Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/08/2009 03:17 PM FIN


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03:17:35 PM Start
03:17:44 PM HB123
05:02:45 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 8, 2009                                                                                            
                         3:17 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:17:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker called the House Finance Committee meeting                                                                      
to order at 3:17 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Mike Hawker, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Bill Thomas Jr., Vice-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Allan Austerman                                                                                                  
Representative Harry Crawford                                                                                                   
Representative Anna Fairclough                                                                                                  
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Kelly                                                                                                       
Representative Woodie Salmon                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ronald Edward Brown, Anchorage                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
^State Assessment Review Board Confirmation:                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ronald Edward Brown                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 85     "An Act extending the termination date of the                                                                         
          State Board of Registration for Architects,                                                                           
          Engineers, and Land Surveyors; and providing for                                                                      
          an effective date."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HB 123    "An Act extending the termination date of the                                                                         
          Statewide    Suicide   Prevention    Council;   and                                                                   
          providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:17:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Hawker  introduced   Ronald   Edward  Brown,   and                                                                   
explained the delay in Mr. Brown's confirmation hearing.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
RONALD  EDWARD BROWN explained  the job  description  for the                                                                   
chairman  of the  State Assessment  Review  Board (SARB).  He                                                                   
listed his qualifications for the position on the board.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:20:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hawker  asked  whether  being on  the  board  would                                                                   
conflict  with his  being employed  by the  state. Mr.  Brown                                                                   
replied in the  negative. He added that the  current chairman                                                                   
of the committee is employed as a state assessor.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker  invited public testimony. There  being none,                                                                   
public testimony was closed.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:21:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  asked how if  the assessed value  of the                                                                   
pipeline could be  used to inform how much  revenue the state                                                                   
can expect from the gas pipeline  annually. Mr. Brown replied                                                                   
that the land assessments are  performed by the state oil and                                                                   
gas assessor  and not the  review board. Representative  Gara                                                                   
wondered what the pipeline land  assessments mean financially                                                                   
to  the  state. Mr.  Brown  replied  that  did not  have  the                                                                   
numbers but felt that they would be very substantial.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:24:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hawker wondered  if  Representative Gara  questions                                                                   
were meant  to probe Mr.  Brown's qualifications for  the job                                                                   
of  chairman of  the State  Assessment  Review Board  (SARB).                                                                   
Representative  Gara related that  the gas pipeline  issue is                                                                   
of great  interest to  the state.  He stressed that  deciding                                                                   
the  validity  of  the  assessments   on  a  major  piece  of                                                                   
infrastructure,  like  the  gas pipeline,  is  a  significant                                                                   
responsibility.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:25:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Brown  reiterated that SARB  does not perform  the direct                                                                   
evaluation of  the gas pipeline  property. He  clarified that                                                                   
the board  listens to  the merits of  the cases presented  by                                                                   
property  owners and  the  state oil  and  gas assessor,  and                                                                   
works as an equalizing board between the parties.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:26:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hawker asked  if Mr.  Brown held  a bias toward  or                                                                   
against the  Oil and Gas industry  and the evaluation  of the                                                                   
Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Mr. Brown replied no.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara asked if Mr.  Brown had an opinion on the                                                                   
current  pipeline assessment.  Mr. Brown  replied that,  as a                                                                   
new member,  he did not have  enough information on  which to                                                                   
base  a  position. Representative  Gara  questioned  why  Mr.                                                                   
Brown was interested in the job of SARB chairman.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:27:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Brown replied  that he has had 18 years  of experience as                                                                   
an assessor for the state. He  felt that successful work with                                                                   
the pipeline  project could be  a positive stepping  stone in                                                                   
his career.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:28:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough  gave a positive assessment  of Mr.                                                                   
Brown's professional character.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:29:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman  wondered  about the  frequency  of                                                                   
property  tax  assessments  on  the state  level.  Mr.  Brown                                                                   
replied  that  assessments  on   the  state  level  are  done                                                                   
annually.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:30:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly asked if  the assessments on  the state                                                                   
level could  be appealed  in a higher  court. Mr.  Brown said                                                                   
yes.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:31:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hawker MOTIONED  that the application  be MOVED  to                                                                   
joint session for final confirmation.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster MOVED to  REPORT the application out of                                                                   
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:32:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara objected.  He  shared  that he  believed                                                                   
that Mr. Brown  had the public's best interests  at heart. He                                                                   
withdrew his objection. There  being no further objection Mr.                                                                   
Brown's  name  was forwarded  to  the  joint session  of  the                                                                   
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 123                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Statewide                                                                    
     Suicide Prevention Council; and providing for an                                                                           
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough informed  the committee  that from                                                                   
September 1, 2003 to August 31,  2006, 426 Alaskans committed                                                                   
suicide.   She detailed  the list  of cases  by age,  gender,                                                                   
location and weather  alcohol was involved. She  relayed that                                                                   
the suicide rate in Alaska is very high.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:36:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL KOENEMAN,  STAFF TO  REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH,  told                                                                   
the history of the Statewide Suicide  Prevention Council. The                                                                   
council was  designed to  be reviewed  every four years,  and                                                                   
was last  re-authorized in 2005.  The bill requests  that the                                                                   
council be extended  for another four years.  The Legislative                                                                   
Budget and  Audit Committee  (LB&A) put  out a sunset  review                                                                   
report in 2008 which examined  how the council is functioning                                                                   
and presented recommendations.  One of the recommendations to                                                                   
the legislature was to modify  the composition of the council                                                                   
membership. The council met and  made the modifications which                                                                   
have been incorporated into the bill.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:37:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker  clarified that  the membership changes  that                                                                   
were made  are changes  that originated  within the  council,                                                                   
and  enjoy  council  support.  Ms. Koeneman  replied  in  the                                                                   
affirmative.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:37:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Koeneman  detailed the  changes to  the council  that are                                                                   
requested  in  the  bill. She  sketched  the  challenges  the                                                                   
council has faced that have lead to the changes.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:39:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara stated that  in his experience,  members                                                                   
of  the  minority  have  not   been  regularly  appointed  to                                                                   
councils. He wondered  why the protection to  appoint members                                                                   
of  the   minority  was   being  taken   out  of  the   bill.                                                                   
Representative  Fairclough informed  the  committee that  two                                                                   
minority  members  from  the house  currently  serve  on  the                                                                   
board. She  clarified that the  language had been  changed in                                                                   
order to  allow minority  and majority  members to  choose to                                                                   
serve on  the council, not  because they were  appointed, but                                                                   
because they have a desire to serve.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker pointed out that  the current appointments to                                                                   
the council are  contrary to the law, a majority  member does                                                                   
not enjoy a position on the council.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:41:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara maintained  that appointments of minority                                                                   
members to committees  were rare, unless it  was required. He                                                                   
granted  that the issue  of suicide  transcends party  lines,                                                                   
but felt that  the language protecting  minority appointments                                                                   
should be left in.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:42:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough communicated  that  the issue  was                                                                   
time sensitive.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:43:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Koeneman relayed  that the language in the  bill had been                                                                   
changed   in   the   House   State   Affairs   Committee   by                                                                   
Representative  Grunenburg.  He made  the  change because  he                                                                   
thought the protection for the  minority was unnecessary. Ms.                                                                   
Koeneman maintained  that the changes had been  made in order                                                                   
to allow those who wish to serve  on the board the ability to                                                                   
do so, regardless of political affiliation.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:44:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Foster referred to  page 8 of  the Department                                                                   
of  Health  and  Social  Services  (DHSS)  Statewide  Suicide                                                                   
Prevention Council  Sunset Review,  prepared by the  Division                                                                   
of  Legislative Audit  (copy on  file). He  wondered why  the                                                                   
overall  attendance rate  for  council meetings  was only  15                                                                   
percent.  He expressed  concern  that the  seat  representing                                                                   
rural communities  has been vacant for four  years. He stated                                                                   
that  Northwest   Alaska  has   the  highest  suicide   rates                                                                   
statewide.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:45:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT   DAVIDSON,  LEGISLATIVE   AUDITOR,   LEGISLATIVE   AUDIT                                                                   
DIVISION, LEGISLATIVE  AFFAIRS AGENCY, explained  that making                                                                   
the  appointments  in  a timely  manner  and  broadening  the                                                                   
requirements  for board  positions will  help to ensure  that                                                                   
the board is comprised of willing and effectual members.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:46:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker  recalled a past committee meeting  with LB&A                                                                   
in which a senate  appointee to the council  had been unaware                                                                   
of  the appointment.  He  felt that  Representative  Foster's                                                                   
concerns were valid.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:47:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster  restated his frustration  with the low                                                                   
numbers  for   meeting  attendance.  He  felt   that  if  the                                                                   
committee members  were not attending the meetings  that they                                                                   
should be removed and replaced.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule shared  that he  had been appointed  to                                                                   
the board and had missed meetings.  He said that he had asked                                                                   
to be replaced on the board. He  pointed out the interim time                                                                   
between sessions  can be  a busy  time for legislators.  This                                                                   
makes it  difficult to attend  meetings. He felt  the council                                                                   
had a better chance for success  under the membership changes                                                                   
in the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:49:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Thomas  wondered  if  funding  was  part  of  the                                                                   
problem with  meeting attendance.  Ms. Davidson replied  that                                                                   
funding  availability   had  not  affected   attendance.  She                                                                   
continued  with  the  overview  of  the  audit  results.  The                                                                   
recommendation  for  the  four   year  extension  stems  from                                                                   
operational  concerns with  regard to  the council board  and                                                                   
not  the   council's  overall   mission.  She  notified   the                                                                   
committee  that in  the past  4  years the  council has  been                                                                   
realigned  with  the  Division   of  Behavioral  Health.  The                                                                   
realignment is  a new development,  and it is unknown  if the                                                                   
relationship will  be successful.  She said that  the council                                                                   
should  retain its  independence.  She detailed  some of  the                                                                   
challenges  the  council  has   faced  in  joining  with  the                                                                   
division. She explained that the  4 year extension will allow                                                                   
any problems  to be  thoroughly examined  to ensure  that the                                                                   
council's mission is carried out.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:53:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker opened public testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:53:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAM  TRIVETTE,  JUNEAU,  told  a  personal  story  about  the                                                                 
suicide  of his son,  Pete Trivette.  He stated  that in  the                                                                   
same year his  son committed suicide, 7 other  people did the                                                                   
same. He shared  that recently the school district  has added                                                                   
a component in  the curriculum that educates  students on the                                                                   
basic issues  regarding depression  and suicide. He  said the                                                                   
program has been  supported by the council. He  felt that the                                                                   
council  has   been  effective  in  lowering   suicide  rates                                                                   
throughout the  state. He presented an  advertisement created                                                                   
in  combination between  the council  and  The Alaska  Mental                                                                   
Health  Trust   Authority  (copy  on  file).   He  urged  the                                                                   
committee to extend the council for the next 4 years.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:56:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hawker thanked  him for his  testimony and  offered                                                                   
his condolences.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:57:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker closed public testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster  stated that the rural  areas of Alaska                                                                   
make  up  10 or  15  house  districts  and should  be  better                                                                   
represented  on the  council.  [NOTE: Further  discussion  on                                                                   
this  issue  occurred  at  the  end  of  the  April  9,  2009                                                                   
meeting.]   Representative  Gara   wondered  why  the   rural                                                                   
position had not been filled for  four years. He felt that in                                                                   
the future  a representative  from the  board should  present                                                                   
recommendations to the committee.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:59:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker  highlighted earlier concerns with  regard to                                                                   
timely appointments to the council.  Ms. Davidson stated that                                                                   
filling the positions has been difficult.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Foster  suggested  that a  recommendation  be                                                                   
made to the bush caucus.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:01:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Salmon shared his  regret for having  been an                                                                   
inactive member of the council.  He gave that the meetings he                                                                   
had attended were not productive.  He relayed that there is a                                                                   
lack of professional help in rural  Alaska for depression and                                                                   
suicide  prevention.  He  shared   that  in  most  cases  the                                                                   
suicidal person is institutionalized.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:03:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker felt  that the entire spectrum  of boards and                                                                   
commissions  within DHSS  are  dysfunctional. He  recommended                                                                   
that all the boards and commissions  at the department should                                                                   
be reviewed.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:05:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  shared  his  personal  experience  on  the                                                                   
council. He  felt that the problem  was too large to  look at                                                                   
individual  failings  of the  system.  He asserted  that  the                                                                   
mission  of  the   council  should  reach  rural   areas.  He                                                                   
expressed  understanding  and   compassion  for  the  suicide                                                                   
problem in  rural Alaska. He shared  that in the past  it has                                                                   
been difficult to  find people interested in  serving on DHSS                                                                   
boards and commissions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:07:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster  pointed out that,  statistically, Nome                                                                   
has the highest suicide rate in  the nation. The Wade-Hampton                                                                   
District  follows  Nome  on  the list,  and  is  the  poorest                                                                   
district in  the state. He  reiterated the importance  that a                                                                   
representative from rural Alaska  be appointed to the council                                                                   
soon.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:09:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman  wondered if it was wise  to grant a                                                                   
4 year extension  to a dysfunctional council.  He suggested a                                                                   
1 year extension  in order evaluate the effectiveness  of the                                                                   
council.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:10:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Davidson stated  that the  intent  of the  audit was  to                                                                   
allow  the council  to demonstrate  its  public purpose.  She                                                                   
expressed that  the council unto  itself cannot  stop suicide                                                                   
in the state,  but the council  could have a role  in helping                                                                   
to  decrease  suicide  numbers.   She  highlighted  that  the                                                                   
statutory mission  of the  council is to  act in  an advisory                                                                   
capacity to  the legislature and  the governor.  She detailed                                                                   
several  successful  programs  initiated  by the  council  in                                                                   
communities  throughout the  state. She  felt that a  balance                                                                   
between  the  expectations  placed  on the  council  and  the                                                                   
council's mission  statement could be  met within the  next 4                                                                   
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:14:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman understood  that suicide  in Alaska                                                                   
is an epidemic.  He wondered why the committee  had not heard                                                                   
from the council during the session.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:15:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara stated  that  one of  the problems  with                                                                   
many of  the councils is  that they are  under the  charge of                                                                   
the  executive branch.  He  felt that  because  of this  some                                                                   
issues do not  make it before the legislature.   He expressed                                                                   
that the councils should report  directly to the legislature.                                                                   
He alleged  that in many  administrations, budget  guidelines                                                                   
can  hinder   the  creation  and  maintenance   of  important                                                                   
councils.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:17:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly commented that  it does not  make sense                                                                   
for the  state to continue  funding a dysfunctional  council.                                                                   
He felt  that the  council should be  composed of  people who                                                                   
have been  directly affected  by the  issue. He thought  that                                                                   
this  was  an example  of  the  government attempting  to  do                                                                   
something that it cannot do. He  stressed that if he does not                                                                   
see improvement  in the performance  of the council  over the                                                                   
next 4  years, he will  not support it  when it  comes before                                                                   
the legislature again.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:19:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule told  of his experience  of chairing  a                                                                   
budget  subcommittee   that  included   this  component.   He                                                                   
stressed that because of time  constraints, some requests had                                                                   
not been addressed.  He thought that some of  the work should                                                                   
carry on into the interim.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:21:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule explained that  he had requested  to be                                                                   
replaced on  the council. He  felt the recommendation  of the                                                                   
short sunset extension was prudent.  He commended on the work                                                                   
that  had  gone   into  drafting  the  bill.   He  felt  that                                                                   
Representative  Gara's  concerns  were  valid. He  urged  the                                                                   
legislature to  recommend frequent,  direct contact  with the                                                                   
council.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:24:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Salmon felt  that the  council should  report                                                                   
annually to  the legislative committees  in both  houses. Co-                                                                   
Chair Stoltze  pointed out  that it  could be requested  that                                                                   
the council  hold a meeting in  Juneau in order to  meet with                                                                   
legislators.  Representative Salmon wondered  if it  could be                                                                   
written into  the bill  that the  council report annually  to                                                                   
the legislature.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:25:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough  stated  that  it  is  already  in                                                                   
statute that  the council report  annually to  the committee.                                                                   
                                              st                                                                                
The report is written and provided on March 1.                                                                                  
Representative  Salmon  countered  that  legislators  receive                                                                   
copious amounts  of paperwork  that is mostly  overlooked. He                                                                   
suggested that spoken testimony would be more effective.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:26:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman recommended  a possible amendment to                                                                   
the bill.  He suggested that if  one year is not  enough time                                                                   
for the council to markedly improve  its functionality, a two                                                                   
year plan should be suggested.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:27:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Foster maintained  support for  the bill.  He                                                                   
reiterated  his  desire  that  a  representative  from  rural                                                                   
Alaska be appointed to the council soon.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:28:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Thomas stressed  the magnitude  of the  council's                                                                   
mission.  He  expressed  concern  for the  mental  health  of                                                                   
soldiers  returning  to Alaska.  He  felt  that this  was  an                                                                   
opportunity  for  the  committee   to  present  itself  as  a                                                                   
compassionate  entity, concerned for  the lives of  Alaskans.                                                                   
He  warned  that  the issue  must  be  addressed  immediately                                                                   
before more lives are lost.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:31:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Crawford  asked for  clarification  on the  2                                                                   
year   plan  suggested   by  Representative   Austerman.   He                                                                   
expressed  discomfort setting  the  sunset in  two years.  He                                                                   
thought  that  the  council  should be  invited  as  soon  as                                                                   
possible before the committee to present a plan of action.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Austerman  remarked   that  pressuring   the                                                                   
council  for  timely  results   might  be  a  more  effective                                                                   
incentive for improvement than extending the sunset date.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:33:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Crawford  voiced that  a  plan  of action  is                                                                   
different  than a  progress  report. He  shared  that he  had                                                                   
never seen  the written report. He  wanted to hear a  plan of                                                                   
action presented before the committee  that will detail how a                                                                   
difference will be made.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:34:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Fairclough  felt   that   the  council   was                                                                   
dysfunctional  because members  consistently failed  to honor                                                                   
their commitment  to the council. She pointed  out that there                                                                   
were 4 members of the council  that rarely attended meetings,                                                                   
making a quorum impossible. Without  a quorum the council has                                                                   
been unable to conduct business  at every meeting it has held                                                                   
in  the last  4 years.  She felt  that the  problem had  been                                                                   
caused by  the legislative  council members missing  meetings                                                                   
and  that  the  council was  being  unfairly  penalized.  She                                                                   
expressed  respect for  the legislature  and understood  that                                                                   
because of busy schedules sometimes  meetings are missed. She                                                                   
emphasized   that  the   bill   rectifies   the  problem   by                                                                   
eliminating  4 voting  member positions,  which improves  the                                                                   
likelihood of a  quorum. She offered to coordinate  a meeting                                                                   
between the council and the committee  to discuss the issues.                                                                   
She relayed  that the  constraint of a  two year  sunset date                                                                   
would have a negative effect by  forcing the council to focus                                                                   
on  reauthorization  and not  the  issue  of suicide  in  the                                                                   
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:37:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough  advised that the  committee should                                                                   
extend the council the 4 year  sunset date. She divulged that                                                                   
she herself  had not seen  the council's written  report. She                                                                   
felt  a follow-up  would be  beneficial. She  shared that  he                                                                   
council website  is functioning and is available  to Alaskans                                                                   
as  a resource.  She  reported  that  she had  recommended  a                                                                   
member of  the Alaska Native  Medical Center to  the council,                                                                   
but  admitted that  she had  not followed  up to  see if  the                                                                   
person had  been appointed. She  said that a letter  could be                                                                   
written to the  governor to follow up on  appointments before                                                                   
the  next legislative  session.  She informed  the  committee                                                                   
that  expanding the  definition of  the word  "rural" in  the                                                                   
language  of  the  bill  helps  with  finding  appointees  to                                                                   
represent bush  Alaska. She likened the struggles  facing the                                                                   
Council  on Suicide  Prevention  with her  experience on  the                                                                   
Council  on   Domestic  Violence  and  Sexual   Assault.  She                                                                   
reiterated  her  concern  that  focusing  on  reauthorization                                                                   
could overshadow the council's mission.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:41:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara voiced support  for changing  the number                                                                   
of  voting  members  on  the  board  in  order  to  meet  the                                                                   
requirements for a  quorum. He said that he  would be willing                                                                   
to help draft language in the  bill that would invite members                                                                   
from  the  council  to voluntarily  give  a  progress  report                                                                   
before the committee each year.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze believed  that it was  imperative  that the                                                                   
council  be invited  before  the  committee during  the  next                                                                   
legislative session.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:41:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Foster stated  that his  staff would  help to                                                                   
fill the  vacant rural council  member seat. He felt  that it                                                                   
is  the job  of the  legislature  to assist  the council.  He                                                                   
wondered  if the  president of  the council  could present  a                                                                   
report during the next legislative session.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:43:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Fairclough   maintained   that   she   would                                                                   
facilitate  a  conversation  between   the  council  and  the                                                                   
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:44:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Thomas  wondered why there is a  sunset clause for                                                                   
a council  on  suicide prevention.  Co-Chair Stoltze  pointed                                                                   
out that  all boards not  mentioned in the constitution  have                                                                   
sunset clauses.  Co-Chair Hawker felt that the  sunset clause                                                                   
reevaluation of the council is  important in order to examine                                                                   
the functionality of the council on a semi-regular basis.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:46:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly challenged the  council to  examine the                                                                   
causes of  suicide in  the state in  order to determine  what                                                                   
action to  take toward  prevention. He  pointed out  that men                                                                   
are four times  more likely to commit suicide  than women. He                                                                   
perceived that  young men in rural areas,  without employment                                                                   
or  meaningful  work, are  lacking  a  strong sense  of  self                                                                   
worth,  which compounds  the issue.  He felt  that roads  are                                                                   
needed  in order  to boost  the  economy in  rural areas.  He                                                                   
hoped that  the council was  looking at the macro-issues.  He                                                                   
detailed the  roads that could  be built in order  to improve                                                                   
accessibility in  and out of rural  areas. He hoped  that the                                                                   
council  would   prove  to  be  more  proactive   in  suicide                                                                   
prevention throughout  the state  if the four  year extension                                                                   
were granted.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:50:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster thanked  Sam Trivette for presenting to                                                                   
the committee. He nominated Gayle Trivette to the council.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:51:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  MOVED  amendment  1.  Co-Chair  Stoltze                                                                   
OBJECTED.  The amendment  changes  the language  to give  the                                                                   
minority leader  in both  houses the  option of suggesting  a                                                                   
member  to the  council. If  there  is no  interest from  the                                                                   
minority, two members will be appointed from the majority.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:52:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative    Fairclough    expressed   her    neutrality                                                                   
concerning  the  language  change.  She  hoped  to  hear  the                                                                   
opinions  of  other  committee  members.  She  expressed  her                                                                   
desire to move the bill out of  committee quickly so that the                                                                   
council did not go into lapse.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:53:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze stated  that there  should be not  partisan                                                                   
edge on the issue of suicide.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:54:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Crawford voiced  his support for the amendment                                                                   
but   maintained  that   the   minority   should  always   be                                                                   
represented.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:54:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Thomas wondered if  language could be written into                                                                   
the bill to  allow a designated substitute to  fill a council                                                                   
member's chair, if the member could not make a meeting.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:56:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough responded  that educating subbed in                                                                   
members   in   order   to   maintain   the   continuity   and                                                                   
understanding  of  board issues  would  be a  challenge.  She                                                                   
reasoned  that  a stable  and  reliable board,  comprised  of                                                                   
members committed  to the issue of suicide  prevention, would                                                                   
be ideal.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze pointed  out  the two  fiscal notes,  which                                                                   
illustrate no new spending or increases.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:57:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze emphasized that  the committee was committed                                                                   
to helping to  create a highly functional  suicide prevention                                                                   
council.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:58:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough  stated  for  the  record  that  a                                                                   
senator  in charge  of  education on  the  Health and  Social                                                                   
Services  Committee  had brought  the  sunset  clause to  her                                                                   
attention.  She and her  staff are  attempting to assist  the                                                                   
senator by getting the bill to the floor quickly.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:59:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman  detailed  the  ways in  which  the                                                                   
current council is dysfunctional.  He relayed his support for                                                                   
the  bill and  hoped that  it  would lead  to the  successful                                                                   
restructuring of  the board. He  warned that a  future report                                                                   
from   the   council   might   not   meet   the   committee's                                                                   
expectations.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:01:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  stated  that  the council  is  subject  to                                                                   
annual review, sunset date notwithstanding.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough thought  that it  would be  in the                                                                   
committee's best  interest to  invite the council  to present                                                                   
during the next  legislative session. She requested  the help                                                                   
from  the   committee  with  her   effort  to   coordinate  a                                                                   
successful meeting between the two entities.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:02:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hawker MOVED CSHB 123,  amended, from committee with                                                                   
attached fiscal  notes and the individual  recommendations of                                                                   
the committee. There  being no OBJECTION the  bill was PASSED                                                                   
OUT of committee.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:02:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 5:02 PM                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

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