   than                                                              
Alaska's.   He referenced  statistics that  show the average  life                                                              
expectancy  of a police  officer as  less than  60 years,  so with                                                              
the current  eligibility  age of  65, some officers  may not  even                                                              
get to  access their  retirement.   He recalled several  incidents                                                              
during  which he was  injured at  work to  highlight the  physical                                                              
demands and  difficulty of  the job.   He concluded  by mentioning                                                              
that although  he had  higher pay and  better benefits  in Oregon,                                                              
Alaska is where  he wants to be.   He offered his belief  that the                                                              
current  bill  could  get  more  qualified  and  motivated  public                                                              
safety employees here in Alaska.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:05:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIM   STYERS,  Fire   Chief,  Fairbanks   Fire  Department;   Vice                                                              
President, Alaska  Fire Chiefs Association,  noted that  he agreed                                                              
with  all the  previous  testimony and  wanted  to further  convey                                                              
what  was taking  place in  the city  of Fairbanks.   He  recalled                                                              
that  there was  always a  small percentage  of firefighters  that                                                              
left the  Fairbanks department  for the  larger and  higher-paying                                                              
AFD; however,  now that  same percentage  of trained  firefighters                                                              
are abandoning  Fairbanks for the Lower-48  after 3 or  4 years on                                                              
the  job.   He  added  that,  currently,  there  is a  6-year  gap                                                              
between  Tier 3  and Tier  4 individuals  that's increasing  every                                                              
year, which has never been seen before.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  asked for clarification  on the gap between  Tier 3                                                              
and Tier 4 employees.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. STYERS  responded with an example  in which a Tier  4 employee                                                              
has worked  for 5 years  and a Tier 3  employee has worked  for 11                                                              
years, leaving a 6-year gap between them.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:07:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RANDY  MCLELLAN, Sergeant,  Hiland  Mountain Correctional  Center,                                                              
Department  of Corrections (DOC);  President, Alaska  Correctional                                                              
Officers Association,  stated that Alaska has nearly  900 officers                                                              
serving in  12 correctional facilities  throughout the state.   He                                                              
noted that  he worked as  a correctional  officer for the  past 22                                                              
years and was  testifying from his personal experience  on the job                                                              
and  as  the   President  of  the  Alaska   Correctional  Officers                                                              
Association  for  the  past  8   years.    He  remarked  that  the                                                              
correctional officer  profession is one where  experience matters,                                                              
and the  turnover rate  is "dangerously" high.   He  expressed the                                                              
need for a retirement  system that "makes sense"  and would enable                                                              
the  state to  keep  experienced  corrections officers;  a  system                                                              
that incentivizes  officers  to stay instead  of encouraging  them                                                              
to leave  after 5 years.   He asserted that correctional  officers                                                              
are being  lost at record numbers  of over 120 officers  per year,                                                              
adding  that  between   FY13  and  FY17  over   1600  correctional                                                              
officers  separated,  which is  over  60  percent of  the  current                                                              
workforce.    He said  data  shows  that losing  one  correctional                                                              
officer who  is trained and  certified results  in the loss  of an                                                              
estimated  130,000  dollars that  the  state invests  to  recruit,                                                              
train, and  certify that officer.   Consequently, with  the annual                                                              
loss  of  120  correctional  officers   the  state  is  needlessly                                                              
spending approximately  16 million dollars  per year.   He further                                                              
stated  that  HB  79  is  necessary   to  improve  officer  moral,                                                              
increase  safety  and  security  of the  institution,  and  combat                                                              
correctional officer  fatigue that leads to poor  retention in the                                                              
Department of Corrections (DOC).                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:09:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID SCHNEIDER,  Officer, Fairbanks International  Airport Police                                                              
and  Fire,  Department  of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities                                                              
(DOT&PF),  stated  that he  has  lived  in  Alaska for  nearly  10                                                              
years.   He lamented  that even  though he would  like to  stay in                                                              
Alaska,  he is  one  of  the Tier  4  individuals  who is  looking                                                              
outside  the  state at  other  opportunities  that would  offer  a                                                              
defined  pension  program.   He  pointed  out that  public  safety                                                              
officers' work  is physically demanding  and for that  reason, can                                                              
only be  done for  so long.   He relayed  that in Fairbanks,  most                                                              
public safety workers  are leaving after 5 years  for the Lower-48                                                              
or Federal jobs that offer a retirement plan.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL asked if  the current  bill were  to pass  would it                                                              
encourage Mr. Schneider to stay in Alaska.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCHNEIDER answered yes.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:12:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTOPHER  CAIRNS,   Juneau  Education  Support   Staff  (JESS),                                                              
opined  that in targeting  only  first responders,  HB 79  draws a                                                              
needless  distinction between  first responders  and other  public                                                              
employees.   He noted that he  doesn't reject the idea  that first                                                              
responders  should be  treated  with "special  consideration,"  as                                                              
their job is of  "a special and extreme nature."   He reflected on                                                              
his  experience  working  for  the  National  Alliance  on  Mental                                                              
Health as  a specialist  on the matter  of suicide prevention  and                                                              
intervention, during  which he learned  firsthand a  small portion                                                              
of the immense  mental and emotional burden first  responders must                                                              
contend with.   Nonetheless, if a  DB system is to be  restored to                                                              
some  public employees  there is  an opportunity  being missed  to                                                              
restore  the system  to  all public  employees.    He opined  that                                                              
although  offering peace  officers  and firefighters  a DB  system                                                              
would  alleviate  some of  the  challenges associated  with  their                                                              
recruitment  and  retention,  all public  institutions  in  Alaska                                                              
have difficulty  with these matters.   He offered his  belief that                                                              
retaining staff  in any  institution is  the key to  accomplishing                                                              
more  with  less,   which  is  the  very  challenge   that  public                                                              
employees  are faced with  in the  current budgetary  environment.                                                              
He  pointed   out  that   in  a  DC   model,  an  employee's   own                                                              
contributions  fund their retirement,  whereas in  a DB  model the                                                              
contributions  of  those  still  working fund  the  retirement  of                                                              
those  that have retired.   He  further noted  that the  "fiscally                                                              
responsible"  return to  defined  benefits should  be  a model  in                                                              
which the number  of employees paying into the system  is as broad                                                              
as possible.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:15:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TRAVIS    WOLFE,   President,    International   Association    of                                                              
Firefighters (IAFF)  Local 4303, expressed  his support for  HB 79                                                              
on  behalf  of  the  International   Association  of  Firefighters                                                              
(IAFF) Local  4303 to return  firefighters and police  officers to                                                              
a DB plan.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:16:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUGLAS  SCHRAGE,  Alaska  Fire  Chiefs  Association,  voiced  his                                                              
support  for HB  79.    He stated  that  the issue  constitutes  a                                                              
"general  management  problem,"  which  is  the  reason  there  is                                                              
unanimous  support  for the  current  bill  from fire  and  police                                                              
chiefs across  the state.   He pointed  out that retention  issues                                                              
are  especially  difficult on  the  smaller communities  for  whom                                                              
losing  a single  firefighter can  be a  challenge to  maintaining                                                              
their day-to-day coverage.   He attributed part of  the problem to                                                              
departments in  the Pacific  Northwest whose headhunters  identify                                                              
and approach candidates in Alaska.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:18:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE NELSON,  Executive Director,  Law Enforcement  Officers' and                                                              
Fire  Fighters (LEOFF)  Plan 2  Retirement  Board, explained  that                                                              
the  LOEFF plan  2  represents all  the  fulltime law  enforcement                                                              
officers and firefighters  in the state of Washington  and is a 12                                                              
billion dollar  plan that is 109  percent funded, making  them one                                                              
of the most  successful DB plans  in the country according  to the                                                              
National  Association  of  State Retirement  Administrators.    He                                                              
noted  that  the plan  was  established  in  1977 and  has  18,000                                                              
active  members  and  5,000  retirees.     He  mentioned  that  he                                                              
reviewed William  Fornia's presentation  on HB 79 that  was before                                                              
the committee  on 3/20/19  and was  willing to  point out  several                                                              
similarities   between  the  current   bill's  proposal   and  the                                                              
provisions  offered in the  state of  Washington.  He  highlighted                                                              
that both plans  have a 5-year final average pay  period, which in                                                              
Washington,  has been successful  in preventing  spikes in  salary                                                              
that  could impact  the projected  liabilities.   Both plans  also                                                              
have    similar   retirement    ages,    conservative    actuarial                                                              
assumptions, and  annual actuarial evaluations, all  of which rank                                                              
among the best practices  for DB plans.  He further  noted that in                                                              
the  LOEFF Plan  2's  over 40-year  existence  they have  remained                                                              
fully funded the whole time.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:21:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN questioned  whether other public  employees                                                              
in Washington state have a DB retirement system.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. NELSON answered yes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  inquired as to why in  1977 police officers                                                              
and firefighters created a separate pension system.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NELSON explained  that Washington  had  a previous  statewide                                                              
police  and  fire plan  that  was  created  in 1971;  however,  it                                                              
became  quickly apparent  that the  benefits  provided under  that                                                              
plan were  not financially  sustainable.  Thus,  the LOEFF  Plan 2                                                              
was  created  in  1977  for  all   law  enforcement  officers  and                                                              
firefighters hired after that date.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked how many years an  employee must have                                                              
to retire under Washington's system.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. NELSON  replied that they have  a normal retirement  age of 53                                                              
with any years of  service, or an individual could  retire with an                                                              
actuarial reduction at age 50 if they have 20 years of service.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:23:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATTHEW  PRESSER,  Officer, Ted  Stevens  Anchorage  International                                                              
Airport Police  and Fire Department, Department  of Transportation                                                              
and  Public Facilities  (DOT&PF),  noted that  he  belongs to  the                                                              
Tier 4  retirement system.   He  said that  most of his  statement                                                              
had  been covered  by other  testifiers  but wanted  to offer  his                                                              
belief that defined  benefits work to keep quality  people working                                                              
in  Alaska  and   to  provide  a  sense  of   long-term  financial                                                              
stability.   He  pointed out  that  a large  age disparity  exists                                                              
within  the  department.   He  explained  that  the age  gap  that                                                              
generally exists  between Tier  3 and Tier  4 can be  explained by                                                              
Tier  4 officers  leaving  employment at  the  5-year mark,  which                                                              
also tends  to put a strain  on those who  stay.  He  concluded by                                                              
reiterating his support for the current bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:26:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUSTIN  MCGINNIS,   State  Trooper,   Alaska  Wildlife   Troopers,                                                              
Department of  Public Safety  (DPS), remarked  that he has  been a                                                              
trooper for  9-years with the  Tier 4 system.   He  emphasized the                                                              
difficulty  of his  job, both  physically and  mentally, which  is                                                              
the crux of  his concerns with the  bill in its current  form.  He                                                              
directed attention  to the age requirement to  retire, adding that                                                              
some employees  will have worked 20  years well before  the age of                                                              
55 years  old.   Additionally, he  expressed  concern with  how to                                                              
implement "a  fair and equitable"  way to  buy in to  the proposed                                                              
system  and urged  the committee  to revisit  these issues  before                                                              
passing the current bill.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:28:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RUSSELL    DENNIS,    Firefighter/Paramedic,     Fairbanks    Fire                                                              
Department,  briefly  discussed  the Fairbanks  Fire  Department's                                                              
recruitment and  retention problems, adding  that if HB  79 passes                                                              
it might encourage people to stay.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:30:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATTHEW  DUBOIS,  Sergeant,  Juneau  Police  Department;,  Member,                                                              
Public  Safety  Employee  Association   (PSEA),  stated  that  the                                                              
average  officer  at his  agency  lasts  for  about 4.4  years  of                                                              
service,  adding  that in  the  last  8  years, 18  qualified  and                                                              
exceptional law  enforcement officers  were lost to  the Lower-48.                                                              
Some, he said, even  refer to Alaska as the "farm  system" for the                                                              
Lower-48,  as  the  state  of Alaska  pays  for  the  training  of                                                              
officers  who end  up leaving  and going  to work  down south  for                                                              
departments  that  reap the  benefits  at  Alaska's expense.    He                                                              
mentioned  witnessing  individuals  from  out  of  state  agencies                                                              
coming  to   Juneau  to  recruit   officers  by   offering  better                                                              
benefits,  better housing  markets, and  a lower  cost of  living.                                                              
He  concluded by  urging  the committee  to  take  care of  public                                                              
safety  workers   who  sacrifice  for  the  state   of  Alaska  by                                                              
considering HB 79.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:32:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIAS  LAMB,  Firefighter/Paramedic,  Fairbanks  Fire  Department;                                                              
Member,  Alaska  Professional  Fire  Fighters  Association,  noted                                                              
that he is  a Tier 4 employee and  is excited by what  HB 79 could                                                              
potentially  offer.   He  informed  the  committee  that he  is  a                                                              
lifelong, multigenerational  Alaskan and  would find it  tragic if                                                              
he was  forced to  leave the state  in search  of a DB  retirement                                                              
system; however,  with the  current DC system  he can't  afford to                                                              
stay here and  retire at a "reasonable"  age.  He opined  that the                                                              
current system creates  a lack of incentive to stay  in Alaska for                                                              
Tier  4 employees  like  himself,  adding that  he  has seen  most                                                              
people leave his department after 2 or 3 years.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:35:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CODY  CARVER, Firefighter,  Bellingham  Fire Department,  informed                                                              
the committee  he was born  in Soldotna,  Alaska and gave  a short                                                              
description  of  his experience  working  across  the  state as  a                                                              
firefighter, eventually  ending up at  the AFD for nearly  4 years                                                              
before he  moved to Washington.   He said after  educating himself                                                              
on what the  Tier 4 retirement system  has to offer for  a pension                                                              
and  disability,  he  decided  to   explore  his  options  in  the                                                              
Washington  area for  two reasons:  one, the  uncertainty of  a DC                                                              
retirement plan;  and two, the  possibility of getting  injured on                                                              
the job  and not being  able to  return to work.   He  pointed out                                                              
that many  departments in Washington  state offer  comparable pay,                                                              
good benefits,  and  a pension with  disability,  which is  why he                                                              
moved there.   He further noted  that if Alaska offered  a pension                                                              
for Tier 4 members he would never have left.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:37:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EDWIN  ANDERSON,  State  Trooper,  Alaska  State  Troopers  (AST),                                                              
Department of Public  Safety (DPS), informed the  committee he has                                                              
worked as  a state trooper  for the last 6  years and is a  Tier 4                                                              
employee.  He  encouraged the state to move towards  a sustainable                                                              
and  adequate  DB retirement  [system]  for  state troopers.    He                                                              
opined  that   such  a   system  would   increase  retention   and                                                              
recruitment  among  his  division.     Nonetheless,  he  expressed                                                              
several  reservations  about  HB  79  in its  current  form.    He                                                              
offered  his  belief  that  with   Tier  5,  members  may  end  up                                                              
contributing more  money from their  salary to retirement.   Also,                                                              
members who switch  over would have to wait until  at least age 55                                                              
with 20 years of  service to start receiving a  pension while Tier                                                              
4 allows  for withdrawing  from accounts penalty  free at  age 50.                                                              
He  pointed out  that medical  benefits are  no better  in Tier  5                                                              
than Tier 4.   He said he  is currently eligible to  withdraw from                                                              
Tier  4 when  he turns  50, whereas  Tier  5 would  offer a  later                                                              
retirement,  no better  medical  coverage,  and possibly  increase                                                              
contributions  from  his  salary.     He  recommended  that  at  a                                                              
minimum,  HB 79  be amended  to  include medical  coverage on  par                                                              
with  Tier  3 and  retirement  at  any  age  with 20-25  years  of                                                              
service.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:39:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHEA  HALLETT,  Officer, Fairbanks  International  Airport  Police                                                              
and  Fire,  Department  of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities                                                              
(DOT&PF);,  Member, Public  Safety  Employees Association  (PSEA),                                                              
expressed  her support  for HB  79, adding  that she  is a Tier  3                                                              
employee which  is the only reason  she has not left the  state to                                                              
pursue employment  elsewhere.  She  revealed that her  division is                                                              
"operating  at 27  percent  down," noting  that  it costs  262,000                                                              
dollars  the first  year to  train  an officer  in her  department                                                              
because  of the  multiple certifications  a  trainee must  obtain.                                                              
She further  noted that losing  employees after  a year or  two is                                                              
common and it's at the cost of the state.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:41:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LANE  WRAITH,   State  Trooper,   Alaska  State  Troopers   (AST),                                                              
Department of  Public Safety (DPS),  opined that with a  DB system                                                              
it would  be possible to both  recruit and retain  experienced law                                                              
enforcement  officers.    He  reflected   on  seeing  many  fellow                                                              
troopers leave for  different agencies and be recruited  by out of                                                              
state  departments because  Alaska lacks  a DB  program.   He said                                                              
that  HB 79 is  a step  in the  right direction  and would  create                                                              
incentive for troopers to stay in state.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:44:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER HAWBAKER,  Officer, Fairbanks  International Airport  Police                                                              
and  Fire,  Department  of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities                                                              
(DOT&PF), informed the  committee he is a Tier 4  employee who has                                                              
been part  of the Public Employees'  Retirement System  (PERS) for                                                              
12 years.  He  reflected on a several officers who  left the state                                                              
because of  the retirement  plan and as  a field training  officer                                                              
himself,  expressed  frustration  at  watching  them  leave.    He                                                              
pointed  out  that it  takes  about  5  years  to become  a  truly                                                              
competent police  officer, which is problematic because  it's also                                                              
the same  time employees  become fully  vested as  Tier 4  and can                                                              
move on.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:47:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAMUEL  WEBBER,  State  Trooper,   Alaska  State  Troopers  (AST),                                                              
Department  of   Public  Safety   (DPS);  Member,  Public   Safety                                                              
Employees Association  (PSEA), expressed his belief that  HB 79 is                                                              
a great  step forward and  has a low  chance of creating  unfunded                                                              
liabilities  for the  state.  Ultimately,  he  said, the goal  for                                                              
public  safety personnel  is increased  recruitment and  retention                                                              
and the current bill is a "fantastic" start.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:49:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  BENTLER,  Officer,  Ted  Stevens  Anchorage  International                                                              
Airport Police  and Fire Department, Department  of Transportation                                                              
and Public  Facilities (DOT&PF);  Member, Public Safety  Employees                                                              
Association  (PSEA), said  he has  noticed a  reduction in  steady                                                              
employees  as  people   leave  the  state  in   search  of  better                                                              
benefits.   He stated that as  a recruitment officer, he  has seen                                                              
many potential  applicants walk away  when they learn there  is no                                                              
DB plan.   He offered  his belief  that without solid  retirement,                                                              
benefits it will just keep getting worse.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:51:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHAYNE    WESTCOTT,    Firefighter/Paramedic,    Anchorage    Fire                                                              
Department  (AFD),  informed  the   committee  he  is  a  longtime                                                              
Alaskan and  has worked for  multiple fire departments  across the                                                              
state.  He stated  that his lifelong goal was to  work for the AFD                                                              
until retirement,  however, due  to the current  Tier 4  system he                                                              
is being  forced to  look for work  outside the  state.   He added                                                              
that   with   his   3   years   of   experience   as   a   trained                                                              
firefighter/paramedic  he  has received  multiple  letters in  the                                                              
mail regarding  lateral positions  at departments  in the  Pacific                                                              
Northwest that offer  DB plans and better healthcare  with similar                                                              
pay.    He said  passing  the  current  bill  would help  fix  the                                                              
retention issue and make him a happier employee.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:53:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CODY  FENTON,   officer,  Ted   Stevens  Anchorage   International                                                              
Airport Police  and Fire Department, Department  of Transportation                                                              
and Public  Facilities (DOT&PF);  Member, Public Safety  Employees                                                              
Association  (PSEA), expressed his  support for  HB 79  to further                                                              
provide  defined benefits  to his  fellow employees.   He  said he                                                              
would  like  to  see  the  state  take  a  proactive  approach  in                                                              
assisting  officers   and  recruiting  well-qualified   people  by                                                              
offering a DB program.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:54:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERNIE  BRENT  informed  the  committee  that  he  was  a  lifelong                                                              
Alaskan and a state  trooper until two years ago  when he accepted                                                              
a position  with the  King County  Sheriff's Office in  Washington                                                              
state.    After   working  as  a  police  officer   elsewhere,  he                                                              
maintained that Alaska's  public safety personnel are  some of the                                                              
best trained  and most professional  men and women that  one could                                                              
find.   He reflected  on several  well-trained troopers  that have                                                              
left or  are leaving the state,  citing retirement as  the largest                                                              
driving factor.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:56:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA WRAITH,  stated her strong  support for HB 79,  noting that                                                              
her husband  has served as  a trooper since  2009.   She expressed                                                              
increasing concern with  the level of crime in the  state and what                                                              
she  sees as  a lack  of adequate  support to  recruit and  retain                                                              
well-qualified officers.   She said  that she and her  husband are                                                              
apprehensive  as they plan  for their  future and for  retirement,                                                              
adding  that they  have  watched many  troopers  leave Alaska  for                                                              
Lower-48 jobs because  those jobs offer a DB plan.   She concluded                                                              
by urging committee members to support HB 79.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:59:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WESLEY  MCQUILLIN, Officer,  Ted  Stevens Anchorage  International                                                              
Airport Police  and Fire Department, Department  of Transportation                                                              
and  Public  Facilities (DOT&PF),  noted  that  he is  a  lifelong                                                              
Alaskan and  has been a  Tier 4 employee since  2007.  He  said he                                                              
finds  it difficult  not  to explore  private  sector and  out-of-                                                              
state  options  that  offer  competitive   alternatives  regarding                                                              
retirement and benefits.   The constant turnover  he's experienced                                                              
in   the   department   resulted   in   limited   experience   and                                                              
compromising situations.   He offered  his belief that HB  79 is a                                                              
sustainable option.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:01:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEN   ENDRES,  State   Trooper,   Alaska   State  Trooper   (AST),                                                              
Department  of Public  Safety (DPS),  noted that  he is  a Tier  4                                                              
employee  and wanted  to  share some  of  his personal  experience                                                              
working  as a  trooper.   He reflected  on troopers  who left  the                                                              
state  for jobs  that  offered better  health  benefits  and a  DB                                                              
system.   He  concluded by  urging  the committee  to support  the                                                              
current piece of legislation.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:03:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL  closed  public   testimony  and  thanked  all  the                                                              
testifiers for highlighting the urgency and need for HB 79.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP offered  his understanding  from hearing  the                                                              
testimony  that  Alaska's  public   safety  workers  "are  getting                                                              
ground down  in the current system  that we have."   He referenced                                                              
"finance  numbers"   that  show  Alaska  turning   over  "tens  of                                                              
millions of dollars  in training on a regular basis  that is going                                                              
out of  state."  He  concluded by thanking  the testifiers  in the                                                              
room for coming.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL announced that HB 79 was held over.                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Charles Cross_Redacted.pdf HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB79 version U.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 4/1/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB79 Sponser Statement ver U.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB79 Sectional Analysis ver U 3.12.2019.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 4/1/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB79 Additional Information APFO Recruitment Retention Report 3.11.2019.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB79 Additional Information DPS Commissioned Employee Engagement Survey Results Overview December 2017 3.11.2019.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 4/1/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB79 PERS Tier Comparisons for Bill 3.18.2019.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 4/1/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB 79. Backup. Letter of Opposition.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 4/1/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB 79. Backup. Letters of Support.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/25/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79
HB79 Additional Information DPS Recruitment-Retention Plan Overview 3.11.2019.pdf HL&C 3/20/2019 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 3/22/2019 3:15:00 PM
HB 79