Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/20/2018 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 65 JONESVILLE PUBLIC USE AREA TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 236 EXTEND: SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
+= SB 155 REAL ESTATE APPRAISAL MNGMT. COMPANIES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 155(FIN) Out of Committee
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 236(FIN)                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending the Alaska senior benefits payment                                                                       
     program."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:13:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MERCEDES  COLBERT,  STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE  SCOTT  KAWASAKI,                                                                    
explained  the bill.  She stated  that it  would extend  the                                                                    
sunset clause to 2024.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:16:12 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:16:59 AM                                                                                                                   
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:17:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MONICA  WINDOM,  DIRECTOR,  DIVISION OF  PUBLIC  ASSISTANCE,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF  HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES,  spoke in support                                                                    
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  MacKinnon asked  for  more  information about  the                                                                    
eligibility  requirements.  Ms.  Windom  responded  that  an                                                                    
individual  who would  want senior  benefits must  submit an                                                                    
application and report their income  to the department. That                                                                    
income was verified several different  ways. She stated that                                                                    
the  social  security  interface would  provide  information                                                                    
about  residency  and  citizenship.   She  stated  that  the                                                                    
information would  allow for determination of  the amount of                                                                    
the eligible benefit.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  MacKinnon queried  a qualification  interface with                                                                    
the  permanent  fund dividend.  Ms.  Windom  replied in  the                                                                    
affirmative.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator von  Imhof queried more difficult  to verify income.                                                                    
Ms. Windom replied  that there could be a request  of a copy                                                                    
of the tax return.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator  von Imhof  surmised that  the verification  process                                                                    
would  be determined  based  on  how it  was  listed in  the                                                                    
application. Ms. Windom replied in the affirmative.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:20:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  MacKinnon wondered  how many  people received  the                                                                    
program benefits. Ms. Windom replied  that in December 2017,                                                                    
there  were 11,322  individuals  receiving senior  benefits.                                                                    
The level that  currently received $76 per  month were 5,183                                                                    
individuals; the $175 benefit  level had $4,597 individuals;                                                                    
and the $250 benefit had $1,493 individuals.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stevens queried  the poverty level of  each of those                                                                    
benefit levels. Ms.  Windom replied that 100  percent of the                                                                    
poverty level was approximately $1600 per month.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair MacKinnon  wondered whether the program  was at 100                                                                    
percent  poverty level,  or 203  percent poverty  level. Ms.                                                                    
Windom replied that it varied,  because the different levels                                                                    
depended on the level of poverty.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair MacKinnon surmised  that it was 175  percent of the                                                                    
poverty level. Ms. Windom deferred to Ms. Colbert.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  MacKinnon   queried  the  annual  benefit   for  a                                                                    
qualified  individual,  and  the  percentages  used  as  the                                                                    
criteria to filter the candidates.  Ms. Colbert replied that                                                                    
at 75  percent of  the federal  poverty line,  an individual                                                                    
received  $250 in  monthly payments,  and must  make $11,295                                                                    
annually. She stated  that the 75 percent  poverty level for                                                                    
a married couple was $15,218.  She stated that a 100 percent                                                                    
poverty  line  level  received $175  per  month,  and  their                                                                    
individual  income must  be $15,060;  and  a married  couple                                                                    
would  be  $20,290.  She  shared that  at  the  170  percent                                                                    
poverty line,  at an  individual would  make $26,355;  and a                                                                    
married couple would be $35,508 annually.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:24:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DEB  ETHERIDGE,  DEPUTY  DIRECTOR, DIVISION  OF  SENIOR  AND                                                                    
DISABILITY  SERVICES,   DEPARTMENT  OF  HEALTH   AND  SOCIAL                                                                    
SERVICES,   ANCHORAGE   (via   teleconference),   introduced                                                                    
herself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair MacKinnon queried comments  on the legislation. Ms.                                                                    
Etheridge replied that she had no comment.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:25:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
KEN  HELANDER,  ADVOCACY   DIRECTOR,  AARP,  ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke in support  of the reauthorization of                                                                    
the Senior Benefits Program. He  testified in support of the                                                                    
legislation, as a critical safety  net program for thousands                                                                    
of Alaskans  over 65-years-old. He urged  reconsideration of                                                                    
restoration  of  money  taken   from  beneficiaries  as  175                                                                    
percent  of  federal  poverty  level  two  years  prior.  He                                                                    
stressed  that the  175 percent  meant that  they could  not                                                                    
make any more than that level.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Micciche asked  whether there was a  letter from Mr.                                                                    
Helander on record.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:29:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DAVID BLACKETER,  CHAIR, ALASKA COMMISSION ON  AGING, KODIAK                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  shared  that  he and  his  wife  had                                                                    
financial  obligations. He  spoke  in support  of the  bill,                                                                    
because it provided money to pay for groceries.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:31:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
GORDON   GLASER,  MEMBER,   ALASKA   COMMISSION  ON   AGING,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  spoke  in  support of  the                                                                    
legislation. He echoed the  previous testifiers. He stressed                                                                    
that  the program  was targeted  toward the  older and  more                                                                    
frail   communities.   He    stressed   that   it   provided                                                                    
independence and dignity.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Stevens asked  for thoughts  on  whether those  who                                                                    
were in  an assisted  living homes  receipt of  the benefit.                                                                    
Mr. Glaser  replied that it  was something  worth examining.                                                                    
He stressed that it was difficult to remove a service.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:34:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BILL   WILLIAMS,  SERVICE   COORDINATOR,  SOUTHEAST   SENIOR                                                                    
SERVICES, shared that  he worked with seniors  in Juneau who                                                                    
lived in  public housing. He  tried to help those  people to                                                                    
live more  independently, so  to keep  the burden  away from                                                                    
the  Pioneer Home.  He  spoke  in support  of  the bill.  He                                                                    
remarked that  most of his  clients had senior  benefits. He                                                                    
shared a personal story.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Stevens  wondered  whether Section  8  housing  was                                                                    
considered  assisted living.  Mr.  Williams  replied in  the                                                                    
negative. He  stated that Section  8 housing  was government                                                                    
subsisted housing.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:39:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  COONS, PRESIDENT,  ALASKA  CHAPTER  OF ASSOCIATION  OF                                                                    
MATURE  AMERICAN  CITIZENS,   PALMER  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in support of the bill.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:42:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
GEORGE PIERCE, SELF, KASILOF  (via teleconference), spoke in                                                                    
support of the bill.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:44:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JAYNE ANDREEN,  VOLUNTEER, AARP,  DOUGLAS, spoke  in support                                                                    
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  MacKinnon announced  that amendments  were due  by                                                                    
Friday  at  5pm.  She also  discussed  the  following  day's                                                                    
agenda.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 236(FIN)  was HEARD and  HELD in committee  for further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 236 Explanation of Changes A to D 7Feb2018.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 236
HB236 Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 236
HB236 Consolidated Letters of Support.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 236
HB236 Supporting Document SBP Fact Sheet - Updated August 2017.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 236
SB 155 SCS v. O Explanation.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
SB 155
SB 155 SCS wrok draft v. O.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
SB 155
SB 65 Support Letter Bettine.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
SB 65
SB 65 Sectional Analysis.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
SB 65
SB 65 Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
SB 65
HB 236 ACoA Support Senior Benefits.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 236
HB 236 Letter from DPA repgarding AARP proposal 4.6.18.pdf SFIN 3/20/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 236