Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/23/2018 08:00 AM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Rescheduled from 4/21/18 at 1:30 p.m. --
+ HB 340 REPEAL BIDCO ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 340 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ HB 343 PREMIUM FINANCE COMPANIES : EXAM REQS TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 343 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ HB 262 MILITARY SPOUSE COURTESY LICENSE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 262(L&C) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
             HB 262-MILITARY SPOUSE COURTESY LICENSE                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:05:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO  announced the  consideration  of  HB 262.  [CSHB                                                               
262(L&C) was before the committee.]                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:05:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT KAWASAKI,  Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  sponsor of  HB  262,  said the  state  is very  generous                                                               
towards the  17,000 active  duty armed  service members  and more                                                               
than 70,000 veterans  who reside in Alaska. There  are VA tuition                                                               
waivers within  the UA System,  state defense liaisons  work with                                                               
school  districts, expedited  hunting  and  fishing licenses  are                                                               
available, and small businesses offer  discounts. HB 262 seeks to                                                               
strengthen the current mechanism  to ensure that military spouses                                                               
are  aware  of  the   opportunities  for  expedited  occupational                                                               
licensure.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
In 2011, House Bill 28  was passed to provide expedited temporary                                                               
professional  licenses   to  spouses  of  active   duty  military                                                               
members.  Several other  states  passed  similar legislation  and                                                               
some  included a  reporting mechanism  so  the legislature  could                                                               
track the  process. Last  year his  office learned  that military                                                               
spouses were  not utilizing the expedited  temporary professional                                                               
licensure process.  HB 262 implements a  reporting requirement in                                                               
an effort to increase the use of this benefit.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:08:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MERCEDES  COLBERT, Staff,  Representative Scott  Kawasaki, Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,  Juneau,  Alaska  stated that  HB  262  would                                                               
require  the  Department  of  Commerce,  Community  and  Economic                                                               
Development (DCCED)  to report  on the  progress of  drafting and                                                               
implementing  regulations  for  temporary  courtesy  occupational                                                               
licenses  for eligible  military spouses.  The program  for these                                                               
licenses  was established  in 2011,  but a  study conducted  last                                                               
fall on behalf of the Department  of Defense found that despite a                                                               
series of  bills passed nationwide, military  families were still                                                               
having  difficulties transitioning  their occupational  licenses.                                                               
The   issue  was   reiterated  in   November  with   the  updated                                                               
preliminary  findings  of the  Eielson  Air  Force Base  Regional                                                               
Growth Management Plan. As part  of that study, focus groups were                                                               
established  to identify  the challenges  military families  face                                                               
when they relocate  to Alaska. Comments featured  in the findings                                                               
indicated that more needed to be done to improve the program.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
She  reported  that  in  2017,   fewer  than  35  of  the  13,396                                                               
occupational  license applications  were  from military  spouses.                                                               
Alaska has 17,000  active duty service members and  at least one-                                                               
third are here with their  spouses. That very low number reflects                                                               
a lack  of communication. The  Department of Defense  study found                                                               
that many  occupational boards in  Alaska were not even  aware of                                                               
the  opportunity the  2011 legislation  provided. She  noted that                                                               
the  sponsor's  office  heard   through  the  Fairbanks  Economic                                                               
Development  Corporation that  more  work needed  to  be done  to                                                               
improve  access to  these licenses  and  to ensure  communication                                                               
among board  staff, the Department  of Defense, and  the military                                                               
community.   HB  262   was  introduced   to  help   improve  that                                                               
communication.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. COLBERT advised  that 800-1,000 spouses are  expected to come                                                               
to Alaska  in the next  10 years in  the company of  1,400 direct                                                               
employees and personnel associated with  the F-35 platform in the                                                               
Fairbanks  area. A  big  reason  for introducing  HB  262 was  to                                                               
improve access  to economic development for  those families. Many                                                               
of them will be living in the sponsor's district.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
She  expressed appreciation  that the  division of  licensing had                                                               
been  very  communicative  about  what   it  had  been  doing  to                                                               
implement the  2011 legislation.  She opined  that passage  of HB                                                               
262 will encourage more consistent communication.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. COLBERT  briefly read the  new subsections (e), (f),  and (g)                                                               
of  AS 08.01.063  proposed by  HB 262.  She highlighted  that the                                                               
Joint  Armed  Services  Committee  (JASC)  serves  as  a  liaison                                                               
between  military installations  in  the state  and JASC  members                                                               
typically   represent  areas   of   the   state  where   military                                                               
installations  are located.  The  more  information available  to                                                               
JASC members, the better military families can be served.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO noted that Sarah  Chambers, the deputy director of                                                               
the   Division  of   Corporations,   Business  and   Professional                                                               
Licensing (DCBPL) was available to answer questions.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:14:45 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked if the  division would work through JASC to                                                               
get  the  names and  addresses  for  the newly  arrived  military                                                               
members.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. COLBERT deferred  to the division to  discuss their outreach.                                                               
She reiterated  the reason for  the JASC to  specifically receive                                                               
the report and  the need for one individual in  the department to                                                               
be a  point of  contact to field  questions about  licensure from                                                               
military members and spouses.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARDNER  asked  why, when  it's  safe  and  appropriate,                                                               
occupational license reciprocity wasn't available to everyone.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  said it was  a policy call.  Noting that                                                               
reciprocity  was available  to  teachers, physicians,  and a  few                                                               
other  professions  or  occupations, he  suggested  Ms.  Chambers                                                               
speak to the reasoning for other available licenses.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARDNER  said  she  didn't   understand  why  the  state                                                               
wouldn't make it easy for anyone  to come to Alaska and use their                                                               
training,  providing that  it was  appropriate and  the licensing                                                               
standards were equally rigorous.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:17:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER asked  how the program authorized by  House Bill 28                                                               
in 2011 had worked.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  said a  study conducted  in the  fall of                                                               
last year  showed that very  few people were taking  advantage of                                                               
the program. He introduced HB  262 in the belief that instituting                                                               
a   reporting   requirement   would  strengthen   that   existing                                                               
legislation.   Several   other   states   that   passed   similar                                                               
legislation  have initiated  required reporting  and HB  262 uses                                                               
that boilerplate language. He noted  that the packets contained a                                                               
letter from the Department of  Defense that talked about how this                                                               
bill would complement the existing legislation.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER asked  how many people have applied  for a courtesy                                                               
license and how long it took to get the license.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  said there were 35  applications and Ms.                                                               
Chamber could discuss  how long it took to  receive the expedited                                                               
licenses and which professions were represented.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:19:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked if  it was possible  for someone  to apply                                                               
for  an  expedited  license  once   they  knew  they  were  being                                                               
transferred to the  state because some know a year  in advance of                                                               
their actual transfer.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  suggested   Ms.  Chambers  address  the                                                               
details,  but he'd  like  a person  to be  able  to resume  their                                                               
career  as  soon  as  they   arrive.  That's  the  point  of  the                                                               
legislation;  it's pro  economic  development, pro  job, and  pro                                                               
military.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS   expressed  hope   that  an  answer   would  be                                                               
forthcoming and shared his belief  that someone should be able to                                                               
apply as soon as they know they're being transferred.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:21:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE observed  that the  temporary license  was good                                                               
for just a year so the  applicant would need a regular license if                                                               
they stayed longer than that.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:22:06 AM                                                                                                                    
SARAH  CHAMBERS,  Deputy   Director,  Division  of  Corporations,                                                               
Business  and Professional  Licensing, Juneau,  Alaska, explained                                                               
that HB 262 requires the division  to create an annual report for                                                               
the   legislature  regarding   courtesy  licenses   for  military                                                               
spouses. She  said the  division had  been working  to facilitate                                                               
discussions with  military entities regarding this  benefit since                                                               
the initial  legislation was adopted, but  military agencies were                                                               
dissatisfied with the flow of  that information. She acknowledged                                                               
that despite  the division's  efforts, it was  clear that  a more                                                               
intimate relationship  with those  agencies was needed.  She said                                                               
HB  262 seeks  to improve  communication and  that was  happening                                                               
through meetings  with the Forget  Me Not Coalition, which  is an                                                               
amalgamation of  entities that  work with  military spouses  on a                                                               
daily basis. She  expressed optimism about learning  ways to help                                                               
military spouses access the division's resources.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS  referenced Senator  Gardner's question  and advised                                                               
that  there  were very  few  true  reciprocal licenses.  However,                                                               
nearly every  one of  the division's  43 licensing  programs have                                                               
fewer  barriers for  individuals who  hold a  license in  another                                                               
state. The  boards were analyzing interstate  licensure compacts,                                                               
particularly  with health  care  professions, but  it would  take                                                               
specific legislation  to accomplish that type  of licensure. Some                                                               
license requirements, such as  construction contractors, are very                                                               
straightforward and don't  require an exam. A  few licenses, such                                                               
as  marine  pilots  and big  game  commercial  services,  require                                                               
Alaska-specific knowledge that  can only be obtained  by being in                                                               
Alaska. Reciprocity for those licenses wouldn't make sense.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She  advised that  the existing  licensing  programs issued  over                                                               
13,000 new  licenses in FY17,  but just 35  applicants identified                                                               
themselves  as military  spouses.  Those were  in  the areas  of:                                                               
massage therapy,  pharmacy, psychology, social work,  barbers and                                                               
hairdressers, and  professional counselors.  She said  a military                                                               
licensing  page was  visible from  every page  of the  division's                                                               
website, but  the improved communication  with the Forget  Me Not                                                               
Commission should increase awareness  of the expedited licensure.                                                               
As a point  of interest, she reported that there  were fewer than                                                               
20  active duty  military  licensures and  fewer  than 15  people                                                               
applied to  use their  military experience  to gain  licensure in                                                               
Alaska.  She said  the  division  was working  with  each of  the                                                               
boards to increase awareness and provide better service.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS  referenced Senator  Steven's question and  said the                                                               
division actively encourages  everyone to apply for  a license as                                                               
soon as they know they have  orders, even if they don't intend to                                                               
move to Alaska.  She acknowledged the need to do  a better job if                                                               
military spouses were finding it  difficult to navigate the state                                                               
bureaucracy.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:31:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO thanked Ms. Chambers for the information.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked if it  was possible for someone  to apply                                                               
for a  license before  they arrive  in Alaska and  go to  work as                                                               
soon as they get off the plane.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS  said if all the  documentation is in order  and the                                                               
application  is  complete,  the  answer  is  yes.  Not  having  a                                                               
complete application  causes delays.  Some information,  like for                                                               
health care  professionals, must come from  the institution where                                                               
the person  worked and  that can take  time. The  division worked                                                               
with  the   boards  to  streamline   the  process   of  reviewing                                                               
applications offline  and not  waiting three  to four  months for                                                               
the next  board meeting. She noted  that a couple of  boards were                                                               
uncomfortable with  that process  but the division  was committed                                                               
to continuing the process to expedite things.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MICCICHE  asked  if  someone  would  receive  a  regular                                                               
license if  they submitted a  complete application  and satisfied                                                               
all the board requirements.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CHAMBERS said  the division  would encourage  individuals to                                                               
apply for a  full license if they meet all  the requirements, but                                                               
oftentimes a temporary license makes sense.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:35:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  said he  appreciates  the  efforts to  expedite                                                               
licensure for  military spouses,  but there  was still  a problem                                                               
with  the  length   of  time  it  takes  Alaskans   to  obtain  a                                                               
professional  license. He  specifically noted  the long  delay to                                                               
get  a license  from the  Board of  Psychology. He  expressed his                                                               
intention to follow  up with specific legislation  to address the                                                               
problem.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:36:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CHAMBERS said she would  appreciate working with his staff to                                                               
resolve  problems  for  specific   individuals  as  well  as  any                                                               
underlying  problems with  the process.  The Board  of Psychology                                                               
was one  that does  not approve licenses  offline, which  takes a                                                               
little  longer. However,  the division  has a  policy of  letting                                                               
people  know  within  a  week   that  they've  been  approved  of                                                               
licensure. She encouraged all legislators  to notify the division                                                               
when they hear about specific problematic situations.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   STEVENS  highlighted   the  financial   consequences                                                                  
including  Medicaid  billing -  when  someone  in the  psychology                                                               
field is not given timely  notification that they qualified for a                                                               
license.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:38:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO opened public testimony on HB 262.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:38:36 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  NEES,  Research  Associate,  Alaska  Policy  Forum  (APF),                                                               
Anchorage,  Alaska, testified  in support  of HB  262. He  stated                                                               
that  the  Department of  Defense  (DoD)  study recommended  five                                                               
steps to make it easier  for military spouses to obtain licensure                                                               
and  the   fifth  step  was   to  collect  data,  which   HB  262                                                               
accomplishes.   He  related   that  the   DoD  study   looked  at                                                               
cosmetology,   dental   hygiene,   mental   health   occupations,                                                               
occupational  therapy  and  real  estate  licensures  in  all  50                                                               
states.  Their recommendation  was  that  the legislation  should                                                               
contain  the word   shall" instead  of  "may" and  that the  term                                                               
 substantially equivalent"  in the  licensure was  very important                                                               
to  make it  easier  for  military spouses.  He  noted that  this                                                               
cohort had  a 20 percent  unemployment rate even though  they may                                                               
be licensed in another state.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEES said  the other  four requirements  from the  DoD study                                                               
were  that  the websites  of  licensing  agencies should  include                                                               
military accommodation licensure on  each page; the boards should                                                               
be educated that it was  their responsibility to ensure expedited                                                               
temporary licensure  works; that  the license  application should                                                               
have a  separate box to  self-identify as a military  spouse; and                                                               
improving  portability and  continuing education.  He noted  that                                                               
the Division  of Occupational  Licensing in  the State  of Alaska                                                               
does not cover the areas  of education and health services. There                                                               
are  shortages in  these  areas and  APF  would recommend  adding                                                               
language to  the bill to make  it easier for military  spouses to                                                               
fill vacancies  in those two  occupations. He  reiterated support                                                               
for the bill.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:41:33 AM                                                                                                                    
DALE  VANDE   HEY,  Liaison,   State  Liaison   Office,  Military                                                               
Community and Family Policy, Department  of Defense, San Antonio,                                                               
Texas, expressed  appreciation for shining  a light on  the issue                                                               
of expedited  temporary licensure for  military spouses. It  is a                                                               
key quality  of life issue  that his  office had been  working on                                                               
since House  Bill 28 was  enacted in  2011. The DoD  continues to                                                               
advocate for  anything that  can be done  to improve  the process                                                               
and enable  military spouses to  easily transition to  Alaska and                                                               
continue  a career  in their  selected discipline.  He reiterated                                                               
support for HB 262 to improve the process.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:43:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked Mr. Vande Hey  to give members an  idea of                                                               
the length of assignments for military personnel.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. VANDE HEY  said the average assignment is  about three years,                                                               
but it can be more depending on the specialty.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked if the  DoD ranks the states  on services                                                               
to  military  families  and tracks  the  gaps  that  legislatures                                                               
should be aware of.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.      VANDE     HEY      replied      the     DoD      website                                                               
[statepolicy.militaryonesource.mil] lists the  ten key issues for                                                               
military families that have been  identified across the 50 states                                                               
and  can  be addressed  by  state  legislatures. It  shows  where                                                               
Alaska fits relative to the other states on these issues.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO  suggested  the   members  share  that  in  their                                                               
newsletters to constituents.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:49:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTIE   RODRIGUEZ,  representing   self,  Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
testified in support  of HB 262. She related that  she had been a                                                               
military  spouse for  more than  20  years and  had struggled  to                                                               
continue her  education as she  was transferred with  her spouse.                                                               
Once  she  received her  degree,  she  faced daunting  challenges                                                               
getting her professional  career started. This is  a common theme                                                               
in military  life and  helps account for  the fact  that military                                                               
spouses are  47 percent underemployed compared  to their civilian                                                               
counterparts. She  said the spotlight  on the issue  of licensure                                                               
for  military spouses  is appreciated  and state  laws are  being                                                               
enacted, but  implementation is still  a problem.  She emphasized                                                               
the need for transparency and  the ability to access information.                                                               
She said  HB 262 would be  very helpful for capturing  date about                                                               
how things are going for military  spouses and taking things in a                                                               
positive direction.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COSTELLO thanked  her for  her comments  and her  family's                                                               
military service.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:55:01 AM                                                                                                                    
BILL THOMAS,  representing self,  Haines, Alaska,  stated support                                                               
for HB 262.  He shared that he  was the sponsor of  House Bill 28                                                               
that passed  in 2011. He  noted that the veteran's  caucus worked                                                               
with  the Department  of Defense  on the  language. The  bill was                                                               
intended to  provide support for  military families  and veterans                                                               
and HB 262 furthers that goal.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:57:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO  found  no further  comments  and  closed  public                                                               
testimony on HB 262.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:57:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  moved  to  report  HB  262  from  committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO found  no objection, and CSHB  262(L&C) moved from                                                               
Senate Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 340 Ver A.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 340
HB 340 Transmittal Letter.PDF SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 340
HB 340 Sectional Analysis.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 340
HB340-DCCED-DBS-02-02-18.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 340
HB 343 ver A.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 343
HB 343 Transmittal Letter.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 343
HB 343 Sectional.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 343
HB343-DCCED-DBS-01-24-18.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 343
CS HB262 Version O.PDF SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Sponsor Statement.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Explanation of Changes.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Supporting Document- DoD Licensure Implementation Eval. 2.2.17.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Supporting Document- Military Licensure Update CBPL 2-1-18.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Supporting Document- Millitary Courtesy License Statute.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Supporting Document- Board of Barbers Llc Instructions.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262
CS HB262 Support Letters.pdf SL&C 4/23/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 262