Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/05/2001 09:07 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
      CSHB  51(FIN)-LEGIS APPROVAL OF SEAFOOD/FOOD SAFETY LAB                                                               
                                                                                                                                
KURT  FREDRIKSSON,   Deputy  Commissioner   of  the  Department   of                                                            
Environmental  Conservation  (DEC), explained  the  purpose of  CSHB
51(FIN) is to  grant authorization for the issuance  of certificates                                                            
of participation  for a lease-purchase  agreement for a seafood  and                                                            
food safety  laboratory.   The existing laboratory  in Palmer  is 30                                                            
years old and  DEC's lease expires December 31, 2003.   The facility                                                            
is woefully  lacking  in terms  of what  DEC  needs to  do to run  a                                                            
proper laboratory  regarding confidence in lab results  and employee                                                            
safety. He  offered to make available  a videotape of the  facility.                                                            
He noted that DEC has worked  with private consultants over the last                                                            
few years on the  possibility of moving into a more  appropriate lab                                                            
facility.    DEC has  found  a  piece  of property  and  received  a                                                            
proposal.    CSHB  51(FIN)  provides   the  funds  to  build  a  DEC                                                            
laboratory within the Anchorage area.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The current lab  performs a number of functions, the  most important                                                            
being seafood  and food safety analysis; 80 percent  of the lab work                                                            
is associated with food safety.  Other functions include:                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
   · certification of in-state laboratories for microbiological                                                                 
     analysis of drinking water,                                                                                                
   · product and water sampling required by the National Shellfish                                                              
     Sanitation Program,                                                                                                        
   · routine testing of commercial bivalve shellfish for marine                                                                 
     toxins,                                                                                                                    
   · analysis of finished seafood and general food products for                                                                 
     pathogenic bacterial contamination,                                                                                        
   · analysis of fish for five toxic metals                                                                                     
   · evaluation and random sampling of finfish for chemical and                                                                 
     bacterial contaminants and parasites                                                                                       
   · testing of animals required to maintain USDA brucellosis                                                                   
     certification.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DEC currently  has 11 positions in  the Mat-Su area that  would move                                                            
to the Anchorage area if  a new lab is built.  However, 14 staff who                                                            
perform other  non-lab related  functions in  the Mat-Su area  would                                                            
remain in their current location.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FREDRIKSSON  said DEC has had concerns about the                                                            
cost  of the facility  and  the appropriateness  of  its size.   DEC                                                            
worked with  its prime contractor,  Livingston Stone, to  assess the                                                            
appropriateness  of  the lab  design  and it  also turned  to  other                                                            
consultants with lab experience  to determine whether the lab design                                                            
is  reasonable.    The  feedback  from  the  contractors  shows  the                                                            
laboratory  proposal is  efficient, cost-effective  and reasonable,                                                             
relative  to the cost  of labs in  other parts of  the country.   He                                                            
pointed  out that  the House Finance  Committee  reduced the  amount                                                            
requested in  DEC's original proposal  by about $1 million  and 1500                                                            
square feet.   The proposal  has been pared  down to the basics  but                                                            
still provides a safe working environment and reliable data.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1524                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WILKEN  asked  what  prompted   the  move  from  Palmer  to                                                            
Anchorage.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FREDRIKSSON  said a number of factors: available                                                            
space  and  an  infrastructure  to  support  a  laboratory  that  is                                                            
primarily seafood-related.   The lab needs to have good access to an                                                            
airport  for receipt  of samples  to allow  processing  in a  timely                                                            
manner.  The lab processes  a lot of chemicals so it will need to be                                                            
connected  to a  sewer  system.   DEC also  looked  for state-owned                                                             
property to control costs.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN asked about the square footage of the facility.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FREDRIKSSON  said the total gross square footage                                                            
of the current  facility is approximately  10,000 square  feet.  The                                                            
proposed facility is double  that.  The increase in space is not for                                                            
staff  space,  it will  be  used to  provide  secure rooms  for  gas                                                            
cylinders and for the ventilation system.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN noted  the proposed facility is 20,500 square feet.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  FREDRIKSSON clarified  that number was  reduced                                                            
by  1500 square  feet  in the  House  so that  the  proposed  square                                                            
footage is now 19,141 square feet.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN asked what the cost  of the new facility  will be.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  FREDRIKSSON said the latest proposal  will cost                                                            
$12,788,000.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WILKEN questioned  whether DEC believes  that reduction  is                                                            
wise.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER  FREDRIKSSON  said he and  Ms. Adair believe  it                                                            
will provide  a "bottom line" operating  facility.  He informed  the                                                            
committee that  John Wickersham, who has 19 years  of lab experience                                                            
with the USDA,  reviewed the proposal and felt the  Livingston Stone                                                            
proposal was on target.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN  agreed that a new lab is necessary  but she is not                                                            
sure the state needs a lab that will cost $676 per square foot.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS pointed out that a lab is a specialized facility.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FREDRIKSSON  said a laboratory consumes a lot of                                                            
space to prevent  cross-contamination.   Secure rooms are  necessary                                                            
for gas cylinders;  space must be dedicated to clean  glassware; and                                                            
separate  space must be provided  for laboratory  mice.  He  pointed                                                            
out the construction cost is $400 per square foot.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1895                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  asked if the proposed  site at Boniface and  Tudor is                                                            
the best location.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  FREDRIKSSON  said  DEC  has  looked  at  every                                                            
suggested  area and determined  that location  to be the best.   Its                                                            
proximity to the  DHSS lab will be an added benefit.   DEC turned to                                                            
Livingston Stone and Northern Economics for expert advice.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN asked what part Livingston Stone played.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FREDRIKSSON  said they did the conceptual design                                                            
and looked  at available  space.   He added  DEC will  not choose  a                                                            
design firm until this project is authorized.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN asked Deputy Commissioner  Fredriksson  to provide                                                            
the  committee  with  the  guidelines  or  parameters  DEC  gave  to                                                            
Livingston Stone.  She  also asked about the financing procedure for                                                            
this project.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  JANICE  ADAIR,  Director  of  the  Division  of  Environmental                                                             
Quality, informed  the committee the  certificates of participation                                                             
will be sold by the bond  bank; the money will be available 60 to 90                                                            
days later.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN asked for clarification  of when the debt  will be                                                            
incurred and when it will be repaid.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WILKEN  pointed out  that, according  to fiscal note  3, DEC                                                            
will have a 20 year lease at 6.1 percent interest.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  FREDRICKSSON   asked Ms.  Adair  to  give  the                                                            
committee  a  brief  description  of the  directions  given  to  the                                                            
contractors.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR  said DEC  first contracted  with  Livingston Stone  three                                                            
years ago.  DEC  asked Livingston Stone to analyze  the work done at                                                            
the laboratory  and to design a conceptual replacement  plan that is                                                            
cost effective  and would provide the safest and most  efficient use                                                            
of the space.  DEC did  not provide a dollar limit but it did stress                                                            
that it must be cost effective.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN again asked for  copies of that documentation  and                                                            
whether employees in Palmer would have to move.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR said  even though the bulk of the functions  are statewide                                                            
functions, DEC does not plan to move those employees.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN asked  if they will be located in the Mat-Su Valley                                                            
80 percent  of the time or  whether they will  be expected  to spend                                                            
more time in Anchorage.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR explained  that some staff  will travel all over,  such as                                                            
the  state veterinarian,  the  dairy  sanitarian and  the  pesticide                                                            
staff.   Those positions  have  statewide responsibilities  but  the                                                            
bulk  of their  work is done  between  the Mat-Su  Valley and  Delta                                                            
Junction.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN GREEN asked  if the work done by those positions overlaps                                                            
with the Division of Agriculture.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR said Dr. Gore  [the state veterinarian] works very closely                                                            
with  the Division  of Agriculture  staff.   The  pesticide  program                                                            
issues permits  that the Division  of Agriculture applies  for.  The                                                            
dairy  sanitarian inspects  dairy  farms.  DEC  provides  regulatory                                                            
oversight  for things  owned by the  Division of  Agriculture.   She                                                            
explained the Division  of Agriculture inspectors look at quality or                                                            
grading of  eggs and agriculture crops.   DEC only gets involved  in                                                            
inspecting  those products  when  they get  into the  food chain  so                                                            
there is no duplication of services.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN said she has heard  a great deal of concern  about                                                            
moving the non-laboratory positions out of Palmer.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Tape 01-45, SIDE B                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LEMAN  asked for  clarification of  who will manage  and own                                                            
the project.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  ADAIR explained  the  facility  will  be state-owned  from  the                                                            
start.  A design  Request for Proposal (RFP) will  be issued and the                                                            
lowest  responsible  bid  will  be  accepted.    The  Department  of                                                            
Transportation  and  Public Facilities  (DOTPF)  will  then issue  a                                                            
construction RFP.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  LEMAN asked  if the  state will  use its  normal  selection                                                            
process according to the procurement code.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. ADAIR said it will.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN announced  the committee  would take a recess  and                                                            
reconvene at a call of the Chair.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
[NO RECORDING AVAILABLE]                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
At 3:22 p.m.,  CHAIRWOMAN GREEN called the Senate  Health, Education                                                            
and  Social Services  Committee  back to  order.   Senators  Wilken,                                                            
Leman, Davis and Green were present.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRWOMAN  GREEN announced  her intention  to move CSHB 51(FIN)  to                                                            
the Senate Finance  Committee so that it can be reviewed  within the                                                            
scope  of the entire  budget.   She also  announced  that it is  her                                                            
intention  that  the  DEC  positions  in  the  Mat-Su  Borough,  not                                                            
connected with this project, remain in the Mat-Su Borough.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  LEMAN moved  CSHB 51(FIN)  from committee  with  individual                                                            
recommendations  and  its  accompanying  fiscal  notes.  The  motion                                                            
carried with no objections.                                                                                                     

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