Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

03/17/2021 09:00 AM EDUCATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 36(EDC) Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Moved SB 32 Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
        SB  10-FREE/REDUCED TUITION FOR ESSENTIAL WORKER                                                                    
10:05:50 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 10                                                                 
"An  Act establishing  a grant  program to  provide to  essential                                                               
workers  the  tuition  and  fees   to  attend  a  state-supported                                                               
postsecondary educational  institution." He stated his  intent to                                                               
hear  the bill,  take  public  testimony, and  hold  the bill  in                                                               
committee for  further review.  He called  on Senator  Begich and                                                               
staff to introduce the bill.                                                                                                    
10:06:10 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH said  SB  10  was passed  from  Senate Labor  and                                                               
Commerce. This bill is a thank  you for essential workers for the                                                               
work they  did the past  year. Whether they  delivered groceries,                                                               
took care of  young children, picked people up  from the airport,                                                               
cleaned offices, or handled the  mail, essential workers made the                                                               
ultimate  sacrifice, sometimes  at great  risk to  themselves and                                                               
their loved  ones. A recent  study published by  the Occupational                                                               
Environmental Medicine  Journal reported that over  20 percent of                                                               
grocery store employees tested positive  for COVID-19. Of that 20                                                               
percent, more  than 95 percent  reported getting it  from contact                                                               
through their jobs. That is precisely  why the bill is before the                                                               
committee. The  bill, besides being  good policy, is a  thank you                                                               
to those workers,  those workers who put their lives  on the line                                                               
for each  person. During COVID  everyone fell behind. As  more is                                                               
learned about  the road ahead,  it is clear  the country is  in a                                                               
wildly  uneven   recovery.  This  bill  is   about  giving  those                                                               
essential workers a hand up after the dust settles.                                                                             
SENATOR  BEGICH said  that  for those  committee  members at  the                                                               
Labor and Commerce hearing, he  would remind them of a particular                                                               
graphic  from the  Department of  Labor that  showed that  a year                                                               
later,  the state  is  still  25 percent  down  in employing  the                                                               
lowest income labor  force, while the labor market  for the upper                                                               
end went  up 1 percent  a year  later. The department  data shows                                                               
that  higher  education  attainment   equates  to  higher  weekly                                                               
earnings. A  recent University of Alaska  workforce report states                                                               
that median  income earnings  for those with  just a  high school                                                               
diploma is  about $35,000 in  Alaska while those  with bachelor's                                                               
degree earn  on average  $57,000 a  year. Education  matters. The                                                               
bill is  a pathway to education  for those who choose  it to take                                                               
it.  The  same  report  states   that  96.3  percent  of  working                                                               
graduates are Alaska  residents. Going to school  in Alaska keeps                                                               
people  in Alaska.  By providing  path for  essential workers  to                                                               
earn a  postsecondary education  in Alaska,  the state  will stop                                                               
the attrition of Alaska's future.                                                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  said that  as stated in  Labor and  Commerce, his                                                               
office has some changes to work  on with the chair's office for a                                                               
committee  substitute to  reflect  the intent  of  bill. It  will                                                               
include all  of the essential  workers identified in  the handout                                                               
in the  committee packet called  Alaska's Essential  Services and                                                               
Critical  Workforce  Infrastructure.  That  came from  a  lot  of                                                               
commentary to  his office.  It includes those  who worked  in the                                                               
front lines  for the nonprofit  sector, like Bean's  Caf? workers                                                               
and  postal workers.  This  all  came up  in  testimony. After  a                                                               
review  of the  legislation with  the executive  director of  the                                                               
Alaska   Commission  on   Postsecondary  Education,   his  office                                                               
recognized that although  the bill meant to  permit attendance at                                                               
any state-supported  postsecondary institution for a  student who                                                               
has not yet received an  undergraduate degree, some phrasing must                                                               
be fixed. It  is minor, but it clarifies that  intent. He has had                                                               
good discussion about the program  start and end dates, which now                                                               
are tied to the expiration  of the federal emergency declaration.                                                               
He plans to provide an  amendment that permits interested parties                                                               
to apply  for consideration until the  end of this year  and then                                                               
repeal the  entire program by  2025, giving people four  years to                                                               
actively participate  in it.  The state  of Michigan  has enacted                                                               
this program.  Michigan used CARES (Coronavirus  Aid, Relief, and                                                               
Economic  Security)  Act  funding  to enact  it.  With  the  $1.1                                                               
billion  coming to  the state,  he  is certain  that the  Finance                                                               
Committees will be able to redirect some of that resource. His                                                                  
fiscal note shows that it will not be over $10 million for the                                                                  
entire period of the grants program.                                                                                            
10:10:59 AM                                                                                                                   
LOKI TOBIN, Staff, Senator Tom  Begich, Alaska State Legislature,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, presented  the sectional analysis for  SB 10. She                                                               
noted that  Senator Begich will  offer an amendment to  Section 1                                                               
about the list of occupations.                                                                                                  
     Section 1. Establishes an Essential  Worker Grant Program as                                                               
     new uncodified law of the State of Alaska.                                                                                 
     Directs the Alaska Commission  on Postsecondary Education to                                                               
     establish  an   undergraduate  tuition  grant   program  for                                                               
     essential workers  employed at  the start  of or  during the                                                               
     declared federal public health  emergency. This section also                                                               
     includes  a   comprehensive  listing  of   occupations  that                                                               
     qualify as essential for the purpose of this grant program.                                                                
     Provides  stipulations  for  qualifying  essential  workers,                                                               
     including   employment   status,  postsecondary   enrollment                                                               
     status,  residency requirement,  high school  or equivalency                                                               
     completion requirement,  grade point minimum,  completion of                                                               
     federal  aid  application,  and post-secondary  credit  hour                                                               
     limitations.    Includes     grant    program    eligibility                                                               
     requirements,   including  grade   point  minimum,   program                                                               
     progression,  and  enrollment  status.  Directs  the  Alaska                                                               
     Commission on Postsecondary  Education to establish policies                                                               
     and  procedures   for  application  and  admission   to  the                                                               
     program,  including   establishing  evaluation   process  of                                                               
     program efficacy.                                                                                                          
     Section  2. Establishes  an Essential  Worker Grant  Program                                                               
     Report  as  new  uncodified  law of  the  State  of  Alaska.                                                               
     Directs the Alaska Commission  on Postsecondary Education to                                                               
     submit the  report of program  efficacy to the  Alaska State                                                               
     Legislature on or before December 31st.                                                                                    
     Amendment to this section                                                                                                  
     Section 3.  Repeals Section 1  on the date of  expiration or                                                               
     determination of the declaration  of a federal public health                                                               
     Section  4.  Sets a  repeal  date  of  January 1,  2025  for                                                               
     Section 2 of this Act.                                                                                                     
CHAIR HOLLAND called on invited testimony.                                                                                      
10:13:56 AM                                                                                                                   
TERI   COTHREN,   Associate    Vice   President   for   Workforce                                                               
Development, University  of Alaska,  Fairbanks, Alaska,  said she                                                               
would  present  Reskilling  and  Upskilling  for  Alaskans.  With                                                               
legislation  such  as  SB  10,  the  university  can  train  more                                                               
Alaskans  and  support  Alaska's   economic  recovery.  She  will                                                               
explain how  training Alaska's  workforce is  a critical  part of                                                               
the university's mission.                                                                                                       
MS.  COTHREN described  Alaska's  system of  higher education  on                                                               
slide 2.                                                                                                                        
MS. COTHREN presented slide 3, UA's Critical Workforce Mission:                                                                 
        • Alaska's most comprehensive provider of workforce                                                                     
             o UA offers more than 200 programs in workforce                                                                    
             o Non-credit industry recognized certifications,                                                                   
               endorsements, certificates                                                                                       
             o Associate Degrees                                                                                                
             o Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate Degrees                                                                          
        • Programs in high-demand industries needed for Alaska's                                                                
          economic growth                                                                                                       
MS. COTHREN presented slide 4,  Value of Postsecondary Education.                                                               
The median  earnings data is  from analysis by the  Department of                                                               
Labor  and Workforce  Development and  make abundantly  clear the                                                               
economic value  of training  and education.  The data  shows that                                                               
more  education  and  training   correlate  strongly  with  lower                                                               
unemployment rates and this was highlighted during the pandemic:                                                                
        • Median earnings jump from:                                                                                            
             o $35,328 for high school graduates                                                                                
             o $44,619 for Alaskans with an associate degree                                                                    
             o $57,708 for those with a bachelor's degree                                                                       
             o $77,402 for holders of graduate or professional                                                                  
        • Lower unemployment rates                                                                                              
        • Provide skills required for new and advancing careers                                                                 
MS. COTHREN displayed slide 5,  UA Workforce Reports   Industries                                                               
Highlighted.   Through   a   recent   project,   the   university                                                               
strengthened its  partnership with  Research and Analysis  at the                                                               
Department of  Labor to demonstrate graduate  outcomes across key                                                               
Alaska  industries  that  resulted  in the  development  of  nine                                                               
workforce reports.                                                                                                              
MS.  COTHREN  displayed  slide 6,  UA  Workforce  Reports,  which                                                               
showed an  example of the  data in one report,  including average                                                               
wages  of  graduates and  hiring  trends  of the  industry  being                                                               
10:18:25 AM                                                                                                                   
At ease                                                                                                                         
10:18:32 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  HOLLAND suspended  Ms. Cothren's  presentation because  of                                                               
audio technical difficulties.                                                                                                   
10:19:11 AM                                                                                                                   
JOELLE HALL,  President, Alaska AFL-CIO, Anchorage,  Alaska, said                                                               
that her organization  represents 60,000 workers in  a variety of                                                               
fields.  Many,  such  as first  responders,  hospital  and  state                                                               
employees,  and   grocery  store   workers,  have   worked  under                                                               
difficult  conditions  during   the  pandemic.  Her  organization                                                               
represents many frontline  workers, but many do  not benefit from                                                               
collective  bargaining  agreements,  such as  childcare  workers,                                                               
delivery drivers, personal  care attendants, to name  a few. Much                                                               
was learned during the pandemic.  She hopes that one thing sticks                                                               
out  in   people's  collective   hearts  and   memories.  Without                                                               
childcare  and  grocery  story   workers,  everyone  is  in  deep                                                               
trouble.  The  pandemic  resulted  in   huge  job  losses.  As  a                                                               
community, Alaska needs  to do everything it can  to get Alaskans                                                               
back to work.  One way to make a big  difference is job training.                                                               
Providing training and opportunities to  a better way of life for                                                               
families is the  cornerstone of the work that  the labor movement                                                               
does. A market economy is  enhanced when workers have easy access                                                               
to  affordable training.  This  bill will  reward  many who  have                                                               
given so much with a gift  that helps them and their families. As                                                               
is noted  in the sponsor  statement, better trained  workers also                                                               
help employers, so  this bill is a win-win for  workers and their                                                               
current  and future  employers. This  is  a good  idea that  will                                                               
helps so many who have given  so much. AFL-CIO is in full support                                                               
of  this bill.  She  had had  conversations  with Senator  Begich                                                               
about  apprenticeships. The  apprenticeship systems  that AFL-CIO                                                               
is involved  with are  already free to  the student,  so Alaska's                                                               
union apprenticeships are free of  charge, but AFL-CIO would look                                                               
forward to  expanding those training  opportunities. In  order to                                                               
do that, its supply-and-demand system  is based on work. If there                                                               
are infrastructure  bills or geobond bills,  AFL-CIO stands ready                                                               
to expand  up its  training modules and  training systems  in the                                                               
construction  industry  to rapidly  respond  to  the free  market                                                               
demand for those workers. If  the legislature invests in geobonds                                                               
or infrastructure,  that allows an  uptake of these  workers into                                                               
things like the apprenticeship system,  whether they are union or                                                               
nonunion,  and   putting  more  workers  into   the  construction                                                               
workforce, which in Alaska is  considered a graying workforce and                                                               
would allow  Alaska to  keep its  workers here.  This is  a great                                                               
CHAIR   HOLLAND  called   on   Teri  Cothren   to  continue   her                                                               
MS.  COTHREN   explained  that  slide  6   on  workforce  reports                                                               
highlights graduate outcomes.                                                                                                   
MS. COTHREN presented  a graph on slide 7,  Summary of First-Year                                                               
Employment.   The  graph   shows   industries  where   first-year                                                               
graduates  are employed.  Health  care is  projected  to grow  at                                                               
twice  the rate  of the  rest of  the economy  overall and  total                                                               
54,000  jobs by  2028, so  it is  not a  surprise that  nearly 24                                                               
percent of graduates work in  the health care industry. Graduates                                                               
are  in  educational  services,  mining   and  gas,  as  well  as                                                               
transportation and construction industries.                                                                                     
MS. COTHREN  displayed a graph  on slide  8, Average Wages  of UA                                                               
Graduates, and said  that Alaska has some of  the best employment                                                               
data in the country. [Audio connection was lost.]                                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  said that  he had  had no  idea how  detailed the                                                               
data  is until  Ms. Cothren  presented data  to his  office. That                                                               
data has driven  his desire to see the bill  move. When the state                                                               
can  get folks  into these  jobs, they  become fully  functioning                                                               
participants   in  the   state's   system.  That   is  what   her                                                               
presentation  is   underscoring,  how  many  of   these  Alaskans                                                               
improved their  income level  and contribution  to the  state and                                                               
become productive citizens.  That is a critical  component of the                                                               
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  that she  loves  people  furthering  their                                                               
education to lift  themselves up into a better  position. She and                                                               
husband did  that years ago.  Her philosophical question  is, and                                                               
her  problem with  this, is  that people  were unemployed  in the                                                               
state, like restaurant  workers, who were not in  the category of                                                               
essential  that she  would like  to have  the opportunity.  These                                                               
essential workers were able to  continue working and earn a wage,                                                               
but many  had to close  small business and  could not go  to work                                                               
and got hit hard.                                                                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  responded that one  of the things about  the bill                                                               
is that  it does try to  provide opportunity for people  who were                                                               
on the  front lines and may  have lost their jobs  because of the                                                               
pandemic crisis.  That is the  intent in the amendment,  to cover                                                               
those workers  she described. If  people were  unfortunate enough                                                               
to  lose  their   jobs  during  that  time   period,  they  would                                                               
potentially be eligible  for the grants program. That  is part of                                                               
the  plan.  They would  have  qualified  as an  essential  worker                                                               
before losing their job.                                                                                                        
SENATOR HUGHES  said that her  understanding is that some  of the                                                               
jobs  that were  lost do  not meet  the definition  for essential                                                               
worker and so would not  qualify. She asked if she misunderstands                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  answered that he  is not  sure. He can  look into                                                               
that and find an answer that satisfies both her and himself.                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLAND  shared  that  is also  his  concern.  He  thought                                                               
essential  workers worked  through the  pandemic. His  concern is                                                               
that those are  people who didn't miss a paycheck,  but there are                                                               
people who shut down businesses.                                                                                                
10:28:40 AM                                                                                                                   
At ease                                                                                                                         
10:28:53 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND opened public testimony.                                                                                          
10:29:11 AM                                                                                                                   
PANU  LUCEIR,  Director,  Alaska's  System  for  Early  Education                                                               
Development (SEED), thread, Anchorage,  Alaska, said that SEED is                                                               
Alaska's  statewide  professional  development  system  in  early                                                               
childhood.  In  Alaska  and across  the  nation  early  childhood                                                               
teachers have  remained in  the lower  income bracket.  In Alaska                                                               
the  median hourly  wage  for childcare  workers  is $13.21  Many                                                               
early  childhood  educators  have   families  of  their  own  and                                                               
struggle  to make  ends  meet and  do not  have  extra money  for                                                               
training or  higher education.  Many work two  jobs to  make ends                                                               
meet. The  COVID pandemic shed  light on how  essential childcare                                                               
is for  working families. Alaska's  early educators have  been on                                                               
the frontlines  as essential workers throughout  the pandemic. SB
10 would provide much needed assistance.                                                                                        
CHAIR HOLLAND asked Teri Cothren to continue her presentation.                                                                  
MS. COTHREN said that to speak  to the final two slides, starting                                                               
with slide 8,  the state has rich employment data,  thanks to the                                                               
research from the Department of  Labor and Workforce Development.                                                               
The  graph  on slide  8  of  UA  wage  outcomes shows  that  more                                                               
education  and  training  correlate strongly  with  more  earning                                                               
potential. The  average first-year  wages of these  graduates are                                                               
more than  $50,000 and  the fifth-year  wages exceed  the average                                                               
Alaska wage by nearly $10,000.                                                                                                  
MS. COTHREN displayed  the graph on slide 9, which  shows that 96                                                               
percent   of  working   graduates  are   Alaska  residents.   The                                                               
university supports SB 10 to  help remove a potential barrier for                                                               
essential workers.                                                                                                              
SENATOR BEGICH said that on page 2,  line 1, of the bill does say                                                               
was  permanently   or  temporarily  laid   off  as  one   of  the                                                               
10:34:11 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  HOLLAND  closed  public  testimony   and  held  SB  10  in                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 10 v. B Sectional Analysis 1.26.2021.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 v. B Sponsor Statement 1.26.2021.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 v. B Supporting Document Union calls on state to treat Alaska grocery workers as first responders ADN.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 v. B Supporting Document Univ. of Alaska - Workforce Reports Summary.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 v. B Fiscal Note 3096.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 v. B Fiscal Note 2738.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 alaska_essential_services_and_critical_workers.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 36 Committee Substitute.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
SB 10 University of Alaska Presentation.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 36 Explanation of Changes in version B.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 36
Letter in support of SB10 2-2021.pdf SEDC 3/17/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 4/8/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10