Legislature(2013 - 2014)HOUSE FINANCE 519

02/18/2014 01:30 PM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 211 EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 211(FIN) Out of Committee
+ HB 263 EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 263(HSS) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                     February 18, 2014                                                                                          
                         1:35 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:35:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 1:35 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Alan Austerman, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
Representative Cathy Munoz                                                                                                      
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice-Chair                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Mike  Hawker, Sponsor;  Vasilios  Gialopsos,                                                                    
Staff,   Representative   Charisse  Millet;   Millie   Ryan,                                                                    
Executive   Director,  REACH,   Inc.;   Les  Morse,   Deputy                                                                    
Commissioner,    Department   of    Education   and    Early                                                                    
Development.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Richard Sanders, Program  Coordinator, Governor's Council on                                                                    
Disabilities  and  Special  Education;  Catherine  Babuscio,                                                                    
Mat-Su  Regional   Medical  Center,  Palmer;   Art  Delaune,                                                                    
Governor's  Council on  Disabilities and  Special Education,                                                                    
Fairbanks.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 211    EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 211(FIN)  was REPORTED out of  committee with                                                                    
          a "do  pass" recommendation and with  one new zero                                                                    
          fiscal note  from the Department of  Education and                                                                    
          Early Development  and three  previously published                                                                    
          zero  fiscal  notes:  FN1 (ADM);  FN2  (DHS);  FN3                                                                    
          (LWF).                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 263    EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 263(HSS)  was REPORTED out of  committee with                                                                    
          a   "do   pass"   recommendation  and   with   one                                                                    
          previously  published  fiscal   impact  note:  FN1                                                                    
          (HSS).                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 263                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending senior benefits."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:36:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  moved the  House Health  and Social                                                                    
Services Committee bill version before the committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE  HAWKER,  SPONSOR, relayed  the  change                                                                    
made in the  CS tightened up the bill  title to specifically                                                                    
reference the  Alaska senior  benefits payment  program. The                                                                    
bill would  extend the existing senior  benefits program for                                                                    
six years from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2021.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze remarked  that the  largest issue  was the                                                                    
"lengthy" extension.  Representative Hawker stated  that the                                                                    
opinion was that of the co-chair.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker  communicated  that  the  bill  would                                                                    
provide  a needs-based  financial supplement  to seniors  in                                                                    
Alaska  based  on the  federal  poverty  level. The  program                                                                    
offered a $250  per month stipend to seniors  who fell below                                                                    
75 percent of the federal  poverty level, $175 to seniors at                                                                    
the 100 percent  federal poverty level, and  $125 to seniors                                                                    
at 175  percent of the  federal poverty level.  He addressed                                                                    
the length  of the  extension in relation  to the  number of                                                                    
seniors  benefitting from  the  program  and the  relatively                                                                    
small stipend.  The average  age of  the recipients  was 75;                                                                    
the  benefits served  seniors  up  to the  age  of 103.  The                                                                    
population was  increasingly aging and vulnerable  and faced                                                                    
escalating  medical,  housing,  and  food  costs.  The  bill                                                                    
helped  to  provide  elderly  Alaskans  who  had  the  least                                                                    
resources  and most  limited  ability  to secure  employment                                                                    
with a relatively small stipend  to support their lives. The                                                                    
program  provided  assurance  and  comfort  to  the  state's                                                                    
senior citizens.  He stressed that it  was the legislature's                                                                    
priority  to  be  concerned about  senior  citizens  in  the                                                                    
state. He addressed the length  of the program extension and                                                                    
believed that for the price of  the program it should be one                                                                    
of the  state's highest  priorities. He opined  that because                                                                    
the program was a high  priority, a long-lived extension was                                                                    
warranted.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:41:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  spoke to  the reason the  program was                                                                    
not open-ended and  implemented in statute. He  was proud of                                                                    
senior advocates who had communicated  that it was important                                                                    
to revisit the issue over  time. He elaborated that it would                                                                    
be  necessary  to evaluate  the  program  parameters in  the                                                                    
future  to   determine  whether   it  remained   viable.  He                                                                    
hypothesized  that the  world could  change sufficiently  in                                                                    
six years  and increasing the program's  generosity could be                                                                    
warranted at  that time.  He relayed  that the  maximum time                                                                    
for extending  boards and commissions  was eight  years; the                                                                    
bill's   six-year   term  communicated   the   legislature's                                                                    
commitment  to seniors  in the  state.  The extension  would                                                                    
ensure certainty  for the individuals benefitting  under the                                                                    
program and would also allow  the legislature to revisit the                                                                    
issue in a reasonable period of time.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:43:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman did not disagree  with statements made by                                                                    
Representative  Hawker;  however,   he  believed  under  the                                                                    
current  budgetary circumstances  that the  extension should                                                                    
be shortened to  three years. He agreed that  perhaps in six                                                                    
years the program  benefits could be increased  if the state                                                                    
was  facing  an  improved   financial  environment.  He  was                                                                    
currently uncomfortable  extending the  program too  far out                                                                    
into the future.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  appreciated the  bill. He  relayed that                                                                    
had introduced  a similar bill with  other minority members.                                                                    
He  discussed the  former longevity  bonus program  that did                                                                    
not  have a  sunset; however,  as beneficiaries  passed away                                                                    
the cost  of the program  declined. He supported  the senior                                                                    
benefits program. He  opined that it was  difficult to argue                                                                    
when the  sunset should  occur. He  discussed that  the bill                                                                    
was  fair  and  fiscally  conservative  given  that  benefit                                                                    
levels  had not  been  raised.  He noted  that  a number  of                                                                    
seniors may contend that benefit  amounts had been eroded by                                                                    
inflation.  He  understood  leaving   the  benefits  at  the                                                                    
current  level  given  the   state's  fiscal  situation.  He                                                                    
believed a six-year extension was appropriate.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  noted   that  Representative  Hawker  had                                                                    
sponsored  the  initial  bill related  to  the  program  and                                                                    
wondered if  the Senate  had increased  the benefits  in the                                                                    
past. Representative Hawker replied  that he had offered the                                                                    
bill  in 2007  and did  not  believe the  benefits had  been                                                                    
changed since its introduction.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:47:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  whether a  program  recipient                                                                    
would continue to  receive the benefits after  moving into a                                                                    
state-run Pioneer Home.  She wanted to ensure  the state was                                                                    
not paying the benefits to a  state agency. She was in favor                                                                    
of the program.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  pointed to a Senior  Benefits Program                                                                    
Fact  Sheet  dated  January  31, 2014  (copy  on  file).  He                                                                    
relayed that  payments were not available  to seniors living                                                                    
in prison,  a nursing  home, an  Alaska Pioneer  or Veterans                                                                    
Home,  or in  a  public or  private  institution for  mental                                                                    
disease.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  reiterated her prior comment  and was                                                                    
in support of funds going to program recipients.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:49:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Costello   spoke    in   support   of   the                                                                    
legislation.  She recalled  when  a prior  iteration of  the                                                                    
program had  been implemented after the  longevity bonus had                                                                    
been discontinued  due to budgetary reasons.  She pointed to                                                                    
page  2  of the  Senior  Benefits  Program Fact  Sheet;  the                                                                    
number of  beneficiaries was 4,000  in Anchorage  and 10,954                                                                    
statewide. She referred to the  annual gross income limit of                                                                    
$10,935 for the $250 benefit.  She believed the numbers were                                                                    
amazing and that the program  was very important. She opined                                                                    
that  because  the  state  was   in  a  difficult  budgetary                                                                    
situation  it was  important to  send the  message that  the                                                                    
state was  committed to  the senior  population. She  was in                                                                    
favor  of extending  the program  out into  the time  period                                                                    
when  state revenues  would be  more  challenged. She  spoke                                                                    
about  an  83-year-old  family  friend.  She  believed  that                                                                    
seniors  worried   about  the  responsibilities   they  were                                                                    
placing on younger generations.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Guttenberg    imagined   that    when   the                                                                    
legislature debated  the continuation of the  program during                                                                    
the  budget-crunch  time  that  it  would  be  difficult  to                                                                    
discontinue it.  He believed the program  represented one of                                                                    
the backstops the state had  for Alaskans. He was sorry when                                                                    
the longevity bonus had been eliminated.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:53:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon  thanked the sponsor for  offering the                                                                    
bill. He  looked at the  three monthly benefit  tiers [shown                                                                    
on the Senior Benefits Program  Fact Sheet] and guessed that                                                                    
elderly rural  beneficiaries fell  under the  higher monthly                                                                    
payment [$250]. He  surmised that similar to  the Low Income                                                                    
Heating  Assistance Program  that the  per capita  amount of                                                                    
the benefits was slightly higher  going to the bush. He knew                                                                    
that  the $250  went  a  long way  for  many  elders in  his                                                                    
district. He appreciated the bill.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  respected and understood  the earlier                                                                    
point  raised  by  Co-Chair  Austerman.   He  spoke  to  the                                                                    
uncertainty  of the  current budget  and  about the  optimal                                                                    
fiscal times  of the  past ten  years. He  acknowledged that                                                                    
the state was  entering a period of  fiscal uncertainty; but                                                                    
he  believed  the  program  should  be  extended  six  years                                                                    
instead of  three because it  was a matter  of communicating                                                                    
the  legislature's priority.  The  program  amounted to  $20                                                                    
million.  He stressed  that extending  the  program for  six                                                                    
years provided extra assurance to  individuals that it would                                                                    
not be competing  for funds with other  programs during that                                                                    
period  of  time. He  questioned  whether  it was  a  higher                                                                    
priority to provide  a stipend for seniors or  a stipend for                                                                    
film subsidies; he landed on  the side of seniors. He wanted                                                                    
the legislature  to make the greatest  possible statement of                                                                    
policy that  it supported the  small stipend for  the lowest                                                                    
income segment of the state's senior population.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:57:33 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Guttenberg thanked  the  department for  the                                                                    
helpfulness of the Senior Benefits Program Fact Sheet.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman  believed he  and the sponsor  shared the                                                                    
same  goal, but  had different  ideas about  the appropriate                                                                    
timeline. He  discussed the governor's proposed  cuts of $30                                                                    
million to  agency operations. He  stressed that  the senior                                                                    
benefits program  was not  on the  chopping block.  He could                                                                    
see  three years  into the  future but  it was  difficult to                                                                    
know how  the state's  fiscal environment would  look beyond                                                                    
that   time.  He   believed  a   three-year  extension   was                                                                    
appropriate.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson appreciated  the  bill, but  believed                                                                    
seniors  recognized  that  the   state  was  experiencing  a                                                                    
challenging  budgetary  environment.  She  did  not  believe                                                                    
reducing  the  sunset  to   three  years  communicated  that                                                                    
seniors  were  not  a  top   priority.  She  mentioned  K-12                                                                    
education as another top priority.  She believed it was hard                                                                    
to  decide between  extending the  sunset for  three or  six                                                                    
years;  however, she  believed  a  three-year extension  was                                                                    
appropriate given the current fiscal climate.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon remarked that  there was more than one                                                                    
way to look  at the issue. He pointed out  that seniors were                                                                    
the  fastest growing  sector in  the state's  population. He                                                                    
spoke to  their value to the  state and to the  value of the                                                                    
program.  He believed  a six-year  extension would  keep the                                                                    
program off of the  chopping block. He supported maintaining                                                                    
the current bill language.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:01:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker explained  that  three years  earlier                                                                    
the program  had been  extended for  three years.  He shared                                                                    
that the amount of senior  benefits had not been changed. He                                                                    
detailed that  the Senate had  added four sections  that had                                                                    
increased  the  personal  needs  allowance  for  individuals                                                                    
residing  in long-term  care  facilities (including  nursing                                                                    
homes, Pioneer Homes, and Veteran  Homes) to $200 per month.                                                                    
The  residents  had  been ineligible  for  senior  benefits;                                                                    
therefore, the change provided them  with the $200 per month                                                                    
stipend.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Munoz referenced  the Senior Benefits Program                                                                    
Fact Sheet. She wondered  how the provision determining that                                                                    
program  eligibility did  not look  at  asset ownership  had                                                                    
been  established. Representative  Hawker answered  that the                                                                    
decision  had   been  a  policy   call  when   the  original                                                                    
legislation had  passed. He  explained that  the legislature                                                                    
had decided to format the  program as a current income-based                                                                    
program.  The legislature  had determined  that  it did  not                                                                    
want savings to count against  the program. He detailed that                                                                    
factoring  in assets  involved many  judgment calls  that he                                                                    
had  wanted   to  avoid   (e.g.  house   size,  geographical                                                                    
location, and  other). He added  that the assumption  that a                                                                    
person with  substantial liquid  monetary assets  would have                                                                    
substantial  liquid   income  had  been   contemplated  when                                                                    
deciding to make the program income-based.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Costello   asked  what  percentage   of  the                                                                    
recipients   were  WWII   veterans.  Representative   Hawker                                                                    
responded that  he did not  know. He thought  the department                                                                    
may  have  detail  on  the question.  He  relayed  that  the                                                                    
average age  of a recipient was  75 and the maximum  age was                                                                    
103.  The sector  included the  age group  that was  passing                                                                    
away the quickest.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  made  a personal  comment  related  to  a                                                                    
family member.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  shared that  her father  had served                                                                    
in WWII.  She surmised that  seniors who had served  in WWII                                                                    
represented  around the  median age  of seniors  benefitting                                                                    
from the program.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:06:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker  spoke to  a statistical  analysis the                                                                    
department  had prepared  at his  request (he  would provide                                                                    
the document  to the committee).  He shared that  49 percent                                                                    
of  the beneficiaries  were 80  years  of age  or older;  35                                                                    
percent were under  75; and individuals between  the ages of                                                                    
75  and  79  accounted  for  approximately  25  percent.  He                                                                    
surmised that  the most  common age was  between 75  and 79;                                                                    
however, the program was heavily  skewed to individuals over                                                                    
the age of 80.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Austerman  appreciated   that  the   sponsor  had                                                                    
introduced the bill  in 2007. He MOVED to AMEND  the bill to                                                                    
reduce the  extension from  six years  down to  three years;                                                                    
the date 2021 would be replaced with 2018.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara OBJECTED.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze deferred to the co-chair on the issue.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR: Thompson, Wilson, Stoltze, Austerman                                                                                  
OPPOSED: Guttenberg, Holmes, Munoz, Costello, Edgmon, Gara                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION FAILED (4/6).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  discussed the fiscal note  from the                                                                    
Department of Health and Social  Services. The note included                                                                    
six  full-time   positions  and  had  a   fiscal  impact  of                                                                    
$23,090,500 in FY  15, $25,018,700 in FY  16, $25,700,400 in                                                                    
FY  17, $26,402,400  in FY  18,  $27,125,500 in  FY 19,  and                                                                    
$27,870,400 in FY 20.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hawker communicated  that the  six positions                                                                    
were a  continuance of the  personnel currently  employed by                                                                    
the program.  He noted that  the numbers in the  fiscal note                                                                    
were an estimate by the agency.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Costello  moved  the MOVED  to  REPORT  CSHB                                                                    
263(HSS)  out of  committee with  individual recommendations                                                                    
and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
There being NO  OBJECTION CSHB 263(HSS) was  REPORTED out of                                                                    
committee  with  a "do  pass"  recommendation  and with  one                                                                    
previously published fiscal impact note: FN1 (HSS).                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker appreciated  the committee's attention                                                                    
to the bill.  He observed that the issue  raised by Co-Chair                                                                    
Austerman was  legitimate and would  be a  concern addressed                                                                    
by the legislature on many issues.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:13:44 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:17:00 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 211                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to the education and employment of                                                                        
     individuals with disabilities."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:17:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  moved the House Labor  and Commerce                                                                    
Committee bill version before the committee.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VASILIOS GIALOPSOS,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  CHARISSE MILLET,                                                                    
relayed that the bill would  make Alaska an Employment First                                                                    
state. He  explained that goal  for departmental  and agency                                                                    
levels dealing  with disabled individuals  would be  to work                                                                    
towards  a  primary  objective  of  gainful  employment.  He                                                                    
detailed that more than 25  other states had adopted similar                                                                    
legislation  recognizing the  problem of  expanding Medicaid                                                                    
and   healthcare  costs   and  the   underrepresentation  of                                                                    
disabled individuals  in the workforce who  were without the                                                                    
appropriate tools. Additionally,  the bill addressed whether                                                                    
the desired outcome  was currently met with  the funds spent                                                                    
on individuals with disabilities.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Gialopsos communicated that  the bill would implement an                                                                    
external body that would collect  silos of data to be vested                                                                    
in the Alaska Mental Health  Trust Authority. The data would                                                                    
work  towards determining  whether departments  and agencies                                                                    
were  currently producing  the  preferred outcomes;  whether                                                                    
individuals  receiving benefits  were getting  the requisite                                                                    
training, and  whether benefits were enabling  recipients to                                                                    
reach the  desired outcome. Additionally, the  bill language                                                                    
worked  to  prevent  individuals   with  a  disability  from                                                                    
feeling  that  their  disability  kept  them  from  being  a                                                                    
gainful  member  of  society.  Gainful  employment  enriched                                                                    
individuals'  lives,  enabled  them to  increase  their  net                                                                    
worth,  and   reduced  healthcare  costs.  He   stated  that                                                                    
individuals   statistically   led  healthier   lives,   were                                                                    
psychologically much  happier, and that the  broader society                                                                    
benefitted from the contributions as well.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Gialopsos provided  a sectional  analysis  of the  bill                                                                    
(copy on  file). Sections 1  through 5  required departments                                                                    
working  with disabled  individuals  to  ensure the  primary                                                                    
objective  of gainful  employment.  Sections 1  and 2  dealt                                                                    
with  the Department  of  Education  and Early  Development;                                                                    
Sections  3 and  4 dealt  with the  Department of  Labor and                                                                    
Workforce   Development  (DLWD),   Division  of   Vocational                                                                    
Rehabilitation; and  Section 5 dealt with  the Department of                                                                    
Health  and Social  Services. He  discussed an  oversight in                                                                    
Section 2; the  section dealt with a  requirement related to                                                                    
transition  services. He  detailed that  transition services                                                                    
pertained to children  with disabilities over the  age of 15                                                                    
who  had   an  Individualized  Education  Plan   (IEP).  The                                                                    
original bill language  aimed to ensure that as  part of the                                                                    
transition services that school  districts make it a primary                                                                    
objective to  help the  students become  gainfully employed.                                                                    
The language  had inadvertently precluded the  potential for                                                                    
any postsecondary education. He  believed a change should be                                                                    
made to fix the error.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:22:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD SANDERS, PROGRAM  COORDINATOR, GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL ON                                                                    
DISABILITIES  AND  SPECIAL EDUCATION  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
was available for questions. He  relayed that the bill was a                                                                    
priority  of the  council's.  He shared  that  he worked  on                                                                    
employment   programs   including  the   Alaska   Integrated                                                                    
Employment  Initiative.  He  had previously  worked  on  the                                                                    
Disability  Employment Initiative  with DLWD  over the  past                                                                    
three  years.  He agreed  that  the  initiative was  seeking                                                                    
employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze remarked  that  Representative Millet  had                                                                    
read song lyrics by Rich  Sanders' father on the House floor                                                                    
during  an  earthquake  resolution. He  explained  that  Don                                                                    
Sanders was a former educator,  gold miner, and musician. He                                                                    
asked Mr. Sanders  if his parents were  from Seward, Alaska.                                                                    
Mr. Sanders replied in the affirmative.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:26:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CATHERINE BABUSCIO,  MAT-SU REGIONAL MEDICAL  CENTER, PALMER                                                                    
(via teleconference), testified in  support of the bill. She                                                                    
spoke  to  a program  called  Project  Search, which  was  a                                                                    
collaboration with  the Mat-Su Borough School  District, the                                                                    
Governor's  Council on  Disabilities,  and  the Division  of                                                                    
Vocational Rehabilitation.  She detailed that  the business-                                                                    
led vocational program was for  adult students aged 18 to 22                                                                    
who experience  disabilities. The ultimate program  goal was                                                                    
securing   employment   within   the   community.   Students                                                                    
experienced full emersion at the  hospital worksites and had                                                                    
three 10-week rotations; students  were then placed based on                                                                    
their   skills  and   experience.  There   had  been   three                                                                    
successful program completions since  2011; all students who                                                                    
completed the  program had achieved employment.  The average                                                                    
wage of  those employed was  greater than $13 per  hour. She                                                                    
communicated  that  the  medical   center  had  employed  20                                                                    
percent  of  the  program's  participants;  the  individuals                                                                    
apply  competitively and  were currently  successful members                                                                    
of  the  workforce.  She elaborated  that  the  program  had                                                                    
greatly benefitted the  organization by measurable increased                                                                    
employee satisfaction and dedicated skilled workers.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze commented  on the  great employees  at the                                                                    
medical center.  He was impressed  by the  employees' strong                                                                    
work ethic  and the pride  they took  in their jobs.  He had                                                                    
been  pleased  to see  the  medical  center featured  in  an                                                                    
educational and promotional video.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:29:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ART DELAUNE, GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL  ON DISABILITIES AND SPECIAL                                                                    
EDUCATION, FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference), spoke in support                                                                    
of  the bill.  He  shared  that his  son  had Fetal  Alcohol                                                                    
Syndrome and  other mental health  issues. He  discussed his                                                                    
son's personal story related to  high school and graduation.                                                                    
He detailed  that his  son had worked  with the  Division of                                                                    
Vocational Rehabilitation to find a  career path, but he had                                                                    
not  been  satisfied with  the  job  options that  had  been                                                                    
suggested. Subsequently,  his son  had become  involved with                                                                    
Project Discovery where a  division counselor and employment                                                                    
specialist worked  to determine a person's  skills, desires,                                                                    
and  how they  would fit  into  the community.  His son  had                                                                    
voiced interest  in working  as a  meat cutter;  the program                                                                    
had enabled him to work as  an apprentice meat cutter at the                                                                    
local  Fred Meyer.  His son  was integrated  in a  workplace                                                                    
with  people without  disabilities and  was making  the same                                                                    
wage as others at his skill  level. He shared that his son's                                                                    
self-esteem had  grown tremendously.  His son  was currently                                                                    
receiving state Medicaid  benefits; he was hoping  to get on                                                                    
his own  insurance in  the future. He  pointed to  his son's                                                                    
experience as proof  of success and spoke  in strong support                                                                    
of the legislation.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:33:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MILLIE RYAN,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REACH, INC.,  testified in                                                                    
support of the legislation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Research  tells   us  that   vocational  rehabilitation                                                                    
     funded  supported employment  services for  individuals                                                                    
     with severe  disabilities is  cost-effective regardless                                                                    
     of the  type or  severity of  disability. In  2009, Dr.                                                                    
     Robert  Cimera from  Kent  State University  determined                                                                    
     the  average benefit  cost-ratio across  17 states  was                                                                    
     1.46.  He also  found  that  when supported  employment                                                                    
     agencies like REACH had  financial incentives to reduce                                                                    
     paid job coach support and  use the natural supports of                                                                    
     the  business  supervisor   and  coworkers  that  their                                                                    
     average cost decreased by 57.6  percent. Data across 42                                                                    
     states including  Alaska, that establish  Medicaid buy-                                                                    
     in programs currently shows  that buy-in enrollees earn                                                                    
     more money, work more hours,  contribute more in taxes,                                                                    
     and   rely   less   on  Medicaid   than   people   with                                                                    
     disabilities  on regular  Medicaid. Mathematica  policy                                                                    
     research  prepared  an  expenditure  report  on  buy-in                                                                    
     enrollees in  2005 and 2006.  In Alaska  average annual                                                                    
     Medicaid expenditures for  buy-in enrollees was $15,288                                                                    
     compared  to  $23,865  for  individuals  who  were  not                                                                    
     enrolled in the buy-in,  which represents a significant                                                                    
     decrease in  expenditures. In  summary, House  Bill 211                                                                    
     not only  makes sense  for Alaskans  with disabilities,                                                                    
     it also makes sense for the State of Alaska.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:36:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:36:57 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:37:40 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman MOVED to ADOPT corrected Amendment 1                                                                         
(offered by Co-Chair Stoltze by request):                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, Line 15                                                                                                            
     Following "disabilities" remove "."                                                                                        
     Following "disabilities"  insert ", or  become enrolled                                                                    
     in post-secondary education."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Holmes OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Gialopsos relayed  that  the  proposed amendment  would                                                                    
modify  Section  2, page  1,  line  15  by adding  that  for                                                                    
transition services,  a school district's  primary objective                                                                    
and preferred outcome  is not just to help  a student become                                                                    
gainfully  employed  in  an integrated  workplace  alongside                                                                    
individuals  without   disabilities,  but  also   to  become                                                                    
enrolled  in postsecondary  education if  the individual  so                                                                    
desired. He explained that if  an individual with an IEP was                                                                    
able  to  enroll in  a  postsecondary  course of  any  kind,                                                                    
transition   services   should   not  dissuade   them   from                                                                    
furthering their educational opportunities.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holmes WITHDREW  her OBJECTION.  There being                                                                    
NO further OBJECTION, corrected Amendment 1 was ADOPTED.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  pointed to  the  absence  of a  fiscal                                                                    
impact  note and  wondered if  the department  was currently                                                                    
providing similar services offered under the legislation.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:40:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LES MORSE, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND                                                                    
EARLY  DEVELOPMENT, answered  that the  bill used  data that                                                                    
was  currently  collected  by the  department  and  did  not                                                                    
create an  additional burden for the  department's workload.                                                                    
He relayed that the only  extra effort involved the transfer                                                                    
of  data  the  department  currently  collected  to  another                                                                    
agency.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  asked about potential  costs associated                                                                    
with  teaching  people  with  disabilities  skills  to  work                                                                    
alongside people  without disabilities.  He wondered  if the                                                                    
training  was currently  taking  place.  Mr. Morse  answered                                                                    
that under current law students in  the age range (age 15 or                                                                    
16  and up)  were required  to  have a  transition plan  for                                                                    
employment or postsecondary education.  He believed with the                                                                    
collection of  the data  there may be  more effort  put into                                                                    
the work. He  noted that significant work  was currently put                                                                    
into IEPs.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Costello  addressed  the  four  zero  fiscal                                                                    
notes including  three previously  published notes  from the                                                                    
Department of  Administration, the Department of  Health and                                                                    
Social Services,  and the Department of  Labor and Workforce                                                                    
Development,  and  one  new  note  from  the  Department  of                                                                    
Education and Early Development.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  MOVED to  REPORT CSHB  211(FIN) out                                                                    
of  committee   with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There being NO  OBJECTION CSHB 211(FIN) was  REPORTED out of                                                                    
committee with a  "do pass" recommendation and  with one new                                                                    
zero fiscal note from the  Department of Education and Early                                                                    
Development  and  three  previously  published  zero  fiscal                                                                    
notes: FN1 (ADM); FN2 (DHS); FN3 (LWF).                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman discussed the schedule for the following                                                                     
day.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:44:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 2:44 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 211- Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Supporting Document-Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education Summary of HB 211.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Supporting Document-SILC Letter of Support.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211-Sectional Analysis.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Supporting document-State Employment Leadership Network Report.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211-Supporting Document NACDD Report.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
ACoA Support HB 263.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB 263 Combined Letters of Support.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB 263 SBP Fact Sheet (01-31-14).pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB 263 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
CSHB211 Supporting Document-AHFC Letter.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
HB 211 Amendment #1 Stoltze by Request.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 211
Changes to HB 263 HHSS.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263
HB263(2014) letter of support.pdf HFIN 2/18/2014 1:30:00 PM
HB 263