Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 109(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
             SB 8-NURSE EDUC LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM                                                                         
CHAIR DYSON announced SB 8 to be up for consideration.                                                                          
2:53:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH, sponsor of SB  8, said SB 8  was designed                                                               
to help  stem the shortage  of nurses in  the State of  Alaska by                                                               
establishing  a tuition  loan reimbursement  program.   Under the                                                               
program, nurses  who work  in the State  of Alaska  would receive                                                               
$2,000  per  year   from  the  state  to   devote  towards  their                                                               
outstanding student loans.                                                                                                      
SENATOR  FRENCH   informed  the  committee  that   there  was  an                                                               
estimated shortage of 9,000 to 11,000  nurses in the state at the                                                               
present  time.  The Alaska  Department  of  Commerce expects  the                                                               
shortage to  continue to grow until  the year 2010.   He remarked                                                               
that  providing incentives  for nurses  to work  in the  state is                                                               
particularly important because there is a nationwide shortage.                                                                  
CHAIR  DYSON asked  Senator French  whether he  had reviewed  the                                                               
fiscal note for the bill.                                                                                                       
SENATOR FRENCH replied  that he had and added that  it is a small                                                               
price  to   pay  to  have  well-staffed   hospitals  and  clinics                                                               
throughout Alaska.  He added  that it is  possible to  reduce the                                                               
size of the proposed program.                                                                                                   
CHAIR DYSON asked  whether the fiscal note was based  on a worst-                                                               
case scenario.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR FRENCH deferred the question  to the author of the fiscal                                                               
note.   He added that  he took issue  with the assumption  in the                                                               
fiscal  note that  the  state would  grow at  the  rate of  three                                                               
percent  a  year  since  that   was  low  in  comparison  to  the                                                               
predictions of the Department of Commerce.                                                                                      
2:57:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON asked Senator French  whether the state would incur                                                               
greater costs if it does not address the nursing shortage.                                                                      
SENATOR  FRENCH  replied that  he  could  not offer  a  numerical                                                               
comparison,  but added  that the  state  would incur  significant                                                               
expenses related  to travel and  overtime if it does  not address                                                               
the shortage.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR OLSON  commented that Nome incurred  significant expenses                                                               
when its  hospital was shut  down due  to a nursing  shortage and                                                               
had to Med-evac patients to Anchorage.                                                                                          
SENATOR WILKEN remarked  that while he appreciated  the intent of                                                               
the bill, he  was wary of offering loan  forgiveness programs due                                                               
to their tendency to create  excessive expenses for the state. He                                                               
said the shortage could be  addressed in more cost effective ways                                                               
such as offering low-interest housing.                                                                                          
3:02:00 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICIA SENNER,  Executive Director, Alaska  Nurses Association,                                                               
testified in  support of the  bill.   She said she  believes that                                                               
the  fiscal note  is overstated  because it  is unlikely  that 70                                                               
percent  of the  graduating nursing  students would  be in  debt.                                                               
She remarked  that the bill was  not a mandate because  it grants                                                               
awards based  on the amount  of money available from  interest on                                                               
state student loans.                                                                                                            
3:04:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON questioned whether a  $2,000 per-year incentive would                                                               
effectively entice nurses to come to the state.                                                                                 
MS. SENNER  replied that  the bill would  give the  Nursing Board                                                               
some flexibility to focus the  program's funds as an incentive to                                                               
place nurses in areas where they are under-represented.                                                                         
3:07:02 PM                                                                                                                    
VIRGINIA  WERTHWEIN, Nurse,  testified in  support of  SB 8.  She                                                               
said the hospital  where she works often couldn't  staff the ICU,                                                               
ER,  or labor  delivery unit  when one  of the  nurses called  in                                                               
sick.   She  said that  the nursing  workforce is  aging and  the                                                               
shortage will  worsen if  the state does  not attract  more young                                                               
LAURA WILKE  testified in  support of  SB 8.   She  remarked that                                                               
nursing  journals  regularly  feature ads  for  recruitment  that                                                               
offer  far more  than  nurses are  able to  make  in Alaska.  She                                                               
remarked  that  although  $2,000 per  year  seems  insignificant,                                                               
passing  the  bill would  send  a  message that  the  Legislature                                                               
appreciates the services that nurses are able to provide.                                                                       
CHAIR DYSON held the bill in committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects