Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 60 Out of Committee
Moved SB 22 Out of Committee
            SB 60-EXTEND SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL                                                                         
1:33:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SHANNON STRAUBE, staff to Senator Ben Stevens, introduced SB 60,                                                                
which would extend the termination date of the council from June                                                                
30 2005 to June 30 2006. Senator Ben Stevens submitted the bill                                                                 
and the legislative audit recommended the extension.                                                                            
KATHY CRAFT,  Suicide Prevention Council  coordinator, Department                                                               
of Health and  Social Services (DHSS), offered a  brief update on                                                               
the council. She  advised the goals this year are  to broaden the                                                               
awareness of suicide and the  risk factors, to enhance prevention                                                               
services,  to  develop  healthy communities,  and  to  strengthen                                                               
existing and  build new partnerships  between public  and private                                                               
entities that will advance suicide efforts in Alaska.                                                                           
1:36:13 PM                                                                                                                    
The Suicide  Prevention Council  has a  contract with  the Alaska                                                               
Injury  Prevention Center  for  a  study involving  psychological                                                               
autopsies.  They work  with the  Department of  Public Safety  to                                                               
obtain information  on individuals who commit  suicides. After an                                                               
appropriate mourning  time, they contact  the families to  see if                                                               
they  would contribute  to  the  study. They  have  asked for  an                                                               
extension of  the study,  which ends  June 30,  2005 so  they can                                                               
gather more  information. The study collects  information such as                                                               
suicide rates by  age group, methods of  suicide, substance abuse                                                               
involvement, ethnicity, and urban vs. rural.                                                                                    
1:37:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CRAFT said  they have  plans to  train communities  for when                                                               
suicide becomes  an issue, what  the community can do.  They have                                                               
started a  public awareness campaign titled  "Suicide Hurts", and                                                               
have had posters printed. They  have drafted television and radio                                                               
scripts but  are lacking funds  to complete the effort.  They are                                                               
working  on continuing  the clergy  initiative, which  brings the                                                               
prevention  treatment together  with  clergy.  The annual  report                                                               
will be submitted in two weeks.                                                                                                 
1:39:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked  who is able to speak regarding  the graphs and                                                               
trends in the packet submitted to the committee.                                                                                
MS. CRAFT answered she is.                                                                                                      
CHAIR DYSON asked when should  the state expect to see reductions                                                               
in the suicide rate.                                                                                                            
MS.  CRAFT   answered  it  depends  on   economics  and  services                                                               
available. She said in 2004 the rate did increase.                                                                              
CHAIR DYSON asked when the council was created.                                                                                 
MS. CRAFT advised it was 2002.                                                                                                  
1:41:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON  asked Ms.  Craft about next  year's goal  in suicide                                                               
MS. CRAFT advised  the council would like a  10 percent reduction                                                               
in 2005.                                                                                                                        
CHAIR DYSON asked  which state departments partner  in the effort                                                               
to reduce statewide suicide rate.                                                                                               
MS. CRAFT replied  the Department of Health  and Social Services,                                                               
the Division  of Behavioral Health  and Public Health,  the Trust                                                               
Authority,  the  Mental  Health  Board,  the  Advisory  Board  on                                                               
Alcoholism   and   Drug   Abuse,  the   Governor's   Council   on                                                               
Disabilities  and Special  Education,  the  Alaska Commission  on                                                               
Aging, and the new Faith-based Community Initiative Forum.                                                                      
CHAIR DYSON asked  about the Department of  Education, the school                                                               
system and the police department.                                                                                               
MS.  CRAFT agreed  those  entities would  also  serve to  promote                                                               
their efforts.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR DYSON asked for other questions.                                                                                          
1:43:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON complimented the efforts  of the council and asked if                                                               
it  was still  disproportionately rural  native males  committing                                                               
MS. CRAFT answered  yes. It is also  disproportionately people in                                                               
their 20s.  She hopes that  once the structured training  and the                                                               
media campaign begin they will see positive results.                                                                            
1:45:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON asked  the percentage  of  suicides involving  mind-                                                               
altering drugs.                                                                                                                 
MS.  CRAFT  replied  73  percent  for those  with  a  history  of                                                               
substance abuse, but the total is 62 percent.                                                                                   
CHAIR DYSON  asked whether the  suicide rate would be  reduced if                                                               
firearms were not available.                                                                                                    
MS.  CRAFT answered  they  plan to  address  firearm security  in                                                               
their community training efforts.                                                                                               
1:47:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR LYDA GREEN asked how the council is faring overall.                                                                     
MS.  CRAFT advised  they are  involved in  writing proposals  and                                                               
working  with community-based  suicide prevention  planning. They                                                               
are   working  with   the  Division   of  Behavioral   Health  to                                                               
incorporate a  plan into their  grant responses. The  council and                                                               
DHSS are working on a formal system regarding the budget.                                                                       
1:49:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON asked  Pat Davidson  to explain  the money  spent on                                                               
furniture and  the money  transferred to  the Terminal  Leave and                                                               
Insurance Catastrophe Working Account.                                                                                          
PAT  DAVIDSON,  Division   of  Legislative  Audit  representative                                                               
advised Chair Dyson  that DHSS used approximately  $30,000 to buy                                                               
furniture  for  information  technology services.  There  was  no                                                               
direct  benefit to  the suicide  prevention council.  There is  a                                                               
provision  in  statute  that  when you  have  joint  costs,  then                                                               
everyone pitches in. She added there  is a format for using joint                                                               
funds  that  was not  followed  and  she  advised that  would  be                                                               
addressed in the statewide financial audit.                                                                                     
1:51:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked  whether the council had any  control of DHSS's                                                               
decision to use the council's money.                                                                                            
MS. DAVIDSON  replied no.  The budget  act appropriation  term is                                                               
Boards  and Commissions.  There  is the  ability  to move  monies                                                               
within the appropriation but DHSS  did not follow the guidelines.                                                               
A contributing  factor is  unclear financial  information between                                                               
the  department  responsible  for  administering  funds  and  the                                                               
council.  The  council  was  impaired  by  a  lack  of  financial                                                               
understanding, which is  why almost $95,000 lapsed at  the end of                                                               
the year.                                                                                                                       
1:54:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. DAVIDSON explained the transfers  into the Terminal Leave and                                                               
Insurance  Catastrophe   Reserve  Fund  are   existing  statutory                                                               
provisions  for   otherwise  lapsing  funds  to   refill  reserve                                                               
accounts.  She added  that the  council did  not know  where they                                                               
were financially.                                                                                                               
SENATOR  KIM ELTON  asked Ms.  Davidson if  there are  mechanisms                                                               
available to allow for reimbursement back to the council.                                                                       
MS. DAVIDSON replied  that an appropriation is  an opportunity to                                                               
spend money.  If the  council doesn't spend  the money  they lose                                                               
it. The  Legislature could increase  the current year  budget and                                                               
the council could  have the opportunity to access  the funds that                                                               
were lost.                                                                                                                      
1:56:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON asked  if there is a mechanism to  redress one unit                                                               
spending the money allocated to another unit.                                                                                   
MS.  DAVIDSON  answered that  a  possible  recommendation is  the                                                               
department  could appeal  the  appropriation.  She recommends  in                                                               
future   years,   the   DHSS   administrative   department   take                                                               
responsibility for financial communications to the council.                                                                     
SENATOR   GREEN   asked   Ms.   Davidson   if   allocations   and                                                               
appropriations could be more clearly defined in the future.                                                                     
MS. DAVIDSON  answered that by  statute, agencies are  allowed to                                                               
move money within an appropriation.                                                                                             
CHAIR DYSON asked  the council to get back to  the committee with                                                               
a reasonable performance target for the future.                                                                                 
1:59:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON said the suicide rates  in the State of Alaska are 2-                                                               
3 times the  national average. The council needs to  show that it                                                               
makes a difference.                                                                                                             
2:01:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GREEN  suggested to the  council that they  include their                                                               
mission and plan in their publication.                                                                                          
2:03:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GREEN  moved  SB  60   from  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations  and   attached  fiscal  note.  There   being  no                                                               
objection, the motion carried.                                                                                                  

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