Legislature(2013 - 2014)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/04/2014 08:30 AM FINANCE

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+ teleconferenced
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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 4, 2014                                                                                            
                         8:42 a.m.                                                                                              
8:42:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Stoltze called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 8:42 a.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Cathy Munoz                                                                                                      
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Alan Austerman, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Representative   Dan   Saddler,  Sponsor;   Sara   Chambers,                                                                    
Director,   Division   of    Corporations,   Business,   and                                                                    
Professional  Licensing, Department  of Commerce,  Community                                                                    
and  Economic   Development;  Representative   Paul  Seaton,                                                                    
Sponsor; Charles Swanton, Director,  Division of Sport Fish,                                                                    
Department of Fish and Game.                                                                                                    
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Richard Kiefer-O'Donnell, Associate  Director, University of                                                                    
Alaska  Anchorage Center  for Human  Development, Anchorage;                                                                    
Annette  Blanas, Center  for  Human Development,  Anchorage;                                                                    
Rachel White,  Doctor and  Owner, Good  Behavior Beginnings,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Lorri Unumb,  Vice  President, State  Government                                                                    
Affairs, Autism Speaks, South  Carolina; Suzanne Letso, CEO,                                                                    
Alaska Center  for Autism and  Connecticut Center  for Child                                                                    
Development,   Connecticut;   Gino   Graziano,   Cooperative                                                                    
Extension Service and Alaska  Committee for Noxious Invasive                                                                    
Plant   Management,   Anchorage;    Marcus   Mueller,   Land                                                                    
Management  Officer, Kenai  Peninsula  Borough, Kenai;  Joni                                                                    
Schargenberg,   Fairbanks   Soil  and   Water   Conservation                                                                    
District, Chena  Slough, Fairbanks; Aditi  Shenoy, Fairbanks                                                                    
Soil and Water  Conservation District, Fairbanks Cooperative                                                                    
Weed Management Area, Fairbanks.                                                                                                
HB 89     AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES                                                                                              
          HB 89 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                     
HB 361    LICENSING OF BEHAVIOR ANALYSTS                                                                                        
          HB 361 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
8:43:11 AM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 361                                                                                                              
     "An Act relating to licensing of behavior analysts."                                                                       
8:43:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAN  SADDLER, SPONSOR,  read from the  HB 361                                                                    
sponsor statement:                                                                                                              
     Autism is a significant  and growing problem in Alaska.                                                                    
     Statistics  show  that one  in  110  Alaska children  -                                                                    
     about  1 percent  - are  born  with this  developmental                                                                    
     disability,  characterized by  a diminished  ability to                                                                    
    communicate, social isolation, and other symptoms.                                                                          
     While  not curable,  autism  is treatable.  Scientific,                                                                    
     peer-reviewed studies  have shown that  early intensive                                                                    
     treatment in  the form  of Applied  Behavioral Analysis                                                                    
     offers the best opportunity  to help people with autism                                                                    
     improve  their  ability  to  function  productively  in                                                                    
     Applied Behavior  Analysis is  recognized as  the basis                                                                    
     for the most effective form  of treatment for autism by                                                                    
     the  U.S. Surgeon  General, The  National Institute  of                                                                    
     Child Health,  and the American Academy  of Pediatrics.                                                                    
     You can  best understand  ABA as  behavior modification                                                                    
     therapy: It seeks to  encourage appropriate behavior by                                                                    
     assessing  and managing  the  relationship between  the                                                                    
     environment and the desired behavior.                                                                                      
     Forty  years  of research  shows  that  nearly half  of                                                                    
     people   with  autism   who  receive   intensive  early                                                                    
     intervention  and  treatment  do not  require  lifelong                                                                    
     services  and support  -- and  half can  achieve normal                                                                    
     functioning  after two  to three  years. This  can mean                                                                    
     lifetime  savings of  $200,000  to $1.1  million for  a                                                                    
     person through the age of 55.                                                                                              
     One  of  the  most  important  elements  in  successful                                                                    
     autism treatment is having  it provided by well-trained                                                                    
     behavioral therapists  - those who hold  the nationally                                                                    
     recognized  credential  of  Board-Certified  Behavioral                                                                    
     Analyst, or BCBA.                                                                                                          
     To qualify  as a BCBA,  applicants must have  a minimum                                                                    
     of  a  master's  degree, plus  extensive  training  and                                                                    
     experience  requirements  of  up   to  1,500  hours  of                                                                    
     supervised  practice   in  the  field,  225   hours  of                                                                    
     graduate-level classroom  work, or a  year's experience                                                                    
     teaching ABA  at the university  level. They  must also                                                                    
     pass  the challenging  BCBA certification  examination.                                                                    
     The  Board-Certified Assistant  Behavioral Analyst,  or                                                                    
     BCaBA credential, requires slightly lower standards.                                                                       
     The  state  already  supports  the  training  of  BCBAs                                                                    
     through a  grant to the  Center for  Human Development,                                                                    
     at the University of Alaska  Anchorage. There are about                                                                    
     20 to  30 BCBAs  and BCaBAs  in Alaska  today, although                                                                    
    not all of them are currently working in the field.                                                                         
     Under  current state  law, Alaskans  with BCBAs  cannot                                                                    
     bill health  insurance companies or Medicaid  for their                                                                    
     services at a  rate that reflects their  high degree of                                                                    
     training and  professional skill  because they  are not                                                                    
     formally licensed.                                                                                                         
     HB 361 addresses this situation  by providing for those                                                                    
     holding the BCBA  or BCaBA credentials in  Alaska to be                                                                    
     licensed by the Division  of Professional Licensing, in                                                                    
     the  Alaska  Department   of  Commerce,  Community  and                                                                    
     Economic Development.  Fourteen other  states currently                                                                    
     provide licensing and  regulate behavior analysts. This                                                                    
     approach has the strong support  of Alaska BCBAs and of                                                                    
     national autism advocacy groups.                                                                                           
8:46:32 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Saddler  continued   reading  the   sponsor                                                                    
     By ensuring licensing and  higher standards of practice                                                                    
     for BCBAs and BCaBAs, HB 361 will:                                                                                         
     ·  encourage more people to provide  autism services in                                                                    
     ·  offer higher  reimbursement  rates for  professional                                                                    
     ·  provide better  outcomes  for  Alaska children  with                                                                    
     ·  save the state money by avoiding the need for costly                                                                    
        institutional care, and                                                                                                 
     ·  improve the quality of life for hundreds of Alaskans                                                                    
        and their families                                                                                                      
8:47:03 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Neuman   thought  the  bill  looked   like  good                                                                    
legislation and was interested in hearing more about it.                                                                        
Representative Guttenberg  thanked the sponsor  for bringing                                                                    
the bill  forward. He  wondered whether  behavioral analysts                                                                    
would  automatically   slide  into  an  existing   board  or                                                                    
commission. Representative Saddler  replied in the negative;                                                                    
there was  not currently a board  of professional behavioral                                                                    
Representative  Thompson asked  for verification  that there                                                                    
were  currently   39  Board-Certified   Behavioral  Analysts                                                                    
(BCBA) in Alaska. Representative  Saddler replied that there                                                                    
were  approximately 24  BCBAs  in  the state.  Additionally,                                                                    
there were  a number of individuals  currently going through                                                                    
the  program supported  by a  grant through  the Center  for                                                                    
Economic Development. He  did not know the  number of Board-                                                                    
Certified Assistant Behavioral Analysts (BCaBA) in Alaska.                                                                      
Representative Thompson  noted that it was  expensive to run                                                                    
a  board.  He  asked about  licensing  fees.  Representative                                                                    
Saddler  replied  that  a  licensing   board  would  not  be                                                                    
required. Licensing  came through the department  similar to                                                                    
mortuary  scientists and  other  small professional  groups;                                                                    
there   were   not   currently  fees   associated   with   a                                                                    
professional  licensing board.  There  were  some fees  that                                                                    
members would  pay for  licensing, but he  did not  have the                                                                    
assessment of the cost.                                                                                                         
Representative   Thompson   remarked   that   Representative                                                                    
Saddler's response had satisfied  his concern related to the                                                                    
cost per licensee.                                                                                                              
Representative  Saddler added  that BCBAs  had been  seeking                                                                    
the licensure and were willing  to accept the national costs                                                                    
and records. He  noted the existence of  an Autism Insurance                                                                    
Task Force; one of  entity's likely recommendations would be                                                                    
to seek  licensure through  the department  at low  cost and                                                                    
8:49:46 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson wondered  whether any  investigations                                                                    
would take place. She understood  that the majority of board                                                                    
costs  were   associated  with  investigations.   She  asked                                                                    
whether    the   board    would   have    an   investigator.                                                                    
Representative Saddler  did not believe the  licensees would                                                                    
have  an   assigned  investigator.  He  detailed   that  any                                                                    
investigation  work would  be conducted  by the  Division of                                                                    
Corporations,  Business  and  Professional  Licensing  under                                                                    
DCCED.  He  did not  believe  many  professional boards  had                                                                    
their own investigator.                                                                                                         
Co-Chair  Stoltze relayed  that  some [professional  boards]                                                                    
did have their own investigators.                                                                                               
Representative Wilson  asked to  hear from DCCED  related to                                                                    
investigative work  and the difference  between professional                                                                    
boards.  She  wanted  to  ensure  that  licensees  were  not                                                                    
saddled with costly investigation fees.                                                                                         
Co-Chair Stoltze  commented that the bill  would receive the                                                                    
same scrutiny as  any new board due to  uncertainty on costs                                                                    
and  revenues.  He  acknowledged  the  virtue  of  the  idea                                                                    
contained in the legislation.                                                                                                   
8:52:11 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD KIEFER-O'DONNELL, ASSOCIATE  DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF                                                                    
ALASKA  ANCHORAGE CENTER  FOR  HUMAN DEVELOPMENT,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via teleconference),  spoke in support of  the legislation.                                                                    
He  detailed that  the Center  for Human  Development was  a                                                                    
federally   funded  University   Center  of   Excellence  on                                                                    
Developmental  Disabilities;  its  role  was  to  serve  the                                                                    
entire  state.   The  entity  supported  services   and  the                                                                    
development of  workforce capacity. He focused  primarily on                                                                    
the backstory  associated with the development  of the bill.                                                                    
He  referred  to work  done  by  the Governor's  Council  on                                                                    
Disabilities and  Special Education that began  in 2006; the                                                                    
council developed  several reports documenting the  needs of                                                                    
children  with autism  and their  families. The  council had                                                                    
recommended   that  the   state  invest   energy  into   the                                                                    
development  of  autism  specialists.  He  detailed  that  a                                                                    
stakeholder meeting had  been held in November  of 2008 that                                                                    
included state  agencies, the private sector,  and families.                                                                    
The goal had been to  develop recommendations about what the                                                                    
autism  specialists   should  look   like.  The   group  had                                                                    
recommended  that the  Center of  Human Development  work to                                                                    
establish a BCBA training program.  He spoke to funding from                                                                    
a  trust and  general funds.  He discussed  the decision  to                                                                    
partner with  an existing program  due to the high  need for                                                                    
Mr.  Kiefer-O'Donnell relayed  that the  program was  in its                                                                    
fifth  cohort of  students (a  cohort  worked for  2.5 to  3                                                                    
years)  working with  children and  adults  with autism.  He                                                                    
spoke to  the success of  the program. He  discussed program                                                                    
requirements  for  certification.  Existing BCBAs  had  been                                                                    
involved with the private sector,  school districts, and the                                                                    
state. Additionally,  they had been centrally  involved with                                                                    
the  implementation of  the Complex  Behavior Collaborative.                                                                    
He relayed that  the program had been  well-received and was                                                                    
cost-effective.  He  noted  the   existing  demand  for  the                                                                    
advanced degree. Program participants  were required to have                                                                    
a  minimum of  a  master's  degree. He  spoke  to the  well-                                                                    
defined  structure within  the national  credentialing board                                                                    
related to  the monitoring  of licensees and  any associated                                                                    
8:58:13 AM                                                                                                                    
ANNETTE  BLANAS,  CENTER  FOR HUMAN  DEVELOPMENT,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via   teleconference),   testified    in   favor   of   the                                                                    
legislation.  She  mentioned  the  importance  of  licensure                                                                    
related to  billing and the ability  to retain professionals                                                                    
in  Alaska. She  discussed  the importance  of licensure  in                                                                    
terms  of quality  control  of  professionals for  families.                                                                    
Currently  families with  autistic  children were  desperate                                                                    
for  services.   She  relayed  that  with   so  few  options                                                                    
available, families would take  any services they could get.                                                                    
She detailed  that families had  nowhere to  direct concerns                                                                    
if  services were  of poor  quality. She  believed licensure                                                                    
would offer  a level  of quality control  for professionals.                                                                    
Rural communities with limited  access to professionals were                                                                    
at risk  of receiving  services by unqualified  workers. She                                                                    
detailed that  rural communities tended to  be isolated from                                                                    
other professionals  that would  recognize the  issues early                                                                    
on.  The  licensure  process  would   provide  a  venue  for                                                                    
addressing  the issues.  Lastly,  families  living in  rural                                                                    
communities were often  even more desperate for  any type of                                                                    
services, which  could lead families  to accept  low quality                                                                    
services.  The  low  quality   services  could  create  more                                                                    
challenges than  what may have existed  before services were                                                                    
provided. She  stated that  licensure provided  a foundation                                                                    
of  minimum  quality  across  the   profession  and  in  all                                                                    
communities; it would  also implement a way  for families to                                                                    
address ethical concerns.                                                                                                       
9:01:18 AM                                                                                                                    
RACHEL WHITE,  DOCTOR AND  OWNER, GOOD  BEHAVIOR BEGINNINGS,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  spoke  in  support of  the                                                                    
bill. She  spoke to  her BCBA  credentials at  the doctorate                                                                    
level.  Her company  provided in-home  services to  children                                                                    
with  autism. She  believed licensing  providers would  help                                                                    
provide families with  access to insurance-covered services.                                                                    
She relayed  that currently  some insurance  companies would                                                                    
not  cover  behavioral  analyst services  because  no  state                                                                    
licensing  existed.  She  communicated   that  there  was  a                                                                    
national  board  that   oversaw  behavioral  analysts  where                                                                    
ethical concerns could be directed.                                                                                             
9:03:08 AM                                                                                                                    
LORRI  UNUMB,  VICE  PRESIDENT,  STATE  GOVERNMENT  AFFAIRS,                                                                    
AUTISM   SPEAKS,   SOUTH  CAROLINA   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  support of the  legislation. She spoke  to her                                                                    
professional background  in the autism field.  She worked as                                                                    
a professor at George  Washington University Law School; she                                                                    
had a son with autism. She  pointed to the national trend of                                                                    
BCBA  licensure,  which  was driven  in  part  by  insurance                                                                    
legislation that  had passed in 35  states including Alaska.                                                                    
At  present  15 states  had  created  a licensure  or  state                                                                    
certification  for behavior  analysts; Alabama  had recently                                                                    
passed legislation.  She believed  Maryland had  also passed                                                                    
legislation  the previous  day. She  added that  states were                                                                    
moving  in the  direction  of licensure  to ensure  consumer                                                                    
protection.  She  had  studied   the  bills  nationwide  and                                                                    
believed  the   current  legislation  was  sound   and  well                                                                    
drafted.  She  detailed that  some  states  had created  new                                                                    
boards  and other  states had  put licensure  under existing                                                                    
boards. She opined  that it could work fine  either way. She                                                                    
was in full  support of the bill's reliance  on the existing                                                                    
national certification.  She noted  that the  credential had                                                                    
been  examined  and  approved by  insurance  companies.  She                                                                    
agreed that  the national Behavioral  Analysts Certification                                                                    
Board disciplinary  mechanism was a real  enforcement piece;                                                                    
she  had  seen  individuals   lose  their  certification  or                                                                    
receive other reprimands. The  bill also created appropriate                                                                    
exemptions for  those who should  not require a  license and                                                                    
created  temporary  licenses  for  individuals  transferring                                                                    
from other states.                                                                                                              
9:06:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SUZANNE   LETSO,  CEO,   ALASKA   CENTER   FOR  AUTISM   AND                                                                    
CONNECTICUT CENTER  FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT,  CONNECTICUT (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke in support of  the bill. She spoke to                                                                    
her professional  background. She pointed to  four documents                                                                    
she  had  provided to  the  committee  (copy on  file).  One                                                                    
document showed  a budget that  had been done  for Kentucky;                                                                    
the net  cost was  roughly $7,000 and  included the  cost of                                                                    
running a  disciplinary board. She  believed one  option was                                                                    
to run disciplinary processes  through Alaska by temporarily                                                                    
deferring  to  the  Behavioral Analyst  Certification  Board                                                                    
disciplinary  process until  an  appropriation  was made  or                                                                    
sufficient revenue  from fees were accumulated.  She relayed                                                                    
that the  cost of running  a licensing program would  be low                                                                    
because  of   the  BCBA's  ability  to   absorb  costs.  She                                                                    
communicated that the state stood  to save substantial money                                                                    
by bringing  children back in-state who  were currently only                                                                    
able  to be  served out-of-state.  She referred  to a  cost-                                                                    
benefit analysis pertaining to  Texas, which determined that                                                                    
by  providing intensive  Applied  Behavioral Analysis  (ABA)                                                                    
approximately   $208,000   had   been  saved   per   student                                                                    
throughout  their  18-year  education.  She  referred  to  a                                                                    
second cost-benefit  analysis from a lifespan  approach that                                                                    
found savings  of $200,000 to $600,000  per child (conducted                                                                    
by Jacobson,  Mulick, and Green).  Lastly, she pointed  to a                                                                    
document  she had  created on  finances in  Connecticut. The                                                                    
document  looked  at the  cost  of  providing ABA  placement                                                                    
services  in and  out of  districts;  providing the  minimum                                                                    
adult day-service programs for  people with disabilities for                                                                    
60 years  saved the state  $200,000 per person.  She relayed                                                                    
that if a disabled person could  remain at home for 25 years                                                                    
prior  to  residential services  it  would  save between  $3                                                                    
million and $4 million per  person. She concluded that there                                                                    
were many  ways the legislation  could have a  very positive                                                                    
9:11:30 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Neuman CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
Representative   Wilson   requested   to   hear   from   the                                                                    
department.  She spoke  about  concerns related  to a  small                                                                    
board's  ability  to  absorb  costs.  She  wondered  if  the                                                                    
professionals  could be  included  under  an existing  board                                                                    
instead of creating a new one.                                                                                                  
SARA   CHAMBERS,   DIRECTOR,   DIVISION   OF   CORPORATIONS,                                                                    
BUSINESS,   AND   PROFESSIONAL  LICENSING,   DEPARTMENT   OF                                                                    
COMMERCE, COMMUNITY  AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,  relayed that                                                                    
there  were   many  variables  that  went   into  licensing.                                                                    
Centralized  licensing  statutes  and  regulations  required                                                                    
investigations  to   take  place   in  response   to  public                                                                    
complaints or other  red flags (for all  professions with or                                                                    
without a board). She had  determined that potential cost to                                                                    
behavior analysts if licensed,  would be fairly minimal. She                                                                    
estimated a  $2,000 per year cost  for investigative related                                                                    
costs. She  noted that investigations could  be triggered by                                                                    
license  applications  when   there  were  requirements  for                                                                    
potential  licensees to  disclose  certain information.  The                                                                    
initial   biennium  program   estimates  included   one-time                                                                    
startup  costs for  a 25  to 42  person program  of $700  to                                                                    
$1,200   for  licensure.   The  number   would  dramatically                                                                    
decrease after the  one-time startup had been  paid with the                                                                    
first  biennium   fee  (AS   08.01.065  required   that  all                                                                    
licensing costs were borne by  licensees). She detailed that                                                                    
licensing fees for  the program could be  anywhere from $400                                                                    
to $600  in the  out years. She  advised that  her estimates                                                                    
erred on the more expensive end.                                                                                                
9:16:23 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson believed  one of  the drivers  behind                                                                    
the proposed implementation of the  board was due to lack of                                                                    
insurance coverage for services.  She asked for verification                                                                    
that insurance would pay if  there was a board certification                                                                    
in place.                                                                                                                       
Representative Saddler clarified that  the program was not a                                                                    
professional licensing  board model.  He expounded  that the                                                                    
program would fall under  departmental licensure. He relayed                                                                    
that licensed  providers would  be subject  to reimbursement                                                                    
from  private  insurance  at  a  higher  rate,  which  would                                                                    
benefit the public, providers, and families.                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson spoke  to  a bill  from recent  years                                                                    
related  to payment  by private  insurance. She  wondered if                                                                    
the lack of  insurance coverage was a  primary driver behind                                                                    
the  legislation.  She  surmised   that  the  proposal  [for                                                                    
departmental licensure]  had been  used because it  was less                                                                    
expensive for licensees than a board would be.                                                                                  
Representative  Saddler  replied   in  the  affirmative.  He                                                                    
elaborated  that BCBAs  had  experienced challenges  billing                                                                    
for services in Alaska.  Drawing on national experience, one                                                                    
of the recommendations was that  licensing BCBAs would place                                                                    
them  in a  more  easily identifiable  category for  private                                                                    
health insurance purposes.                                                                                                      
9:18:23 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Thompson  appreciated the  clarification that                                                                    
the  bill would  not  establish  a board.  He  spoke to  the                                                                    
expenses  of board  travel  for meetings.  He  pointed to  a                                                                    
letter  in  committee  members' packets  from  Premera  Blue                                                                    
Cross  (copy  on  file) that  suggested  specifying  that  a                                                                    
provider  was practicing  within the  scope of  licensure or                                                                    
specialty  standards.  He  asked  if the  bill  sponsor  had                                                                    
reviewed the recommendation.                                                                                                    
Representative Saddler  answered that he had  not thoroughly                                                                    
addressed the suggestion. He was amenable to the change.                                                                        
Representative Thompson  wondered if Premera Blue  Cross may                                                                    
require the inclusion of the  language before it would honor                                                                    
an  insurance  claim.  Representative Saddler  believed  the                                                                    
company had provided its support of the bill in writing.                                                                        
Representative  Thompson agreed  that the  company supported                                                                    
the bill, but pointed to its language suggestion.                                                                               
Co-Chair Stoltze asked the bill  sponsor to follow up on the                                                                    
suggestion. Representative Saddler agreed.                                                                                      
Representative Guttenberg  spoke to  the fact that  the bill                                                                    
would not  create a  board. He  asked for  verification that                                                                    
investigative fees  would be included in  license costs. Ms.                                                                    
Chambers replied in the affirmative.  She elaborated that AS                                                                    
08.01.065 required  all costs  attributable to  a particular                                                                    
licensing  program to  be paid  by licensees  (whether there                                                                    
was a  board or not).  There were 20 boards  and commissions                                                                    
and 19 licensed programs  without boards or commissions. She                                                                    
detailed  that  a board  or  commission  had the  governance                                                                    
power  to  dig  into  practice  policies  that  protect  the                                                                    
public;  whereas, administrative  activities (e.g.  issuance                                                                    
of licenses, performance of  investigations, and other) were                                                                    
departmental   requirements.   However,   a  board   had   a                                                                    
significant  role  in  driving the  level  of  investigation                                                                    
within  the   scope  of   its  sentencing   guidelines.  She                                                                    
summarized that investigative activity  was a licensing cost                                                                    
that  was legally  required  to be  paid  by licensees.  She                                                                    
noted that  the topic  would be  discussed over  the interim                                                                    
with the legislature.                                                                                                           
9:22:39 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Guttenberg   asked  for   verification  that                                                                    
investigation  fees did  not include  criminal prosecutions.                                                                    
Ms. Chambers  replied in the affirmative.  She detailed that                                                                    
the  department  had  civil   authority,  but  not  criminal                                                                    
authority. She  referred to  an example she  had given  in a                                                                    
separate bill  hearing related  to a  potential prostitution                                                                    
investigation;  the  investigation   would  fall  under  the                                                                    
purview of the Department of  Public Safety or municipal law                                                                    
enforcement. However, a conviction  may have a domino effect                                                                    
on an  individual's license. She referred  to testimony from                                                                    
the national board  that there was a  strong opportunity for                                                                    
the national board to have a  hand in effecting the level of                                                                    
investigation  on licensure  particularly  because the  bill                                                                    
leaned heavily on the certification.  She elaborated that if                                                                    
an individual's  certification was  revoked by  the national                                                                    
board there  would be  no cost to  licensees, but  the state                                                                    
would then  have the opportunity  to discipline or  revoke a                                                                    
license as required by law.                                                                                                     
Representative   Thompson  believed   the  issue   was  very                                                                    
important. He  believed the cost  of going after  a licensee                                                                    
for misbehavior  was a responsibility  of the state.  He did                                                                    
not  support saddling  other licensees  with the  associated                                                                    
costs.  He believed  the issue  should be  addressed in  the                                                                    
Co-Chair Stoltze  discussed the cost of  the legislation. He                                                                    
believed the fiscal notes had  green lights. He pointed to a                                                                    
question  related   to  the  overall  cost,   which  was  an                                                                    
uncertainty   associated   with   doing  anything   new   in                                                                    
government.  He stated  that  it was  good  to hear  "autism                                                                    
speak." He believed  it had been a  silent and misunderstood                                                                    
subject,  which effected  many  people.  He appreciated  the                                                                    
sponsor's efforts.                                                                                                              
Vice-Chair  Neuman  remarked  that   the  committee  was  in                                                                    
support of the collaborative  behavioral health program that                                                                    
worked to help autism patients.                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Stoltze hoped to hear the bill again soon.                                                                             
HB  361  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
9:26:20 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:27:25 AM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 89                                                                                                             
     "An Act relating to the rapid response to, and control                                                                     
     of, aquatic invasive species and establishing the                                                                          
     aquatic invasive species response fund."                                                                                   
9:27:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL  SEATON, SPONSOR, thanked  the committee                                                                    
for hearing  the bill.  He discussed  the threat  elodea was                                                                    
posing  to the  state's aquatic  environment. The  plant was                                                                    
responsible  for  overrunning  salmon  and  arctic  grayling                                                                    
habitat  and  was  impacting  areas such  as  Sand  Lake  in                                                                    
Anchorage,  the Kenai  Peninsula, Fairbanks,  and the  Chena                                                                    
Slough.  He stated  that once  invasive species  established                                                                    
themselves  they were  almost  impossible  to eradicate.  He                                                                    
pointed to other  invasive species the state  was working to                                                                    
control including pike and a  tunicate called "Dvex" located                                                                    
in the Sitka area.  The invasive tunicate smothered existing                                                                    
substrate and  could impact commercial and  sport fisheries,                                                                    
hard shell  clams and herring. Other  potential threats were                                                                    
traveling  up the  West  Coast in  green  crab, quahog,  and                                                                    
zebra mussels. He believed  damages associated with invasive                                                                    
species cost  the U.S. approximately $120  billion per year.                                                                    
The  state   had  spent  $28  million   since  2007  through                                                                    
governmental and nongovernmental agencies  in its efforts to                                                                    
limit the expansion of some of the invasive species.                                                                            
Representative  Seaton explained  that  the  purpose of  the                                                                    
bill  was  to implement  a  plan  to quickly  address  newly                                                                    
invasive species  before they became established.  The state                                                                    
did not  currently have  plans in place;  it had  taken four                                                                    
years to develop a program  to work on eradicating Dvex. The                                                                    
state  had  been  lucky  that  the  tunicate  was  a  slowly                                                                    
expanding  invasive  species.  The  bill  would  give  state                                                                    
agencies   the   authority   to   act,   responsibility   to                                                                    
coordinate,  and to  prioritize  actions. Additionally,  the                                                                    
legislation established a response  fund; there was no money                                                                    
to  put into  the  fund. The  fund could  only  be used  for                                                                    
responses to  invasive species. The bill  also provided that                                                                    
private  property  holders  would work  with  Department  of                                                                    
Natural   Resources  (DNR),   Department  of   Environmental                                                                    
Conservation (DEC),  and Department  of Fish and  Game (DFG)                                                                    
in the  construction of  development plans.  The legislation                                                                    
gave the priority for addressing  an incipient population in                                                                    
localized areas.  For example,  there was  a problem  in the                                                                    
Sitka  area  where  an  aquatic   farm  was  located,  which                                                                    
prompted the question of how  to deal with private property.                                                                    
The  bill  would hold  the  state  harmless when  responding                                                                    
under a plan for control of an invasive species.                                                                                
9:32:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stoltze shared  that the  Mat-Su Borough  Fish and                                                                    
Game Advisory Commission had endorsed  the bill. He asked if                                                                    
the  sponsor viewed  the group  as credible.  Representative                                                                    
Seaton  replied  in  the  affirmative.  The  bill  had  also                                                                    
received   support  from   the   Wasilla   Soil  and   Water                                                                    
Conservation District and others.  He referred to letters of                                                                    
support in members' packets (copy on file).                                                                                     
Co-Chair Stoltze  relayed that at  least two members  on the                                                                    
Mat-Su  Fish  and  Game   Advisory  Commission  were  career                                                                    
biologists (Larry  Engel and Howard  Delo). He spoke  to the                                                                    
members'  expertise in  fisheries issues.  Vice-Chair Neuman                                                                    
noted that the two members were statewide biologists.                                                                           
Co-Chair  Stoltze   commented  that  there  had   been  some                                                                    
personalized attacks against the  commission in the past. He                                                                    
took the  opportunity to  help set  the record  straight. He                                                                    
supported the legislation.                                                                                                      
9:34:20 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Costello  asked  for confirmation  that  the                                                                    
bill did  not direct a  specific method of  eradication. She                                                                    
believed  the  bill  allowed  soil  and  water  conservation                                                                    
districts  and  communities  to make  decisions  on  how  to                                                                    
address eradication.                                                                                                            
Representative Seaton  replied that the bill  did not direct                                                                    
the eradication method. The legislation  acted as a planning                                                                    
document that  enabled agencies and private  parties such as                                                                    
soil and water conservation districts  to have a seat at the                                                                    
table  when deciding  on eradication  methods. The  approach                                                                    
would depend  on the area  and the species.  The development                                                                    
of  a  plan  would   allow  rapid  response;  without  rapid                                                                    
response  the state  would be  perpetually in  control-mode,                                                                    
which was costly.                                                                                                               
Representative  Wilson  asked  about  the  private  property                                                                    
provision. She  understood that DFG  would take care  of the                                                                    
invasive  species. She  asked  for  clarification about  the                                                                    
destruction of private property.                                                                                                
Representative Seaton  answered that  the item  was intended                                                                    
to address issues like the  aquatic farm in Sitka. There had                                                                    
been a  one-year delay while  DFG worked to determine  if it                                                                    
could  be sued  for destroying  the species  located on  the                                                                    
aquatic farm nets if any  shellfish was lost. The bill would                                                                    
require DNR  to include a  provision in future  permits that                                                                    
in the event  an invasive species was present  in an aquatic                                                                    
farm (or other) that the  state would not be responsible for                                                                    
loss that may occur on the  farm when working to control the                                                                    
species. The language  would be included in the  permit so a                                                                    
permit holder would know upfront.  He provided an example of                                                                    
an elodea  outbreak; if  the state drained  a small  lake it                                                                    
would prevent  individuals from claiming that  the method of                                                                    
eradication harmed  them. The plans  would all  be developed                                                                    
ahead of  time; the public  and soil and  water conservation                                                                    
districts would be at the table when plans were developed.                                                                      
9:38:02 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wilson wondered if DFG  could drain a lake on                                                                    
private property if it may  contain an invasive species. She                                                                    
supported  the legislation,  but she  wanted to  ensure that                                                                    
the state could not take  action on private property without                                                                    
permission  from  the landowner.  She  had  no problem  with                                                                    
including provisions  in permits  related to  specific items                                                                    
in waters.                                                                                                                      
Representative Seaton  had not  been speaking  about private                                                                    
property.  He provided  an example  of elodea  on the  Kenai                                                                    
Peninsula where  people may have  docks. The  consequence of                                                                    
not  addressing  the  problem   could  mean  an  expense  of                                                                    
millions  of  dollars and  a  significant  impact on  salmon                                                                    
habitat.  He deferred  the question  to  the department  for                                                                    
further detail.                                                                                                                 
Representative Wilson wanted to  ensure that the state would                                                                    
not  be  intruding  on   private  property  and  potentially                                                                    
causing destruction without any liability.                                                                                      
Vice-Chair  Neuman discussed  various ways  invasive species                                                                    
could be  spread (e.g.  water fowl,  planes, and  other). He                                                                    
noted  that the  committee  could hear  from the  department                                                                    
after public testimony.                                                                                                         
9:40:28 AM                                                                                                                    
GINO  GRAZIANO,  COOPERATIVE  EXTENSION SERVICE  AND  ALASKA                                                                    
COMMITTEE FOR  NOXIOUS INVASIVE PLANT  MANAGEMENT, ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via   teleconference),   testified   in  support   of   the                                                                    
legislation.  He spoke  to his  professional background  and                                                                    
thanked the committee for hearing  the bill. He believed the                                                                    
legislation helped  ensure the state's  long-term commitment                                                                    
to  invasive  species issues.  He  supported  that the  bill                                                                    
would  establish   a  plan  for  aquatic   invasive  species                                                                    
management and  would push state  agencies to  work together                                                                    
on the development of plans  as issues arose. He appreciated                                                                    
that the bill included language  to utilize methods of least                                                                    
harm  and  addressed  resources   on  private  property.  He                                                                    
believed establishing a fund would  be a great step forward.                                                                    
In  the  past,  studies  by  the  Institute  of  Social  and                                                                    
Economic Research  showed that the  state had not  put forth                                                                    
as many  funds towards invasive species  management as other                                                                    
entities. He  believed the state's  contribution had  been 5                                                                    
percent per year  from 2007 to 2011. He  stressed that state                                                                    
funds  could help  secure federal  funding and  to eradicate                                                                    
the species before it became  too expensive to deal with the                                                                    
problems and before resources were lost.                                                                                        
9:43:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MARCUS  MUELLER, LAND  MANAGEMENT  OFFICER, KENAI  PENINSULA                                                                    
BOROUGH, KENAI  (via teleconference), testified in  favor of                                                                    
the  bill. He  believed the  bill  was timely  and would  be                                                                    
increasingly  important  for  the  state.  He  relayed  that                                                                    
aquatic invasive species had  the potential to significantly                                                                    
disrupt systems  that Alaskans relied on.  Additionally, the                                                                    
species  presented broad  threats  economically  and to  the                                                                    
state's natural  resources. He communicated that  the bill's                                                                    
rapid  response   element  protected  the   state's  natural                                                                    
resources;  rapid  response  provided  the  best  chance  of                                                                    
developing  an   effective  way  to  deal   with  biological                                                                    
invasive species. He detailed  that acting quickly minimized                                                                    
impacts and  increased the overall  odds for  containment or                                                                    
eradication. He noted that an  ounce of prevention was worth                                                                    
a  pound of  cure.  He  believed a  cure  could become  very                                                                    
costly.  He stated  that the  bill appropriately  called for                                                                    
planning and coordination.                                                                                                      
Mr. Mueller  discussed that the Kenai  Peninsula Borough was                                                                    
an  example of  the  impact aquatic  invasive species  could                                                                    
have.  He  pointed  to  the value  of  rapid  response  when                                                                    
dealing  with  invasive  species   such  as  northern  pike,                                                                    
elodea, and reed  canary grass. He detailed  that elodea was                                                                    
currently   being  addressed   through  cooperative   effort                                                                    
between DFG,  the borough, and  the Kenai  National Wildlife                                                                    
Refuge. He  shared that the species  impacted multiple lakes                                                                    
in  the area.  He  relayed that  residents  were taking  the                                                                    
issue  seriously  and  wanted  to  protect  lakes,  just  as                                                                    
mariculture growers would want  to protect their businesses.                                                                    
The bill would  also prohibit the sale of  elodea. He stated                                                                    
that elodea  provided a case-study  that showed  the aspects                                                                    
of the  bill could be  implemented in a smart  and strategic                                                                    
way.  He   pointed  to  the  pattern   of  invasive  species                                                                    
including detection,  spread, degradation  of a  system, and                                                                    
loss of native species and  other resources. He stressed the                                                                    
importance of  early detection and rapid  response. The bill                                                                    
was  important to  protecting coastal  and marine  waters in                                                                    
Alaska  and  provided  a fiscally  responsible  response  to                                                                    
protecting the state's resources.                                                                                               
9:47:01 AM                                                                                                                    
JONI  SCHARGENBERG, FAIRBANKS  SOIL  AND WATER  CONSERVATION                                                                    
DISTRICT,  CHENA  SLOUGH,  FAIRBANKS  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke  in   favor  of  the   legislation.  She   pointed  to                                                                    
substantial  private  landowner support  particularly  along                                                                    
the  Chena  Slough  where  landowners  had  been  negatively                                                                    
impacted  by the  growth  and spread  of  elodea. The  water                                                                    
conservation  district believed  it  was  important for  the                                                                    
state to establish and fund  a rapid response and management                                                                    
plan   to  address   the  invasive   aquatic  species.   She                                                                    
communicated    that   worldwide,    elodea   had    impeded                                                                    
navigability   of  waters   and   lakes,  making   fisheries                                                                    
problematic;  it could  negatively  impact salmon,  grayling                                                                    
and  other  spawning  habitat. The  elodea  infestation  had                                                                    
dramatically  increased since  its  discovery several  years                                                                    
earlier; the plant was currently  several feet thick in some                                                                    
areas,  which   made  control  and  eradication   much  more                                                                    
difficult.  She stressed  that a  rapid response  management                                                                    
could have slowed the problem;  a plan was needed to address                                                                    
current  and  new  infestations.  She stated  that  if  left                                                                    
unchecked  elodea could  cause  colonize additional  sloughs                                                                    
and  could be  spread  by floatplanes  to  lakes across  the                                                                    
state. Additionally,  over $100,000  in private  and federal                                                                    
funds had  been spent in  the study and  eradication efforts                                                                    
of  elodea. She  believed additional  cost sharing  would be                                                                    
available  if the  state passed  the legislation.  She urged                                                                    
the committee to pass the legislation.                                                                                          
Representative  Wilson  thanked  Ms.  Schargenberg  for  her                                                                    
work. She spoke in support of the legislation.                                                                                  
9:50:11 AM                                                                                                                    
ADITI   SHENOY,  FAIRBANKS   SOIL  AND   WATER  CONSERVATION                                                                    
DISTRICT,  FAIRBANKS   COOPERATIVE  WEED   MANAGEMENT  AREA,                                                                    
FAIRBANKS (via teleconference),  testified in strong support                                                                    
of the legislation. She spoke  to the organization's efforts                                                                    
to  control elodea  in  the Chena  slough.  She shared  that                                                                    
elodea was  an aquatic  invasive species  that was  of great                                                                    
concern  in Interior  Alaska. She  detailed  that the  plant                                                                    
grew  rapidly  forming  dense mats,  which  impacted  stream                                                                    
flow,   degraded   fish   spawning  habitat,   and   created                                                                    
impediments  to  the  safe  operation  of  boats  and  float                                                                    
planes. She believed elodea could  spread to major waterways                                                                    
including the Tanana  and Yukon Rivers if the  state did not                                                                    
act quickly. She  spoke to the importance  of rapid response                                                                    
and  early  intervention  to control  invasive  aquatics  in                                                                    
order  to   protect  Alaska's  fisheries   and  recreational                                                                    
9:52:10 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Neuman CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
Representative  Gara thanked  Representative Seaton  and his                                                                    
staff for their preparedness.                                                                                                   
Representative Wilson wanted to  ensure that the state would                                                                    
not trump private property ownership.                                                                                           
CHARLES   SWANTON,  DIRECTOR,   DIVISION   OF  SPORT   FISH,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME,  replied in the affirmative. He                                                                    
relayed that the department would  work with property owners                                                                    
and would take risk and  other items into consideration when                                                                    
determining  treatment methods.  He  confirmed that  private                                                                    
property owners would be heavily consulted.                                                                                     
Representative  Wilson pointed  to language  in the  sponsor                                                                    
statement  (copy on  file)  spoke to  her  concern that  the                                                                    
private  property owner  "shall  be  considered," but  still                                                                    
allowed responding agencies to  be held harmless for damages                                                                    
caused   by  invasive   species  treatment.   She  discussed                                                                    
business  owners  conducting   business  in  Alaskan  waters                                                                    
versus private property owners.                                                                                                 
Mr.  Swanton used  the  tunicates in  Whiting  Harbor as  an                                                                    
example. He  detailed that the  tunicates had  been attached                                                                    
to anchor line  and ropes. He believed  the sponsor's intent                                                                    
was to address  other similar situations where  the means to                                                                    
remove  the threat  had been  to remove  the docks,  running                                                                    
lines, and other  from the harbor. He explained  that it had                                                                    
taken the  state time  to contact the  owner and  to receive                                                                    
permission.  He relayed  that it  was  difficult to  address                                                                    
access.   The  state   would  not   march  forward   without                                                                    
consideration  and  consultation  with  a  private  property                                                                    
owner depending on the situation.                                                                                               
9:56:45 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Wilson  spoke   to   her  experience   with                                                                    
agencies.  She   believed  that   in  some   cases  agencies                                                                    
consulted with individuals,  but at the end of  the day they                                                                    
felt  they  could  move  forward.  She  did  not  feel  like                                                                    
consulting  private  property  owners was  enough.  She  was                                                                    
concerned about the language.                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Neuman  noted that there  were also  questions on                                                                    
the fiscal note.  He asked DFG to  provide scenarios related                                                                    
to how the bill would  work for private properties. He asked                                                                    
how the  weeds were  spread (e.g.  float planes,  birds, and                                                                    
other). Mr. Swanton replied that  it depended on the species                                                                    
and the location. Items mentioned  by Vice-Chair Neuman were                                                                    
factors in the spread of elodea.                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Neuman  wondered if  the same  could be  said for                                                                    
pike eggs. Mr. Swanton replied  that it depended on the time                                                                    
of year.  The potential  existed but he  did not  know about                                                                    
the probability.  He detailed that  pike eggs  were adhesive                                                                    
and were laid  in shallow water. He believed  there were all                                                                    
types of factors  out there. He did not have  the hard facts                                                                    
about a duck carrying pike eggs to another lake.                                                                                
10:00:39 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Gara wanted  to ensure  the minimization  of                                                                    
damage  to  non-invasive species.  He  pointed  to the  bill                                                                    
language  that  required  the department  to  respond  in  a                                                                    
manner  to  cause  the  least   harm  to  non-invasive  fish                                                                    
populations (page 2, line 22).  He imagined a scenario where                                                                    
there were  two approaches  available that both  caused some                                                                    
level of harm to non-invasive  species. He believed the bill                                                                    
language  required the  department  to respond  even if  the                                                                    
response would harm the non-invasive  species. He wanted the                                                                    
bill  to provide  the option  for no  response in  the event                                                                    
that  damage to  the fish  population was  greater than  the                                                                    
damage caused by the invasive species.                                                                                          
Mr. Swanton  read from the  bill that "the  department shall                                                                    
respond in  a manner determined  to cause the least  harm to                                                                    
non-invasive fish  populations." He  believed that  it would                                                                    
be  incumbent upon  the departments  to look  for the  least                                                                    
harmful approach.                                                                                                               
Vice-Chair Neuman made a remark about herbicides.                                                                               
Representative Gara  understood that the bill  would require                                                                    
the departments  to use the  least harmful  method. However,                                                                    
he wondered  what the state would  do if all of  the options                                                                    
were harmful. He wanted to  provide the departments with the                                                                    
ability  to not  act if  the harm  to fisheries  was greater                                                                    
than that caused by an invasive species.                                                                                        
Mr.    Swanton   believed    the   idea    was   reasonable.                                                                    
Representative  Gara  would work  with  the  sponsor on  the                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Neuman remarked  that  there were  many ways  to                                                                    
eradicate  invasive  species  (e.g.  herbicides,  mechanical                                                                    
means,  and other).  He  discussed that  the  bill would  be                                                                    
heard at a future meeting.                                                                                                      
10:04:16 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:04 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB89_CNIPM_Support.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
HB 89 - Alaska Dispatch Nov. 28, 2013 With a noxious aquatic weed threatening Alaska's prime fishing waters, science and local politics are at odds.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
Explanation of Changes HB 89 to CSHB 89(RES).pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
HB 89 Aquatic Invasive Species Background Information.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
HB 89- KCAW Sitka Local News.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
HB 89 letters.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
HB 89 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
MOU Invasive Freshwater Aquatic Plants_State Agencies.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89
HB 361 - Letters of Support - combined.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 Sectional Analysis.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 - Letter of Support for HFIN - Suzanne Letso.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 - Letter of Support AKABA Position Statement.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 - Jacobson and Mulick Behavioral Interventions Cost Benefit for early behavioral intervention abstract.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 - Connecticut cost comparison - Suzanne Letso.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 361 - CCEIBISEChildrenAutism4 - provided by Suzanne Letso.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 361
HB 89 support emails.pdf HFIN 4/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 89