Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/06/1993 08:35 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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                     HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                          April 6, 1993                                        
                            8:35 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPE HFC 93-94, Side 1, #000 - end.                                          
  TAPE HFC 93-94, Side 2, #000 - 601.                                          
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson called the House Finance Committee to order                  
  at 8:35 a.m.                                                                 
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson                                                              
  Vice-Chair Hanley                                                            
  Representative Brown               Representative Martin                     
  Representative Foster         Representative Navarre                         
  Representative Grussendorf    Representative Parnell                         
  Representative Hoffman        Representative Therriault                      
                                                                               
  Co-Chair MacLean was absent from the meeting.                                
                                                                               
  ALSO PRESENT                                                                 
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson; Representative Williams;                              
  Representative Mulder; Christopher Gates, Director, Division                 
  of Economic Development, Department of Commerce and Economic                 
  Development; Stan Steadman, Executive Director, Kenai ARDOR;                 
  Juanita Hensley, Director, Driver's Safety, Department of                    
  Public Safety; John George, Alaska State Association of                      
  Firefighters; Margot Knuth, Criminal Division, Department of                 
  Law; Kent Swisher, Alaska Municipal League.                                  
                                                                               
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
                                                                               
  HB 136    "An Act relating to the offenses of driving while                  
            intoxicated and refusal to submit to a breath                      
            test; and providing for an effective date."                        
                                                                               
            CSHB 136 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                  
            "no recommendation" and with two zero fiscal notes                 
            by the Department of Administration, dated                         
            3/26/93; and with a fiscal impact note by the                      
            Department of Public Safety, dated 3/26/93; and                    
            with a zero fiscal note by the Department of                       
            Public Safety, dated 3/5/93; and with a zero                       
            fiscal note by the Department of Law, dated                        
            3/5/93; and with a fiscal impact note by the                       
            Department of Corrections.                                         
                                                                               
  HB 140    "An Act relating to the king salmon tag fee."                      
                                                                               
                                1                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
            CSHB 140 (FSH) was reported out of Committee with                  
            a "do pass" recommendation and with a fiscal                       
            impact note by the Department of Fish and Game,                    
            dated 3/12/93.                                                     
                                                                               
  HB 198    "An Act relating to the Alaska regional economic                   
            assistance program; and providing for an effective                 
            date."                                                             
                                                                               
            HB 198 was HELD in a Subcommittee consisting of                    
            Chair Hanley with members Representatives Parnell                  
            and Brown.                                                         
                                                                               
  HB 221    "An Act relating to workers' compensation for                      
            volunteer ambulance attendants, police officers,                   
            and fire fighters; and providing for an effective                  
            date."                                                             
                                                                               
            HB 221 was reported out of Committee with                          
            individual recommendations and with two zero                       
            fiscal notes by the Department of Administration                   
            and the Department of Labor.                                       
                                                                               
  HB 244    "An Act making a special appropriation for                         
            additional district support for kindergarten,                      
            primary, and secondary education programs; and                     
            providing for an effective date."                                  
                                                                               
            HB 244 was reported out of Committee with "no                      
            recommendation".                                                   
  HOUSE BILL NO. 198                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to the Alaska regional economic                        
       assistance program; and providing for an effective                      
       date."                                                                  
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson noted that HB 198 changes the Alaska                         
  Regional Development Organizations (ARDOR) Program by rasing                 
  the state grant funding cap to regional development                          
  organizations from $50.0 thousand dollars to $100.0 thousand                 
  dollars a year.  The legislation will provide flexibility in                 
  assessing organizations' ability to raise matching funds.                    
  There is a $750.0 thousand dollar fiscal note from the                       
  Department of Commerce and Economic Development.                             
                                                                               
  CHRISTOPHER GATES, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ECONOMIC                            
  DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT                 
  spoke in support of HB 198.  He asserted that the ARDOR                      
  program is a jobs and economic development enhnacement.  He                  
  stressed that rural areas have difficulty in providing a one                 
                                                                               
                                2                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  to one match.                                                                
                                                                               
  Representative Martin expressed concern with the grant                       
  increase.  He asked why the grant should be raised.  Mr.                     
  Gates emphasized that the programs are successful.  He                       
  stressed that rural tourism is needed to put local residents                 
  to work.  He observed that the Matanuska-Sustina Borough has                 
  proposed the creation of an ARDOR.                                           
                                                                               
  Representative Martin asked for examples of ARDOR's                          
  accomplishments.  Mr. Gates gave examples of accomplishments                 
  of the Kenai ARDOR (see testimony by Mr. Steadman.)                          
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson asked the definition or purpose of ARDORs.                   
  Mr. Gates stated that ARDORs assist local economies to                       
  create jobs and economic activity.                                           
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson asked which projects would not have been                     
  developed without the help of an ARDOR.  Mr. Gates mentioned                 
  the Forest Task Force Project in Kenai.  He noted that the                   
  Seward sawmill was developed with ARDOR assistance.  He                      
  added that Seward was developed as a cruise ship destination                 
  with the assistance of the area ARDOR.                                       
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson asked if private grants are solicited.  Mr.                  
  Gates replied that grants are solicited from private                         
  organization.                                                                
                                                                               
  STAN STEADMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KENAI ARDOR reviewed some                 
  of the accomplishments of the Kenai ARDOR.  He concluded                     
  that the Kenai ARDOR:                                                        
                                                                               
       *    Played a key role in obtaining close to $10                        
            million in U.S. EDA assisted public works                          
            projects, to create 900 jobs;                                      
                                                                               
       *    Managed a nationally acclaimed media campaign to                   
            mitigate impact of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill;                     
                                                                               
       *    Facilitated contacts between Ssangyong Oil of                      
            Korea and Stewart Petroleum leading to successful                  
            oil drilling in Cook Inlet;                                        
                                                                               
       *    Trained 475 persons through the Small Business                     
            Development Center;                                                
                                                                               
       *    Obtained federal funding for investigations of                     
            options for utilization of timber lost to the                      
            spruce bark beetle infestation;                                    
                                                                               
       *    Obtained federal funding for Shellfish                             
            mariculture;                                                       
                                                                               
                                3                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
       *    Obtained federal funding for development of health                 
            care programs.                                                     
                                                                               
  Mr. Steadman noted the difficulty ARDORs have in supporting                  
  their administrative costs.                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley observed that the first $50.0 thousand                 
  dollar grant does not require a match.  Mr. Gates stated                     
  that the second $50.0 thousand dollars requires a 1 to 1                     
  match by railbelt ARDORs and a 3 to 1 match by rural ARDORs.                 
  He clarified that matching requirements are specified in                     
  regulations of the Department of Commerce and Economic                       
  Development.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley expressed concern that the first $50.0                 
  thousand dollars is a grant.  He felt that there should be a                 
  match for the entire amount.  He suggested that ARDOR grants                 
  be discontinued after a period of time if no benefits or                     
  match is forthcoming.                                                        
                                                                               
  Mr. Gates emphasized that rural ARDORs cannot provide the                    
  match when no commercial base exists.  Mr. Steadman stressed                 
  that ARDORs help residents to access state and local                         
  programs.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Brown noted that she is a board member of the                 
  Anchorage ARDOR.  She observed that the Anchorage ARDOR                      
  instituted the proposal to consolidate procurement by the                    
  United States military in Anchorage.  She noted that the                     
  Anchorage ARDOR has proposed amendments to HB 198.                           
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson HB 198 was HELD in a subcommittee consisting                 
  of Chair Hanley with Representatives Parnell and Brown.                      
  HOUSE BILL NO. 136                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to the offenses of driving while                       
       intoxicated and refusal to submit to a breath test; and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER explained that HB 136 would allow                      
  alternative sentencing for DWI offenders.  He observed that                  
  there is a nine month waiting period to serve DWI jail time.                 
  He asserted that the intent of DWI sentencing is to allow                    
  immediate 72 hour incarceration.  Jail time could be served                  
  in a community residential center (CRC).  Offenders would                    
  pay for their time in CRC detention.  Offenders would                        
  perform community service during their CRC incarceration.                    
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder noted that the Department of Public                    
  Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles requested sections                        
                                                                               
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  referring to limited licensing.  He explained that HB 136                    
  will restrict limited licenses to first time offenders.                      
                                                                               
  JUANITA HENSLEY, DIRECTOR, DRIVER'S SAFETY, DIVISION OF                      
  MOTOR VEHICLES, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY observed that                    
  the period of revocation would be reduced.  She noted that                   
  under current law a limited license could be issue for as                    
  long as 25 years without review.  She further explained                      
  limited licensing requirements.                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Martin expressed concern that repeat                          
  offenders would not be dealt with as severely as under                       
  current law.  Ms. Hensley clarified that only first and                      
  second offenders would be eligible for CRC placement.  She                   
  noted that it is difficult to track limited licenses.                        
                                                                               
  Representative Martin expressed concern that the fiscal cost                 
  to the State is being increased.  Representative Mulder                      
  observed that revenues will be derived through program                       
  receipts.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder added that the court will be                           
  authorized to attach permanent fund dividend checks to                       
  reimburse the State for DWI offender's CRC incarceration, up                 
  to $1,000 thousand dollars.                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Therriault asked if the Department of Law has                 
  been consulted concerning the constitutionality of the                       
  reimbursement cost.                                                          
                                                                               
  MARGOT KNUTH, CRIMINAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW explained                 
  that the CRC payment is capped at $1,000 thousand dollars.                   
  She emphasized that the amount would withstand a                             
  constitutional test.  She added that the legislation                         
  contains provisions for indigent persons.                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Parnell asked if Mothers Against Drunk                        
  Drivers (MADD) has reviewed CSHB 136 (JUD).  Representative                  
  Mulder stated that MADD supports the judiciary version.                      
                                                                               
  Ms. Knuth clarified, in response to a question from                          
  Representative Brown, that it is against the law to refuse a                 
  breath test.  No limited licenses will be issued to                          
  individuals that refuse breath tests.                                        
                                                                               
  Ms. Hensley observed that the Department of Public Safety                    
  will be eligible for additional federal grants if the                        
  reduction in limited licenses as proposed in CSHB 136 (JUD)                  
  is adopted.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Therriault noted that current law allows a                    
  $250 dollar fine.  Ms. Knuth clarified that $250 dollars is                  
                                                                               
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  the mandatory minimum amount that offenders can be fined.                    
  The maximum amount is $10,000.  Representative Therriault                    
  felt that the current program should be revenue neutral.  He                 
  asked if individuals are paying the $250 dollar fine.  Ms.                   
  Knuth noted that current fines are deposited in the General                  
  Fund.  She noted that there are costs to associated with                     
  reimbursments for the Public Defender, prosecution, judge,                   
  court clerk, corrections and probations.                                     
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 93-94, Side 2)                                             
  Representative Hanley noted that AS 28.151.181 (e) has been                  
  appealed.  Representative Hanley MOVED to AMEND CSHB 136                     
  (JUD) to delete references to AS 28.151. 181 (e) and add the                 
  appropriate statute reference.  There being NO OBJECTION, it                 
  was so ordered.                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Foster MOVED to report CSHB 136 (FIN) out of                  
  Committee with individual recommendations and with the                       
  accompanying fiscal notes.                                                   
                                                                               
  Representative Martin asked the percentage of fines which                    
  have been paid to the State and the social economic                          
  background of offenders.  Ms. Knuth stressed that there is                   
  no connection between the ability to pay and release.  She                   
  emphasized that payment is set by regulation.  She stated                    
  that empirical evidence indicates that the majority of DWI                   
  offenses are committed by working people and professionals.                  
  She restated that there is an indigent provision.                            
                                                                               
  There being NO OBJECTION, CSHB 136 (FIN) was moved from                      
  committee.                                                                   
                                                                               
  CSHB 136 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no                        
  recommendation" and with two zero fiscal notes by the                        
  Department of Administration, dated 3/26/93; and with a                      
  fiscal impact note by the Department of Public Safety, dated                 
  3/26/93; and with a zero fiscal note by the Department of                    
  Public Safety, dated 3/5/93; and with a zero fiscal note by                  
  the Department of Law, dated 3/5/93; and with a fiscal                       
  impact note by the Department of Corrections.                                
  HOUSE BILL NO. 140                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to the king salmon tag fee."                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON noted that CSHB140 (FSH) was                      
  introduced to address concerns raised by individuals in the                  
  tourism/sport fish industry.  He noted that the current flat                 
  fee of $20.00, imposed on all nonresidents, is likely to                     
  discourage sport fish participation among short-time                         
  tourists.   He felt that this is likely to have a                            
  detrimental impact on resident sport-guide businesses and                    
                                                                               
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  local economies.                                                             
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson noted that CSHB 140 (FSH) would                        
  institute a graduated fees schedule.  Committee Substitute                   
  for HB 140 (FSH) would reappeal the flat $20.00 rate, while                  
  imposing a fee increases of $10, $15 and $30 with the                        
  validation periods of one, three and 14 days or an annual                    
  tag.  He asserted that a graduated rate schedule insures                     
  that fees are commensurate with resource impacts.  He                        
  asserted that the longer a nonresident participates in the                   
  State's fishery resource, the higher their fee will become.                  
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson noted that CSHB140(FSH) carries a                      
  positive fiscal note of $70.6 thousand dollar.                               
  Representative Hudson explained that intent language was                     
  added to underscore that fees should be appropriated to                      
  support King salmon support fishing research, management and                 
  enhancement projects.  Residents would be required to                        
  purchase tags only for anadromous king salmon.  He explained                 
  that there are a number of landlocked sport fishing                          
  activities that are open to children during special events.                  
  It is not the intention of the legislation to charge extra                   
  fees for events such as Derby Days.                                          
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson clarified for Representative                           
  Therriault, that a one day tag would be $10 for the specific                 
  day.  He added that the person would also have to have a                     
  nonresident license.                                                         
                                                                               
  Representative Foster MOVED to report CSHB 140 (FSH) out of                  
  Committee with individual recommendations and with the                       
  accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                  
  so ordered.                                                                  
                                                                               
  CSHB 140 (FSH) was reported out of Committee with a "do                      
  pass" recommendation and with a fiscal impact note by the                    
  Department of Fish and Game, dated 3/12/93.                                  
  HOUSE BILL NO. 244                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act making a special appropriation for additional                   
       district support for kindergarten, primary, and                         
       secondary education programs; and providing for an                      
       effective date."                                                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS recognized that funding is                      
  currently contained in HB 55.                                                
                                                                               
  Representative Martin MOVED to report HB 244 out of                          
  Committee with individual recommendations.  There being NO                   
  OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                7                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
  HB 244 was reported out of Committee with "no                                
  recommendation".                                                             
  HOUSE BILL NO. 221                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to workers' compensation for volunteer                 
       ambulance attendants, police officers, and fire                         
       fighters; and providing for an effective date."                         
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson explained that House Bill 221 was                      
  introduced to clarify workers' compensation statutes that                    
  have been the cause of much confusion or misinterpretation,                  
  particularly with regard to benefits for volunteers.  He                     
  emphasized that volunteers are extensively employed.  He                     
  noted that workers' compensation benefits are intended,                      
  subject to minimum and maximum limits, to replace the lost                   
  wages of injured workers.  Section 1 of HB 221 recognizes                    
  that volunteers should receive wage replacement based on the                 
  actual wages lost or the comparable wage they would receive                  
  were they paid employees rather than volunteers.  Current                    
  law limits wage loss benefits for volunteer fire fighters,                   
  for example, who may have high earning capacity in their                     
  regular employment, to the benefits based on the wage paid a                 
  carrier fire fighter.  House Bill 221 corrects the                           
  inequities in benefit calculations for volunteer ambulance                   
  attendants, police officers and fire fighters by calculating                 
  compensation based on the higher wage earned.                                
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson observed that section 2 of HB 221 will                 
  extend coverage for volunteer fire fighters.  In the past                    
  year, compensation benefits for volunteer fire fighters,                     
  while engaged in fire department activities other than                       
  responding to emergencies, has been questioned.  Since                       
  "employees" are covered for injuries arising out of and in                   
  the course of employment, volunteer fire fighters are                        
  similarly covered.  He asserted that AS 23.30.243 has been                   
  misinterpreted to limit coverage only to those instances                     
  where the volunteer was responding to an emergency.  Section                 
  2 of HB 221 amends AS 23.30 by adding a new section that                     
  defines volunteer ambulance attendants, police officers and                  
  fire fighters as "employees."                                                
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Larson asked how reimbursement would be determined.                 
  Representative Hudson pointed out that rates are set by                      
  formula in AS 23.31.75.  The weekly rate will be based on                    
  the individuals employment.  The maximum amount an                           
  individual would be reimbursed is $700 dollars.                              
                                                                               
  Representative Martin asked how insurance claims would be                    
  handled.  Representative Hudson clarified that volunteers                    
  become temporary employees of the municipality.  The                         
  municipality carries the insurance.  The legislation will                    
                                                                               
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  only specify that volunteers will be compensated comparable                  
  to the full time employee.  Costs will be paid by the                        
  municipality up to the cap.                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Hudson explained that section 3 repeals AS                    
  23.30.092.  This statute has been interpreted to mean that a                 
  municipality "may" provide workers compensation coverage for                 
  volunteers.  Conversely, it may be incorrectly interpreted                   
  to mean that a municipality may elect not to provide                         
  coverage. In reality, this section provides that an                          
  alternative policy may substitute for a workers'                             
  compensation policy so long as the benefits are equal or                     
  better than a statutory workers' compensation policy.                        
  However, this section has done nothing but cause confusion                   
  and I believe repealing it will clarify that all volunteers                  
  who meet the definition in AS 23.30 must be covered by                       
  workers' compensation.                                                       
                                                                               
  JOHN GEORGE, LOBBYIST, ALASKA STATE FIRE FIGHTERS                            
  ASSOCIATION stated that the employer of the volunteers'                      
  regular employment has no involvement with the insurance or                  
  injury costs incurred by a volunteer.   The current level of                 
  reimbursement for volunteer injury is based on the salary of                 
  an entry level fire fighter.  The maximum benefit a                          
  volunteer could be eligible for is $36,000 a year.                           
                                                                               
  Representative Hanley asked if a municipal fiscal note                       
  should be attached.  Representative Hudson stated that, he                   
  understood that, the impact to municipalities would be                       
  insignificant.                                                               
                                                                               
  KENT SWISHER, ALASKA MUNICIPAL LEAGUE concluded that since                   
  the legislation contains maximum caps, municipalities'                       
  concerns are not severe.  The Alaska Municipal League                        
  supports compensation for accidents that occur during                        
  training.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Grussendorf observed that municipalities                      
  would be mandated to carry workers' compensation for                         
  volunteers.  Mr. George pointed out that current law                         
  requires that municipalities provide workers' compensation                   
  or another policy of equal or greater benefits.                              
                                                                               
  Representative Martin noted that police department and                       
  emergency medical volunteers would also be covered.                          
                                                                               
  Representative Foster MOVED to report HB 221 out of                          
  Committee with individual recommendations and with the                       
  accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                  
  so ordered.                                                                  
                                                                               
  HB 221 was reported out of Committee with individual                         
                                                                               
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  recommendations and with two zero fiscal notes by the                        
  Department of Administration and the Department of Labor.                    
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting adjourned at 9:54 a.m.                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
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