Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/12/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 30 Minutes Following Session --
+ HB 166 MUSEUM CONSTRUCTION GRANT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 151 DHSS;CINA; FOSTER CARE; CHILD PROTECTION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 144 EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ SB 51 EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
<Pending Referral>
+ HB 103 OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
txt
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      April 12, 2017                                                                                            
                         2:35 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:35:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  called the House Finance  Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 2:35 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Paul Seaton, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Les Gara, Vice-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Jason Grenn                                                                                                      
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                   
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                     
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Justin Parish,  Sponsor; Katherine  Eldemar,                                                                    
Director, Division  of Community and Regional  Affairs; Lisa                                                                    
Worl,  Staff,  Representative  Justin Parish;  Ms.  Patience                                                                    
Frederiksen, Director  of Libraries, Archives,  and Museums;                                                                    
Representative  Ivy  Spohnholz,  Sponsor; Dr.  Paul  Barney,                                                                    
Doctor  of   Optometry;  Joan  Wilson,   Assistant  Attorney                                                                    
General,   Department  of   Law;   Laura  Chartier,   Staff,                                                                    
Representative  Gara; Christy  Lawton,  Director, Office  of                                                                    
Children's  Services,   Department  of  Health   and  Social                                                                    
Services; Representative Andy Josephson.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Sheila Wyne,  Sheila Wyne  Studios, Anchorage;  Eva Malvich,                                                                    
AVCP,  Bethel;  Bethany  Follett,  City  of  Wasilla/Wasilla                                                                    
Museum and Visitor Center,  Wasilla; Patricia Relay, Museums                                                                    
of  Alaska,   Valdez;  Angela   Linn,  Museums   of  Alaska,                                                                    
Fairbanks;  David Zumbro,  Self, Anchorage;  Dr. Janey  Carl                                                                    
Rosen, Self,  Anchorage; Dr. Kelly Lorenz,  Self, Anchorage;                                                                    
Dr.  Andrew Peter,  Self, Homer;  Dr.  Jill Matheson,  Self,                                                                    
Juneau;    Dr.   Kurt    Heitman,   American    Academy   of                                                                    
Ophthalmology,  South Carolina;  David Karpik,  Self, Kenai;                                                                    
Jeff   Gonnason,   Chair,  Alaska   Optometry   Association,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Dr.  Griff  Steiner,  Self,  Anchorage;  Rosalie                                                                    
Rein, Self,  Fairbanks; Amanda Metivier, Facing  Foster Care                                                                    
in   Alaska,  Anchorage;   Marna   Sanford,  Tanana   Chiefs                                                                    
Conference,  Fairbanks;  Trevor Storres,  Alaska  Children's                                                                    
Trust, Anchorage;  Paul D.  Kendall, Self,  Anchorage; Byron                                                                    
Charles, Self, Ketchikan.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 103    OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
          HB 103 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 166    MUSEUM CONSTRUCTION GRANT PROGRAM                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          HB 166 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 151    DHSS;CINA; FOSTER CARE; CHILD PROTECTION                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
          HB 151 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster reviewed  the  agenda for  the meeting.  He                                                                    
intended  to hear  the introduction  of the  three scheduled                                                                    
bills,  take public  testimony, and  ask for  amendments. He                                                                    
would set  the bills aside.  They would be brought  up again                                                                    
in the future.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 166                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act establishing a museum construction grant                                                                           
     program in the Department of Commerce, Community, and                                                                      
     Economic Development."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:37:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JUSTIN PARISH,  SPONSOR,  explained that  HB                                                                    
166 created  a matching grant  program. He read  the sponsor                                                                    
statement:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     House Bill 166 establishes  a matching grant program in                                                                    
     the  Department  of  Commerce, Community  and  Economic                                                                    
     Development,   for    eligible   museum   construction,                                                                    
     expansion or major renovation projects.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Museums  are  eligible for  this  program  if they  are                                                                    
     located in  Alaska, entitled  to receive  state grants,                                                                    
     and  provide matching  funds from  other sources  of at                                                                    
     least 50 percent of the project costs.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska has  more than 60  museums throughout  the state                                                                    
     that   provide  cultural,   tourism,  and   educational                                                                    
     programs.   Alaska  museums   receive  380,993   annual                                                                    
     visitors  and they  serve 29,469  school children  each                                                                    
     year. Alaskan  communities are  enriched with  the art,                                                                    
     history, and  cultural language and  education provided                                                                    
     at the museums.  The approval of this  bill will enable                                                                    
     museums  to access  and leverage  funding so  that they                                                                    
     may improve,  expand or upgrade  as needed,  when funds                                                                    
     are appropriated. Included with  the bill documents you                                                                    
     will  find twenty-three  letters of  support from  nine                                                                    
     different Alaskan  museums, four regional  or statewide                                                                    
     museums organizations and Senator Bishop.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     The  award  is  subject  to  appropriation  and  cannot                                                                    
     exceed  more  than 50  percent  of  the total  proposed                                                                    
     project costs.  HB 166  is a companion  bill for  SB 7,                                                                    
     Sponsors: Stevens, Bishop, Stedman and Egan.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Parish was happy to answer any questions.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster read the list of available testifiers.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara thought  the bill  was straightforward.  He                                                                    
referred to Page  2, line 1 in subsection C.  He thought the                                                                    
subsection read  that the state  could only grant  an amount                                                                    
that was 50  percent of the grant amount.  He suggested that                                                                    
it would be  half of the grant amount rather  than 50/50. He                                                                    
surmised  that  the  maker of  the  amendment  intended  the                                                                    
amount to  be up to 50  percent of the cost  of the project.                                                                    
Representative Parish relayed that  he had put grant project                                                                    
together. He  thanked Vice-Chair  Gara for  his observation.                                                                    
He would be happy to work out a change.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara was  happy to  be corrected.  Clarification                                                                    
could  be  provided  at  the  next  hearing.  Representative                                                                    
Parish  thought  there  was   someone  available  who  could                                                                    
clarify the language.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   was  aware   of  one   [grant]  for                                                                    
libraries. However, she did not  believe it dealt with major                                                                    
renovation  and construction.  She thought  it applied  to a                                                                    
new library  based on the  community size. She asked  if the                                                                    
library grant encompassed a  major renovation and expansion.                                                                    
Representative Parish  would field  the question  to someone                                                                    
more familiar with the program.  He would leave his staff to                                                                    
answer any remaining questions.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:42:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHERINE  ELDEMAR,  DIRECTOR,  DIVISION  OF  COMMUNITY  AND                                                                    
REGIONAL AFFAIRS, introduced herself.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson suggested there  was a similar program                                                                    
for  libraries  based  on  population.  She  was  under  the                                                                    
impression the  program covered the  cost of building  a new                                                                    
library.  She  wondered  if  the  bills  were  similar.  Ms.                                                                    
Eldemar  responded  that  she would  have  to  research  the                                                                    
statute. She  offered that  there was  never any  funding to                                                                    
the  library program  through  other  venues. She  continued                                                                    
that  no  applications  were   funded  through  the  library                                                                    
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   thought  she  was   incorrect.  She                                                                    
indicated that  North Slope  had a new  library and  it went                                                                    
through a  program. She  was uncertain  of the  details. Ms.                                                                    
Eldemar   referred   to   two   statutes.   She   referenced                                                                    
AS.14.56.355 pertaining  to a public construction  and major                                                                    
expansion matching  grant program. She explained  that there                                                                    
was  not an  appropriation  from the  legislature under  the                                                                    
statute.  She furthered  that funding  was granted  under AS                                                                    
37.05.315 - not through the library grant statute.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson commented  that was  the project  she                                                                    
thought  was being  funded. She  asked about  the definition                                                                    
for major renovation but did  not see one for expansion. She                                                                    
wondered about the size of  the expansion. Ms. Eldemar would                                                                    
get back to the committee with an answer.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg wondered  about  a structure  for                                                                    
establishing  a systematic  approach to  prioritizing museum                                                                    
capital  funding  requests in  the  state.  He did  not  see                                                                    
anything  in the  bill outlining  prioritization except  for                                                                    
major renovations.  He was concerned with  the definition of                                                                    
a   major  renovation.   He  did   not  see   anything  that                                                                    
prioritized  one  thing  over   another.  He  asked  if  the                                                                    
amendment was only setting up a fund.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Eldemar  pointed to HB  166 on  Page 1, Line  10-11. She                                                                    
read from the bill:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The department may not accept an application for a                                                                         
     grant under this section unless the legislature makes                                                                      
     an appropriation for the grant program.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Eldemar  explained  that it  was  put  in  procedurally                                                                    
because  previously there  were many  applications submitted                                                                    
to the  division for the  library program. They  were scored                                                                    
and given a  number. Typically, the grant  was awarded based                                                                    
on  the score.  Unfortunately, there  was no  appropriation.                                                                    
The  division  had  gone through  the  process  of  creating                                                                    
regulations  and  reviewing  and scoring  the  applications.                                                                    
However, the  grant was never funded.  Subsequently, funding                                                                    
was provided through the other statute she cited.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  remarked  that  the  bill  would                                                                    
establish a  new section on museum  construction, expansion,                                                                    
and major renovation. He did  not see a reference to scoring                                                                    
or  prioritization  of grant  applications.  He  asked if  a                                                                    
scoring  system like  the previous  one would  be used.  Ms.                                                                    
Eldemar replied  that if the  bill became law,  the division                                                                    
would not  accept applications until  funding was  in place.                                                                    
Then,  the  division  would start  the  process  of  putting                                                                    
together regulations,  which would  take about a  year. Once                                                                    
the  regulations were  in place,  the  division would  begin                                                                    
processing  applications. The  division would  not take  any                                                                    
action   until  appropriations   were  made.   Criteria  and                                                                    
procedures would be established through regulations.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:48:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  referred to  information provided                                                                    
in  member   packets.  There  was  a   variety  of  museums,                                                                    
including the  Tanana Valley  Railroad Association.  Some of                                                                    
them were  private, public, and  non-profit. He  asked which                                                                    
entities would qualify  for a grant. He asked  if the Museum                                                                    
of the  North would qualify  for a  grant or if  a privately                                                                    
funded aviation museum would  qualify. Ms. Eldemar responded                                                                    
that if  the bill  became law, the  division would  start by                                                                    
creating  regulations. She  would  have to  wait  to see  an                                                                    
application to  verify whether it  was complete,  whether it                                                                    
satisfied requirements, or whether  it was deficient in some                                                                    
way.  She would  not know  until she  saw an  application or                                                                    
started the process.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  thought it was good  that she was                                                                    
not getting  too far  ahead. However,  he suggested  that it                                                                    
would  be nice  to know  in advance  of passing  legislation                                                                    
where the  line stood. He  wondered, for instance, if  a mom                                                                    
and  pop  dime store  museum  on  the corner,  the  downtown                                                                    
Anchorage  museum,  a  city-owned museum,  or  a  university                                                                    
museum would qualify. He could  wait for an answer after the                                                                    
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:50:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kawasaki clarified  that the  division would                                                                    
not  be  creating  regulations that  would  specify  certain                                                                    
things  until  the  legislation was  passed  and  money  was                                                                    
appropriated. Ms.  Eldemar indicated that the  details would                                                                    
come   through  regulations   and   that   there  would   be                                                                    
opportunity for public comment.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki  wondered if the  legislature needed                                                                    
to place the criteria and  eligibility in the bill to narrow                                                                    
the  scope. He  wondered  what kinds  of  museums the  state                                                                    
wanted  to support.  He asked  her to  comment about  museum                                                                    
funds being granted to places  without museums versus places                                                                    
that already had large museums.  He thought that communities                                                                    
without museums versus those that did would have priority.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
LISA  WORL,  STAFF,   REPRESENTATIVE  JUSTIN  PARISH,  asked                                                                    
Representative Kawasaki to repeat his policy question.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki asked  about new museum construction                                                                    
and  whether it  should be  imbedded within  the eligibility                                                                    
criteria as laid out in  statute. He wondered if places that                                                                    
did  not  have  museums  would  be  a  priority  over  those                                                                    
communities that already  had museums. He asked if  it was a                                                                    
priority  of  the  bill sponsor.  Ms.  Worl  responded  that                                                                    
Representative  Parish had  received 23  letters of  support                                                                    
for   a  host   of  different   types  of   museums  already                                                                    
established that held many  different public cultural items.                                                                    
She  encouraged members  to invite  a person  from the  city                                                                    
museum  who was  involved  in the  bill  drafting who  could                                                                    
respond.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:54:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson wanted  to  clarify  that the  bill                                                                    
would set  up a  fund for the  legislature to  deposit money                                                                    
and  entities could  make application.  He  wondered if  the                                                                    
legislature  could make  a  direct grant  to  a museum  that                                                                    
would  not  require a  match.  He  mentioned an  atmospheric                                                                    
control. Ms. Eldemar responded affirmatively.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt   asked  about  the   other  programs                                                                    
already in  place. He wondered  why there was a  proposal to                                                                    
institute   a  new   program.   He   inquired  whether   the                                                                    
legislature  should be  getting rid  of other  programs. Ms.                                                                    
Worl responded  that the last  one was  written specifically                                                                    
for libraries  and the current  one applied to  museums. She                                                                    
continued that  when the bill  was drafted it took  the form                                                                    
of  the proposal  brought to  the representative.  She could                                                                    
provide  clarification  as  to  the reason  for  a  separate                                                                    
account.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  asked if  it was an  appropriate time                                                                    
to be  discussing additional capital  funds for  museums. He                                                                    
mentioned  the House  of Representatives  recently having  a                                                                    
massive  debate  on the  floor  about  taking the  Permanent                                                                    
Fund.  He thought  it was  more important  for the  state to                                                                    
maintain  what it  already  had. Ms.  Worl  agreed with  his                                                                    
comments about money being short.  The point of the bill was                                                                    
to  set  the  mechanism  in  place  when  there  were  funds                                                                    
available for museums.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:58:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Tilton  asked  if  there was  a  listing  of                                                                    
current  museums throughout  the state.  Ms. Worl  indicated                                                                    
Patience  Fredrickson  was on  the  line  from the  Archives                                                                    
Library   and  Museum.   She  offered   to  get   back  with                                                                    
Representative  Tilton with  an answer  if Ms.  Frederickson                                                                    
was not online.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster OPENED PUBLIC TESTIMONY on HB 166.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SHEILA   WYNE,   SHEILA   WYNE   STUDIOS,   ANCHORAGE   (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke  in support of HB  166. She mentioned                                                                    
the  success of  her  art  studio. She  had  artwork in  the                                                                    
permanent  collections of  four  museums in  the state.  She                                                                    
opined that  it was critical  for businesses like  hers that                                                                    
museum institutions had access  to programs that allowed for                                                                    
construction, expansion,  and major  renovations to  keep up                                                                    
with  advances  in  technology, the  tourist  industry,  and                                                                    
trade. These  museum programs  and collections  were magnets                                                                    
that attracted  new and repeating  clients. The  quality was                                                                    
critical  to  local  economies.   She  provided  a  personal                                                                    
experience  as a  designer for  a performance  event at  the                                                                    
Anchorage  Museum.  The budget  for  the  event $185,000  of                                                                    
which $160,000  came from sources  outside of  Alaska. There                                                                    
were  5,000 attendees.  Several  businesses benefitted  from                                                                    
the event. She thought  museum institutions were critical to                                                                    
communities,   artists,    and   businesses.    The   museum                                                                    
construction matching  grants will help with  their mission.                                                                    
She encouraged support for the bill.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:02:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EVA  MALVICH, AVCP,  BETHEL (via  teleconference), spoke  in                                                                    
favor of  HB 166. She was  the director and curator  for the                                                                    
Yupiit Piciryarait Museum and a  tribal member of the native                                                                    
village  of  Mekoryuk  (A  co-owner   of  the  museum).  She                                                                    
mentioned a fire that burned the  museum in 1980. It took 14                                                                    
years from  the time it  burned to open the  cultural center                                                                    
and open the collection to  the public. She reminded members                                                                    
that the museum  had not been able to be  filled until 1967,                                                                    
the 100th year anniversary of  the sale of Alaska. The state                                                                    
matched  $2500 supplied  by the  community of  Bethel, which                                                                    
was used to purchase lumber.  However, the money ran out for                                                                    
the  project. She  noted that  it  would soon  be the  150th                                                                    
anniversary of the  sale of Alaska. It had been  a long time                                                                    
since  the  museum  was  given an  opportunity  to  ask  for                                                                    
funding. She provided more information  about the museum and                                                                    
its benefits.  She spoke of  a grant that would  provide the                                                                    
museum  with a  desperately  needed HVAC  system. There  had                                                                    
been several  missed opportunities to house  exhibits due to                                                                    
a  non-functioning HVAC  system.  She  provided examples  of                                                                    
exhibits that had been damaged  due to environmental factors                                                                    
and spoke about the expense  of replacing the system. HB 166                                                                    
would help immensely.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster   noted  that  Patience   Frederickson  was                                                                    
available online.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:10:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BETHANY FOLLETT, CITY OF  WASILLA/WASILLA MUSEUM AND VISITOR                                                                    
CENTER,  WASILLA  (via teleconference),  reported  increased                                                                    
interest in  local and  state history.  She spoke  about the                                                                    
community  programs  offered  at  the  museum  that  infused                                                                    
history  and culture  into a  learning experience.  She also                                                                    
mentioned  other activities  housed there.  She believed  HB                                                                    
166  was  critical  to  the   city's  museum  buildings  and                                                                    
programming and  provided details  about the  current museum                                                                    
structure. It was bursting at  the seams. She advocated that                                                                    
the  museum  needed   more  space  and  an   update  to  its                                                                    
technology.  Many libraries  and museums  had different  and                                                                    
specific  needs for  providing services  to the  public. She                                                                    
opined that  HB 166 provided  the framework for  Alaskans to                                                                    
support state museums and to preserve Alaska's heritage.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:12:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA   RELAY,    MUSEUMS   OF   ALASKA,    VALDEZ   (via                                                                    
teleconference), had  heard her  colleagues share  about the                                                                    
needs of  their museums. She  clarified the definition  of a                                                                    
museum.  A  museum was  an  institution,  whether public  or                                                                    
private or  in partnership that conserved  and preserved and                                                                    
interpreted  the  collection  of artifacts  and  objects  of                                                                    
artistic,  cultural, historical,  and scientific  importance                                                                    
making  them  available  to  the   public  as  permanent  or                                                                    
temporary exhibits. Museums served  the public by preserving                                                                    
cultural    heritage.   Museums    were   facing    critical                                                                    
infrastructure issues (She read from a prepared statement):                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     I  am  contacting  you  today to  thank  you  for  your                                                                    
     support  of HB166,  establishing a  museum construction                                                                    
     grant program  and companion  bill SB7.  Research shows                                                                    
     that  almost  half of  all  museums  in the  state  are                                                                    
     either currently involved in  a construction project or                                                                    
     will be  in the  next five  years. That  is incredible.                                                                    
     This  bill provides  the structure  for establishing  a                                                                    
     systematic  approach  to  prioritizing  museum  capital                                                                    
     project funding requests in the state.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Museums  and cultural  organizations  in  Alaska are  a                                                                    
     critical   part  of   the   educational  and   economic                                                                    
     infrastructure,  spurring tourism  and partnering  with                                                                    
     schools to teach the  local curriculum. They contribute                                                                    
     to our economy and wellbeing by:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     • Employing over 260 Alaskans;                                                                                             
     • Spend over $23,553,294. annually in the State;                                                                           
     • Host over 624,695 visitors annually; and                                                                                 
     • Server over 36,290 school children annually.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Despite this vital role of  museums, our facilities and                                                                    
     collections  are at  risk  through decreasing  federal,                                                                    
     local and  charitable giving.  As collections  grow and                                                                    
     visitation  increases,   the  pressure  on   our  aging                                                                    
     infrastructure  must be  managed. The  Valdez Museum  &                                                                    
     Historical Archive is no stranger  to this dilemma. The                                                                    
     Valdez Museum  & Historical Archive has  accomplished a                                                                    
     lot  within   the  past  few  years:   incorporating  a                                                                    
     successful expanded range  of public programming, major                                                                    
     upgrades   to   several    exhibits,   increasing   its                                                                    
     visitation,  and raising  its  standards of  collection                                                                    
     management.    Despite    these    achievements,    the                                                                    
     institution is now at a  point in which its progress is                                                                    
     being  hampered by  limitations of  space. In  order to                                                                    
     maintain and improve  its standards of professionalism,                                                                    
     and  to  preserve  its  vision   for  the  future,  the                                                                    
     organization  needs  to  move  away  from  its  current                                                                    
     environment of shared-purpose space  and move towards a                                                                    
     facility with dedicated space designed for single                                                                          
     use functionality.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     At  the core  of  our mission  is  education. Over  the                                                                    
     years  we  have  had   numerous  teachers  share  their                                                                    
     gratitude  for how  the  Valdez  Museum supports  their                                                                    
     work. Recently,  Sheri Beck, a  4th grade  teacher with                                                                    
     the  Valdez   City  Schools  shared  with   our  Museum                                                                    
     Educator,                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
          "I just  returned from  a National  Social Studies                                                                    
          Convention  in New  Orleans. I  thought of  you so                                                                    
          many times  and wished  we could  be brainstorming                                                                    
          side by  side! I  was also reminded  how fortunate                                                                    
          we are in  Valdez and in my  partnership with you,                                                                    
          to have  our local  museum available for  help and                                                                    
          support.  Thankyou!  Your  recent lesson  with  my                                                                    
          students using  artifacts and primary  sources was                                                                    
          such a wonderful  example of what we  heard at the                                                                    
          conference as stellar teaching."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Without  the proper  care and  housing or  the Museum's                                                                    
     collections  we  would  not be  able  to  offer  robust                                                                    
     education programs.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Thank you  for sponsoring HB  166 and supporting  SB 7,                                                                    
     establishing  a museum  construction grant  program, so                                                                    
     that  museums  throughout  the   state  of  Alaska  may                                                                    
     continue  to  serve  their communities.  Help  us  make                                                                    
     these  bills  a  reality  and  speak  up  for  Alaska's                                                                    
     museums!                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:18:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANGELA   LINN,    MUSEUMS   OF   ALASKA,    FAIRBANKS   (via                                                                    
teleconference), reported  having worked in Alaska  for over                                                                    
22  years,  20  of  which she  was  the  Senior  Collections                                                                    
Manager  of  Ethnology  and History  at  the  University  of                                                                    
Alaska, Museum of  the North in Fairbanks.  According to the                                                                    
Alaska Travel Industry Association,  over 2 million visitors                                                                    
were  coming  to  Alaska every  year  generating  over  $100                                                                    
million  in  state revenues  and  $83  million in  municipal                                                                    
revenues  through  taxes  and  other  fees.  Alaska  museums                                                                    
provided  a  major  draw  for  visitors.  According  to  the                                                                    
American  Alliance of  Museums,  76 percent  of all  leisure                                                                    
travelers  participated in  cultural or  heritage activities                                                                    
such as  visiting museums. These travelers  spent 60 percent                                                                    
more on average than  other leisure travelers. Fairbanks had                                                                    
museums that specialized in and  featured the unique stories                                                                    
of  the indigenous  people. She  reported that  there was  a                                                                    
museum that  featured planes,  trains, and  automobiles that                                                                    
have helped in building Alaska  in the modern period. Alaska                                                                    
also had a children's museum  where kids engaged in hands-on                                                                    
learning. There  were many others  including a  museum where                                                                    
they  were undertaking  world-class research  on collections                                                                    
that spanned  millions of years of  biological diversity and                                                                    
thousands of years  of cultural traditions in  the North. In                                                                    
the  current  year,  there was  a  significant  increase  in                                                                    
tourism from Asian countries.  Those visitors connected with                                                                    
Alaska  through its  museums. She  continued to  discuss the                                                                    
advantages of  Alaska museums. She  emphasized the  need for                                                                    
museum construction and  renovations funding and encouraging                                                                    
members to support HB 166.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg asked  if  Ms.  Linn thought  the                                                                    
Museum of the  North would be eligible under  the grant. Ms.                                                                    
Linn  hoped so.  She  was uncertain  about the  university's                                                                    
budgeting  process.  Her  museum  was a  member  of  Museums                                                                    
Alaska and a  major part of the museum  community. She hoped                                                                    
her museum would be eligible for the funding.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster CLOSED Public Testimony on HB 166.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  asked  if  Ms.  Frederiksen  was                                                                    
still online.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:21:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. PATIENCE  FREDERIKSEN, DIRECTOR OF  LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES,                                                                    
AND MUSEUMS, introduced herself.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  asked  about the  definition  of                                                                    
museums. He referred  to Chapter 57 indicating  that some of                                                                    
the  definitions and  functions  were not  aligned with  the                                                                    
language of the  bill. He thought the  definitions needed to                                                                    
be strengthened. He asked if she  had looked at the bill and                                                                    
whether it  worked. Ms. Frederiksen  responded that  she had                                                                    
not  looked  carefully  at  the  bill, as  it  was  under  a                                                                    
different department.  She was  happy to  look at  the bill,                                                                    
review the definition of museum, and provide feedback.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  referred  to  Chapter  57  [A.S.                                                                    
14.57]    under   designated    cultural   and    historical                                                                    
depositories.  He  wanted  to   make  sure  there  were  not                                                                    
conflicts between what was in  statute and the bill language                                                                    
regarding  a museum  and  funding. He  wanted  to make  sure                                                                    
things    were   aligned.    Ms.   Frederiksen    asked   if                                                                    
Representative  Guttenberg   wanted  her  to  talk   to  the                                                                    
Division of  Commerce. Representative  Guttenberg responded,                                                                    
"Okay. Alright. Thank you."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster announced  amendments were  due at  5:00 pm                                                                    
Thursday, April 18, 2017.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson relayed  that  several questions  had                                                                    
been asked  during the meeting.  She wanted  those questions                                                                    
answered  prior  to  having to  submit  amendments,  as  the                                                                    
answers would be pertinent to  the bill. She queried about a                                                                    
timeframe.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster would take a  brief at ease to inquire about                                                                    
a timeline.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:25:13 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:26:32 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster would not set a deadline for amendments                                                                         
until he had a better idea of when answers might be                                                                             
provided.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 166 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                              
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 103                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to the practice of optometry."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:27:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE IVY SPOHNHOLZ, SPONSOR, read a prepared                                                                          
statement:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     HB 103  gives authority  to the  Board of  Optometry to                                                                    
     regulate the practice of optometrists,  much as is done                                                                    
     by   doctors,  nurses,   midwives,  chiropractors   and                                                                    
     dentists. It  ensures that the Board  of Optometry will                                                                    
     have  the  opportunity  to  update  their  current  and                                                                    
     continuing  standards and  scope of  practice based  on                                                                    
     the best evidence available.                                                                                               
     The  bill  will  not   allow  optometrists  to  provide                                                                    
     services  outside  of  their  scope  of  practice  like                                                                    
     performing  invasive surgeries  which will  continue to                                                                    
     be illegal.                                                                                                                
     What it will  allow is for optometrists  to utilize the                                                                    
     State  of  Alaska's   rigorous  regulatory  process  to                                                                    
     manage  themselves just  as doctors,  nurses, midwives,                                                                    
     chiropractors and dentists do.                                                                                             
     HB 103  allows our  robust regulatory process  to work.                                                                    
     The process  for developing  new regulations  is public                                                                    
     and  transparent,  ensuring  that any  new  regulations                                                                    
     will be fully  vetted by the board, the  public and the                                                                    
     Department of Law before it becomes regulation.                                                                            
     The Board  of Optometry  has a  strong track  record of                                                                    
     regulating itself.  In fact, the Board  has implemented                                                                    
     higher   continuing   education    standards   on   the                                                                    
     profession  than   the  Legislature  has   required  in                                                                    
     statute which  makes a strong  case for why  this board                                                                    
     is more  than capable  of regulating its  own education                                                                    
     and   practice.  (Statute:   15  hours   of  continuing                                                                    
     education while  optometrists have  required themselves                                                                    
     to have 36 hours of continuing education.)                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     It is my  hope that this bill will  get the Legislature                                                                    
     out  of the  business of  managing optometrists,  so we                                                                    
     can focus on our efforts  and energy on issues which do                                                                    
     require our attention and optometrists  can get on with                                                                    
     the business of caring for Alaskan's eye health.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  invited  Dr.   Barney  to  the  table.  He                                                                    
reviewed a list of other available testifiers.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. PAUL BARNEY, DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY, introduced himself.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson had  been asked  for a  definition of                                                                    
surgery. She  wondered if the  doctor would have  any issues                                                                    
if  a  definition   was  added  to  the   bill  for  further                                                                    
clarification.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Spohnholz responded  that  she had  strongly                                                                    
resisted adding  a definition  of surgery  to the  bill. She                                                                    
was intentionally trying  to move the discussion  out of the                                                                    
legislature's hands.  She asserted that adding  a definition                                                                    
of surgery  would keep  the discussion in  the hands  of the                                                                    
legislature. An invasive surgery  was already not allowed in                                                                    
statute. It was unclear what  the scope of practice would be                                                                    
for optometrists  in 20  years, 30 years,  or 40  years. She                                                                    
provided an  analogous situation. She suggested  that when a                                                                    
person went to the dentist  20 years previously the things a                                                                    
hygienist did versus what a  dentist did were very different                                                                    
from what  they did presently. For  instance, currently, she                                                                    
visited the  dentist's office  twice per  year. She  saw the                                                                    
dentist at one visit and  the hygienist at both. A hygienist                                                                    
provided almost all  her oral health needs  with very little                                                                    
consultation from her dentist, which  20 years ago would not                                                                    
have  been imaginable.  She did  not  think the  legislature                                                                    
needed to  be a  part of such  a conversation.  She believed                                                                    
that the conversation should be  had between the health care                                                                    
professionals and  providers who  were keeping on  pace with                                                                    
the  standards of  practice and  educational standards.  She                                                                    
made  the case  that the  definition did  not belong  in the                                                                    
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:32:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  for   the  reference  to  the                                                                    
definition  of invasive  surgery in  statute. Representative                                                                    
Spohnholz read the statute:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     AS 08.72.273 Removal of foreign bodies.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     A licensee  may remove superficial foreign  bodies from                                                                    
     the  eye  and  its  appendages.  This  section  is  not                                                                    
     intended  to  permit  a licensee  to  perform  invasive                                                                    
     surgery.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kawasaki referred  to  Section  3. He  asked                                                                    
about the  removal of language  regarding the  applicant and                                                                    
continuing    education    including   eight    hours    for                                                                    
pharmaceuticals  and  7  hours for  non-topical  therapeutic                                                                    
pharmaceutical agents.  The language would be  replaced with                                                                    
language that required  continuing education requirements as                                                                    
prescribed by  the board.  He asked  her to  clarify whether                                                                    
the goal was  to reduce the number of hours  or to allow the                                                                    
board  to determine  the  requirements.  Dr. Barney  replied                                                                    
that  8 hours  of pharmaceutical  requirements were  written                                                                    
into statute a couple of decades  prior. At the time the law                                                                    
was  written,  most  of  the education  did  not  deal  with                                                                    
pharmaceuticals.  The  legislature  wanted to  make  certain                                                                    
that pharmaceutical  education was required.  Currently, the                                                                    
education   available   had   changed   dramatically.   Most                                                                    
encompassed  pharmaceuticals  and   their  applications.  He                                                                    
stated  that  the board  was  more  likely to  increase  the                                                                    
number  of required  hours of  education rather  than reduce                                                                    
them.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki  mentioned concerns about  the board                                                                    
overseeing  the establishment  of  regulations for  licensed                                                                    
optometrists,  as  they  could  permit  them  to  do  things                                                                    
outside of their  scope of practice. He asked  Dr. Barney to                                                                    
address  the issue.  Representative  Spohnholz relayed  that                                                                    
the primary concern  of the opposition to the  bill was that                                                                    
the board would start  authorizing practices well outside of                                                                    
practitioners' education  and expertise. There  were similar                                                                    
professional  distinctions such  as  those between  dentists                                                                    
and oral  surgeons. Dentists did  not perform  oral surgery,                                                                    
and  there was  no major  concern or  outcry that  they were                                                                    
expanding their  authority to do  so. It was not  within the                                                                    
scope of  their training and practice.  She highlighted that                                                                    
there was  a rigorous process for  drafting new regulations;                                                                    
they were  required to  be drafted  in partnership  with the                                                                    
Department  of  Law. The  goal  of  the  process was  to  to                                                                    
reconcile  any proposed  regulations with  existing statute.                                                                    
The  regulations were  also thoroughly  vetted and  included                                                                    
public input.  She was  confident that  the Ophthalmologists                                                                    
would  be happy  to  participate in  the  same process.  The                                                                    
Department of  Law would go  through a more  rigorous review                                                                    
of the  process following public comment.  She was confident                                                                    
that the  Department of Law  and the attorney  general would                                                                    
not allow for  an expansion of the scope  of practice beyond                                                                    
that which  optometrists were trained and  had the necessary                                                                    
expertise.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:36:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kawasaki asked  how  a licensed  optometrist                                                                    
was   regulated  versus   a  hygienist.   He  wondered   how                                                                    
optometrists   were   qualified.  Representative   Spohnholz                                                                    
deferred to Dr. Barney.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Dr. Barney responded  that to be eligible  for licensure, an                                                                    
optometrist  or student  of optometry  had to  take a  board                                                                    
examination.  The  board   process  started  when  optometry                                                                    
students  were in  school.  A person  had  to take  national                                                                    
boards  and pass  all sections  to be  eligible to  take the                                                                    
state license test.  For someone who graduated  in 1980, for                                                                    
example, the  statutes had not changed  significantly. There                                                                    
had been a  couple of scope-related bills  that passed. Each                                                                    
time  there  was  a  scope  expansion  in  which  continuing                                                                    
education  was required  everyone had  to get  the training.                                                                    
The  credits   were  offered   in  accredited   colleges  of                                                                    
optometry  and had  to be  taken and  successfully completed                                                                    
before optometrists  could conduct the  expanded procedures.                                                                    
The board would do something similar if HB 166 passed.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki spoke to  the comment about a person                                                                    
being  licensed  in  1970  versus  presently.  He  mentioned                                                                    
driver's licenses. His  mom got her license in  1950 and did                                                                    
not have  to requalify for  a license or take  another test.                                                                    
He  wanted to  ensure  strict confines  of performance.  Dr.                                                                    
Barney conveyed that continuing  education was required on a                                                                    
yearly  basis.  If  anyone  were  to  fall  behind  on  that                                                                    
requirement their license would be in jeopardy.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Spohnholz   added  that  in   contrast  with                                                                    
Representative Kawasaki's  mother's driver's  license, which                                                                    
she believed required  a periodic update to  maintain it, an                                                                    
optometrist or another  healthcare professional was required                                                                    
to  do continuing  education to  demonstrate that  they were                                                                    
keeping pace with the changing profession over time.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:40:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson thought  that the statute AS.08.72.273                                                                    
did  not  define  invasive  surgery,  rather,  it  discussed                                                                    
foreign  bodies.  She  was looking  for  the  definition  of                                                                    
invasive surgery. Representative  Spohnholz understood there                                                                    
to be  a definition. She  had talked with the  Department of                                                                    
Law  recently   looking  for  the  definition   of  invasive                                                                    
surgery.  The   department  indicated   it  would   get  the                                                                    
definition of  invasive surgery from  the medical  board. If                                                                    
the medical board's standard was  used, the invasive surgery                                                                    
standard  would  be  the   same  for  dentistry,  optometry,                                                                    
podiatry,  across professions  for anyone  wanting to  use a                                                                    
laser or  knife to  cut someone open.  Representative Wilson                                                                    
wanted to hear from the Department of Law.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JOAN WILSON, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY  GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF LAW,                                                                    
saw  no  definition for  invasive  surgery  in statute.  She                                                                    
furthered  the   board  would   likely  proceed   to  define                                                                    
standards   and  practices,   including   eye  surgery,   in                                                                    
regulations. A  three-fold review  process: the  board would                                                                    
draft  regulations  and a  public  notice  stating that  the                                                                    
board  was considering  new regulations.  The Department  of                                                                    
Law  would  then review  the  public  notice to  ensure  the                                                                    
adopting agency was identified,  the statutory authority and                                                                    
the   statutes  being   implemented  were   identified,  and                                                                    
deadlines were  set for comments.  The department  also made                                                                    
sure  that if  an oral  hearing was  held, it  was laid  out                                                                    
properly. The point was for due process and public input.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton  asked Representative  Wilson to  repeat her                                                                    
questions. Representative  Wilson wanted  to know  where the                                                                    
definition  could   be  found  in   statute.  Representative                                                                    
Spohnholz  relayed that  the definition  was not  in statute                                                                    
but it  was in  regulations. She relayed  that she  had been                                                                    
working  on   the  bill  with  Harriette   Milks,  Assistant                                                                    
Attorney General.  Joan Wilson  was pinch hitting  while Ms.                                                                    
Milks was unavailable.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Wilson would look up the medical regulation.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton  indicated there would  be time to  find the                                                                    
definition,  as there  would be  additional hearings  on the                                                                    
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:45:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara liked  the provision of the  law that stated                                                                    
that  an  optometrist could  remove  a  foreign object  from                                                                    
someone's eye in case of an  emergency. He asked what was in                                                                    
Alaska law  that prevented someone from  doing Lasik surgery                                                                    
compared  to the  laws of  other  states where  optometrists                                                                    
were able to conduct the  procedure. Mr. Barney replied that                                                                    
optometrists did not perform Lasik surgery in other states.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton asked if Dr. Barney had a statement he                                                                          
wanted to put on the record.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Barney read a prepared statement:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     My name  is Dr.  Paul Barney, I  am an  optometrist and                                                                    
     the current chair  of the Alaska Board  of Examiners in                                                                    
     Optometry. I  am also  a past  president of  the Alaska                                                                    
     Optometric Association.  I   live   and   practice   in                                                                    
     Anchorage and have  done so for the past  17 years. I'm                                                                    
     here today in support of HB-103.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     I support  HB-103 because  it will  allow the  Board of                                                                    
     Optometry to  regulate the details  of the  practice of                                                                    
     Optometry,  which  is  how  Advanced  Practice  Nurses,                                                                    
     Dentists, and Medical Doctors  are regulated in Alaska.                                                                    
     This  legislation  will not  set  a  new precedence  in                                                                    
     health ca re,  nor will it be a risk  to Alaskans since                                                                    
     this  is already  the way  other health  care providers                                                                    
     are successfully regulated in Alaska.                                                                                      
     HB-103  will give  Optometrists  better opportunity  to                                                                    
     practice  to the  highest level  of their  education by                                                                    
     allowing the  Board of  Optometry to  write regulations                                                                    
     that  are commensurate  with educational  advances that                                                                    
     occur  with  new   technology.  The  current  Optometry                                                                    
     statute  was written  over 40  years  ago and  requires                                                                    
     Optometry  to pursue  a statute  change whenever  there                                                                    
     are advances in education  and technology. As you know,                                                                    
     statute changes are costly and time consuming.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     You'll hear arguments  against this legislation stating                                                                    
     that  it will  be  dangerous to  allow Optometrists  to                                                                    
     regulate  themselves. But  like all  other professional                                                                    
     regulatory  boards,  the   Board  of  Optometry  cannot                                                                    
     promulgate  regulations  for  practices  or  procedures                                                                    
     that  are beyond  the  education  of Optometrists.  The                                                                    
     Board of Optometry is overseen  by the AK Department of                                                                    
     Law, just  like other  health care  boards, and  the AK                                                                    
     Department  of  Law  would ensure  that  the  Board  of                                                                    
     Optometry's  regulations  were   within  the  scope  of                                                                    
     Optometric education.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Other  safeguards  are  our medical  legal  system  and                                                                    
     insurance system. Any  healthcare provider who provides                                                                    
     care  outside   of  their   education  is   subject  to                                                                    
     disciplinary action by their  respective board, as well                                                                    
     as serious  medical legal  ramifications. Additionally,                                                                    
     insurance carriers  do not pay providers  for care that                                                                    
     they provide outside of their  scope of education. As a                                                                    
     result,  there  is  no  incentive  for  any  healthcare                                                                    
     provider to  provide care  outside of  their education,                                                                    
     and,   there  are   very  serious   consequences,  both                                                                    
     financially  and to  their licensure,  to practitioners                                                                    
     who do provide care outside of their education.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     As  chair  of the  Alaska  Board  of Optometry,  I  can                                                                    
     assure you  that the  primary concern  of the  Board is                                                                    
     the safety of the public. In  the six years that I have                                                                    
     served on the Board we  have had no complaints from the                                                                    
     public  that  were  serious  enough  to  even  consider                                                                    
     disciplinary action.                                                                                                       
     Optometrists    are     conservative    and    cautious                                                                    
     practitioners  and  the  passage of  HB-103  would  not                                                                    
     change their conservative nature.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I would  also like  to share with  you how  I practice.                                                                    
     I'm the  Center Director of Pacific  Cataract and Laser                                                                    
     Institute  in Anchorage.  Our  practice  is a  referral                                                                    
     only  practice and  we  specialize•  in cataract  care,                                                                    
     laser  vision  correction,   and  medical  consultative                                                                    
     services. I  work with an  ophthalmologist and  a nurse                                                                    
     anesthetist. We all practice to  the highest level that                                                                    
     statutes will allow and by doing  so, as a team we ca n                                                                    
     provide high  quality, more  affordable care  to Alaska                                                                    
     ns.  I  have   a  very   good  relationship   with  the                                                                    
     ophthalmologist  that I  work with,  but if  I were  to                                                                    
     provide ca re that is  outside of my education it would                                                                    
     not   only   jeopardize   my  relationship   with   the                                                                    
     ophthalmologist  but  it  would   also  undermine  a  n                                                                    
     already very successful practice.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Optometry  provides over  70% of  the eye  care in  the                                                                    
     U.S. In  some rural  areas of Alaska,  Optometrists are                                                                    
     the  only eye  care provider  in the  community. HB-103                                                                    
     would be  good for the  state of Alaska, the  bill puts                                                                    
     the  regulatory  details   regarding  the  practice  of                                                                    
     Optometry  in  the authority  of  the  Alaska Board  of                                                                    
     Optometry.  These changes  are important  to allow  the                                                                    
     profession  and practice  of  Optometry to  incorporate                                                                    
     new  technologies  and advances  in  eye  care as  they                                                                    
     occur. The citizens  of Alaska deserve to  be served by                                                                    
     a  profession  that is  allowed  to  stay current  with                                                                    
     advances  in  education  and new  technologies  in  eye                                                                    
     care. I respectfully urge you to support HB-103.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID ZUMBRO,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference),  was an                                                                    
eye physician  and surgeon  in Anchorage  and was  a partner                                                                    
with  Alaska Retina  Consultants.  He  strongly opposed  the                                                                    
legislation.  He indicated  that the  legislation was  not a                                                                    
simple house  cleaning bill. Rather, it  radically redefined                                                                    
a  profession. Although  the bill  seemed innocent  and safe                                                                    
and,  as  written,  would   allow  non-physicians  and  non-                                                                    
surgeons to  determine what medical and  surgical treatments                                                                    
could  be  done  to  an  eye. He  believed  it  was  special                                                                    
interest  legislation.  It was  not  safe  for patients.  He                                                                    
wondered where  the public outcry  was for  the legislation.                                                                    
He  asked  for  proof   that  current  practice  regulations                                                                    
adversely   affected   Alaska   patients  and   the   Alaska                                                                    
optometrists.  It had  been  stated that  the  bill was  not                                                                    
about surgery and that no  surgeries would be done for which                                                                    
optometrists  were   not  trained.  He  was   worried  about                                                                    
surgery. He relayed  that a local optometrist  told him that                                                                    
when the bill was first  crafted that optometrists wanted to                                                                    
perform  intraocular  injections  of  medications  currently                                                                    
performed  by retina  physicians. The  current bill  removed                                                                    
all previous regulations  preventing injections. He wondered                                                                    
why regulations would be  removed that prevented injections.                                                                    
He suggested that there were  many bills in many states that                                                                    
would allow optometrists to advance  their scope of practice                                                                    
into lasers  and surgery.  As a  result, several  states had                                                                    
adopted definition  of surgery  language in  their statutes.                                                                    
Alaska could do the same thing.  He opined that the bill was                                                                    
about advancing  the optometric scope  of practice  into the                                                                    
practice of medicine  for which they did  not have training.                                                                    
He used to teach ophthalmology  residents when he was active                                                                    
duty in  the US military.  One of the most  difficult things                                                                    
to impart to  young physicians in training was  when to take                                                                    
a  step  back  and  not   do  something.  He  spoke  of  the                                                                    
Hippocratic   Oath  which   all   medical  physicians   took                                                                    
requiring them to  do no harm. The surgical  maturity to sit                                                                    
back  and observe  a patient  did not  happen overnight.  It                                                                    
took  many  months of  direct  supervision  and guidance  by                                                                    
qualified   and  experienced   physicians.   The  field   of                                                                    
optometry did  not have such  a type of  training background                                                                    
when  it  came  to  procedures and  lasers.  They  were  not                                                                    
trained in any ophthalmic  procedures, lasers, or surgeries.                                                                    
He had  no problem  with the  Board of  Optometry regulating                                                                    
the  Optometry  profession  in the  practice  of  optometry.                                                                    
However,  if  the  bill became  law  optometrists  would  be                                                                    
regulating themselves  in the practice of  ophthalmology. As                                                                    
an ophthalmologist  he felt he had  a say in the  issue. The                                                                    
regulation  would  be  without   any  physician  or  surgeon                                                                    
oversight,   without   any   training   or   experience   or                                                                    
background,  and he  had concerns  about patient  safety and                                                                    
its dangers. He thanked the committee.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Seaton asked  how  many  ophthalmologists were  in                                                                    
Alaska. Dr.  Zumbro responded that there  were approximately                                                                    
26.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara agreed  with  not  wanting optometrists  to                                                                    
perform surgery.  The doctor prior  had indicated  there was                                                                    
no  intention of  optometrists doing  surgery. He  asked Dr.                                                                    
Zumbo if  he agreed  that in  other states  optometrists did                                                                    
not   perform  Lasik   surgery.  Dr.   Zumbro  agreed   that                                                                    
optometrists did not do Lasik surgery in the United States.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:55:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. JANEY CARL ROSEN,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference),                                                                    
was   a    Doctor   of   Ophthalmology,    specifically   an                                                                    
oculoplastics surgeon and  neuro-ophthalmologist which meant                                                                    
he  was an  eyelid  surgeon and  worked  with neurology  and                                                                    
neuro surgery. He  took care of bumps and  cysts on eyelids.                                                                    
He   provided   more   information   on   his   professional                                                                    
background. He had  heard repeatedly the bill  was not about                                                                    
surgery,  optometry  had  no  business  doing  surgery,  and                                                                    
optometrists did  not want  to do  surgery. The  sponsor had                                                                    
said the bill was not about  surgery and her aide had stated                                                                    
that all surgery language was  removed from the bill. He had                                                                    
heard that as  time changed the scope of  practice should be                                                                    
modernized  by the  optometry board  and  should a  surgical                                                                    
procedure  be deemed  within the  scope of  practice by  the                                                                    
board they  did not  want to come  back to  the legislature.                                                                    
The  assistant  attorney   general  previously  stated  that                                                                    
public  testimony  would  help   decide  if  a  surgery  was                                                                    
appropriate for an optometrist.  He wondered if members were                                                                    
bothered  by those  statements. He  suggested that  not only                                                                    
would no  one have actual  surgical experience on  the board                                                                    
and  the  legislature would  ask  the  public for  help.  He                                                                    
thought  asking an  expert with  actual experience  was more                                                                    
appropriate. He  reviewed several examples of  problems from                                                                    
botched  surgeries.  Dental  boards and  nurse  practitioner                                                                    
boards  policed themselves  because they  learned procedures                                                                    
in  graduate  school.  Optometry students  did  not  perform                                                                    
surgery, lasers,  or injections on  real people. He  did not                                                                    
believe an 8-hour  class was enough training.  He was asking                                                                    
folks to  wake up and  consider what was being  proposed. He                                                                    
read from  the Journal  of the American  Medical Association                                                                    
about a  study done in  Oklahoma where they  performed laser                                                                    
surgeries. He believed the legislation  was racing towards a                                                                    
slippery  slope.  He thought  there  should  be more  public                                                                    
outcry.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:59:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. KELLY LORENZ, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), was                                                                    
a  board-certified Ophthalmologist  and strongly  opposed HB                                                                    
103. She  believed the bill  was an  unprecedented expansion                                                                    
of  practice.  The  legislation would  allow  for  limitless                                                                    
surgical   procedures  without   any  defined   training  in                                                                    
surgical  techniques.   She  indicated  that  she   had  met                                                                    
patients that had been told  by their optometrist that there                                                                    
was only one cataract surgeon  that came to Alaska. The bill                                                                    
did  not have  the best  interest  of Alaskans  in mind  and                                                                    
there  was  no  public  outcry  for it.  She  spoke  of  the                                                                    
importance of  having a skilled  professional with  years of                                                                    
training under the supervision  of an experienced preceptor.                                                                    
She read  statistics from a  medical journal about  a recent                                                                    
study regarding  laser procedures  in Oklahoma and  the fact                                                                    
that optometrists had repeated the  laser more than twice as                                                                    
much as ophthalmologists. She thought  it was also essential                                                                    
to have  the ability to manage  the inevitable complications                                                                    
that arose  from laser and traditional  surgery. She brought                                                                    
up  other  serious  issues members  should  consider  before                                                                    
signing  what  she  considered  to be  a  blank  slate.  She                                                                    
advised members to be cautious  and to demand specifics. She                                                                    
urged members to oppose the bill in its current form.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:01:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. ANDREW  PETER, SELF, HOMER (via  teleconference), was an                                                                    
optometrist from Homer and asked  members to support HB 103.                                                                    
He  relayed a  list of  services he  provided. He  mentioned                                                                    
that the  clinic's daily schedule  could accommodate 4  to 6                                                                    
urgent care patients. It was  common for the appointments to                                                                    
be fully utilized.  He spoke to the challenges  of living in                                                                    
rural  Alaska.  He  quoted some  statistics  concerning  the                                                                    
number of  optometrists and  ophthalmologists in  the state.                                                                    
He encouraged  members to help  optometrists be  more nimble                                                                    
and accessible.  He thanked the  committee and  made himself                                                                    
available for questions.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson thought the  definition of surgery was                                                                    
the key  issue. She wondered  if it would be  something that                                                                    
could  be discussed.  Dr. Peter  responded that  one of  the                                                                    
ophthalmologists  had defined  surgery as  cutting, blading,                                                                    
or altering  tissue. Under  that definition,  tattoo artists                                                                    
and  tattoo   removal  specialists  performed   surgery.  He                                                                    
relayed that if  a patient came in with a  piece of metal in                                                                    
their  eye  and  he  removed  it,  it  would  be  considered                                                                    
surgery. He provided other  examples of potential surgeries.                                                                    
He  hoped  the legislature  could  take  itself out  of  the                                                                    
business of managing optometry eyecare.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:06:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. JILL  MATHESON, SELF,  JUNEAU (via  teleconference), was                                                                    
an  optometrist  in  Juneau.   She  spoke  of  her  previous                                                                    
experience on the  Board of Optometry. Over  the previous 25                                                                    
years  she  had  testified  numerous  times  before  several                                                                    
legislative committees  in support of changes  to the Alaska                                                                    
optometry statute.  Efforts had  been successful due  to the                                                                    
level of trust legislators  had given optometrists over time                                                                    
and after sifting through testimony.  She asked for member's                                                                    
support   in    having   the   optometry    board   regulate                                                                    
optometrists.  The  bill  did  not  give  any  expansion  of                                                                    
privilege to  optometrists. It  allowed the  optometry board                                                                    
to decide  what optometrists  were trained and  qualified to                                                                    
do via the regulatory process  of the board and within their                                                                    
scope  and training.  She assumed  that the  members of  the                                                                    
state board were appointed and  confirmed by the legislature                                                                    
to  do the  same. There  were separate  boards because  each                                                                    
profession was unique. She  suggested that only optometrists                                                                    
knew what  doctors of optometry  were trained  and qualified                                                                    
to do. She was aware members  were trying to figure out what                                                                    
"fiscally responsible" looked like.  The bill had been heard                                                                    
by  four committees  multiple times.  She suggested  that if                                                                    
the optometry board could  regulate optometrists there would                                                                    
still be  a very public  process via open  public testimony.                                                                    
Also,  boards had  to be  self-sufficient. The  bill allowed                                                                    
the  profession  of optometry  to  evolve.  She trusted  the                                                                    
appointed  optometry board  members  to  make any  necessary                                                                    
changes.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:09:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. KURT  HEITMAN, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF  OPHTHALMOLOGY, SOUTH                                                                    
CAROLINA (via  teleconference), strongly opposed HB  103. He                                                                    
remarked that  the bill  was a surgery  bill. The  bill made                                                                    
two  crucial  changes  to existing  Alaska  law.  First,  it                                                                    
removed  surgery restrictions  already in  existing law.  It                                                                    
also  inserted a  new definition  of the  word optometry  in                                                                    
Section   6  that   included  the   words  "treatment"   and                                                                    
"procedures".  The insertion  of the  word treatment  put no                                                                    
limitations on  the type of  treatment. In other  words, all                                                                    
surgeries in the eye would  be allowed under the law because                                                                    
the  Board of  Optometry could  define invasive  surgery any                                                                    
way  they  wanted. HB  103  allowed  the board  cart  blanch                                                                    
authority to redefine their field  into a surgical field. He                                                                    
had  seen an  example in  North Carolina  where optometrists                                                                    
defined laser  as non-invasive.  He wondered  why proponents                                                                    
of the bill  opposed the inclusion of  language that clearly                                                                    
specified that surgery was outside  the scope of practice of                                                                    
optometrists   avoiding  patient   harm.  Without   specific                                                                    
language  restricting surgery,  Alaska  would  be the  first                                                                    
state  in the  country  to adopt  such broad,  unprecedented                                                                    
legislation. There would be  no restrictions of optometrists                                                                    
being  able  to   obtain  surgical  privilege.  Optometrists                                                                    
provided  a  valuable service  to  communities  and were  an                                                                    
integral part  of the eyecare  team. However, they  were not                                                                    
medical doctors  and did not  graduate from  a comprehensive                                                                    
surgical  residency.  There  were  only  three  states  that                                                                    
allowed  optometrists  restricted  surgical  authority.  The                                                                    
first  was  Oklahoma.  In  Oklahoma,  optometrists  expanded                                                                    
scope to  include surgeries  because of  language in  a bill                                                                    
similar  to  HB  103.  He continued  to  provide  background                                                                    
regarding  Oklahoma law.  He had  reminded the  board of  an                                                                    
incident at  the Palo Alto  VA hospital where  veterans were                                                                    
hardened because of poor glaucoma  follow-up. Because of the                                                                    
incident  the  VA  strengthened its  directives  prohibiting                                                                    
optometrists  from performing  laser procedures  - the  same                                                                    
procedures that would be allowed  by the current language in                                                                    
HB  103. He  disagreed that  the bill  was similar  to other                                                                    
bills  governing   professional  boards  such   as  nursing,                                                                    
dentistry,  or  engineers.  Unlike  nursing  and  dentistry,                                                                    
optometry school  was not a  medical or  surgical education.                                                                    
Optometrists   received  about   1900   hours  of   clinical                                                                    
education in their 4-year training  compared to 20,000 hours                                                                    
that ophthalmologists received,  about one-tenth the medical                                                                    
education. He  disagreed that the  bill was  about governing                                                                    
boards.  He  continued  to   provide  a  comparison  between                                                                    
education received by  optometrists and ophthalmologists. He                                                                    
thanked committee members.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:13:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  KARPIK,  SELF,  KENAI  (via  teleconference),  was  a                                                                    
Doctor  of Optometry.  He spoke  in  support of  HB 103.  He                                                                    
provided  information  on  his professional  background.  He                                                                    
suggested  that the  optometrist  might be  the only  doctor                                                                    
that  a  patient had  access  to  because of  Alaska's  wide                                                                    
geographic   distribution.  He   reported   that  a   recent                                                                    
publication  ranked Alaska  50th in  access to  health care.                                                                    
All health  care providers should practice  within the scope                                                                    
of their training.  He supported the legislation  due to its                                                                    
simplicity.  It would  replace the  aging current  optometry                                                                    
law that needed updating. He  asserted the delay in updating                                                                    
the  old optometry  statute hindered  access to  eyecare and                                                                    
increased  Medicaid   travel  costs  in  the   state.  Other                                                                    
prescribing  professions  such  as  dentistry  and  advanced                                                                    
practice  nurses were  regulated by  their state  board. The                                                                    
Board  of Optometry  ensured protection  of  the public  and                                                                    
timely  updates of  practice. He  thanked members  for their                                                                    
support of the  bill. He brought up the  procedures that had                                                                    
been performed for decades by  optometrists in their offices                                                                    
legally and  safely in Alaska. He  suggested that opposition                                                                    
had not familiarized themselves  with current law. Treatment                                                                    
was an integral  part of the profession. He  thanked him for                                                                    
his time.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Seaton  asked if there  was opposition  to removing                                                                    
laser  surgery  from  the  scope  of  practice.  Dr.  Karpik                                                                    
responded  that  training  and technology  changed  all  the                                                                    
time.  He thought  the purpose  of  the bill  was a  durable                                                                    
statute that  would stand  the test of  time like  the state                                                                    
constitution.  He  was  in  favor  of  the  current  statute                                                                    
language in the bill.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:18:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEFF   GONNASON,   CHAIR,  ALASKA   OPTOMETRY   ASSOCIATION,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), spoke  in favor of  HB 103.                                                                    
He was  born and raised in  Ketchikan and Craig and  was the                                                                    
first Alaska  Native optometrist. He practiced  in Anchorage                                                                    
and performed  clinics in the  villages when he was  a young                                                                    
man.  He  suggested  that  HB  103  did  not  authorize  any                                                                    
optometrist  to do  anything. He  relayed that  of the  four                                                                    
independent prescribing professions  only optometry had been                                                                    
treated  unfairly for  several years.  The Alaska  Optometry                                                                    
Board deserved to  receive the same level of  trust as other                                                                    
health care professions. He opined  that the optometry board                                                                    
would  never authorize  any practice  outside  the scope  of                                                                    
education and  training. Doctors  of Optometry were  held to                                                                    
the same standard  of care as any  medical provider treating                                                                    
patients. Section  5 of HB 103  was clear on the  topic. The                                                                    
optometry  practice  definition  in Section  6  was  modeled                                                                    
after the exact wording from the Alaska dental statutes.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Dr.  Gonnason continued  that two  opposition arguments  had                                                                    
prevailed  over the  course of  the previous  40 years.  The                                                                    
first argument  was that optometrists  were a danger  to the                                                                    
public.  The second  argument was  that optometry  education                                                                    
was not adequate. He thought  both arguments had been proven                                                                    
to  be   untrue.  Optometry   education  and   training  was                                                                    
identical  to the  dentist  model requiring  8  years to  10                                                                    
years  of   university  level  education   and  residencies.                                                                    
Optometrists were real doctors.  He relayed that optometrist                                                                    
had  been prescribing  medications  for  25 years  including                                                                    
prescribing scheduled  narcotics for the past  10 years with                                                                    
no  issues  of  harm. Alaska  optometry  supported  limiting                                                                    
opioid use.  Optometrists were  defined as  physicians under                                                                    
federal Medicare.  There had  never been  a case  of patient                                                                    
harm   before   the    state   optometry   board   involving                                                                    
prescriptions  of treatment.  Yet, over  the past  40 years,                                                                    
the opposition  had testified predicting terrible  harm that                                                                    
never occurred.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Dr.  Gonnason   argued  that   the  clinical   education  of                                                                    
optometrists   did  not   have  to   parallel  that   of  an                                                                    
ophthalmologist  any more  than  the education  of a  family                                                                    
physician having  to parallel  that of  a neuro  surgeon. He                                                                    
commented  that optometrists  and ophthalmologists  did very                                                                    
little of  the same things.  Optometrists did not do  any of                                                                    
the  advanced specialty  surgeries  done by  subspecialists.                                                                    
Rather,  they  did  minor  procedures  in  which  they  were                                                                    
competent. He  suggested that surgery would  be difficult to                                                                    
define in statute because  technically anything that touched                                                                    
human tissue  was surgery. He provided  examples of surgery.                                                                    
He thought  the definition  should be in  regulations rather                                                                    
than  in  statute  to  avoid  having to  come  back  to  the                                                                    
legislature for  changes. He pointed  to a letter  in member                                                                    
packets from  a VA hospital  where an optometrist  did laser                                                                    
procedures with  zero incidents of  harm. He referred  to an                                                                    
Oklahoma study which he thought was flawed. He was                                                                              
available for questions.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:23:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. GRIFF STEINER, SELF, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference),                                                                        
was an ophthalmologist in Anchorage. He read from a                                                                             
prepared statement:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The ophthalmologists  and others that oppose  this bill                                                                    
     (HB103)  in no  way want  to prevent  optometrists from                                                                    
     practicing to  the full extent  of their  specialty and                                                                    
     training. This boils down to  whether they intend to do                                                                    
     surgery, which would truly be inappropriate.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     The bill should not pass as it currently written.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     If the  optometrists want an  autonomous board,  but no                                                                    
     surgery,  then  a  concise definition  of  surgery  can                                                                    
     easily  be  added.  If  they  oppose  a  definition  of                                                                    
     surgery,  it  can  only  mean   they  want  to  perform                                                                    
     surgery. More  than one optometrist has  approached you                                                                    
     indicating a  desire to do  a type of laser  called YAG                                                                    
     laser  capsulotomy. They  have  not  used these  words,                                                                    
     because  capsulotomy  means  to   cut  a  hole  in  the                                                                    
     capsule. They  instead have described this  as "shining                                                                    
     a light  in the  eye to clear  up some  clouding." But,                                                                    
     the  laser  does not  shine  as  it is  invisible.  The                                                                    
     invisible  light  needs  a  second  laser  "HeNe"  beam                                                                    
     (Helium-neon) to focus the  primary cutting laser. This                                                                    
     laser cuts a  hole in the membrane that  holds the lens                                                                    
     implant  in  place   following  cataract  surgery  (the                                                                    
     removal  of  the  natural  lens   when  is  has  become                                                                    
     cloudy). This  is not a benign  procedure, particularly                                                                    
     in those  without proper surgical training.  This laser                                                                    
     cuts a hole  in a critical tissue in the  eye and there                                                                    
     is no shining involved.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     This  is just  one example,  but is  the first  surgery                                                                    
     they intend to approve.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Ask  them  if they  want  to  do  surgery. It  was  not                                                                    
     appropriate.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Dr. Steiner was available for questions.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson clarified  that optometrists  did the                                                                    
procedure  currently. Dr.  Steiner indicated  that they  did                                                                    
not do the  procedure in Alaska. He thought only  one or two                                                                    
states allowed it, Oklahoma and  maybe Kentucky. He believed                                                                    
that it would  be the first procedure approved  by the Board                                                                    
of Optometrists.  It was the type  of procedure optometrists                                                                    
would advance  into - something  they have not  been trained                                                                    
to do or have ever done.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson asked if  additional training had been                                                                    
offered  in the  two states  he mentioned.  Dr. Steiner  was                                                                    
aware  that a  weekend course  was offered  on how  to do  a                                                                    
laser procedure.  Following the training,  optometrists were                                                                    
approved by their boards.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:27:57 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:28:10 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster CLOSED Public Testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster relayed that amendments  were due by Monday,                                                                    
at 5:00 PM.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB  103  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:28:35 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:31:48 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster  indicated that he  was going to  change the                                                                    
deadline for the amendments to  HB 103. He relayed that they                                                                    
were now due by Friday, April 14th by noon.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 151                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act  relating to  the duties  of the  Department of                                                                    
     Health and  Social Services;  relating to  training and                                                                    
     workload standards  for employees of the  Department of                                                                    
     Health  and Social  Services; relating  to foster  care                                                                    
     licensing; relating to placement of  a child in need of                                                                    
     aid;  relating to  the rights  and responsibilities  of                                                                    
     foster parents;  relating to subsidies for  adoption or                                                                    
     guardianship of a  child in need of  aid; requiring the                                                                    
     Department  of Health  and Social  Services to  provide                                                                    
     information  to a  child or  person  released from  the                                                                    
     department's  custody; and  providing for  an effective                                                                    
     date."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Foster  youth in  Alaska are  not  getting the  chances                                                                    
     they deserve.  The Children Deserve  a Loving  Home Act                                                                    
     aims to increase the likelihood  that foster youth will                                                                    
     have the  same opportunities  in life, and  same health                                                                    
     and  well-being, as  their peers.  When roughly  40% of                                                                    
     our  foster youth  end  up homeless  at  some point  in                                                                    
     their lives after leaving care,  and roughly 20% end up                                                                    
     in jail, it's  a call for reform.  The nation's leading                                                                    
     foster care non-profit, Casey  Family Programs, has the                                                                    
     correct goal to reduce  the number of youth languishing                                                                    
     in foster care by 50%  by 2020. Alaska should join that                                                                    
     effort. We  should achieve it  not by leaving  youth in                                                                    
     neglect  and  abuse to  keep  our  foster care  numbers                                                                    
     down, but by getting neglected  and abused youth out of                                                                    
     the foster care system,  into a permanent, loving home,                                                                    
     much more quickly than we do now.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Many Alaskans  recognize that our child  welfare system                                                                    
     has  room to  improve;  this bill  seeks  to make  real                                                                    
     positive changes  that support  youth and  families, as                                                                    
     well as the caseworkers who  serve them. It's been well                                                                    
     documented by  many sources that when  case workers are                                                                    
     overworked, outcomes for  children and families suffer.                                                                    
     The  Office  of  Children's Services  (OCS)  recommends                                                                    
     standards  of approximately  12 cases  or families  per                                                                    
     worker  -  but  today, most  caseworkers  are  carrying                                                                    
     caseloads that  vastly exceed that  amount (as  high as                                                                    
     43 families in Wasilla, 36 in  Homer, and 30 or more in                                                                    
     six  of the  state's main  OCS offices).  Conditions in                                                                    
     rural  Alaska,  especially  the  challenges  of  remote                                                                    
     travel,  make even  a  12-family caseload  overwhelming                                                                    
     for workers in such regions.  Beyond the risk of poorer                                                                    
     outcomes,  high  caseloads  contribute to  high  worker                                                                    
     turnover,  a costly  problem  that  slows timelines  to                                                                    
     permanency.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This  bill seeks  to improve  both caseload  levels and                                                                    
     worker  retention   by  implementing   significant  new                                                                    
     training  and workforce  standards.  New workers  would                                                                    
     receive a  minimum of six  weeks of training  and would                                                                    
     carry  no more  than  six cases/families  in the  first                                                                    
     three months, and 12 families  in the first six months.                                                                    
     These  standards are  recognized  to improve  outcomes,                                                                    
     enable  faster  timelines   to  permanency,  and  allow                                                                    
     caseworkers to perform their duties as intended.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     In addition, this  bill provides for a  number of other                                                                    
     changes  to support  the well-being  of youth  in care,                                                                    
     and   to  promote   quicker   timelines  for   children                                                                    
     returning  to, or  finding  new,  permanent homes.  The                                                                    
     bill extends subsidies  for adoptions and guardianships                                                                    
     to age  21, to incentivize  permanency and  the closing                                                                    
     of cases,  and promotes contact with  siblings and with                                                                    
     previous  out-of-home caregivers  to promote  the well-                                                                    
     being  of children  and maintain  a network  of support                                                                    
     for  them.  Another important  tenet  of  this bill  is                                                                    
     enacting   timelines    for   waivers    to   licensing                                                                    
     requirements for relatives  who may want to  care for a                                                                    
     child, but are not licensed foster parents.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The  bill also  makes it  easier for  youth and  foster                                                                    
     parents  to  engage  in normal  day-to-day  activities,                                                                    
     such  as going  on  vacation  without prior  caseworker                                                                    
     approval, with  fewer requirements. In  addition, youth                                                                    
     at age  14 are empowered  to participate in  their case                                                                    
     plan.  This bill  also strengthens  the requirement  to                                                                    
     search  for  relatives  before  placing  a  child  with                                                                    
     foster  parents,   recognizing  that   placements  with                                                                    
     family are  often the best  and most loving  option for                                                                    
     youth.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Providing support, and a voice,  for youth and families                                                                    
     who need our help is  perhaps one of our most important                                                                    
     duties  in  public service.  This  bill  seeks to  give                                                                    
     caseworkers  the tools  they  need to  carry out  their                                                                    
     duties to the best of  their abilities, and it seeks to                                                                    
     support  youth   and  families  with   provisions  that                                                                    
     support  well-being, make  it  easier  for children  to                                                                    
     move out of  the system and into a  permanent home more                                                                    
     quickly,  and provide  the  necessary  resources for  a                                                                    
     system that  can function well.  This bill  is intended                                                                    
     to  create an  environment where  loving homes  are the                                                                    
     priority for all youth.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Seaton   MOVED   to  ADOPT   proposed   committee                                                                    
substitute  for  HB  151, Work  Draft  30-LS0451\I  (Glover,                                                                    
4/17/17).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LES GARA,  SPONSOR, DISTRICT  20, introduced                                                                    
himself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LAURA CHARTIER,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE GARA, would  walk the                                                                    
committee through  the newest version  of the  bill, version                                                                    
I.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:33:52 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:36:18 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[Co-Chair   Foster  passed   the  gavel   to  Representative                                                                    
Guttenberg]                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  indicated his staff would  walk through                                                                    
the committee substitute changes to the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chartier proceeded to explain  that Section 1 provided a                                                                    
short title. Section  2 reflected the main  change made from                                                                    
the previous committee substitute  (CS) version. The section                                                                    
provided  for funding  for adoptions  and guardianships  for                                                                    
older  youth. In  the previous  version of  the bill  it was                                                                    
written  in such  a way  that  all youth  who were  adopted,                                                                    
regardless  of  the  age  which  they  were  adopted,  would                                                                    
receive subsidies for adoptions  and guardianships up to age                                                                    
21.  The current  draft specifies  that  those adoption  and                                                                    
guardianship subsidies  would only apply only  to youth ages                                                                    
18  to  21.  They  were  limiting  it  to  the  older  youth                                                                    
population,  which  was the  original  intent  of the  bill.                                                                    
Also,  the word  "subsidy"  was replaced  with "stipend"  to                                                                    
differentiate   from  any   federal   language  or   federal                                                                    
programs. She  reiterated the  most significant  change from                                                                    
the  previous  version  of  the   bill  was  limiting  those                                                                    
adoption and guardianship subsidies  to older youth, ages 18                                                                    
through 21.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  if   she  was  talking  about                                                                    
children  who did  not get  adopted until  they were  18. In                                                                    
other words,  if they were to  get adopted at 18  they would                                                                    
have the subsidy from 18  to 21 years of age. Representative                                                                    
Gara responded  that the language  would likely  remove this                                                                    
portion of the bill. Currently,  the state would pay a daily                                                                    
rate if a  person adopted or was a guardian  for a youth but                                                                    
only until age 18. The problem  was that there was youth who                                                                    
were 18, 19,  and 20 who did not have  a permanent home. The                                                                    
goal  was  to  extend  the subsidies  to  age  21.  However,                                                                    
federal law prohibited  states from doing that  for just 18,                                                                    
19, and 20-year-old  youths. If a person was  adopted at age                                                                    
1  they would  receive the  subsidy through  age 21  even if                                                                    
they did  not need the  incentive. It became a  $7.4 million                                                                    
fiscal note,  something the state  could not afford.  It was                                                                    
not the  priority piece  of the  legislation. Instead,  as a                                                                    
work around, he suggested coming  up with a state program in                                                                    
which federal  law would not be  used for youth 18,  19, and                                                                    
20. However,  it created a  perverse incentive so that  if a                                                                    
person was  thinking about adopting  a child at age  16 they                                                                    
might wait until  age 18 to get 3 years  of subsidies. There                                                                    
was no  way to make the  provision work and would  likely be                                                                    
removed.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chartier  continued to Section 3  which enabled contacts                                                                    
with  previous  out-of-home  caregivers. She  relayed  there                                                                    
were  2 pieces  of  the bill  that  encouraged contact  with                                                                    
people who might  be close to a youth in  their life and one                                                                    
of them  was a  previous out-of-home  care giver.  Section 4                                                                    
required  that a  supervisor had  to certify  in writing  at                                                                    
different times  in the  foster care  process that  a search                                                                    
for relatives  had been carried  out. She relayed  that what                                                                    
was  being added  was that  a supervisor  had to  certify in                                                                    
writing  at different  points in  the foster  care placement                                                                    
process that  a search for  relatives had been  carried out.                                                                    
In other words,  a supervisor would literally  sign off that                                                                    
such a  search had been carried  out. Section 5 of  the bill                                                                    
included  language  on  what was  called  a  prudent  parent                                                                    
standard.  It was  language  to make  it  easier for  foster                                                                    
parents  to make  day-to-day decisions  involving a  child's                                                                    
activities. Section  6 engaged youth  who were 14  and older                                                                    
in  their  case  planning process,  something  adopted  from                                                                    
federal language like the prudent parent standard.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:40:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  was  not  aware of  case  plans  for                                                                    
adults. She wondered if there  was a case plan for children.                                                                    
Representative Gara responded in  the negative. He explained                                                                    
that youths 14 or older did  not have the right to designate                                                                    
certain  people to  be part  of their  case planning.  Youth                                                                    
over 14  years old would be  able to nominate up  to 2 extra                                                                    
people important to  them to be part of  their case planning                                                                    
team.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  asked if it  was a different  type of                                                                    
plan than  that of  their parents.  She agreed  youth should                                                                    
have  a say  on where  they were  going. She  was trying  to                                                                    
figure  out  if   there  were  two  kinds   of  case  plans.                                                                    
Representative  Gara indicated  it  was a  hybrid case.  The                                                                    
case would  involve both the  interest of the child  and the                                                                    
parents. He believed the child had  a right to have a say in                                                                    
their future.  In Section 6  it stated  that a youth  age 14                                                                    
and older should be able to  have a say in those involved in                                                                    
their case  plan. The change would  allow for up to  2 other                                                                    
people to be included in the case planning process.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson expressed  confusion. She relayed that                                                                    
she was only  familiar with the way the case  plans were run                                                                    
where  a parent  had  to  attend a  parenting  class, get  a                                                                    
psychological   evaluation,   and  follow   an   evaluation.                                                                    
Hopefully,  if a  parent followed  the plan,  they would  be                                                                    
reunified   with  their   child.  If   they  chose   not  to                                                                    
participate, it could result in  adoption. She was trying to                                                                    
better  understand  the section.  She  wondered  if a  child                                                                    
would  be  able   to  request  where  they   wanted  to  go.                                                                    
Representative Gara responded  affirmatively. He stated that                                                                    
the early  case plan that had  to be filed within  the first                                                                    
60 days  was to  figure out  if the child  would be  able to                                                                    
return to their  parents and what the parents  would have to                                                                    
do to get  their child back. After the first  60 days, there                                                                    
was still a case plan for  a child. The Office of Children's                                                                    
Services  (OCS) could  provide  more  information about  the                                                                    
later stages of the case plan.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson agreed with  the concept. She just was                                                                    
trying  to figure  out  the  mechanics. Representative  Gara                                                                    
responded that  it was  the same case  plan. He  was hopeful                                                                    
that the result would be reunification early on.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:45:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson  mentioned   that  earlier  in  the                                                                    
conversation the bill  sponsor referred to a  child over 14.                                                                    
He heard  the representative clarify  that it applied  to 14                                                                    
years or older.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chartier continued with Section  7. The section included                                                                    
the  language  to  promote   contact  between  siblings.  It                                                                    
allowed for  OCS to share  contact information  for siblings                                                                    
if it  was in  the best interest  of both  parties involved.                                                                    
Section 8  and 9 had  a provision requiring  a certification                                                                    
that  a  search  for  relatives had  been  carried  out.  It                                                                    
changed throughout  the statute. In  Section 10 there  was a                                                                    
minor  change to  statutory language  replacing the  phrase,                                                                    
"One parent" with "Adult family  member." She continued with                                                                    
Section  11  was  another   mention  about  sibling  contact                                                                    
provisions. The  main change in  the bill could be  found in                                                                    
Section 12.  The change reflected the  implementation of new                                                                    
training  and workload  standards  for staff.  She was  sure                                                                    
Representative Gara  would discuss  the information  in more                                                                    
detail. Essentially,  it extended  training for  new workers                                                                    
up to 6 weeks and  lowered their caseloads. Workers in their                                                                    
first 3 months would have 6  cases. Workers in their first 6                                                                    
months would have  a caseload of 12. There was  a very minor                                                                    
language change to the section  from the previous version of                                                                    
the bill.  She referred to page  10 at the top  of the page.                                                                    
It clarified  the staff that  was covered by the  section of                                                                    
the bill.  It was  a small  change to  the language  to make                                                                    
sure all the  staff would be covered under  the training and                                                                    
workload  standards.  She  continued   to  Section  13  that                                                                    
encouraged   assistance   with  family   members   obtaining                                                                    
variances  to  foster care  licensing.  If  an adult  family                                                                    
member did  not necessarily want  to go through  the typical                                                                    
licensing process  they could obtain a  variance. Section 14                                                                    
outlined  that youth  leaving care  would  be provided  with                                                                    
official documents or receive  assistance in obtaining their                                                                    
official documents.  The bill contained  a list  of specific                                                                    
documents  that  were  covered.  Section  15  implemented  a                                                                    
timeline  for  decisions  to be  made  on  applications  for                                                                    
foster  care   home  licensing  or  on   variances  to  that                                                                    
licensing. They  were not changing  the process  of applying                                                                    
but adding a  timeline for a decision to be  made either way                                                                    
within  45   days.  Section  16   and  17  related   to  the                                                                    
applicability of the  act. In the final  section, Section 18                                                                    
on  the timeline.  In version  N  of the  bill the  training                                                                    
standards were  to be implemented  in the first year  and in                                                                    
year  2 there  would  be  enough staffing  to  meet the  new                                                                    
caseload  standard. Version  I  pushed out  the staffing  to                                                                    
year 3. The  department would have 3 full years  to meet the                                                                    
staffing  requirement. There  were  a  couple of  additional                                                                    
provisions  to  be  implemented  in  year  1  including  the                                                                    
involvement  of children  14 years  old and  older in  their                                                                    
case planning  and the  prudent parent  standard as  well as                                                                    
the certification of relative searches.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair Guttenberg referred to  Section 13. He asked                                                                    
Representative Gara  to speak to  assisting a  family member                                                                    
and attaining a license or any variances.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:50:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  replied  that  it  was  a  complicated                                                                    
process. Sometimes there was a  family that was not a foster                                                                    
parent.  He explained  that  there were  2  types of  foster                                                                    
parents  - relatives  and out-of-home  caregivers. Relatives                                                                    
did not need  a license. There was a category  of people who                                                                    
might  not receive  the daily  reimbursement rate.  In rural                                                                    
areas,   especially  in   areas  where   there  was   little                                                                    
caseworker contact, the application  process was complex. He                                                                    
hoped the bill  would fix the caseworker  contact issue. The                                                                    
provision  stated that  an out-of-home  caregiver should  be                                                                    
helped in the application process.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   asked  whether  Section   13  would                                                                    
require  family  members to  be  certified  or whether  they                                                                    
would be  able to get help  if they wanted to  be certified.                                                                    
She    thought    Representative   Gara    was    responding                                                                    
affirmatively,  as  his  head   was  nodding  up  and  down.                                                                    
[Representative Gara  nodded his head]. She  also asked what                                                                    
would  prevent  a family  member  from  getting any  funding                                                                    
without  being certified.  Representative  Gara deferred  to                                                                    
OCS for the answer.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair Guttenberg  asked if there were  other items                                                                    
Representative Gara  wanted to discuss.  Representative Gara                                                                    
responded  that he  had reviewed  all the  changes from  the                                                                    
version  that   passed  the   Health  and   Social  Services                                                                    
Committee to  the CS.  It would  be up  to the  committee to                                                                    
adopt the CS, then he could explain the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being NO OBJECTION, the CS for HB 151 was ADOPTED.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt commented  that obviously  Health and                                                                    
Social Services (HSS)  had reviewed the bill,  yet there was                                                                    
a  CS. He  wondered why  some of  the changes  had not  been                                                                    
identified in the  subcommittee process. Representative Gara                                                                    
conveyed that the bill was his  bill rather than a HSS bill.                                                                    
However,  he  had worked  with  the  department as  much  as                                                                    
possible. The  largest change was  that there was  a handful                                                                    
of youth, ages 18, 19, and 20  who he wanted to see get into                                                                    
an  adoptive  home  or into  a  permanent  guardianship.  He                                                                    
thought it would  be great to be able to  offer a subsidy to                                                                    
families  that could  not  afford to  take  children in.  He                                                                    
reported not  being able to  find a workable  and affordable                                                                    
way  to do  so.  The big  change  came when  he  saw the  $8                                                                    
million fiscal  note. He realized that  by covering 18-year-                                                                    
old children, the  state would have to  cover 1-year-old, 2-                                                                    
year-old,  and 3-year-old  children as  well which  would be                                                                    
too costly.  He was unable to  find an affordable way  to do                                                                    
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  confirmed that because of  the fiscal                                                                    
note  and  the  bill  being   heard  in  the  House  Finance                                                                    
Committee, the section was pulled  out along with the fiscal                                                                    
note. Representative Gara relayed  that the fiscal note came                                                                    
out late  in the  HSS committee  process. He  indicated that                                                                    
when he  saw it he  promised the  committee he would  fix or                                                                    
get rid of it.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:54:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair  Guttenberg OPENED  Public Testimony  for HB                                                                    
151.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara indicated  Ms.  Metivier  and Ms.  Rein                                                                    
were online and could provide  expert testimony. He asked if                                                                    
they could elaborate on the bill.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:55:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROSALIE REIN,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  was a                                                                    
licensed  social  worker on  the  front  lines of  OCS.  She                                                                    
highlighted 2  components of HB  151 that  were particularly                                                                    
helpful in  improving relationships between workers  and the                                                                    
families they  served: training and caseloads.  She reported                                                                    
that caseloads  were directly  tied to  the worker  being in                                                                    
contact with the  children and families on  a regular basis.                                                                    
She  had heard  over  5  hours of  testimony  at a  townhall                                                                    
meeting held in  Fairbanks. One of the  main concerns raised                                                                    
by parents was  a lack of communication  with their workers.                                                                    
She  could not  adequately express  the responsibilities  of                                                                    
caseworkers. There  were not enough  hours in a day  to keep                                                                    
good communication with invested  parties. Many workers used                                                                    
nights  and weekends  to respond  to the  most urgent  phone                                                                    
calls yet  did not have time  to do high level  social work.                                                                    
She  explained  that  high  level  social  work  encompassed                                                                    
fostering  connections between  siblings  in separate  homes                                                                    
and diligent relative searches.  She spoke to the advantages                                                                    
of making  these connections. Actual  social work  was about                                                                    
educating the  parties of the  importance of  providing each                                                                    
child  with a  network of  support. She  reviewed the  time-                                                                    
consuming grunt work it took  to facilitate connections. She                                                                    
saw HB 151 as an  opportunity to ensure that caseworkers had                                                                    
the training they needed to  develop a skill set specific to                                                                    
child protection and to learn  how to foster resiliency. She                                                                    
reviewed research  that suggested  that caseworkers  who had                                                                    
social work  education and appropriate training  were better                                                                    
able  to facilitate  permanency.  Higher  caseloads and  the                                                                    
high rate of frontline staff  turnover was a growing problem                                                                    
within  OCS. She  favored the  caseload  cap in  HB 151  and                                                                    
reviewed  the   consequences  of  staff  turnover   and  the                                                                    
associated domino effect.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  indicated  he had  to  attend  another                                                                    
meeting. His staff would remain available for questions.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:59:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA  METIVIER, FACING  FOSTER CARE  IN ALASKA,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  spoke  in  support of  HB  151.  She                                                                    
reported  having been  in foster  care for  3 years  and had                                                                    
aged  out of  the system.  She  had been  a licensed  foster                                                                    
parent for  the previous 10  years to teenagers  within OCS.                                                                    
She  highlighted  a  few  things   in  the  bill  that  were                                                                    
recommended by  youth in the  foster care  system presently.                                                                    
Identifying   relatives  promoted   kinship  placement   for                                                                    
children. The bill added a  provision that an OCS supervisor                                                                    
had to  certify that a  relative search had  been conducted.                                                                    
By doing  this early  on it  avoided the  risk of  having to                                                                    
pull  a child  away from  a foster  parent they  bonded with                                                                    
because  of a  grandmother coming  forward. Sibling  contact                                                                    
was a  very important piece,  as youth separated  from their                                                                    
siblings often experienced more  trauma. Older siblings were                                                                    
often caregivers  to younger children. Being  separated from                                                                    
them  felt like  having one's  own child  removed. The  bill                                                                    
promoted ongoing  contact with  siblings. For example,  if a                                                                    
young child  was adopted while  the sibling remained  in the                                                                    
system, they  would have the  right to have  their sibling's                                                                    
information,  maintain  contact   through  phone  calls  and                                                                    
social media,  and have in-person  visits to  continue their                                                                    
relationship.  She  has  had contact  with  countless  young                                                                    
people  who had  been split  up from  their siblings  in the                                                                    
system. She  shared a story about  a child who had  seen her                                                                    
brother on the bus but had  not spoken to him because she no                                                                    
longer knew him.  She continued that another  large piece of                                                                    
the bill  dealt with older youth  potentially being involved                                                                    
with  their  case  planning. It  was  about  engaging  older                                                                    
youth, 14 and older, in  the development and ongoing process                                                                    
of  their case  plan. For  young people  14 and  older, they                                                                    
should  be at  court hearings  and attending  team meetings.                                                                    
The bill would give them the  option of inviting 2 people to                                                                    
be advocates on  their behalf at meetings and to  be a voice                                                                    
for them. She  suggested that young people  engaged in their                                                                    
plan were more likely to  follow through and be onboard. She                                                                    
mentioned the idea of normalcy,  which came from the federal                                                                    
language around the reasonable  and prudent parent standard.                                                                    
It  would allow  foster parents  to  do things  like sign  a                                                                    
permission  slip   for  a  field   trip.  She   provided  an                                                                    
additional  example. The  largest piece  of the  legislation                                                                    
was  the training  and workload  standards and  burnout. She                                                                    
provided an example.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:04:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARNA  SANFORD,  TANANA  CHIEFS CONFERENCE,  FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified   in  favor   of  HB   151.  She                                                                    
expressed  excitement  about  the bill.  She  highlighted  a                                                                    
provision  related  to  youths remaining  in  state  custody                                                                    
until  the  age of  21.  She  supported the  provision.  She                                                                    
stated  that foster  children were  not allowed  to do  many                                                                    
things such as attend  sleepovers. She spoke about extremely                                                                    
high caseloads for social workers  in Alaska. She understood                                                                    
state expenditures were  under the gun, but  she assured the                                                                    
committee the bill was a good investment.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:07:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TREVOR  STORRES,  ALASKA  CHILDREN'S TRUST,  ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified  in strong support of  HB 151. He                                                                    
remarked that  the most valuable  resource in the  state was                                                                    
its children.  Events such  as child  abuse and  neglect had                                                                    
great impacts  on brain and  social development.  It created                                                                    
more trauma  for a child  when OCS  had to remove  them from                                                                    
their home.  He spoke  to ensuring that  the system  did not                                                                    
hamper  the treatment  of trauma  or  add more  trauma to  a                                                                    
child's life.  He suggested that  due to high  caseloads and                                                                    
the lack  of training  at OCS it  was difficult  to maintain                                                                    
assurances.  The  bill  ensured  that  OCS  had  appropriate                                                                    
caseloads  and training  to provide  the needed  support for                                                                    
children in the  system. The things case  workers dealt with                                                                    
were difficult to  manage with very high  caseloads (2,3, or                                                                    
4  times  the national  average).  He  discussed high  staff                                                                    
turnover  rates.  He spoke  to  additional  benefits of  the                                                                    
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:09:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL D.  KENDALL, SELF, ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), did                                                                    
not have a  position on the bill. He spoke  to several items                                                                    
unrelated  to HB  151. He  wondered if  any of  the children                                                                    
were  borderline babies  or illegal  aliens. He  referred to                                                                    
money paid monthly to foster  parents. He continued to relay                                                                    
testimony unrelated to the bill.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:14:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BYRON   CHARLES,  SELF,   KETCHIKAN  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
relayed  a personal  experience where  he witnessed  a child                                                                    
being told a  GED was not enough. He did  not understand why                                                                    
the  legislature  could  not   make  a  right  decision.  He                                                                    
advocated careful background  checks and careful monitoring.                                                                    
He  thought  the system  was  too  cumbersome. He  spoke  of                                                                    
having college students work with children.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair  Guttenberg CLOSED  Public Testimony  for HB                                                                    
151.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Alternate Chair  Guttenberg reported that amendments  for HB                                                                    
151 were  due in  the chairman's office  by 5:00  PM Friday,                                                                    
April 14, 2017.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:17:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson asked  for a  moment to  talk to  the                                                                    
department about a case plan and a 14-year-old.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY  LAWTON, DIRECTOR,  OFFICE  OF CHILDREN'S  SERVICES,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT  OF   HEALTH  AND  SOCIAL   SERVICES,  introduced                                                                    
herself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wilson    was   unclear    about   children                                                                    
participating  in their  own case  plan. She  asked about  a                                                                    
child  that was  14 years  old or  older attending  the team                                                                    
decision making  with the parents  underneath the  case plan                                                                    
for the  parents or  another type of  case plan.  Ms. Lawton                                                                    
responded that  every child  was provided  a case  plan when                                                                    
they came into care in addition to their parents.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   wondered  if  the   children  would                                                                    
participate in  team decision making with  their parents, or                                                                    
just  their own  plan with  2  adults of  their choice.  Ms.                                                                    
Lawton  responded   that  typically  team   decision  making                                                                    
meetings  were not  about case  planning.  She believed  the                                                                    
provision  of the  bill was  that  when they  were having  a                                                                    
meeting about case planning and  talking about permanency or                                                                    
services for  youth that were  14 or older they  could bring                                                                    
in  adult  supports.  Currently, they  should  be  including                                                                    
children  in  the  discussion   about  their  case  planning                                                                    
development  as age  appropriate. The  Office of  Children's                                                                    
Services  did that  in various  forms including  home visits                                                                    
and various means.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  if   there  were  2  separate                                                                    
meetings. Ms. Lawton  believed the intent of  the sponsor on                                                                    
the specific language was about  a meeting for the child. It                                                                    
might  be  possible  that  the parent  would  be  there  and                                                                    
sometimes older  youth participated in team  decision making                                                                    
meetings  with  their  parents  when  they  were  discussing                                                                    
placement. The preferred practice was  for older youth to be                                                                    
engaged in all the meetings as appropriate.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson asked  if a case plan  was written for                                                                    
the parent.  She had never known  a child to be  involved in                                                                    
case  plan meetings,  as they  were more  about the  parents                                                                    
following through.  She asked if there  were currently older                                                                    
children  involved in  the parents'  case  plan. Ms.  Lawton                                                                    
responded that  typically a child  did not participate  in a                                                                    
case  plan meeting.  However, she  heard the  representative                                                                    
using the  term "team  decision making meetings"  which were                                                                    
different.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   would  have  a  big   problem  with                                                                    
children  suddenly being  in with  their parents  because it                                                                    
could cause  a significant  amount of  misunderstanding. She                                                                    
did not  have a problem  if the  child was having  a meeting                                                                    
separate from the one their parents  had. She did not have a                                                                    
problem  with 2  separate  meetings.  Ms. Lawton  responded,                                                                    
"Correct."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair  Guttenberg  reviewed  the  agenda  for  the                                                                    
following day.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB 151 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                              
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:21:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 5:21 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Sponsor statement - museum construction bill.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 166
HB 166 lttrs supporting.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 166
HB 151 Brief Explanation of Changes.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Sponsor Statement version N.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 1. OCS Office by Office Caseloads.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 2. High Caseloads How Do They Impact Health and Human Services 3.1.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 3. Children Waiting to be Adopted 2014.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 4. Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems (Excerpt).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 5. NJ DCF Workforce Report (Excerpt).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 6. Why the Workforce Matters.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 7. Creating a Permanence Driven Organization - Anu (Excerpt).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 8. DHSS Memo OOH Growth.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 9. DHSS Memo NJ Standard and Workforce.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 10. Relevant Statistics.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 11. Supporting Article.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 12. Youth Essay.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 13. Youth Guide from FFCA.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 14. Letters of Support.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB103 Supporting Documents Optometrist's Education 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Letters 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Document Optometrists Practicing in AK 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Document Medical Liability Premiums Fact Sheet 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Document Board of the Examiners in Optometry 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Sponsor Statement 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Sectional Analysis 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Opposition Letters 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Explanation of Changes 4.03.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Additional Documents Regulation Flow Chart 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB 151 Supporting Document 15. Casey Family Programs Testimony.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Explanation of Changes 4.10.17 version N to I.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Sectional Analysis Version I 4.10.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Sectional Analysis version N (no change from vers R).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 103 - Opposition Documents.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB 151 Sponsor Statement version I.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151