Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/21/1995 08:04 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
The first item on the agenda was HB 83. Chair James reminded the committee that they heard the sponsor statement at the last meeting and asked that the bill be revisited. HSTA - 02/21/95 HB 83 - REVIEW OF FEDERALLY MANDATED PROGRAMS Number 016 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN spoke on the CS for HB 83 and noted that copies had been passed out to committee members. CHAIR JAMES called for a motion to adopt the CS as the working document. REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER moved to adopt the CS, Version C, for HB 83, which was from the World Trade Committee. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIR JAMES noted that Representative Joe Green arrived. Number 055 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN explained the change in the CS; namely, that the review process of federal mandates was changed from "annually" to "once every four years." This change would reduce the cost of the mandate by 70 percent. Representative Ogan said he discovered while studying this bill that there has never been a study as to what federal mandates cost the state. One study showed, however, that the municipality of Anchorage alone will spend approximately $430 million to pay for environmental mandates from 1991 to the year 2000. Representative Ogan suspects we will pay billions of dollars on the state level in that same kind of time frame. He said there are currently 192 federal mandates in force against the state, and he hopes this bill will be cost effective, and if passed, it will save the state money. It will set up methods for dealing with the costs, for negotiating with the federal government, and also for suing the federal government, if necessary. Number 101 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON said it sounds good in theory, yet every four years the U.S. Congress passes laws, and from these laws we get mandates. The U.S. Department of Education has stated that you must have certain laws regarding guns in schools, for instance. The state government may or may not agree with the mandate, yet if it comes from the federal government, not from the state level, it would need reviewing. Her concern was about what they would be trying to accomplish doing reviews every four years, if it was to make determinations about the costs to implement the mandates, or to make recommendations about whether or not we should implement the mandates. Number 124 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN assured Representative Robinson that the intent of the bill is to scrutinize the mandates and laws to determine if they are constitutional under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That is the thrust of this bill. He believes the federal government is exceeding its authority, and he said we often hear about how a certain law might work for different areas in the lower 48 states, but also they are not applicable here. The idea is to scrutinize the mandates as litmus tests to see if they are constitutional. If they are unconstitutional then they can argue with the federal government in court, if necessary, about their authority to impose the laws on the state. It will be up to the Governor to decide whether or not to fight these mandates, and different governors will surely take different approaches with it. Number 169 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON agreed that federal laws cannot be changed. The legislature can only control such things as mandates that the state is currently accepting and following. Every year there is something put on us from the federal government, such as the helmet law and the increase on the drinking age. Many mandates have threats of losing federal dollars accompanying them, if the state does not implement it by a certain date. She asked if Representative Ogan perceives this bill as a means by which the legislature could decide whether or not to implement the mandate, or as a way to say the Governor should fight it. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said it was a fair analysis. He mentioned a situation the city of Anchorage experienced recently where they refused to implement an environmental mandate. It would have cost the city $1 million to implement the mandate. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON concluded the bill calls for another report, or a review on a report; it doesnt force anybody to do anything. She only felt confused about the cost. CHAIR JAMES said there would be a cost for the review and a fiscal note is attached. She suspects if they determined that a considerable amount of money was required to implement a mandate, then made a decision not to implement it, the savings would probably offset the cost of the evaluation. She added there is no sure way to identify those moneys; however, according to the information she has, many of the federal mandates cost the state more to implement than the federal funds provided to the state for implementation. Number 202 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN asked what affect it would have on mandates that come down during the interim period; for instance, a mandate that came down three years ago and has been implemented for these last three years. He wondered if that would lose much of the effectiveness of what this bill is trying to accomplish. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN agreed the bill might lose some of its effectiveness. While studying the fiscal note they determined it would be cost prohibitive to review the mandates each year. On the other hand, it might be prudent to build something into the bill to allow for reviews on any new mandates that come in the interim. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asserted that, while it would be a four year cycle, an unacceptable mandate might come up within the first year that should be reviewed. CHAIR JAMES inserted that she felt the Governor should be given the message about an unacceptable mandate. In fact, it is currently an administrative option. She said they could be doing that now. HB 83 merely declares that they will review mandates at least every four years. If a savings was truly recognized it would behoove the Administration to review the mandates without being told that they have to. Number 240 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS inquired about how to distinguish between the regional concerns versus the national interests. CHAIR JAMES said she suspects that every decision we ought to make should be representative of both regional and national interests. However, one problem with federal mandates is that although they may apply to Los Angeles or New York, they may not apply to our area. A problem with federal mandates is that they can only do it in one size fits all. The question is, if the federal government has the right to make decisions for Alaska based on problems relating to situations in other states. Number 260 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if the review commission would take each mandate individually, then make a ruling on it and say a particular mandate should not apply to Alaska. He wondered how it would work, in practice, when it reached the commission level. He was confused about how we would determine if we should let something go, because it is in the national interest, or because it is a regional thing and they should leave us alone. Number 277 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN pointed out that there is a section in the bill that covers new mandates, on page 2, line 30. The commissioner of a department or head of another agency of the executive branch authorized to develop a state program to respond to mandates contained in federal statute shall, with the assistance of the Department of Law, review the applicable federal statutes, regulations, guidelines, and policies to determine whether the federal government has exceeded its constitutional authority to impose mandates on the state. If it is determined that the federal government may have exceeded its authority, the commissioner or agency head shall submit a written report to the governor and the house and senate judiciary committees setting out the basis for this determination. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN added that there will be disagreements concerning what the federal government might do that is good for the state, but whether or not it is constitutional, is the question here. Number 300 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if part of the recommendation is that they could file suit against the federal government, if the commission saw fit to do that. CHAIR JAMES added that the Governor would be the one to file the suit. CHAIR JAMES had to leave for another meeting, so Representative Ogan, Vice-Chair of the State Affairs Committee, took the Chair for the rest of the meeting. VICE-CHAIR OGAN asked for testimony from Molly Sherman who had signed up to testify. Number 335 MOLLY SHERMAN, Volunteer, Alaskan Environmental Lobby, and life long Alaskan, testified against HB 83. Ms. Sherman said they have 19 member agencies throughout the state, and there are almost 2,000 members. Below is the written statement from Alaska Environmental Lobby, Inc. "The Alaskan Environmental Lobby strongly supports all endeavors that serve to give the people in Alaska opportunities to better manage all resources; human, physical and spiritual. We feel there are many states' rights issues that must be addressed, if we are going to move with intelligence and consistency into the 21st Century. "We also believe, as does the sponsor of this legislation that the state government should `scrutinize the extent and scope of authority asserted by the federal government' in many areas. "There are many examples of federal mandates where the benefits to this state and its citizens, in economic, public health and safety terms, have been substantial. Minimum drinking age, compensatory schooling, safe working standards. The U.S. Congress is not made up of raging environmentalists. They have not conspired to keep Alaska from using its resources, they are interested in the health and safety concerns of all its citizens. "It has been suggested that this legislation could save the state money. We have been unable to determine how additional administrative costs, forays into litigation with the federal government and forfeiture of federally mandated monies will help Alaskas economy. In a time when we all feel the need to be frugal and fiscally responsible HB 83 seems uncertain. "However, we feel that this can be done in less costly - in real administrative costs and potential litigation charges - and more efficient ways than those proposed in HB 83. It is unnecessary to do this on statutory basis. State agencies are already capable of telling us when a program is unnecessary, over burdensome, overpriced and onerous. A legislator with a specific concern is able to contact the specific agency and get all the pertinent information. At a time when interagency cooperation is stressed, this would seem a viable and efficient alternative." Number 383 JACK KREINHEDER, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Management and Budget in the Governors Office, offered some brief comments in regard to HB 83. He noted that the bill was amended in the House Special Committee on World Trade and the State-Federal Relations. The intent was to make the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) the lead agency in the review of these federal mandates. They prepared a corresponding fiscal note for it. After establishing that the CS had been adopted, MR. KREINHEDER addressed some concerns his office had, and he asked the committee to respond, as to whether those concerns were addressed in the CS. He assured Vice-Chair Ogan that the Administration is supportive and in agreement with the legislatures concerns about the issue of federal mandates, and, in particular, unfunded federal mandates. Nevertheless, they have concerns pertaining to the process this bill requires of them, with countless numbers of federal requirements that could be interpreted as mandates, such as requirements to have EXIT signs in every public building. The concern is that an agency might have to review and write reports about such issues as fire exit signs. Mr. Kreinheder said he would be glad to work with the committee on specific wording, but it should be something to the effect of federal mandates having a significant fiscal or policy program impact on the state of Alaska, to allow their agency to use some common sense determination about what is an issue, as opposed to routine public safety types of requirements. Number 445 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Kreinheder what happens now when each department gets federal laws, which come to the state for a determination. Her question was if there are other reviews in the other departments. MR. KREINHEDER responded there are two steps in the process. The first step happens before the enactment of these laws and requirements. They keep close coordination between the Governors Office in Washington, D.C., with John Katz and his staff who provide early warning on some of these requirements. Presently, they are tracking the various block grant proposals in Congress to see how they might affect the state. His office also works with the Congressional Delegation on any input they wish to have into those proposals. The second step comes after these proposals are passed. Mr. Kreinheder said they continue to receive information from the Washington office, but beyond that, he was not aware of any formal reviewing process the departments are required to follow. As far as he knew, it is largely up to the department as to what kind of review process they would use for the mandates. VICE-CHAIR OGAN said he would be happy to work with Mr. Kreinheder on changing the language of the bill to avoid a major paper shuffle. After all, the intent of this legislation is to scrutinize potentially unconstitutional mandates and those which cost the state large amounts of money. Number 476 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented that the legislature has contracted with someone to perform basically the same function for the legislature that Mr. Katz is doing for the Administration. With the positioning of our Congressional Delegation it seems an appropriate time, in Representative Porters view, to try to intercede during the time the bill is being considered in Congress, as opposed to after it has been completed. He wondered if they might consider some element of anticipation as opposed to response. Number 489 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said that he would work with Mr. Kreinheder to help get a CS ready for Judiciary along the lines discussed. Representative Porter added that he should correct the motion he made earlier to adopt CS, Version C. The version they should have adopted was Version F, dated 2/10/95. With the permission of the committee he said he would revise that motion. There was no objection, so the motion passed. Number 508 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said that since they adopted another CS they would want to make a significant change in directions, pass the bill out with a new fiscal note. He asked if he was correct in thinking it will be a significantly different product when it reaches the Judiciary Committee. Number 514 VICE-CHAIR OGAN confirmed that there would be a significantly different product. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN expressed concern that the committee will be passing out a bill they know nothing about and would prefer they hold it. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she understood that instead of doing a sweeping review of federal mandates, they are trying to cut back on the number of programs to look at. They are looking at the programs that have a more serious impact on the state, although she was not sure who would determine what is serious and what is not. Everything is the same except the numbers, or the types of programs to review. VICE-CHAIR OGAN supported Representative Robinsons view saying they are merely cutting back the nonessential items to review. Number 543 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN shared his views, but he needed to know what kinds of changes are being made. He understood they want to disregard the small, frivolous portions and key in on big costly mandates; nevertheless, he would like to be more comfortable before the bill is passed out of State Affairs. Number 553 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said that in order to make HB 83 a comprehensive bill, it would be appropriate to recognize what they do as a legislature, as an Administration, and as a state, is try to influence legislation at the federal level before it is passed. That mechanism might provide the heads up to activate this type of review, if our efforts to stop it on the federal level fail and the legislation passes. To make this effective, we should do it before the fact. He agreed with Representative Green they should probably work on the bill at the committee level rather than to move it on. Number 578 VICE-CHAIR OGAN decided that he would work with different people on the committee to draft some amendments for the bill, so he would hold HB 83 over and go on to HJR 4.