Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/30/2003 03:15 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 30, 2003                                                                                           
                         3:15 P.M.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 03 - 71, Side A                                                                                                        
TAPE HFC 03 - 71, Side B                                                                                                        
TAPE HFC 03 - 72, Side A                                                                                                        
TAPE HFC 03 - 72, Side B                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams called the House  Finance Committee meeting                                                                   
to order at 3:15 P.M.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative John Harris, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Bill Williams, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Kevin Meyer, Vice-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                    
Representative Eric Croft                                                                                                       
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
Representative Mike Hawker                                                                                                      
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Carl Moses                                                                                                       
Representative Bill Stoltze                                                                                                     
Representative Jim Whitaker                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Joel Gilbertson, Commissioner,  Department of Health & Social                                                                   
Services; Bob  Labbe, Deputy  Director, Department  of Health                                                                   
and  Social Services;  Karen Pearson,  Director, Division  of                                                                   
Alcohol  and Drug  Abuse,  Department  of Health  and  Social                                                                   
Services;  Tim Barry,  Staff,  Representative Bill  Williams;                                                                   
Virginia   Breeze,  Division   of  Elections;  Cheryl   Jebe,                                                                   
President,  League of  Women  Voters; Stuart  Thomson,  Self,                                                                   
Juneau; Alvin  Anders, Secretary,  Alaska Libertarian  Party;                                                                   
Patricia  Zimmerman, Douglas  Advisory  Board, Juneau;  Marie                                                                   
Darlin,  Alaska   Association  of  Retired   Persons  (AARP),                                                                   
Juneau;  Portia Parker,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of                                                                   
Corrections; Senator Tim Kelly, Substance Abuse Association                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Dick Bishop,  Alaska Outdoor  Council, Fairbanks;  Jim Sykes,                                                                   
Co-Chair,  Green  Party  of  Alaska,   Mat-Su;  Karen  Bretz,                                                                   
Attorney,  Alaskans  for  Efficient   Government,  Anchorage;                                                                   
Linda Ronan,  Alaska Hemp, Anchorage; Ken  Jacobus, Attorney,                                                                   
Anchorage;  Jed  Whittaker,  Anchorage;   Steve  Con,  Alaska                                                                   
Public  Interest   Research  Group   and  Consumer   Advocacy                                                                   
Organization  (AKPIRG), Anchorage;  Marie Lavigne,  Executive                                                                   
Director,  Alaska Public Health  Association; Marie  Lavigne,                                                                   
Executive   Director,  Alaska   Public  Health   Association,                                                                   
Anchorage;  Ann   Hopper,  Program  Director,   Family  Focus                                                                   
Program, Fairbanks                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HJR 5     Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                                                                     
          State   of  Alaska   relating  to  initiative   and                                                                   
          referendum petitions.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
          HJR 5 was reported out of Committee with                                                                              
          "individual"  recommendations and with  fiscal note                                                                   
          #1 by the Office of the Governor.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB 209    An   Act  relating   to   municipal  property   tax                                                                   
          adjustments for property affected by a disaster.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
          HB 209 was WAIVED from Committee.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB 229    An Act  relating to  special medical parole  and to                                                                   
          prisoners   who   are    severely   medically   and                                                                   
          cognitively disabled.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
          CS HB 229 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with                                                                    
          a "do pass" recommendation  and with two new fiscal                                                                   
          notes  by  the  Department  of  Health  and  Social                                                                   
          Services  and one  new  note by  the Department  of                                                                   
          Corrections.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CS SB 105(HES) am(efd fld)                                                                                                      
          An  Act relating  to  eligibility requirements  for                                                                   
          medical  assistance for certain children,  pregnant                                                                   
          women,  and persons  in a  medical or  intermediate                                                                   
          care facility.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
          HCS CS SB 105 (HES)am(efd  fld) was reported out of                                                                   
          Committee with a "do  pass" recommendation and with                                                                   
          a new  fiscal note by the Department  of Health and                                                                   
          Social Services.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SB 109    An Act  repealing the statute that  sets priorities                                                                   
          for  the Department of  Health and Social  Services                                                                   
          to   apply  to   administration   of  the   medical                                                                   
          assistance  program  when  there  are  insufficient                                                                   
          funds  allocated  in  the  state  budget  for  that                                                                   
          program;  authorizing the  department to  make cost                                                                   
          containment  decisions that  may include  decisions                                                                   
          about  eligibility of  persons and availability  of                                                                   
          services under the medical assistance program; and                                                                    
          providing for an effective date.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
          SB 109 was SCHEDULED but not heard.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SB 124(efd fld)                                                                                                                 
          An Act relating to grants for alcoholism and drug                                                                     
          abuse programs.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          HCS CS  SB 124 (FIN) was reported  out of Committee                                                                   
          with  "individual"  recommendations  and with  four                                                                   
          fiscal  notes, #1, #2, #3,  & #4 by  the Department                                                                   
          of Health and Social Services.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State                                                                    
     of Alaska relating to initiative and referendum                                                                            
     petitions.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
TIM BARRY, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS,  stated that                                                                   
HJR 5 was a  resolution to put a constitutional  amendment on                                                                   
the ballot in the fall 2004.   The amendment would change the                                                                   
requirements  for  getting  an   initiative  on  the  ballot.                                                                   
Currently, the constitution requires  getting signatures from                                                                   
at least 10%  of the number of  people who voted in  the most                                                                   
recent general election statewide.   Those signatures must be                                                                   
from at  least 27  of the 40  House districts  or 2/3  of the                                                                   
House districts.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Barry added  that the fiscal note is for  $1,500 dollars,                                                                   
which would  be the  costs to the  Division of Elections  for                                                                   
printing the  additional page in  the election pamphlet.   He                                                                   
noted that  Virginia Breeze  from the  Division of  Elections                                                                   
was present to answer questions of the Committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Barry advised  that  because  the amendment  proposes  a                                                                   
constitutional  amendment,  it  only  becomes  law if  it  is                                                                   
supported  by 2/3  + 1  of both  Legislative  members and  is                                                                   
approved  by the  majority of  voters  at the  ballot box  in                                                                   
2004.   He referenced the letters  of support in  the packets                                                                   
and statistical  data on the signature petitions  from recent                                                                   
years.    The spreadsheets  indicate  that  no  hardship  for                                                                   
initiative  supporters  in the  last  few years  meeting  the                                                                   
requirement for HJR 5.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  asked if there were any  initiatives in                                                                   
that past few years that would  not have qualified under this                                                                   
amendment.   Mr.  Barry  replied  that information  would  be                                                                   
difficult to  access.  The  way that  the process is  done is                                                                   
that the Division  of Elections counts signatures  until they                                                                   
hit the needed number, 10% statewide  and assuring that there                                                                   
is at least  one signature from  each of the districts.   The                                                                   
signature gatherers  always gather more than are  needed.  In                                                                   
most cases,  when counted, the  requirements of HJR 5  and HB                                                                   
31 would have been met.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris  asked if the  resolution would  require that                                                                   
10% of  those that voted  in the preceding general  election,                                                                   
must reside  in at  least ¾  of the  election districts.   In                                                                   
those ¾ election districts, there  must be a minimum of 7% in                                                                   
each.   Mr.  Barry agreed  that was  essentially correct  and                                                                   
that  it would  be a  number equal  to  7% of  the number  of                                                                   
people  who  voted  at  the  most  recent  election  in  that                                                                   
district.   In order to sign  the petition, the  person would                                                                   
not have had to vote but would have to be registered.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris  suggested that  the reason for  the proposed                                                                   
legislation  was  to  guarantee  that more  of  the  election                                                                   
districts in the  State have at least some  representation in                                                                   
a  statewide  petition.   Mr.  Barry  noted  that it  is  the                                                                   
sponsor's  intention that democracy,  through the  initiative                                                                   
process,  be exported  to more  parts  of the  State than  is                                                                   
currently happening.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule  questioned how many districts  could be                                                                   
accessed  on the  current road  system.   Mr.  Barry did  not                                                                   
know.   Representative  Joule pointed  out that  it would  be                                                                   
difficult  to get  this to  rural Alaska,  while still  being                                                                   
possible to get  to the needed ¾ along the road  system.  Mr.                                                                   
Barry explained that  the way in which the  system works, the                                                                   
sponsor of the petition makes  signature packets.  They could                                                                   
be sent through  the mail, with signatures gathered  and sent                                                                   
back.   Mr. Barry stated that  the Division of  Elections has                                                                   
numbered  booklets  and that  emailing  was  not possible  at                                                                   
present time.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DICK BISHOP,  (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ALASKA OUTDOOR                                                                   
COUNCIL,  FAIRBANKS, stated  that initiatives  are not  a bad                                                                   
tool  when used  to protect  people's  rights; however,  most                                                                   
initiatives are used  to restrict rights.  He  noted that the                                                                   
founding fathers of  this country were wary of  the impact of                                                                   
the initiative system on minority rights.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bishop commented  that hunters, fishers and  trappers are                                                                   
a minority  in Alaska.   Wildlife  initiatives have  promoted                                                                   
restriction of  sound, lawful hunting, trapping  and wildlife                                                                   
management.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bishop  stated that  HB 31 would  help to defend  against                                                                   
"the   tyranny  of   the  majority"   by  requiring   broader                                                                   
representation  of  Alaskan minorities  in  order  to put  an                                                                   
initiative on the ballot                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bishop stressed  that HB 31 would not ban  the initiative                                                                   
process.    He noted that 26  states now do use  this system.                                                                   
Initiatives  on  wildlife  issues  are  widely  condemned  by                                                                   
professional  fish  and  wildlife biologists  in  Alaska  and                                                                   
across the  nation because they've  proven a poor  substitute                                                                   
for the  legal framework  developed over  the last  100 years                                                                   
for managing fish and game                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bishop continued  that with wildlife, it is  easy to sell                                                                   
bad idea advertising.  People mostly like wildlife  and don't                                                                   
want to check out  the facts, so they react  to the emotional                                                                   
appeal  of a  ballot  campaign.   Alaska  has an  outstanding                                                                   
legal framework  for fish and game  management.  HB  31 & HJR                                                                   
5would improve the working climate of the system.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
STEVE  CON,  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  ALASKA  PUBLIC                                                                   
INTEREST RESEARCH  GROUP AND  CONSUMER ADVOCACY  ORGANIZATION                                                                   
(AKPIRG),   ANCHORAGE,  testified   in   opposition  to   the                                                                   
legislation.    He noted  that  in  the  past 30  years,  his                                                                   
organization has used  the initiative tool.  The  use has not                                                                   
involved fish,  wildlife or environmental matters  but rather                                                                   
the alliance  to set  in place  campaign finance reform  law.                                                                   
He pointed out  that the Legislature had passed  the campaign                                                                   
finance reform  law.  The  Constitutional Convention  saw the                                                                   
initiative process as a critical  tool to express the will of                                                                   
the people and to curb the power  of special interests on the                                                                   
legislative process.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Con  stressed that  the initiative tool  has worked.   He                                                                   
stated that the legislation should  be opposed.  If passed it                                                                   
will make it  difficult for individuals except  for high-paid                                                                   
special interest groups to place initiatives on the ballot.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KAREN  BRETZ,   (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   ATTORNEY,                                                                   
ALASKANS FOR  EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT,  ANCHORAGE, testified  in                                                                   
opposition to the  legislation.  She noted that  she has been                                                                   
involved in the  initiative process as a proponent  of ballot                                                                   
initiatives,  a  collector  of   initiative  signatures,  and                                                                   
counsel to litigants involved in the initiative process.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Bretz  urged that members  not pass  HJR 5.   She pointed                                                                   
out that the  right to petition the government  is guaranteed                                                                   
in the  State constitution  and tangentially  in the  federal                                                                   
constitution.   The net result of  HJR 5 will be  the curbing                                                                   
of rights.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HJR 5  will effect outside interests  and local people.   The                                                                   
outside interests  will always  have the  funds to  get their                                                                   
issues  on the  ballot regardless  of  the roadblocks  placed                                                                   
before them.  In contrast, Alaskans  would be  dissuaded from                                                                   
participating  in  direct  democracy if  it  is  unreasonably                                                                   
difficult.   Ms.   Bretz   stressed  that   the   bill   will                                                                   
disproportionately affect Alaskans.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The requirement  that initiative sponsors  collect signatures                                                                   
equal in number  to 10% of the voters who voted  in the prior                                                                   
general  election  presents  a  challenge  for  Alaskans  and                                                                   
ensures  that  the proposed  initiative  would  have  minimal                                                                   
support.   HJR  5  does   not  disturb   the  10%   signature                                                                   
requirement and will additionally require:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Sponsors to collect signatures from three quarters                                                                      
        of the house districts; and                                                                                             
   ·    That seven percent of the voters in each of those                                                                       
        districts sign the petition.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Bretz claimed  that HJR  5  would disenfranchise  people                                                                   
living in rural  Alaska from participating in  the initiative                                                                   
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
She  added  that   it  is  important  to  reflect   upon  the                                                                   
individual  freedoms   and  prosperity   that  our   form  of                                                                   
government allows us.  The Legislature  should encourage more                                                                   
Alaskans to participate in the  initiative process.  Although                                                                   
the  initiative  process has  never  been instituted  on  the                                                                   
federal level,  the United States Supreme Court  commented on                                                                   
it  in  the  case  of United  Mine  Workers  of  America  vs.                                                                   
Illinois  State   Bar  Association,  389  U.S.   427  (1967).                                                                   
Restraining  the rights  of the people  from petitioning  the                                                                   
government  through the  initiative process  is not  Alaskan,                                                                   
nor is patriotic.   Ms. Bretz urged members  of the Committee                                                                   
to vote "do not pass" on HJR 5.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
LINDA  RONAN, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  CHAIR OF  THE                                                                   
BOARD,  ALASKA HEMP, ANCHORAGE,  spoke  in opposition  to the                                                                   
legislation.   She recommended  current technology  retaining                                                                   
inclusion by  utilizing the Internet.   She pointed  out that                                                                   
in her  circle, there  is not one  person interested  in this                                                                   
bill.   She  stated  that the  legislation  would remove  the                                                                   
people's choice of what is placed  on the ballot.  That would                                                                   
not be right.  She urged members to vote against HJR 5.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
KEN JACOBUS, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ATTORNEY, LEGAL                                                                   
COUNCIL  FOR  REPUBLICAN  PARTY,   ANCHORAGE,  testified  his                                                                   
opposition to  HJR 5, echoing  previous comments.   He stated                                                                   
that HJR  5 would  have to  consist of  31 petitions.   There                                                                   
will need  to be a petition  for each district plus  the same                                                                   
petition  statewide.    It  would be  essential  to  get  the                                                                   
cushion of signatures in each  district.  The net result will                                                                   
be  that only  well financed  petitions  will be  able to  do                                                                   
this.   The ordinary person that  wants to petition  will not                                                                   
be able to do  so.  He claimed that none of  the petitions on                                                                   
the list since  1998 would have gotten on the  ballot if this                                                                   
particular bill were in place.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Jacobus  commented that this  legislation will  not solve                                                                   
Dick Bishop's  problem.  The  resolution will result  in only                                                                   
petitions for  wildlife and natural  resource.   Those people                                                                   
use petitions as  fundraisers.  The legislation  will get rid                                                                   
of petitions brought forth by the ordinary people.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Jacobus  claimed  that if  the idea gets  on the  ballot,                                                                   
there would be  "mud" slug at people that support  the "power                                                                   
grab"; it will  not pass.  He suggested leaving  it alone and                                                                   
let  the people  have the  power  that they  have been  given                                                                   
originally under  the constitution.  When an  initiative gets                                                                   
on the  ballot, the people  have the right  to vote it  up or                                                                   
down.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JED  WHITTAKER, (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  ANCHORAGE,                                                                   
understood that there  is a fear in Alaska  that Anchorage is                                                                   
becoming a  City-State.  He noted  that HJR 5 was not  a good                                                                   
solution, as it would do away  with the 14th Amendment of the                                                                   
United States Constitution.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Whittaker disagreed that the  fiscal note would amount to                                                                   
only  $1,500 dollars,  because  there will  be many  lawsuits                                                                   
that follow.   He pointed out that Co-Chair  Williams did not                                                                   
have a co-sponsor on the resolution.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JIM  SYKES, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  GREEN PARTY  OF                                                                   
ALASKA,  MAT-SU,   echoed  sentiments   voiced  by   previous                                                                   
speakers.  He  stated that the Committee should  not pass HJR                                                                   
5 and  that citizens should  be encouraged to  participate in                                                                   
government.    HJR  5 places  a  roadblock  to  the  intended                                                                   
process.   He agreed  that the  "well funded outside  special                                                                   
interest  groups" will  have the  edge with  passage of  this                                                                   
legislation because  they have the  money to do  whatever the                                                                   
requirements are.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Sykes questioned  the  intent of  the  legislation.   He                                                                   
suggested that  more signatures  from rural Alaska  would not                                                                   
hold true.  There are better methods:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Making outside contributions toward the initiative                                                                      
        process illegal; and                                                                                                    
   ·    Limiting contributions to $500 dollars; requiring                                                                       
        monthly disclosure reports to Alaska Public Officers                                                                    
        Commission (APOC) to find out who is funding the                                                                        
        petition drives.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Sykes  agreed with  the $1  dollar per signature  charge,                                                                   
which  he   thought  was  reasonable.     He  spoke   to  the                                                                   
distribution  reports,  indicating  that  the  citizens  from                                                                   
every district  have signed the  initiatives.  He  urged that                                                                   
current law be left alone.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
STUART  THOMSON, SELF,  JUNEAU,  spoke in  opposition to  the                                                                   
proposed legislation.   He commented  on the negative  impact                                                                   
it  will  have on  tourism.    He observed  the  problem  for                                                                   
democracy, is after awhile, selfish  special interests always                                                                   
find a way to abuse or manipulate methodology.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Thomson  advised two things  to minimize damage  from the                                                                   
issue:                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Each   legislator   has   a    moral,   intellectual,                                                                   
        philosophical,  and common  sense  responsibility  to                                                                   
        study  relevant   Alaska  constitutional   convention                                                                   
        minutes and  major Alaska  Supreme  Court rulings  on                                                                   
        the initiative process; and                                                                                             
   ·    If after  study  of  constitutional  philosophy,  the                                                                   
        modification   proposed    is    still   worthy    of                                                                   
        consideration,  then  minimize  the   impact  of  the                                                                   
        changes  from  legislative  deliberation  and  public                                                                   
        input.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Thomson reminded members of the blessings that come from                                                                    
freedom.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHERYL  JEBE,  PRESIDENT,  LEAGUE OF  WOMEN  VOTERS,  JUNEAU,                                                                   
commented that the League of Women  Voters of Alaska supports                                                                   
the  "existing" initiative  process and  makes the  following                                                                   
recommendations:                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Initiatives  should  be  voted  on  only  at  General                                                                   
        Elections, not special or primary elections.                                                                            
   ·    Support change that  requires simplicity  and clarity                                                                   
        of the wording of  initiative questions with  a "yes"                                                                   
        vote to indicate  in favor  of a  measure and  a "no"                                                                   
        vote to indicate opposition to a measure.                                                                               
   ·    Support disclosure  on  each initiative  petition  of                                                                   
        the name(s) or group(s)  that is paying  the gatherer                                                                   
        and how they  are paid,  such as  by signature  or by                                                                   
        the hour.                                                                                                               
   ·    Support  the  requirement  for  not   less  than  500                                                                   
        qualified  voters  as  sponsors  to  the  prospective                                                                   
        petition with the Lieutenant Governor's office.                                                                         
   ·    Support  the  requirement  for  a   number  of  valid                                                                   
        signatures not  less than  ten (10%)  percent of  the                                                                   
        total number  of  the  votes  cast in  the  preceding                                                                   
        general elections.                                                                                                      
   ·    Support a formula for at least 50  signatures in each                                                                   
        of two-thirds of  the legislative districts  in order                                                                   
        to reflect statewide interest in a measure.                                                                             
   ·    Support  the  requirement  of  an   attorney  general                                                                   
        advisory opinion as to the constitutionality  of each                                                                   
        proposed initiative  after it  has qualified  for the                                                                   
        ballot, such  opinion to  be published  in the  State                                                                   
        Election Pamphlet.                                                                                                      
   ·    Support the  existing  limit on  time for  collecting                                                                   
        signatures to one year.                                                                                                 
   ·    Support the requirement for a cost  analysis to be on                                                                   
        each initiative petition.                                                                                               
   ·    Support the requirement that signature gatherers be                                                                     
        qualified voters of Alaska.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ALVIN ANDERS, SECRETARY, ALASKA  LIBERTARIAN PARTY, testified                                                                   
in opposition  to HJR 5.   He pointed  out that  the proposed                                                                   
changes to  the initiative process  attempt to  fix something                                                                   
that  is  not   broken.    Mr.  Anders  submitted   that  the                                                                   
legislation is not  necessary and that HJR 5 is  not the best                                                                   
way to achieve  Representative William's goals.   There is no                                                                   
evidence given  that the idea contained within  an initiative                                                                   
does  not enjoy  broad statewide  support.   Included in  the                                                                   
initiative package  are reports  showing the distribution  of                                                                   
signatures  from the  last ten  initiatives.   In each  case,                                                                   
significant numbers  of signatures  were gathered  from every                                                                   
district throughout  the State.  The fact that  an initiative                                                                   
makes it  on the ballot  in and of  its self indicates  broad                                                                   
support.  The fact that many citizens  from every legislative                                                                   
district  signed these  petitions  proves not  only that  the                                                                   
issues  have  broad  support but  also  that  the  initiative                                                                   
process is working.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Anders  continued,  no evidence has  been presented  that                                                                   
any initiative  has passed that  did not have  broad support.                                                                   
In fact most  initiatives that pass statewide  generally pass                                                                   
in  every district.   The  one exception  was the  referendum                                                                   
dealing with wildlife  management.  That ballot  issue won in                                                                   
30 of 40  districts and of  the ten districts where  it lost,                                                                   
mostly was in Anchorage and Fairbanks.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Anders  pointed  out that  some  people  are  supporting                                                                   
making   the  initiative   process  more   onerous  to   keep                                                                   
initiatives off  the ballot dealing with  wildlife management                                                                   
issues.   He  stressed that  if one  group has  the money  to                                                                   
mount expensive  initiative drives,  it would be  the "lovers                                                                   
of little  animals".   Since 1976,  only one  group has  been                                                                   
able to gather  the necessary signatures to  put a referendum                                                                   
on the ballot  and that group  was the people who  oppose the                                                                   
trapping of  wolves.  If they  can raise the money  to gather                                                                   
signatures equivalent  to 10%  of the vote  in 90  days, then                                                                   
they will  still be able to  afford to put signatures  on the                                                                   
ballot even if the distribution requirement is raised.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
He suggested that the Republicans  who support the bill would                                                                   
find themselves  being portrayed  as folks who  are attacking                                                                   
the  initiative  process and  even  if the  proposed  changes                                                                   
pass, wildlife management issues  will still make the ballot.                                                                   
He suggested  that there  is a better  way to accomplish  the                                                                   
goals of  making the  initiative process  more inclusive  and                                                                   
preventing  the tyranny  of the densely  populace areas  over                                                                   
the sparsely populated areas.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
   ·    The first goal, making the initiative process more                                                                      
        accessible to all Alaskans could be accomplished                                                                        
        easily by  making initiatives  one  page and  posting                                                                   
        them  as Adobe  Acrobat  files  on  the  Division  of                                                                   
        Elections website.  Currently the  State pays for the                                                                   
        cost of printing 500  petition booklets at  no charge                                                                   
        for  every  initiative  that  the   Attorney  General                                                                   
        approves for circulation.   That  money could  be put                                                                   
        to much better use.                                                                                                     
   ·    Preventing the "supposed tyranny" of the densely                                                                        
        populated areas  over the  sparsely populated  areas,                                                                   
        that could  be addressed using  a solution  practiced                                                                   
        in Switzerland.   There  cantons can  vote to  repeal                                                                   
        laws either statewide or within  a particular canton.                                                                   
       That option has not yet been tried in Alaska.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Anders addressed additional  points that make the changes                                                                   
proposed  in HJR  5  ill advised.  He  referenced the  report                                                                   
                                               st                                                                               
entitled "Initiative  and Referendum  in the 21   Century" by                                                                   
the  National  Conference  of  State  Legislators.  (Copy  on                                                                   
File).   In  that  report  there  are 34  recommendations  to                                                                   
improve the  initiative process.   Almost every one  of these                                                                   
proposals is  already in force in  Alaska.  The two  that are                                                                   
not are as follows:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Recommendation 2.2: "The Legislature should provide                                                                     
        for public hearings on the initiative proposals".                                                                       
   ·    Recommendation 4.3: "The States should require the                                                                      
        drafting  of  a  fiscal  impact  statement  for  each                                                                   
        initiative proposal".                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Those proposals  are not addressed  in HJR 5.   Moreover, the                                                                   
report   criticizes  initiative   abuses   in  most   notably                                                                   
California  and Oregon  but the solutions  that are  proposed                                                                   
are almost  all in place in  Alaska.  One criticism  that was                                                                   
leveled in the  report is abuse of the initiative  process by                                                                   
too many initiatives  appearing on the ballot,  which has not                                                                   
been  a  problem  in  Alaska.     Since  statehood,  only  34                                                                   
initiatives have  appeared on Alaska ballots, which  is 34 in                                                                   
42 years and 21 elections.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 03 - 71, Side B                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Anders stated  that  the  drafters of  our  constitution                                                                   
debated  the question  of how  many signatures  needed to  be                                                                   
required and what distribution  to require.  An amendment was                                                                   
proposed to require "from each  of two-thirds of the election                                                                   
districts  of the  State with  signatures  equaling not  less                                                                   
than 3% of the number of voters  casting ballots for Governor                                                                   
in each district  in the preceding general election  at which                                                                   
a governor  was elected".   That amendment  failed 31  to 17.                                                                   
He  asked  if the  founding  fathers  and mothers  of  Alaska                                                                   
thought  35 from  2/3  of the  districts  was  too onerous  a                                                                   
requirement,  why  then  is  the  Legislature  considering  a                                                                   
requirement  more than twice  the amount.   Mr. Anders  urged                                                                   
that the  members of  the Legislature  honor the drafters  of                                                                   
the Alaska Constitution and vote against HJR 5.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Anders  submitted  ideas for  improving  the  initiative                                                                   
process:                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Remove the restriction of paying only $1 per                                                                            
        signature.                                                                                                              
   ·    Extend the time period to allow for the gathering of                                                                    
        signatures.                                                                                                             
   ·    Return the thirty-day grace period for initiatives                                                                      
        that fail to gather the necessary signatures within                                                                     
        the allotted time.                                                                                                      
   ·    Allow initiative sponsors to submit signatures to                                                                       
        election officials for certification as they are                                                                        
        gathered.                                                                                                               
   ·    Make petitions one page and post on the Division of                                                                     
        Elections website.                                                                                                      
   ·    Make proponents pay for the cost of their own                                                                           
        printing.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  MOVED  to  ADOPT  Amendment  #1,  #23-                                                                   
LS0202\A.1, Kurtz, 4/29/03.  (Copy on File).                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams OBJECTED.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  explained that the  amendment addresses                                                                   
the issue regarding  repealing an initiative.   The amendment                                                                   
would insert  new language  "and the law  enacted may  not be                                                                   
repealed  by  the  legislature  within two  years  after  the                                                                   
effective date of the law".  He  stated that it is a process,                                                                   
which  the   Constitutional  Convention  believed   that  the                                                                   
legislature would do and would continue to do.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Barry responded that Co-Chair  Williams, the sponsor, had                                                                   
been working on this issue for  several legislative sessions.                                                                   
The amendment proposes a different  issue from which HJR 5 is                                                                   
intended  to  address.   The  current  system  has a  set  of                                                                   
"checks   and  balances".     Under  current   law,   if  the                                                                   
Legislature wanted  to repeal  a law, they  could do it.   In                                                                   
the event  that there were  technical problems with  the law,                                                                   
like the  one proposed  in Amendment  #1, it  would keep  the                                                                   
Legislature from fixing the "bad law" for two years.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  WITHDREW Amendment #1.   There being NO                                                                   
OBJECTION, it was withdrawn.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft MOVED to  ADOPT Amendment #2 which would                                                                   
change language  on Page  1, Line 11,  deleting the  "7%" and                                                                   
inserting "3%".                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams OBJECTED.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft stated  that the  7% might be  onerous.                                                                   
He acknowledged  that it made  sense for it  be over 1%.   He                                                                   
agreed that  there needs  to be  something that still  allows                                                                   
initiatives to  be done and significant participation  from a                                                                   
lot of districts without making it too burdensome.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams  noted that  the intent of  the bill  is to                                                                   
get "more  democracy" out to the  outline areas.   The people                                                                   
of  the State  need  to  be more  a  part of  the  initiative                                                                   
process.  He stated that three percent was just not enough.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR:      Stoltze, Croft                                                                                                   
OPPOSED:       Chenalut, Foster, Hawker, Joule, Meyer,                                                                          
               Williams                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Whitaker, Representative  Moses and  Co-Chair                                                                   
Harris were not present for the vote.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION FAILED (2-6).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule referenced  Line 11,  "7% of  ¾ of  the                                                                   
districts of those  people that voted in the  last election".                                                                   
He asked  if the signature of  someone that was  a registered                                                                   
voter but did  not vote in the last election,  would qualify.                                                                   
Mr. Barry  clarified that  the person does  not have  to have                                                                   
voted in the last  election.  The 7% number is  the number of                                                                   
signatures  needed  equal  to   the  number  of  people  that                                                                   
actually voted in that district in the last election.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Stoltze asked  if the  district numbers  were                                                                   
determined by  reapportionment.  Mr. Barry replied  that they                                                                   
were and  the most  recent numbers were  taken from  the 2000                                                                   
election.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster MOVED to  report HJR 5 out of Committee                                                                   
with  individual recommendations  and  with the  accompanying                                                                   
fiscal note.  Representative Croft OBJECTED.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft reiterated  that the process  currently                                                                   
is not broken and at this time,  there would be a significant                                                                   
impact to rural  Alaska.  He maintained that  it is important                                                                   
to be careful when affecting the  peoples right to initiative                                                                   
referendum  and recall.    These are  the  "checks" that  the                                                                   
people have  on the  Legislature and people  do not  like the                                                                   
Legislature  "messing around"  with them.   This  legislation                                                                   
will lower the  public's esteem even more.   The requirements                                                                   
proposed  in  the bill  of  10%  and  7%  will make  it  more                                                                   
difficult for  Alaskans to pass  or repeal laws.   Doing that                                                                   
is  their  right.    He  reiterated  that  there  is  not  an                                                                   
overwhelming problem with current system.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Stoltze indicated his concern with the bill.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris inquired how many  other states had this type                                                                   
process on  their books.   Mr. Barry  advised that  26 states                                                                   
currently use some sort of initiative process.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris  asked what  other states  use it to  reflect                                                                   
the will of the  public.  Mr. Barry replied  that the framers                                                                   
of  the  U.S. Constitution  considered  the  concept  of  the                                                                   
initiative  process.    Co-Chair  Williams  interjected  that                                                                   
Washington State uses the initiative process.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris  noted that  he did support  the idea  in the                                                                   
past  and  that  he  would  support it  at  this  time.    He                                                                   
understands  the  need  to  make  sure  that  there  is  some                                                                   
representation from all precincts  around the State to better                                                                   
reflect the State's will.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Foster  spoke   to   people  attempting   to                                                                   
determine what is good for Bush  Alaska.  He commented on how                                                                   
the  legislation will  affect  that area.   Initiatives  have                                                                   
been  "pushed down"  by the  majority of  urban Alaskans  for                                                                   
many years.   He thought that the disagreement  regarding the                                                                   
legislation is a "joke" and that  the bill would be a "safety                                                                   
net" for his people.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken on the  motion to move  the bill                                                                   
from Committee.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR:      Whitaker, Foster, Hawker, Joule, Meyer,                                                                          
               Stoltze, Harris, Williams                                                                                        
OPPOSED:       Chenault, Croft                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Moses was not present for the vote.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION PASSED (8-2).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HJR  5  was  reported  out  of  Committee  with  "individual"                                                                   
recommendations and with fiscal  note #1 by the Office of the                                                                   
Governor.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 105(HES) am(efd fld)                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     An Act relating to eligibility requirements for medical                                                                    
     assistance for certain children, pregnant women, and                                                                       
    persons in a medical or intermediate care facility.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JOEL GILBERTSON, COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & SOCIAL                                                                   
SERVICES, spoke  to the  HES version (H)  of the  bill, which                                                                   
would lower and freeze income  levels for eligibility for the                                                                   
Denali Kid Care  Program and would also freeze  income levels                                                                   
for  Medicaid  under the  special  income limit  for  nursing                                                                   
homes and home and community based waiver services.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Under  current law,  income standards  for these  eligibility                                                                   
categories  increase every  year  by the  amount of  cost-of-                                                                   
living adjustments to the Supplemental  Security Income (SSI)                                                                   
program or  the federal poverty  guidelines for Alaska.   The                                                                   
bill would  eliminate the  annual cost-of-living  adjustments                                                                   
and  put in  statute  fixed dollar  income  levels for  those                                                                   
programs based on  the SSI standard that became  effective on                                                                   
January 1, 2003 or the federal  poverty guideline for Alaska,                                                                   
which became effective on April 1, 2002.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Gilbertson noted  that the  Senate had  reduced                                                                   
the fixed  income levels for the  Denali Kid Care  Program at                                                                   
175%  of the  federal  poverty guideline  and  the House  HES                                                                   
Committee amended  the bill back  to the Governor's  original                                                                   
proposal.    The   HES  version  before  the   House  Finance                                                                   
Committee  keeps the Denali  Kid Care  income eligibility  at                                                                   
200%.   Setting  the program  income standard  at 200%  would                                                                   
allow the  Department to  maintain current Medicaid  benefits                                                                   
to over 26,000  beneficiaries while fixing levels  to realize                                                                   
significant cost savings in subsequent years.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Gilbertson   added  that  pregnant   women  who                                                                   
establish  eligibility  before  June 30,  2003  would  remain                                                                   
eligible for nine  months notwithstanding the  passage of the                                                                   
bill.   Likewise, children  who establish eligibility  before                                                                   
June 30, 2003 would  be protected for a period  of six months                                                                   
under existing continuous eligibility rules.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft referenced Pages  4 and 5,  which lists                                                                   
the  household  income amounts  and  asked if  those  numbers                                                                   
represented  the   200%  freeze.    Commissioner   Gilbertson                                                                   
reiterated  that the dollar  levels for  the Denali  Kid Care                                                                   
Program and  the Medicaid program  would be locked in  at the                                                                   
200% poverty level and that the  legislation would remove the                                                                   
inflation adjustments.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  asked  if  the  200%  federal  poverty                                                                   
guideline had already been incorporated  at the 25% level for                                                                   
Alaska.  Commissioner  Gilbertson responded that  the federal                                                                   
poverty level had  been uniquely calculated for  the State of                                                                   
Alaska.    It is  adjusted  to  reflect  a 25%  increase  and                                                                   
parallels the  cost-of-living adjustment that is  received by                                                                   
federal  employees because  of the  higher cost-of-living  in                                                                   
Alaska.   The Alaska  Permanent Fund is  not included  in the                                                                   
calculation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris pointed  out that the bill had  originated in                                                                   
the Senate.   He observed that  at one time,  eligibility had                                                                   
been  lowered  to  175%  of  poverty   level.    Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson reiterated  that the  Governor had introduced  the                                                                   
legislation  at the 200%  and that  the Senate HES  Committee                                                                   
reduced it from  200% to 175%.  Additionally,  that Committee                                                                   
did not  reflect the special  income standards  for long-term                                                                   
care.  They elected to lower it from 200% to 175%.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris  asked  where those  figures  were  located.                                                                   
Commissioner  Gilbertson  responded on  Page  4, Section  13.                                                                   
Co-Chair Harris asked  how he could make the  adjustment back                                                                   
to a 175%  poverty level.  Commissioner  Gilbertson explained                                                                   
that the  numbers listed  are calculated  at the 200%  level.                                                                   
In  order to  indicate that  reduction, each  of the  numbers                                                                   
would  need  to be  adjusted.    He added  that  the  low-end                                                                   
monthly difference  would be approximately  $300-$400 dollars                                                                   
per month.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris  inquired the amount of general  fund savings                                                                   
using  the 175%  figure.   Commissioner Gilbertson  responded                                                                   
that  the fiscal  note  passed  from the  Senate  would be  a                                                                   
general fund  savings in 2004  in the amount of  $2.1 million                                                                   
dollars with total  funds saved of $7.1 million  dollars.  He                                                                   
added that  the State does  receive enhanced federal  medical                                                                   
funds and that the State would  lose approximately $5 million                                                                   
in federal  dollars by  that reduction.   The State  receives                                                                   
funding for  some optional  categories, the Enhanced  Federal                                                                   
Medical Assistance  percentage.  The program  generates a 71%                                                                   
federal share.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris questioned the  number of Alaskans that would                                                                   
be  affected  at  the  175%  level  versus  the  200%  level.                                                                   
Commissioner  Gilbertson  responded  that  for FY04,  in  the                                                                   
Denali Kid  Care Program  that 123  pregnant women  and 1,214                                                                   
children would  be affected.   He pointed  out the  impact in                                                                   
FY04  would be  minimized by  some  extent by  the fact  that                                                                   
women  that   are  currently  eligible,  would   loose  their                                                                   
coverage under the adjustment  but that they would be able to                                                                   
retain  their  coverage  throughout   their  pregnancy  under                                                                   
federal law.   Children in the Denali Kid Care  Program would                                                                   
continue their  eligibility.   He reiterated that  the impact                                                                   
in the first year would be reduced  by the fact that pregnant                                                                   
women  in that  first  year would  not  loose their  coverage                                                                   
during  the  pregnancy.    However, in  the  out  years,  200                                                                   
individuals will be affected.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris noted that the  savings in the out-years were                                                                   
significant  given the  proposed benefit  cap.   Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson responded it would  save approximately $12 million                                                                   
dollars.  In  the far-out years, the projected  savings would                                                                   
amount to  twice what the  Governor's proposal  recommends at                                                                   
the 175% level.   He commented that at the 200%  scenario, in                                                                   
FY09,  there would  be a total  fund savings  of roughly  $10                                                                   
million dollars, $3.5 of that  would be general fund savings.                                                                   
Under the  175% scenario, there  would be a total  savings in                                                                   
FY09 of $22 million dollars.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule asked if  the fund source  indicated in                                                                   
the fiscal  note represented  federal savings.   Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson  noted that  the amount shows  a federal  savings;                                                                   
the federal  government pays roughly  71% of the cost  of the                                                                   
Denali Kid Care Program and as  a result, most of the savings                                                                   
are  federal  dollars.    He added  that  these  are  formula                                                                   
programs  and that any  reductions in  the Medicaid  Program,                                                                   
federal funds would be lost.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
In response to  an observation made by  Representative Joule,                                                                   
Commissioner  Gilbertson  stated that  the  reference was  to                                                                   
language passed in  the Senate, which was amended  in the HES                                                                   
Committee.   The bill before the  Committee uses the original                                                                   
language  proposed by  the  Governor at  the  200% level  and                                                                   
under  that  scenario,  a  $10  million  dollars  savings  is                                                                   
indicated.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule asked if  the program continued  as is,                                                                   
would the federal  government participate at  a higher level.                                                                   
Commissioner  Gilbertson responded  that the legislation  was                                                                   
intended to  contribute to a  limited general  funds savings.                                                                   
However,  no   one  currently  in  the  program   will  loose                                                                   
coverage.   In addition,  individuals in  the program  do not                                                                   
have equal  stratification  of incomes.   Those persons  with                                                                   
the  higher  level   of  income  will  be  affected   by  the                                                                   
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
In response to a query by Representative  Joule, Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson reiterated  that the Governor did  not support the                                                                   
Senate HES version of the legislation.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 03 - 72, Side A                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MARIE  LAVIGNE,  (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),  EXECUTIVE                                                                   
DIRECTOR, ALASKA PUBLIC HEALTH  ASSOCIATION, ANCHORAGE, noted                                                                   
that  the  Alaska  Public  Health  Association  applauds  the                                                                   
success of  Denali Kid Care  Program in improving  the health                                                                   
of  pregnant  women and  children  in  Alaska and  urges  the                                                                   
Committee  to continue  eligibility for  this program  at the                                                                   
fullest level possible.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Public  health research  on the  health  impact of  uninsured                                                                   
children is noteworthy:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Uninsured children who need medical and surgical                                                                        
        care are 4 times  more likely to go without  the care                                                                 
        they need than insured children with  the same health                                                                   
        needs.   When  they do  receive  the  care, they  are                                                                   
        sicker and more  likely to be  seen in  the emergency                                                                   
        room.                                                                                                                   
   ·    Uninsured children are 4% times more likely to do                                                                     
        without needed prescriptions and eye glasses, and 5                                                                     
        times more likely to be unable to receive needed                                                                        
        dental care.                                                                                                            
   ·    Uninsured children are 1.5 times more likely to                                                                         
        arrive to kindergarten without their required                                                                           
        immunizations.  They are 8 times more likely to not                                                                     
        have had a well child check up.                                                                                         
   ·    Uninsured pregnant women are less likely to receive                                                                     
        prenatal care, placing them at risk to deliver                                                                          
        early, low-birth weight babies and at the greatest                                                                    
        risk for fetal and/or maternal death.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Lavigne stated  that the  Governor's transmittal  letter                                                                   
accompanying   SB  105   states  "While   the  cost   savings                                                                   
associated with this bill are  modest in the short-term, this                                                                   
measure will significantly  reduce future year  costs."  From                                                                   
a public health perspective, any  short-term savings does not                                                                   
compare  to the greater  long  term costs to  the health  and                                                                   
well being of pregnant women and children.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She added that  to succeed in lowering the  enrollment in the                                                                   
Medical assistance programs, the  Legislature should consider                                                                   
the issue  from a  different perspective.    SB 105 seeks  to                                                                   
lower  the  enrollment  in  medical  assistance  programs  by                                                                   
reducing  eligibility  for pregnant  women  and children  who                                                                   
qualify at the upper levels of  the income eligibility, up to                                                                   
200%  of poverty  level.   The  most effective  approach  the                                                                 
Legislature  could  take would  be  to assist  employers  and                                                                   
working  families   to  get   affordable  health   insurance,                                                                   
reducing the  number of pregnant  women and children  needing                                                                 
coverage by Denali Kid Care.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Lavigne   noted  that  while  there  are   many  factors                                                                   
contributing  to 1  in 5  Alaskans  lacking health  insurance                                                                   
coverage,  one   of  the  greatest  barriers   is  access  to                                                                   
affordable  health  insurance.    A study  by  the  Anchorage                                                                   
Access to Health Care Coalition  released this fall indicates                                                                   
of the 16,000 adults in Anchorage  who are uninsured, 71% are                                                                   
working adults,  the majority in  business with less  than 10                                                                   
employees. The  Legislature needs to join with  businesses in                                                                   
addressing  the issue  of affordable  health care  insurance.                                                                   
In the  meantime, she urged  members to keep  the eligibility                                                                   
for  the medical  assistance  programs at  the  full 200%  of                                                                   
federal  poverty level  to maximize  the  health of  pregnant                                                                   
women and children.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA   ZIMMERMAN,   DOUGLAS   ADVISORY   BOARD,   JUNEAU,                                                                   
testified  against the  proposed legislation.   She  provided                                                                   
her employment  history in the pharmaceutical  industry.  She                                                                   
pointed out that  the difference between the  countries where                                                                   
there  is poor health  care and  good health  care has  state                                                                   
involvement.  She spoke in support  for universal health care                                                                   
throughout  the United  States.   Ms.  Zimmerman  recommended                                                                   
taxing the  oil and gas companies  to help provide  for these                                                                   
insurances.    She questioned  why  the  State of  Alaska  is                                                                   
considering   taxing  the   poorest   Alaskans  to   decrease                                                                   
services.  The  companies that extract the  State's resources                                                                   
should  be  the ones  taxed.    Ms. Zimmerman  recommended  a                                                                   
review of who takes the money out of Alaska.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARIE DARLIN,  ALASKA ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED  PERSONS (AARP),                                                                   
JUNEAU,  voiced  support  for  the Denali  Kid  Care  Program                                                                   
noting  that AARP  is  the  world's largest  organization  of                                                                   
grandparents.   She emphasized  that AARP  supports the  200%                                                                   
poverty  level  for  that program.    Ms.  Darlin  questioned                                                                   
putting  the levels  in statute,  as that  would bind  future                                                                   
legislators.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Foster MOVED to  report HCS  CS SB  105 (HES)                                                                   
out  of Committee  with individual  recommendations and  with                                                                   
the accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule OBJECTED.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Following a brief at-ease, Representative  Joule WITHDREW his                                                                   
OBJECTION.   There  being NO  further OBJECTIONS,  it was  so                                                                   
ordered.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HCS CS SB 105 (HES)am(efd fld)  was reported out of Committee                                                                   
with a  "do pass" recommendation  and with a new  fiscal note                                                                   
by the Department of Health & Social Services.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 229                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     An Act relating to special medical parole and to                                                                           
     prisoners who are severely medically and cognitively                                                                       
     disabled.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris MOVED  to RESCIND previous  action taken  on                                                                   
failing  to pass HB  299 out  of Committee.   There  being NO                                                                   
OBJECTION, action was rescinded.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris  MOVED  to ADOPT  work  draft  #23-LS0885\Q,                                                                   
Luckhaupt,  4/17/03, as the  version of  the bill before  the                                                                   
Committee.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams  advised that  during past hearings  on the                                                                   
bill, there had been questions regarding the fiscal notes.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
PORTIA   PARKER,    DEPUTY   COMMISSIONER,    DEPARTMENT   OF                                                                   
CORRECTIONS, referenced the Department  of Corrections fiscal                                                                   
notes dated  4/28/03.   She stated  that Page  2 of  the note                                                                   
describes  key   assumptions  and  indicates   the  projected                                                                   
savings.    The  original  note was  based  on  the  previous                                                                   
Administration's fiscal analysis.   That note was adjusted in                                                                   
collaboration  with  the  current medical  director  and  the                                                                   
actual billings were  analyzed.  She added that  the note was                                                                   
based on many things out of the Department's control.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
*Representative Hawker  noted his appreciation  on the fiscal                                                                   
documentation.     Representative  Croft  echoed   sentiments                                                                   
voiced by  Representative Hawker  and information  indicating                                                                   
justification for the $500,000 dollars.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Stoltze  MOVED to  adopt  Amendment #3,  #23-                                                                   
LS0885\I.1, Luckhaupt, 4/26/03.  (Copy on File).                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams OBJECTED.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Stoltze explained  that  the amendment  would                                                                   
remove anyone eligible for early  medical parole convicted of                                                                   
a felony and sexual assault.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris  clarified  that  the intent  was  never  to                                                                   
release  any prisoner  that had  been convicted  of a  sexual                                                                   
assault.     Representative   Stoltze   replied  that   those                                                                   
prisoners  would not be  released under  the special  medical                                                                   
parole provision.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule asked if  that type  of crime  had been                                                                   
considered in the  original bill.  Ms. Parker  explained that                                                                   
it  is the  same language  as in  statute and  would add  the                                                                   
prohibition back  in.  Sexual assault offenders  had not been                                                                   
considered because it was not considered in statute.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Stoltze commented  that  the amendment  would                                                                   
"soften the  blow" of the bill.   He mentioned the  amount of                                                                   
recidivism  in  child  molestation.     It  would  allow  the                                                                   
Department's  discretion in  exempting that  class of  crime.                                                                   
He urged that the Committee consider the concern.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Meyer  noted that  he  was  a co-sponsor  of  the                                                                   
amendment.    He  voiced  his  fear  that  someone  could  be                                                                   
released  and  could send  harassing  email messages  to  the                                                                   
victim  and family.   He  questioned how  the language  would                                                                   
affect  the  fiscal  note.   Ms.  Parker  did  not  know  the                                                                   
specific offenses  of the 27  being considered.   She pointed                                                                   
out that the current prison population  is 16% sex offenders.                                                                   
She  reiterated that  she did  not know  the average  overall                                                                   
population that was  sex offenders and how that  would affect                                                                   
the percentage available for medical parole.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parker stated that it would not impact the fiscal note.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Parker made  a  correction,  noting that  the  amendment                                                                   
would  expand to  all sexual  assaults.   In  statute, it  is                                                                   
listed  in  AS  11.41.434  -   438  and  would  broaden  that                                                                   
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Harris voiced his support for the amendment.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  asked is the language  expansion would                                                                   
be difficult for  the Department.  Ms. Parker  responded that                                                                   
they did not have a problem with that language.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
There being NO further OBJECTION,  the amendment was adopted.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster MOVED to  report CS HB 229 (FIN) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal notes.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CS HB  229 (FIN)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "do                                                                   
pass"  recommendation  and  with  new  fiscal  notes  by  the                                                                   
Department  of  Corrections  and  two by  the  Department  of                                                                   
Health & Social Services.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 124(efd fld)                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     An Act relating to grants for alcoholism and drug abuse                                                                    
     programs.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris  MOVED  to  ADOPT   SB  124(efd  fld),  #23-                                                                   
GS111\A.A as the working document before the Committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft pointed out  that the effective date had                                                                   
failed but noted that he did not  see an effective date.  Co-                                                                   
Chair  Williams interjected  that  is how  it  is before  the                                                                   
Committee.  It does not have an effective date.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule asked if  the A.A version  consisted of                                                                   
one  page only.   Co-Chair  Williams clarified  that it  did.                                                                   
Co-Chair Harris asked if there  had an effective date when it                                                                   
passed the  Senate.  Co-Chair  Williams reiterated  that this                                                                   
was the bill before the Committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JOEL GILBERTSON, COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & SOCIAL                                                                   
SERVICES, clarified  that when the bill was  introduced as SB                                                                   
124, it  did have  an effective  date of July  1, 2003.   The                                                                   
cost savings  associated  with that version  are included  in                                                                   
the  Governor's budget.   It  was  passed out  of the  Senate                                                                   
without the effective date.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Harris interjected  that  when  the effective  date                                                                   
fails, then  that language should  be removed from  the title                                                                   
and body of the bill.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule  asked about the difference  between the                                                                   
House HES version and the Senate  version.  Co-Chair Williams                                                                   
explained that  the House HES  dropped it from 25%  the first                                                                   
year to 17.5% until July 1, 2004.   The Senate version is the                                                                   
Governor's  version minus  the  effective date.   That  would                                                                   
amount to a 25% savings as of July 1, 2003.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule clarified  that the  House HES  version                                                                   
would transition  the process  to 2004.   The Senate  version                                                                   
removes  it  all  on July  1,  2003.    Representative  Joule                                                                   
OBJECTED to adopting the Senate version of the bill.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  noted that he also supported  the House                                                                   
HES version.  The House version  keeps the effective date and                                                                   
changes the percentage, which would be a better procedure.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams  commented that if the Committee  could get                                                                   
the Senate version before them,  then they could entertain an                                                                   
amendment to reinstate the July  1, 2002 effective date, from                                                                   
the Governor's original bill.   Representative Joule asked if                                                                   
it could  be amended to  indicate that transition.   Co-Chair                                                                   
Williams replied he would not support the amendment.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken on the  motion to work  from the                                                                   
Senate version.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR:      Foster, Hawker, Meyer, Stoltze, Whitaker,                                                                        
               Chenault, Harris, Williams                                                                                       
OPPOSED:       Joule, Moses, Croft                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION PASSED (8-3).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Gilbertson  commented  that  the  general  fund                                                                   
savings resulting  from the Governor's  bill would be  in the                                                                   
amount of  $1.6 million  dollars.   The bill increases  local                                                                   
investments and  involvement in the alcohol  treatment grants                                                                   
provided to the communities.   Local investment indicates the                                                                   
success of the  programs.  The current 10% match  is low.  He                                                                   
stressed that  this would  be a  sensible effort to  increase                                                                   
local effort and to keep grants  on the street.  He concluded                                                                   
that  at a  time  when State  government  does  not have  the                                                                   
necessary  resources  to continue  to  fully  fund all  these                                                                   
programs,  it  is important  that  the local  investment  and                                                                   
commitment come forward.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft noted  that the  fiscal notes  indicate                                                                   
approximately $1.6  million dollars savings.   He inquired if                                                                   
it was  assumed that the communities  would step up  the same                                                                   
level of effort on alcohol services.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
KAREN PEARSON, DIRECTOR, DIVISION  OF ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL  SERVICES, clarified that the                                                                   
hope is  that the communities  will generate that  additional                                                                   
revenue and that the services can remain the same.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft questioned  the total State effort spent                                                                   
on alcohol services statewide.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Pearson  responded  that certain programs  would  be held                                                                   
harmless at the same rate.  There  is not an across the board                                                                   
difference.    Representative  Croft emphasized  that  it  is                                                                   
being assumed that the municipalities  would make up the $1.6                                                                   
million dollars.  Ms. Pearson replied that was correct.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule pointed out  that the Legislature  this                                                                   
year is:                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
   ·    Proposing to cut revenue sharing to municipalities                                                                      
        by 25%;                                                                                                                 
   ·    Proposing to cut debt reimbursement; and                                                                                
  ·    Proposing more reliability on faith based programs.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He stressed  that all  these reductions  are coming  from the                                                                   
same  pot.   He  warned about  the  stress  and burden  these                                                                   
actions would place upon the local communities.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Gilbertson advised  that the  way in which  the                                                                   
bill  is structured,  most  of  the smaller  communities  are                                                                   
exempt.   He emphasized  that it was  not indented  to "shirt                                                                   
the shift costs  to the local government" but  rather to keep                                                                   
the grants on the streets.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule   noted  that  last  year,   the  State                                                                   
increased the  alcohol tax.   He asked  how much of  that was                                                                   
spent on  drug and  alcohol related  problems.   Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson replied  that the State  spent roughly  $7 million                                                                   
dollars  of  the  alcohol tax  package  toward  new  programs                                                                   
and/or the  infrastructure.  He  added that 50% of  the total                                                                   
alcohol money was invested in programs.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule  recommended that the money  raised from                                                                   
that tax should be placed back  into programs related to that                                                                   
concern.    Commissioner  Gilbertson stated  that  the  total                                                                   
investment in  alcohol treatment  programs is higher  than it                                                                   
was  in  FY03  &  FY04.    The  Administration  is  investing                                                                   
additional  resources  from the  alcohol  tax.   He  reminded                                                                   
members that there is a general  fund short fall at this time                                                                   
and  that the  Department of  Health &  Social Services  took                                                                   
more than $50 million dollars in general fund reductions.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  referred to the fiscal  note, pointing                                                                   
out the exclusion of the grantees  that receive less than $30                                                                   
thousand dollars.   He asked the mechanism used  to determine                                                                   
that amount.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Karen Pearson  explained that  those tend  to be the  smaller                                                                   
program grant  to schools and  communities.  There  were five                                                                   
of  those grants.   The  community  based suicide  prevention                                                                   
grants were  all excluded from that,  as they have no  way to                                                                   
generate revenue.   The grants  tend to fall within  category                                                                   
types.   Within  the treatment  programs, the  ones that  are                                                                   
geared for  women and youth  are being held harmless  because                                                                   
of the vulnerability of those populations.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker understood  that some of the categories                                                                   
would  fall  under the  provision  listed  on  Page 7.    Ms.                                                                   
Pearson  replied that  was correct  and  that the  Department                                                                   
retains  the  ability  to  waive   anytime  the  needed  10%.                                                                   
Representative  Hawker noted that  the Department  intends to                                                                   
make use  of that provision  in certain cases.   Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson agreed that was correct.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  observed  that  with  the  communities                                                                   
affected  by the  fiscal note,  the State  would be  spending                                                                   
about $1  million dollars.  To  reduce that 90% to  75% would                                                                   
be going from  $1 million dollars when a reduction  from that                                                                   
percentage  would  be leaving  a  change  from a  $1  million                                                                   
dollar  community  effort  to   $2.5  million  dollars.    He                                                                   
stressed  that   would  be  a   "huge  increase"   for  those                                                                   
communities.   Representative  Croft  inquired  if there  was                                                                   
information  available  that the  communities  would be  able                                                                   
accommodates that.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Gilbertson  acknowledged that  the  legislation                                                                   
will impact communities.  He added  that there is a system of                                                                   
programs to  award grants.   There are more entities  looking                                                                   
for  grants  than  there  are  grants.   He  added  that  the                                                                   
programs  would  still be  offered.    He stressed  that  the                                                                   
general fund  savings would help  the Department  address the                                                                   
fiscal  concerns.    A  number   of  grants  were  completely                                                                   
eliminated.   The Department decided  that instead  of taking                                                                   
$1.6 million dollars  of grants off the table,  it changed it                                                                   
to  having  more local  investment.    There will  be  better                                                                   
programs,    better   applications    and   more    community                                                                   
involvement.  The  overall savings may be larger  in the long                                                                   
run.     Programs  will   be  more   sustainable  with   less                                                                   
volatility.  He  concluded that the Department had  to make a                                                                   
decision  on  how  to  achieve  the  necessary  general  fund                                                                   
savings while maximizing the number of services.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  asked if the fiscal note  could be more                                                                   
accurate   if   it   assumed    something   less   than   the                                                                   
municipalities being left with the entire obligation.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 03 - 72, Side B                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Gilbertson clarified that  it was assumed  that                                                                   
some of the  grants would be awarded and that  the Department                                                                   
would continue to administer the  grants.  He added that many                                                                   
of the grants would continue to be "out on the street".                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  understood those  funds  would be  the                                                                   
municipal  match  portion  of it.    Commissioner  Gilbertson                                                                   
replied that it could be an in-kind contribution.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
In   response  to   a   comment  by   Representative   Croft,                                                                   
Commissioner Gilbertson  reiterated that the  State's overall                                                                   
alcohol effort had increased.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft asked if  the line had been decreased in                                                                   
a substantial  way, what would  that level be.   Commissioner                                                                   
Gilbertson responded that in the  Governor's budget proposal,                                                                   
there  is  a $3.5  million  dollar  additional  general  fund                                                                   
investment  into  alcohol  treatment   programs  that  target                                                                   
primarily rural  juveniles who  currently do not  have access                                                                   
to   treatment.     Additionally,  other   funds  have   been                                                                   
designated for  the preservation of  families.  Money  in the                                                                   
Governor's budget is designated for those two populations.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft  questioned   if  the  efforts  to  add                                                                   
increases  to  offset  decreases had  survived  the  majority                                                                   
process.  Commissioner  Gilbertson responded that  the budget                                                                   
was funded  from the Senate side  and the moved to  the House                                                                   
side.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ANN   HOPPER,   (TESTIFIED   VIA   TELECONFERENCE),   PROGRAM                                                                   
DIRECTOR,  FAMILY  FOCUS  PROGRAM,  FAIRBANKS,  testified  in                                                                   
opposition  to the bill.   She  voiced serious concerns  with                                                                   
the increase  in match for these  programs.  These  areas are                                                                   
already "maxed  to the brim" in  terms of what they  are able                                                                   
to  afford and  the  quality of  service  that they  provide.                                                                   
The 80%  of the youth  served at  the community shelter  that                                                                   
are under  the age of 18  have alcohol related  incidences in                                                                   
their  lives.     Ms.  Hopper   stressed  that   reducing  or                                                                   
threatening  current services  will catch  up with the  State                                                                   
down the road.  She encouraged  that the State build upon the                                                                   
programs  that   are  currently   available.    Taking   away                                                                   
treatment  removes the  hope.   If the hope  is removed,  she                                                                   
asked  where  would  people  turn.     She  noted  that  some                                                                   
communities  have  no  other resources  and  maintained  that                                                                   
since alcoholism is  a disease, it should be  considered in a                                                                   
medical model  that addiction problems impact  other portions                                                                   
of  the budget.   Ms.  Hopper urged  reconsideration of  this                                                                   
issue, keeping it at the current 10% rate.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ANNETTE FRYBERGER, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE), EXECUTIVE                                                                   
DIRECTOR,  FAIRBANKS  NATIVE  ASSOCIATION,  FAIRBANKS,  noted                                                                   
that the  Fairbanks Native  Association provides  a continuum                                                                   
of  care through  a  residential  treatment center  for  many                                                                   
alcohol related problems.  She  noted that some programs will                                                                   
not  be immediately  affected by  the increased  match.   She                                                                   
noted her  support for the House  Version of the  bill, which                                                                   
implemented  the increase  in  a gradual,  stepwise  fashion.                                                                   
She  noted  that programs  might  otherwise  not be  able  to                                                                   
achieve their  match.   She requested  time to implement  the                                                                   
change.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  TIM  KELLY,  SUBSTANCE  ABUSE  ASSOCIATION,  JUNEAU,                                                                   
observed that traditionally the  Senate has been against this                                                                   
type of funding for alcohol programs.   He requested that the                                                                   
Committee revisit  the decision  to adopt the  Senate version                                                                   
of the bill; he encouraged that  the House HESS version would                                                                   
implement  the  changes over  time.    He speculated  that  a                                                                   
decrement of $1.6  million would be destructive  to the State                                                                   
of Alaska.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams  MOVED Amendment #1, which would  add a new                                                                   
section:  "Section 2.  This Act takes effect July 1, 2003".                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Stoltze MOVED  a conforming title  amendment,                                                                   
which  adds the  language "provide  for  an effective  date".                                                                   
There  being  NO  OBJECTION, the  amendment  as  changed  was                                                                   
adopted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Foster  MOVED  HCS CS  SB  124 (FIN)  out  of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule OBJECTED.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule stated that  the House HESS  version of                                                                   
the  proposed  legislation was  more  worthwhile  in that  it                                                                   
would allow organizations  to have adequate time  to make the                                                                   
needed adjustments.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR:      Hawker, Meyer, Moses, Stoltze, Chenault,                                                                         
               Foster, Williams, Harris                                                                                         
OPPOSED:       Joule, Whitaker, Croft                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION PASSED (8-3).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HCS  CS SB  124  (FIN) was  reported  out of  Committee  with                                                                   
"individual"  recommendations and with  fiscal notes  #1, #2,                                                                   
#3, & #4 by the Department of Health & Social Services.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 6:06 P.M.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects