Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124
05/10/2019 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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HB 93-MILITARY SPOUSE COURTESY LICENSE 3:46:45 PM CHAIR WOOL announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 93, "An Act relating to temporary courtesy licenses for certain nonresident professionals; and relating to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development." 3:46:57 PM The committee took a brief at-ease. 3:47:01 PM MICHAEL MASON, Staff, Representative Chris Tuck, introduced HB 93 on behalf of Representative Tuck, prime sponsor. He stated that the bill builds on the social contract that people live by. 3:49:03 PM REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK, Alaska State Legislature, as prime sponsor, introduced HB 93. He paraphrased parts of the sponsor statement [included in the committee packet] which read in its entirety as follows [original punctuation provided]: House Bill 93 calls for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development to prepare an annual report to allow the Alaska Legislature to evaluate the progress of a program to make temporary courtesy occupational licenses available to the spouses of active duty service members stationed in Alaska. In 2011, the Alaska Legislature passed House Bill 28 to provide expedited temporary courtesy licenses if a military spouse possesses a license from a previous jurisdiction with similar requirements to the State of Alaska. However, the bill didn't include reporting requirements. Making temporary courtesy licenses available to the spouses of active duty service members allows them to practice their chosen trade without having to go through the time-consuming process of meeting state licensure requirements before beginning work. Expediting courtesy licenses for military spouses allows them to go to work quickly after relocating to Alaska, while they work toward fulfilling any remainder state requirements for their license. The requirement in House Bill 93 for an annual report will allow the Alaska Legislature, the Joint Armed Services Committee, military installations, and local communities to track the progress of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development in making temporary courtesy licenses available to military spouses. HB 93 also calls for the department to produce and distribute informational materials about temporary courtesy licenses to each board authorized to issue such licenses. The intent of this stipulation is to improve the board's knowledge of the licenses, the application process, and the best practices in providing applicant support. Additionally, the bill calls for the department to encourage boards to designate a single employee to serve as the point of contact for public information and inquiries related to temporary courtesy licenses for military spouses. The annual report called for in HB 93 will also highlight many of the opportunities available to help military spouses enter the workforce in Alaska. To date, a low number of eligible professionals have taken advantage of the temporary courtesy license program in Alaska, and many participants have reported delays. House Bill 93 would help identify inefficiencies in the program. Legislation similar to House Bill 93 passed the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously last year but was not taken up by the Alaska State Senate. Making temporary courtesy occupational and other licenses available to military spouses is a priority for the U.S. Department of Defense. 3:51:47 PM REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN addressed the regulations, pointing out that a temporary license is issued for 180 days. She asked if there is a fee associated with the issuance of that license. 3:52:22 PM SARA CHAMBERS, Director, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, explained that there is a specific fee for each program offering a temporary license, which is different than the full license. REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN asked if the fee can be used towards the state cost of their permanent professional license and associated fees, which will vary depending on the type of licensure. MS. CHAMBERS said that with 43 separate programs with separate statutes and regulations and 22 different governing bodies among those, it's not consistent across all programs. Some programs offer temporary licenses and others don't offer one at all. She offered her belief that an element lacking from statute is the need to "beef up" the military spouse licensing language to compel various boards to do more and take this issue more seriously. REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN questioned whether that 180-day window affords people enough time to complete the Alaska licensure process in those programs which temporary licenses exist. MS. CHAMBERS said there is very little data as fewer than 30 military spouses have ever applied using this program. She opined that the need is greater; however, they don't know it's available because of a gap in perception and education. 3:56:31 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK pointed out that HB 93 does three things: produces an annual report; calls on the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development (DCCED) to produce and distribute informational materials; and asks the professional licensing boards to designate a single employee to serve as the point of contact for public information and inquiries related to temporary curtesy licenses for military spouses. 3:57:18 PM REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS questioned whether this bill could have an impact on licensure for plumbers or electricians. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK answered yes, through the Department of Labor. He continued by saying that Alaska has relaxed requirements for electrical licenses, and as a result, Washington State no longer accepts them. In retaliation, Alaska no longer accepts Washington's licenses, ending the reciprocal agreement that once existed between the two states. REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS established a scenario in which a plumber moves to Alaska who had not completed a registered apprenticeship in another state and wanted to get permanently licensed. He pointed out that six months is not enough to go through a registered apprenticeship and asked how that would work in terms of timing. CHAIR WOOL pointed out that HB 97 doesn't pertain to those trades. 3:59:45 PM CHAIR WOOL asked if Alaska has professional licensing reciprocity with other states. MS. CHAMBERS stated that there is only one firm reciprocity agreement mandated by the federal government for real estate appraisers. She noted that there is licensure by credential for almost all programs, which means someone with a similar license from another state can come to Alaska and use those credentials to gain licensure without having to take another national exam. CHAIR WOOL questioned whether the intent of the bill is to expedite licensure above and beyond simple omission of the board exam. 4:01:02 PM MS. CHAMBERS said current law says department and boards may issue a temporary license to the spouse of an active military member who essentially has the equivalent of a similar license in another state. They can get a 180-day license. This bill requires filing a report and providing more information, it doesn't change licensure in any way. There's no impact on the credentials, criteria, or reciprocity, it's just beefing up the administration and reporting back to the legislature, so legislators have better tools to understand the scope of the problem. 4:01:52 PM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK confirmed that, adding that it improves the state's licensing boards and processes and ensures that Alaska has the best practices in place to provide applicants the support they need. It focuses on getting temporary licenses and allowing people who are licensed in another state to work in their fields of trade. REPRESENTATIVE REVAK thanked Representative Tuck and said he appreciates the intent of the current bill. He recalled hearing about these licensing issues for a decade, and as military is a big part of Alaska's economy the more this state can do to benefit their spouses the better. 4:04:54 PM CHAIR WOOL asked about reciprocity program for medical doctors. MS. CHAMBERS said there is an interstate licensure compact that Representative Seaton introduced several years ago. There are a handful of national compacts, which are private agreements that a state makes with a private organization that goes into statute and allows interstate licensure. She noted that nurses, doctors, and a few others have those. CHAIR WOOL asked if a nurse from another state in the compact would get automatic licensure in Alaska. MS. CHAMBERS explained that with a national compact recognition an individual can move into another state and start working. She pointed out that they are all different, as they are private organizations with their own language, fees and trappings. 4:06:15 PM CHAIR WOOL said HB 93 was held over.