Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

04/26/2021 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 47 COUNCIL FOR ALASKA NATIVE LANGUAGES TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 47 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 127 MUNI BOND BANK: UA, LOAN AND BOND LIMITS TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 127 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 28 REGISTRATION OF BOATS: EXEMPTION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 81 OIL/GAS LEASE:DNR MODIFY NET PROFIT SHARE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 151 UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR COVID-19 TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 41 SHELLFISH PROJECTS; HATCHERIES; FEES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 41(FIN) Out of Committee
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      April 26, 2021                                                                                            
                         1:34 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:34:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 1:34 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Kelly Merrick, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Andi Story,  Sponsor; Thatcher Brower, Staff,                                                                    
Representative Tarr.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Susan Doherty, Executive  Director, Southeast Alaska Seiners                                                                    
Association;  Robert   Heyano,  Self,   Dillingham;  Chelsea                                                                    
Haisman,  Executive  Director,  Cordova  District  Fisherman                                                                    
United,  Cordova; Susan  DeLoache, Owner,  Bright Beginnings                                                                    
Early  Learning Center,  Palmer;  Jan  Carolyn Hardy,  Self,                                                                    
Anchorage;  Heather DeLoache,  Corporate IT  Manager, Bright                                                                    
Beginnings Early  Learning Center, Anchorage;  Arthur Clark,                                                                    
Alaska  Real Estate  Association, Anchorage;  Trevor Storrs,                                                                    
President  and  CEO,  Alaska Children's'  Trust,  Anchorage;                                                                    
Tricia  Teasley, Vice  President of  Communication, Catholic                                                                    
Social Services,  Anchorage; Eve  Van Dommelen,  Alaska Food                                                                    
Coalition,   Anchorage;  Don   Etheridge,  Alaska   American                                                                    
Federation   Of    Labor   And   Congress    Of   Industrial                                                                    
Organizations   (AK  AFL-CIO),   Juneau;  John   Fox,  Self,                                                                    
Anchorage; Dan  Robinson, Research Chief, Division  of Labor                                                                    
Research  and Analysis,  Department of  Labor and  Workforce                                                                    
Development,;   Patsy   Westcott,  Director,   Division   of                                                                    
Employment  and  Training  Services,  Department  of  Labor;                                                                    
Lennon   Weller,   Economist  and   Unemployment   Insurance                                                                    
Actuary,   Division   of   Labor  Research   and   Analysis,                                                                    
Department of Labor.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB  28    REGISTRATION OF BOATS: EXEMPTION                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
          HB 28 was HEARD and  HELD in committee for further                                                                    
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB  41    SHELLFISH PROJECTS; HATCHERIES; FEES                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 41(FIN) was REPORTED out  of committee with a                                                                    
          "do pass" recommendation  and with five previously                                                                    
          published fiscal  notes, two zero  notes: FN1(CED)                                                                    
          and  FN2(DFG);  and   three  indeterminant  notes:                                                                    
          FN3(DFG), FN4(GOV/SP Approp), and FN5(REV).                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HB 47     COUNCIL FOR ALASKA NATIVE LANGUAGES                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
          HB 47  was REPORTED  out of  committee with  a "do                                                                    
          pass"  recommendation  and  with   one  previously                                                                    
          published fiscal impact note: FN1(CED).                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HB 81     OIL/GAS LEASE:DNR MODIFY NET PROFIT SHARE                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
          HB 81 was HEARD and  HELD in committee for further                                                                    
          consideration.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 127    MUNI BOND BANK: UA, LOAN AND BOND LIMITS                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
          HB 127  was REPORTED out  of committee with  a "do                                                                    
          pass"  recommendation  and  with   one  previously                                                                    
          published fiscal impact note: FN1(REV).                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HB 151    UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR COVID-19                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
          HB  151  was  HEARD  and  HELD  in  committee  for                                                                    
          further consideration.                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick reviewed the meeting agenda.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:35:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson asked  Co-Chair Foster  for further                                                                    
public    process    on    HB   69    [-Approp:    Operating                                                                    
Budget/Loans/Funds]  and  wanted  information  on  what  had                                                                    
changed since  the last committee  substitute (CS)  had been                                                                    
adopted due  to the  inclusion of  the federal  COVID relief                                                                    
funding and  some capital  items. He  also inquired  why the                                                                    
Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) was not included in the bill.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster indicated that part  of the issue was timing                                                                    
and completing the  budget by the end of  session. He agreed                                                                    
things  had  been more  complicated  with  the inclusion  of                                                                    
COVID relief funding. He would reply further later.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 47                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An   Act   renaming   the   Alaska   Native   Language                                                                    
     Preservation and  Advisory Council  as the  Council for                                                                    
     Alaska Native  Languages; and  relating to  the Council                                                                    
     for Alaska Native Languages."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:38:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick  indicated that  the committee had  a prior                                                                    
hearing on HB 47 on April 21. 2021.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:38:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANDI  STORY, SPONSOR,  shared that she  was a                                                                    
member  of  the  Alaska  Native  Language  Preservation  and                                                                    
Advisory Council. She highlighted  that the bill changed the                                                                    
councils   name to  the Alaska  Native Language  Council. In                                                                    
addition,  the  bill  expanded  the  council  from  5  to  7                                                                    
members, making room for more regional language experts.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:39:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick OPENED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:40:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster MOVED to report  HB 47 out of Committee with                                                                    
individual  recommendations  and   the  accompanying  fiscal                                                                    
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HB  47  was REPORTED  out  of  committee  with a  "do  pass"                                                                    
recommendation  and with   one  previously published  fiscal                                                                    
impact note: FN1(CED).                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:41:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 127                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank                                                                         
     Authority."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick  indicated that  the committee had  a prior                                                                    
hearing on HB 127 on April 21. 2021.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:41:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BART LEBON,  SPONSOR, thanked  the committee                                                                    
for hearing the bill.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:41:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick OPENED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:42:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Foster MOVED to report  HB127 out of Committee with                                                                    
individual  recommendations  and   the  accompanying  fiscal                                                                    
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HB  127 was  REPORTED  out  of committee  with  a "do  pass"                                                                    
recommendation  and  with  one previously  published  fiscal                                                                    
impact note: FN1(REV).                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 28                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to the registration of commercial                                                                         
     vessels; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
Co-Chair Merrick  indicated that  the committee had  a prior                                                                    
hearing on HB 28 on April 22. 2021.                                                                                             
1:42:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
THATCHER  BROWER, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE  TARR, thanked  the                                                                    
committee for hearing  the bill. He recounted  that the bill                                                                    
removed  the  duplicative  requirement for  vessels  with  a                                                                    
current   Commercial  Fisheries   Entry  Commission   (CFEC)                                                                    
license to register  every three years with  the Division of                                                                    
Motor Vehicles (DMV).                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:43:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick OPENED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:43:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN DOHERTY, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, SOUTHEAST ALASKA SEINERS                                                                    
ASSOCIATION     (via     teleconference),    relayed     her                                                                    
organizations  support  for HB  28. She elaborated  that the                                                                    
bill  fixed  the  unintended  consequences  created  by  the                                                                    
passage of SB 92  [Vessels: Registration/Titles; Derelicts                                                                      
Chapter 111 SLA  18, 10/11/2018] in 2018.  She believed that                                                                    
the redundancy created an  unnecessary hardship for Alaska's                                                                    
fleet in  communities lacking a  DMV office and  for out-of-                                                                    
state license  holders. She offered  that the intent  of the                                                                    
bill was to ensure  proper ownership and contact information                                                                    
was  on file  in the  event  the vessel  was abandoned.  She                                                                    
encouraged the committee to pass the legislation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:45:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT HEYANO, SELF,  DILLINGHAM (via teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in support  of HB  28. He  shared that  he was  a commercial                                                                    
herring and  salmon fisher  in Bristol  Bay. He  agreed that                                                                    
the   bill  corrected   an  oversight.   He  believed   that                                                                    
commercial  fishing  vessels had  sufficient  identification                                                                    
and asked for passage of the bill.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:46:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHELSEA  HAISMAN,   EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,   CORDOVA  DISTRICT                                                                    
FISHERMAN  UNITED, CORDOVA  (via  teleconference), spoke  in                                                                    
support of HB 28. She  conveyed that the bill eliminated the                                                                    
need for an  additional vessel registration with  the DMV as                                                                    
required  by  prior  passage  of   SB  92  and  provided  an                                                                    
exemption  for   vessels  registered  with   the  Commercial                                                                    
Fisheries  Entry Commission  (CFEC).  Currently, all  vessel                                                                    
owners who participate in  Alaskas  commercial fisheries are                                                                    
required  to  register their  vessel  with  the CFEC,  which                                                                    
provided each  vessel with a permanent  Alaska Department of                                                                    
Fish  and  Game  (ADF&G)  number. She  indicated  that  CFEC                                                                    
already  had  a  database  that was  easily  searchable  and                                                                    
publicly accessible online, and  vessels registered with the                                                                    
CFEC  are  well documented  by  the  state. Most  commercial                                                                    
fishermen had U.S. Coast Guard documented vessels.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:47:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB  28  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 81                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act authorizing the commissioner of natural                                                                            
     resources to modify a net profit share lease."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:48:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick reported that  the committee last heard the                                                                    
bill on April 23, 2021.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:48:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick OPENED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:48:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Merrick   indicated   amendments  were   due   by                                                                    
12:00 P.M. on Thursday, April 29, 2021.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:49:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB  81  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 151                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to unemployment benefits during a                                                                         
     period of state or national emergency resulting from a                                                                     
     novel  coronavirus  disease  (COVID-19)  outbreak;  and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:49:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick indicated that the last time the bill was                                                                      
heard was on April 20, 2021.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:50:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick OPENED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:50:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN DELOACHE, OWNER, BRIGHT BEGINNINGS EARLY LEARNING                                                                         
CENTER, PALMER (via teleconference), opposed the bil. She                                                                       
read from submitted testimony (copy on file).                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I  am the  owner  of Bright  Beginnings Early  Learning                                                                    
     Centers in  Anchorage and Eagle River.  We are licensed                                                                    
     to care  for 455 children ages  6 weeks to 12  years. I                                                                    
     am   concerned   about   the  effects   that   extended                                                                    
     unemployment  benefits and  stimulus checks  are having                                                                    
     on  our ability  to hire  staff. The  passing of  HB151                                                                    
     would  magnify this  problem. I  was  grateful for  the                                                                    
     extra benefits when  it was necessary for  our staff to                                                                    
     receive them  in 2020 due to  lack of work. That  was a                                                                    
     very difficult  year for all  of us. For  our childcare                                                                    
     centers  to  provide  care for  the  parents  that  are                                                                    
     returning to work, it is vital that we have qualified                                                                      
     applicants  to hire.  Even though  our business  offers                                                                    
     competitive   wages,  health   insurance,  401K,   paid                                                                    
     vacations,  and  other  benefits,   we  have  very  few                                                                    
     applicants. Many  times, applicants  don't show  up for                                                                    
     their  scheduled  interview.  It seems  that  they  are                                                                    
     looking  to fulfill  the  requirements for  maintaining                                                                    
     their unemployment  benefits, and not  actually wanting                                                                    
     to  work. It  has been  suggested that  we contact  the                                                                    
     unemployment officials  when someone  does not  show up                                                                    
     for an interview or declines  a job offer. We cannot be                                                                    
    put in the position of policing unemployment fraud.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     This  would  be  time-consuming  and  create  animosity                                                                  
     towards  our  business. Now  it  is  time to  encourage                                                                    
     people to go back to  work. Enrollment in our childcare                                                                    
     centers is  starting to increase,  and it  is necessary                                                                    
     for us  to hire  additional staff  members to  care for                                                                    
     these children. The extended benefits have made hiring                                                                     
     very difficult, and  our company is not  able to enroll                                                                    
     new children  because of staffing shortages.  Last week                                                                    
     it was  necessary for us  to discontinue care  for some                                                                    
     of  our families  because there  simply are  not enough                                                                    
     staff members to care for  the children. The parents of                                                                    
     ten children from our Eagle  River center were informed                                                                    
     that we could  no longer care for  their children. This                                                                    
     is devastating for  all of us. These  are children that                                                                    
     we have a  relationship with and care  very much about.                                                                    
     The financial  loss to our center  is $8000/month. This                                                                    
     week we  are having  an emergency meeting  to determine                                                                    
     how many  children we can  care for at our  other three                                                                    
     sites  with  the  staff  that we  have.  Sadly,  it  is                                                                    
     necessary  to   discontinue  care   for  more   of  our                                                                    
     children. This  was truly a heartbreaking  decision for                                                                    
     us to  make and  puts our parents  in a  very difficult                                                                    
     position.  Our current  staff members  are not  getting                                                                    
     proper  rest. They  are often  working 10  hours a  day                                                                    
     with no  lunch breaks  so that we  can meet  the proper                                                                    
     child to adult  ratios. This has been going  on for the                                                                    
     past six weeks,  and we must take steps  to protect our                                                                    
     staff from exhaustion. If  workers were incentivized to                                                                    
     return to work  rather than to stay home,  we would not                                                                    
     be in this difficult position.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     My  colleagues  in the  childcare  industry  and I  are                                                                    
     struggling financially. Our business  is operating at a                                                                    
     $100,000  loss  each  month.  We  are  relying  on  our                                                                    
     Payroll Protection  Loan and  a grant  from the  MOA to                                                                    
     keep our  doors open. Without increased  enrollment, we                                                                    
     will be  forced to  close when these  funds run  out. I                                                                    
     understand  that  the intent  of  HB151  is to  provide                                                                    
     assistance  to  unemployed  people with  families.  The                                                                    
     unintended result will be that  families choose to stay                                                                    
     home with  their children instead  of returning  to the                                                                    
     workforce.  The reality  is that  this  will result  in                                                                    
     childcare  centers  permanently   closing.  Then,  when                                                                    
     people are ready to return  to work, they will not have                                                                    
    access to childcare. This will cripple the economy.                                                                         
     Please  consider  targeting  funds  for  the  genuinely                                                                    
     needy, while  encouraging people capable of  working to                                                                    
     seek  employment. This  will help  each  sector of  our                                                                    
     economy recover.  Thank you  for your  consideration in                                                                    
     this matter.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:53:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Rasmussen  appreciated Ms.  DeLoachs  passion                                                                    
for the  children in her  program and for  providing daycare                                                                    
for  working  families.  She thought  the  state  needed  to                                                                    
figure out more ways to provide more daycare and Pre-K.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.    DeLoach   appreciated    Representative   Rasmussen's                                                                    
comments.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:55:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wool understood the  plight of small business                                                                    
owners.  He asked  how  easy it  had been  to  prior to  the                                                                    
pandemic  to  hire  staff.  Ms.  DeLoach  indicated  it  was                                                                    
drastically more difficult than prior to the pandemic.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:55:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAN  CAROLYN HARDY,  SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference),                                                                    
supported   the  legislation.   She   read  from   submitted                                                                    
testimony (copy on file).                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     I am  a Retired State  of Alaska employee and  a former                                                                    
     Unemployment  Insurance  (UI)  Adjudicator.  During  my                                                                    
     training  I was  taught  that for  every  dollar of  UI                                                                    
     infused  into the  community an  additional quarter  is                                                                    
     generated.  That  money is  spent  here  in Alaska  and                                                                    
     circulates  in  the  community thereby  providing  more                                                                    
     jobs  for more  people.  People want  to  work. No  one                                                                    
     likes to  be without a job:  a job helps to  define who                                                                    
     we are and to give our  lives meaning. Work is a matter                                                                    
     of pride.  Moreover, when we  work we can save  some of                                                                    
     our earnings,  get the  benefit of  retirement, qualify                                                                    
     for  health insurance,  and even  a 401K.  That is  not                                                                    
     possible when drawing  UI. Yes, we pay  taxes on earned                                                                    
     income but  we also  pay taxes on  UI. Same  for Social                                                                    
     Security and  any other benefit earned  from a lifetime                                                                    
     of work.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     UI  claims  in February  were  208%  greater than  last                                                                    
     year. While things are improving  we have a long way to                                                                    
     go in  our recovery. On  the bright side,  augmented UI                                                                    
     benefits  during the  pandemic have  increased consumer                                                                    
     spending,  smoothed  consumption, stabilized  aggregate                                                                    
     demand,  and  benefited   local  business  owners.  The                                                                    
     proposed increase in benefits  under HB151 is targeted,                                                                    
     temporary, and goes  to families who need  it. The idea                                                                    
     that increased  flexibility and benefits are  no longer                                                                    
     necessary or are bad for  business is short sighted and                                                                    
     illogical.  Passing HB  151 will  result in  leveraging                                                                    
     $2.4 million  in UI  benefits paid  for by  the federal                                                                    
     government,   providing   the  Department   Labor   and                                                                    
     Workforce   Development   which    oversees   UI   with                                                                    
     additional  flexibility  and temporarily  increasing  a                                                                    
     per dependent  benefit of $51  per week  for unemployed                                                                    
     families   with  children   or  who   are  caring   for                                                                    
     individuals  with  disabilities.  Since  the  State  of                                                                    
     Alaska  has the  lowest wage  replacement rates  in the                                                                    
     nation and is still  down 20,000 jobs from pre-pandemic                                                                    
     employment, we  need this bill  to sustain  our economy                                                                    
     and to keep  Alaskans from moving to  States where they                                                                    
     perceive greater opportunity.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I know our legislators are  aware that Alaskans are not                                                                    
     yet  out of  the pandemic  woods. We  are making  great                                                                    
     strides to recovery  but we cannot let  our guard down.                                                                    
     HB 151  provides for the  temporary assistance  we need                                                                    
     now. I urge you to  shepherd this through the committee                                                                    
     process,  vote in  favor, and  send  HB 151  on to  the                                                                    
     Senate floor for approval.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
    Thank you for your time and for your consideration.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:58:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HEATHER  DELOACHE, CORPORATE  IT MANAGER,  BRIGHT BEGINNINGS                                                                    
EARLY  LEARNING  CENTER,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
spoke  against  the  legislation. She  read  from  submitted                                                                    
testimony (copy on file).                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     My name is Heather DeLoach.  I am the Corporate Finance                                                                    
     &  IT  Manager  for Bright  Beginnings  Early  Learning                                                                    
     Center  in Anchorage  and Eagle  River.  As a  lifelong                                                                    
     Alaskan,  graduate of  UAA's  School  of Business,  and                                                                    
     mother of two children, I  would ask the members of our                                                                    
     House   of   Representatives   to  vote   against   the                                                                    
     provisions in  HB151 that will allow  an indiscriminate                                                                    
     increase  of unemployment  benefits  until March  2022.                                                                    
     The original intent  of increased unemployment benefits                                                                    
     was to  support Alaskans as  their places of  work were                                                                    
     closed  due  to   the  COVID-19  pandemic.  Thankfully,                                                                  
     businesses are  reopening and are in  desperate need of                                                                    
     a   workforce   to   support  a   recovering   economy.                                                                    
     Increasing unemployment benefits at  this time does not                                                                    
     support   this   effort.   Our  leadership   team   has                                                                    
     diligently fought  to retain and hire  teachers to meet                                                                    
     the need  for childcare in our  community. However, the                                                                    
     workforce  is  greatly  diminished. As  a  result,  our                                                                    
     dedicated  teaching  staff  is becoming  overworked  as                                                                    
     they selflessly  tend to the children  entrusted to our                                                                    
     care.  We need  more teachers,  but the  applicants are                                                                    
     minimal and  far too many  will schedule  an interview,                                                                    
     only  to  not  show  up.  Hiring  has  always  had  its                                                                    
     challenges  for our  industry,  but  the difficulty  in                                                                    
     hiring over  the last several months  is unprecedented.                                                                    
     As we are unable to fill  vacant positions, we are at a                                                                    
     point  of   needing  to  turn  away   families  seeking                                                                    
     childcare  and  have  even  been  forced  to  disenroll                                                                    
     current families  so we can maintain  safe ratios. This                                                                    
     is costing us  thousands and will soon cost  us 10's of                                                                    
     thousands  of dollars  each month  in  lost income  and                                                                    
     increased expenses.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     If  the  goal  of   our  state's  leaders  is  economic                                                                    
     recovery,  I   would  urge  financial   incentives  for                                                                    
     employers to  increase wages. and benefits,  funding to                                                                    
     the  Background Check  Unit so  as to  make the  hiring                                                                    
     process  more   efficient  and  reducing   the  30- day                                                                  
     turnaround  on background  checks,  provide support  to                                                                    
     the Department of  Labor's Unemployment Insurance staff                                                                    
     to investigate  fraudulent unemployment claims,  and so                                                                    
     on. These  actions would  help strengthen  our economy,                                                                    
     instead  of  removing  incentives   to  work  and  then                                                                    
     increasing employer Unemployment Insurance taxes.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Funding   greater  unemployment   benefits  will   only                                                                    
     increase  the number  of people  using these  benefits.                                                                    
     When  looking  at  economic incentives,  if  given  the                                                                    
     choice to  either work or  not work while  still making                                                                    
     the same, if not more,  income, the incentive is to NOT                                                                    
     work. Where  will our economy  be when  businesses fail                                                                    
     due  to a  lack of  workers    there will  be few  jobs                                                                    
     available when  the unemployment  runs out and  we will                                                                    
     have prematurely  exhausted the funding to  sustain it.                                                                    
     a lot  of the current unemployment  funding is provided                                                                    
     by  federal  resources.  Let's send  the  message  that                                                                    
     Alaskans  want to  work for  a  living. I  respectfully                                                                    
     urge  you   to  lead  Alaska's  economic   recovery  by                                                                    
     considering the  long-term needs of both  employees and                                                                  
     employers and voting against HB151.                                                                                        
Representative Rasmussen  asked if her business  had offered                                                                    
a  new  hiring  bonus.  She inquired  whether  it  would  be                                                                    
beneficial  if the  state could  assist  in offering  hiring                                                                    
bonuses with  federal funds. Ms.  DeLoache replied  that the                                                                    
business had offered  a $100 hiring bonus, which  was all it                                                                    
could  afford.   She  noted  that   it  had  not   made  any                                                                    
difference.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:02:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ARTHUR  CLARK,  ALASKA  REAL ESTATE  ASSOCIATION,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via teleconference), spoke in  favor of the legislation. He                                                                    
shared that  he represented  many owners of  housing rentals                                                                    
and  believed that  the payments  helped residents  pay rent                                                                    
and utilities, which stabilized the housing market.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:04:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TREVOR STORRS, PRESIDENT AND  CEO, ALASKA CHILDREN'S' TRUST,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), supported  the legislation.                                                                    
He related  that one of  the most effective ways  to prevent                                                                    
child  abuse  and  neglect  was  by  addressing  the  social                                                                    
determinants that  promotes trauma  and inhibits  the skills                                                                    
to  manage  it. A  key  social  determinate was  a  family's                                                                    
economic wellbeing; Alaska  was ranked 36 in  the nation for                                                                    
childrens   wellbeing.  He  elaborated that  growing  up  in                                                                    
poverty  was a  major barrier  to healthy  child development                                                                    
and  had a  disproportionate  effect on  the  very young  or                                                                    
those in  persistent poverty. He  reported that in  2019, 14                                                                    
percent of Alaskas   children lived at or  below the poverty                                                                    
level. In  2019, one  quarter of  Alaskan children  lived in                                                                    
households with  high housing costs.  He indicated  that the                                                                    
effects of COVID magnified the  issues. Nearly 20 percent of                                                                    
Alaskas   adults living  in  households  with children  felt                                                                    
they could not  pay their next rent or  mortgage payment and                                                                    
18  percent did  not have  enough food.  Over 50  percent of                                                                    
adults  living in  households with  children had  lost their                                                                    
jobs since  March 2020. He  emphasized that HB  151 provided                                                                    
economic stability  to the states  most  vulnerable families                                                                    
and decreased the risk to children.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:06:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Rasmussen thanked  Mr. Storrs for commenting.                                                                    
She asked  whether Mr. Storrs  had heard the  testimony from                                                                    
the childcare  center operators and  what his  thought were.                                                                    
She  related her  concerns regarding  the lack  of childcare                                                                    
due to  staffing needs.  Mr. Storrs  answered that  he heard                                                                    
and was alarmed  by the testimony. He voiced  that there was                                                                    
no indication  that HB  151 would  exacerbate the  issue. He                                                                    
shared  that  he  had  friends   with  businesses  who  were                                                                    
struggling to  find staff. He  thought the larger  issue was                                                                    
with  wages.  He deemed  that  if  providing a  living  wage                                                                    
through enhanced  unemployment truly was creating  a problem                                                                    
with staffing, discussions regarding wages were necessary.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:08:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Rasmussen asked  how many childcare positions                                                                    
were needed to fulfill the  need for childcare in the state.                                                                    
Mr. Storrs did  not know the information.  He furthered that                                                                    
tracking  childcare staff  was  not a  data  point that  was                                                                    
commonly  measured.  The  numbers   of  open  positions  for                                                                    
children in childcare centers was  tracked and he offered to                                                                    
provide the  most current numbers.  Representative Rasmussen                                                                    
would appreciate the information.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:10:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TRICIA  TEASLEY, VICE  PRESIDENT OF  COMMUNICATION, CATHOLIC                                                                    
SOCIAL  SERVICES, ANCHORAGE  (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
favor of the bill. She  relayed that her organization was in                                                                    
solidarity with  Mr. Storrs  testimony. Since  the pandemic,                                                                    
Catholic Social Services (CSS)  experienced a sharp increase                                                                    
for many of  its services for families  with dependents. The                                                                    
organizations  food  pantry went  from serving  100 families                                                                    
per  day to  300  families  per day;  many  were first  time                                                                    
recipients.  The  housing  case managers  were  housing  one                                                                    
family  per day,  which represented  a large  increase since                                                                    
the pandemic began and rental  assistance had skyrocketed as                                                                    
well. She urged the committee to support HB 151.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:11:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EVE  VAN DOMMELEN,  ALASKA  FOOD  COALITION, ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke  in support  of the  legislation. She                                                                    
shared that  the coalition partnered with  120 organizations                                                                    
to  work  together to  elevate  anti-hunger  and root  cause                                                                    
issues.  She noted  that  food insecurity  had  risen by  32                                                                    
percent  over the  past year.  She elucidated  that over  25                                                                    
percent   of  Alaskas    children  were   experiencing  food                                                                    
insecurity.  The  coalition  partners had  to  significantly                                                                    
increase their capacity,  up to 900 percent  since 2019, and                                                                    
many had  experienced its highest  numbers in the  prior few                                                                    
months.  She  was concerned  that  the  economic impacts  of                                                                    
COVID  19  would  linger.  She  believed  that  unemployment                                                                    
insurance (UI)  was a  vital resource  for the  families the                                                                    
coalition  served.   She  shared   that  extension   of  the                                                                    
unemployment benefits  provided support and  flexibility for                                                                    
families to   get back on  their feet  during the  period of                                                                    
recovery. In addition, the benefits  eased the burden on the                                                                    
coalition partners  and other front line  organizations. She                                                                    
urged members to support HB 151.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:14:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DON  ETHERIDGE,  ALASKA  AMERICAN FEDERATION  OF  LABOR  AND                                                                    
CONGRESS  OF INDUSTRIAL  ORGANIZATIONS (AK  AFL-CIO), JUNEAU                                                                    
(via  teleconference), supported  HB 151.  He reported  that                                                                    
many seasonal  workers in the tourist  industry would remain                                                                    
unemployed  in  the  upcoming tourist  season.  The  members                                                                    
would need the  financial support due to  low employment. He                                                                    
offered  that   the  Department   of  Labor   and  Workforce                                                                    
Development  (DLWD) was  doing  a good  job  of rooting  out                                                                    
fraud  in the  UI  system. He  reiterated  that the  members                                                                    
needed  the  support  the  extended  benefits  provided.  He                                                                    
relayed that AK  AFL-CIO submitted a letter  of support that                                                                    
provided further detail (copy on file).                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:16:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  FOX, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), spoke  in                                                                    
opposition  to  the   bill.  He  shared  that   he  owned  2                                                                    
businesses in  Anchorage and  was having  difficulty finding                                                                    
employees. He had been looking  for someone to work for over                                                                    
9 months.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Merrick  asked  him what  kind  of  businesses  he                                                                    
owned. Mr.  Fox responded that  he owned a restaurant  and a                                                                    
construction company.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:17:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:17:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAN  ROBINSON, RESEARCH  CHIEF, DIVISION  OF LABOR  RESEARCH                                                                    
AND   ANALYSIS,   DEPARTMENT    OF   LABOR   AND   WORKFORCE                                                                    
DEVELOPMENT, (via teleconference), was  asked to provide the                                                                    
data  that  would  support  or   refute  the  argument  that                                                                    
expanded UI  benefits were  incentivizing people  to refrain                                                                    
from working  or seeking employment. He  elaborated that DOL                                                                    
did  not  maintain data  on  job  openings or  applications.                                                                    
However,  the department  had specific  data on  what hiring                                                                    
Alaskan businesses were engaged  in. When employers filed UI                                                                    
quarterly  contribution  reports, they  provided  occupation                                                                    
codes,  dates  of hire,  and  names  of new  employees.  The                                                                    
information  was valuable  for identifying  economic trends.                                                                    
He noted  that the division published  a monthly publication                                                                    
called   Alaska  Economic  Trends.    He  relayed  that  the                                                                    
information was  based on statewide  data. He  revealed that                                                                    
the  largest  numbers  of  hires   occurred  in  lower  wage                                                                    
industries.  In  the  most  recent  quarter  available,  the                                                                    
fourth quarter  of 2020, 7,046  employees were hired  in the                                                                    
retail sector,  which was  almost normal  by only  100 fewer                                                                    
hires. He surmised  that in the retail  industry extended UI                                                                    
benefits did not  reflect a disincentive to  return to work.                                                                    
He illuminated  that in the Accommodation  and Food Services                                                                    
Sector that included hotels, restaurants,  and bars, was one                                                                    
of the  largest sectors  and experienced the  highest number                                                                    
of  job  losses.  In  the  fourth  quarter  of  2020,  4,716                                                                    
individuals  were hired,  which  reflected  a decrease  from                                                                    
6,987 in  the prior year. He  related that he had  heard the                                                                    
same concerns that extended UI  benefits were inhibiting job                                                                    
seekers.  The division  informally attempted  to answer  the                                                                    
assertion  by  asking  a few  questions  of  employers.  The                                                                    
division  inquired whether  former employees  were informing                                                                    
employers that the reason they  were not wanting to work was                                                                    
due  to the  fact they  could  earn more  collecting UI.  He                                                                    
wondered  whether the  reason people  were not  applying for                                                                    
work  was  due  to  a   vulnerability  to  COVID,  or  worry                                                                    
regarding becoming infected, or  infecting someone they live                                                                    
with.  He  asked  whether  homeschool  or  childcare  duties                                                                    
obstructed  some   from  returning  to  work.   Finally,  he                                                                    
considered  whether  it  was  possible  that  the  increased                                                                    
 hassles   of being  in the  hospitality industry  was worth                                                                    
the amount paid for hospitality  work. He exemplified a wait                                                                    
person  who  had  confrontations  with  people  not  wearing                                                                    
masks, increased  take-out orders,  and changes  in tipping.                                                                    
He  commented that   labor markets  really are  markets  and                                                                    
many potential  employees and/or employers did  not like the                                                                    
market  changes.  He  thought   that  COVID-19  raised  many                                                                    
questions. He  informed the committee that  the labor market                                                                    
always reflected  a balancing act between  employers wanting                                                                    
applicants and  workers desiring  higher wages.  He surmised                                                                    
that  COVID changed  the dynamic;  possibly forever.  He saw                                                                    
the possibility  of restaurant and childcare  workers' wages                                                                    
increasing caused  by the different  set of  factors created                                                                    
by the COVID pandemic.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:23:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson pondered  that some  businesses had                                                                    
to lay off employees at  the beginning of COVID and wondered                                                                    
whether a  former employee  was disqualified  from receiving                                                                    
UI  if  the   employer  offered  their  job   back  and  the                                                                    
individual refused  to return.  Mr. Robinson  responded that                                                                    
it  was  not  clear.  He indicated  that  UI  required  that                                                                    
recipients  had  to actively  seek  work  and was  meant  to                                                                    
function as a bridge while work was unavailable                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:24:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson  restated  his question  about  the                                                                    
employee refusing  to return to  work. Mr.  Robinson replied                                                                    
that  it depended  on the  reason  for the  refusal. The  UI                                                                    
system  staffer  would ask  the  recipient  why and  if  the                                                                    
answer was due to COVID  or COVID related circumstances, the                                                                    
individual   would  not   be  disqualified   from  receiving                                                                    
benefits.  He deferred  details  to his  colleague that  was                                                                    
part of the UI system.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:26:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATSY  WESTCOTT,   DIRECTOR,  DIVISION  OF   EMPLOYMENT  AND                                                                    
TRAINING    SERVICES,     DEPARTMENT    OF     LABOR    (via                                                                    
teleconference), replied  that the  answer was  dependent on                                                                    
individual  circumstances. She  elucidated  that there  were                                                                    
mitigating factors  that gave the recipient   good cause  to                                                                    
refuse work. The UI system  determined whether an individual                                                                    
had  the   right  to  refuse   work  and   scrutinized  each                                                                    
individual situation. The determinants  had to be mitigating                                                                    
circumstances  i.e., a  preexisting condition  for COVID  or                                                                    
the  employer did  not implement  necessary precautions  for                                                                    
the  employee to  return  to work  safely.  She voiced  that                                                                    
simply  the fear  of COVID  was  not enough  just cause  for                                                                    
employees to  refuse to  return to  work. The  division took                                                                    
the issues very seriously.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:28:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson appreciated  Ms. Wescott's  answer.                                                                    
He shared  from personal  experience as a  previous employer                                                                    
that  his rates  of  unemployment  insurance would  increase                                                                    
with  layoffs.  He  asked whether  the  person  refusing  to                                                                    
return  to   work  under  COVID   would  still   affect  the                                                                    
employers   rate. Ms.  Westcott affirmed  that there  was an                                                                    
experience  rating factor  that  was part  of  the tax  rate                                                                    
calculation. She  pointed out that  Alaska was not  a direct                                                                    
charge  back state.  She delineated  that the  rating system                                                                    
considered massive fluctuations from  quarter to quarter for                                                                    
an  individual  employer  and   could  affect  the  employer                                                                    
contribution  rate  from  year   to  year.  However,  slight                                                                    
fluctuations  did not  affect the  employer  tax rates.  She                                                                    
deferred to  the UI actuary  for further details on  the tax                                                                    
rating system.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:30:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LENNON   WELLER,   ECONOMIST  AND   UNEMPLOYMENT   INSURANCE                                                                    
ACTUARY,   DIVISION   OF   LABOR  RESEARCH   AND   ANALYSIS,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF  LABOR (via teleconference), relayed  that the                                                                    
state had an indirect  experience rating system, referred to                                                                    
as  a  payroll  decline  system.  He  elaborated  that  when                                                                    
employers had  enough quarters of  wages reported  they fell                                                                    
into  the experience  rating  system where  a  minimum of  6                                                                    
quarters  and a  maximum of  12 quarters  were arrayed  from                                                                    
least to greatest  in terms of average  payroll decline. The                                                                    
system  was  very  indirect  and  on an  individual employee                                                                    
basis it would not affect  the tax class much, rather larger                                                                    
changes in payroll would affect  an employer's tax class. He                                                                    
added that the  state had a classification of  20 class rate                                                                    
taxes for employers.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:31:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wool  asked  which  area of  labor  did  not                                                                    
experience  a steep  decline. Mr.  Robinson replied  that it                                                                    
was  in the  retail trade,  which were  relatively low  wage                                                                    
workers.  He   noted  that   the  sector   was  particularly                                                                    
interesting because  low wage work  might be  susceptible to                                                                    
workers  not returning  to work  due  to extended  benefits.                                                                    
Representative Wool suggested  that the hospitality industry                                                                    
was affected by  tips and would be a factor  with takeout or                                                                    
low  capacity  regardless of  the  rate  of hourly  pay.  He                                                                    
wondered when  the $600 weekly federal  supplement ended and                                                                    
if there  was a  change in  hiring data  when it  ended. Mr.                                                                    
Robinson answered  that the $600  expired at the end  of the                                                                    
second  quarter.   He  noted  that  there   had  been  three                                                                    
different supplements to UI. He  reminded the committee that                                                                    
the department maintained quarterly hiring data.                                                                                
2:34:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wool inquired  whether DOL  had the  data to                                                                    
compare  the quarter  before the  supplement  ended and  the                                                                    
quarter after and if he noticed  a change in the hiring data                                                                    
for  either  retail  or hospitality  workers.  Mr.  Robinson                                                                    
replied that  there were enough other  things happening that                                                                    
washed  out  a  definitive  effect  by  larger  factors.  He                                                                    
guessed  that the  supplement could  have been  a factor  in                                                                    
hiring. He provided the example  of the hospitality industry                                                                    
in the second quarter of  2019 with 14,520 hires compared to                                                                    
the second quarter of 2020  with 5,943 hires, which included                                                                    
the  period   of  people  receiving  the   $600  supplement.                                                                    
However, in the  third quarter the number  only increased to                                                                    
7,194 still  well below the  2019 number. He  concluded that                                                                    
larger things were at work  and made it difficult to isolate                                                                    
the UI supplement factor if it did exist.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wool   acknowledged   the   difficulty   of                                                                    
isolating  the different  factors. He  shared from  personal                                                                    
experience that he  had been an employer prior  to the COVID                                                                    
19  pandemic.   He  pointed   out  the   difference  between                                                                    
aggregate data  and individual  industry data.  He recounted                                                                    
from  prior  personal  experience  that when  he  had  asked                                                                    
former  employees  to  return  from  seasonal  layoff  on  a                                                                    
limited  hourly basis,  they asked  to be  paid in  cash, so                                                                    
they did  not lose  their UI benefit  or Medicaid.  He asked                                                                    
how limited  hourly work affected someone  who was receiving                                                                    
UI  benefits or  Medicaid.  He wondered  if they  completely                                                                    
lost  their  benefits or  whether  the  benefits were  on  a                                                                    
sliding scale. He wondered whether  DOL enforced working for                                                                    
cash  under   the  scenario   he  described.   Ms.  Westcott                                                                    
responded that  wages had  to be  reported and  that working                                                                    
under the  table for  cash was  a violation  and was  not an                                                                    
option.  She related  that an  individual  could work  part-                                                                    
time; for  every dollar  they earned  DOL deducted  $.75 per                                                                    
every $1.00  earned on their  UI benefit. She  surmised that                                                                    
it was  possible for someone to  work 10 hours per  week and                                                                    
still  receive a  partial  UI  benefit. Representative  Wool                                                                    
deduced that  it was not much  of an incentive to  work. Ms.                                                                    
Westcott noted that the first $50  of wages earned in a week                                                                    
was not deducted from their UI benefit.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:40:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wool had  a question  about enforcement.  He                                                                    
asked  about fraud  detection and  the number  of cases  the                                                                    
division pursued. Ms. Westcott  reported that the department                                                                    
had found less than 1  percent of cases were fraudulent. The                                                                    
division  audited  and  investigated  fraud  every  day  and                                                                    
supposed  that fraudulent  claims  might  increase with  the                                                                    
episodic   supplemental  program,   which  created   a  ripe                                                                    
environment  for  fraud.  Currently the  department's  fraud                                                                    
rate  was  very low.  However,  it  was something  that  the                                                                    
department   continued   to  vigorously   investigate.   The                                                                    
division was  adding staff to  its benefits  payment control                                                                    
unit for  fraud detection. She emphasized  that the division                                                                    
considered fraud a serious  violation. She acknowledged that                                                                    
it might be  arduous for employers to report  an employee on                                                                    
UI benefits  refusing to return  to work for fear  of losing                                                                    
benefits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:43:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wool  returned  to  his  scenario,  but  the                                                                    
employer reported the  person for fraud. He did  not think a                                                                    
valuable employee  would ever want  to return to  the former                                                                    
employer  and it  would  deter others  from  working at  the                                                                    
establishment.  He deduced  that requiring  the employer  to                                                                    
self-report   on  a   valuable   employee   for  fraud   was                                                                    
problematic  for  the  employer.  He cited  the  current  UI                                                                    
supplement  of   $300  and  wondered  when   the  supplement                                                                    
expired.  Ms.  Westcott  responded that  the  benefits  were                                                                    
extended through September 6, 2021.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:44:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Edgmon was  trying  to get  a  sense of  the                                                                    
larger picture. He observed that  Alaska had lost population                                                                    
over  the last  2  years  and deduced  that  the bill  would                                                                    
benefit some of the workers  included in the lost population                                                                    
due to COVID  and the highly seasonal  workers that included                                                                    
the  hospitality and  tourist  industry  because the  former                                                                    
number  of  jobs  had decreased.  He  wondered  whether  his                                                                    
observation  was valid.  He also  wanted to  know about  the                                                                    
opening of  the economy considering the  seasonality of jobs                                                                    
in the state and the fact  that many jobs were currently not                                                                    
available.  He noted  that  the state  was  down 23,000.  He                                                                    
asked  if possibly  some of  the people  who had  previously                                                                    
filled seasonal jobs might have  moved out of state. He also                                                                    
determined that in 2021 the job  market would not be back to                                                                    
normal and less jobs would be available.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:46:51 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Weller  replied that  the answer  to the  first question                                                                    
about  in and  out  migration concurred  with Rep.  Edgmons                                                                     
conclusion  that   the  state   had  seen  a   net  negative                                                                    
migration.  He  elucidated  that  he was  uncertain  of  the                                                                    
composition regarding the individuals  vacating the state in                                                                    
the past 12  months. He could not draw  a conclusion whether                                                                    
it  would  match the  potential  labor  supply of  the  jobs                                                                    
available. He  expected to  have answers  in the  future. He                                                                    
agreed  that out  migration could  arguably be  a factor  in                                                                    
reducing labor  supply for individuals looking  for work. He                                                                    
elucidated that it was likely  that Alaska was competing for                                                                    
a certain  labor pool where  economies in other  states were                                                                    
opening more  quickly than Alaska.  He asked Rep.  Edgmon to                                                                    
repeat his  second question. Representative  Edgmon repeated                                                                    
his  question   about  the  economy   opening  up   and  his                                                                    
expectation  that  many  jobs  would  still  be  in  decline                                                                    
especially  in the  tourist industry.  Mr. Weller  responded                                                                    
that  demand had  been elusive  in anything  related to  the                                                                    
hospitality  industry  and it  would  be  difficult for  the                                                                    
state to overcome.  He pointed out that it  was important to                                                                    
keep in  mind that the pandemic  occurred pre-tourism season                                                                    
in  the  prior year  but  for  many  who  lost jobs  it  was                                                                    
disproportionately  higher  for   people  with  year  around                                                                    
employment. He  guessed that the  economy should be  able to                                                                    
reabsorb  a  high number  of  workers  as vaccination  rates                                                                    
continued  to  increase  and COVID  was  under  control.  He                                                                    
agreed that  in the  later stages  of the  pandemic economic                                                                    
recovery  would  be frustrating  and  develop  in  fits  and                                                                    
starts  in terms  of reabsorbing workers back  into the work                                                                    
force.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon  commented that  the pandemic  made it                                                                    
difficult  to make  blanket  statements  about anything.  He                                                                    
ascertained  that currently,  the legislation  would benefit                                                                    
many  Alaskans and  that the  bill was  likely more  helpful                                                                    
than  not. He  wondered if  anyone in  DOL could  answer the                                                                    
question whether the bill was necessary and helpful.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Westcott  responded   that  the  department  forecasted                                                                    
roughly 11,000 new filers between  April 1 through September                                                                    
6,  2021, who  would benefit  from the  change in  provision                                                                    
that  waived the  waiting week.  In addition,  in any  given                                                                    
week approximately  25 thousand  to 35  thousand individuals                                                                    
that filed  had one  or more  dependents that  would benefit                                                                    
from  the   enhanced  dependent   allowance.  Representative                                                                    
Edgmon asked if  her answer was a vote of  confidence on the                                                                    
bill. Ms.  Westcott offered that the  department was neutral                                                                    
on  the bill.  Representative Edgmon  wondered if  there was                                                                    
anyone  on  the  line  that could  answer  his  question  of                                                                    
whether  the  bill would  be  beneficial  for Alaskans.  Ms.                                                                    
Westcott reiterated  the statistics  she cited in  her prior                                                                    
answer.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:56:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Josephson   referenced  a   2-page  document                                                                    
provided  by  DOL  dated  March 2021  (copy  on  file)  that                                                                    
contained a table. He wondered  if Ms. Westcott was familiar                                                                    
with  the document.  Ms. Westcott  responded that  the table                                                                    
was  the Wage  Replacement  Ratio. Representative  Josephson                                                                    
deduced that  Alaska was ranked  in last place.  Ms. Wescott                                                                    
affirmed  his statement.  She explained  that the  ratio was                                                                    
the states   average UI  benefit amount  as a  percentage of                                                                    
the states   average weekly wage. She  confirmed that Alaska                                                                    
was  last  in  the  nation for  wage  replacement  benefits.                                                                    
Representative  Josephson   appreciated  concerns  regarding                                                                    
 indolence;  people receiving UI  that could otherwise work.                                                                    
However,  Alaska was  the absolute  worst in  the nation  at                                                                    
wage replacement.  He noted  that AS  23.23.50 was  the most                                                                    
recent  change in  replacement rates  in 2008.  He discerned                                                                    
that the state had not adjusted  rates in at least 13 years.                                                                    
He  summarized  that the  bill  authorized  $2.1 million  of                                                                    
federal funds  for a  week of non-delay.  The bill  was also                                                                    
increasing  the  per  child  benefit from  $25  to  $74.  He                                                                    
offered  that Alaska  was still  the least  generous of  all                                                                    
states.  Ms. Westcott  confirmed that  Alaska had  the least                                                                    
amount  of wage  replacement  in the  nation. She  confirmed                                                                    
that  the waiting  waiver was  fully  federally funded.  The                                                                    
provision related to the enhanced  dependent allowance was a                                                                    
cost  to the  states   trust fund.  She  thought Mr.  Weller                                                                    
would better answer the question.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:00:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative LeBon  asked if  the goal  was to  reopen the                                                                    
economy sooner  rather than later,  whether the  bill helped                                                                    
towards  the   goal.  Ms.   Westcott  reiterated   that  the                                                                    
department was neutral on the  bill. She indicated that some                                                                    
provisions  in  the bill  was  fully  federally funded.  The                                                                    
department was interested in hearing  about any situation in                                                                    
which any  unemployed worker  refused suitable  work because                                                                    
UI  paid  more.  Representative  LeBon opined  that  it  was                                                                    
essential that  businesses were allowed  to fully  reopen to                                                                    
100 percent capacity so they could survive as a business.                                                                       
Co-Chair Merrick would invite  other testifiers from the DOL                                                                    
at a later hearing.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB  151  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 41                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act  relating to management  of enhanced  stocks of                                                                    
     shellfish; authorizing  certain nonprofit organizations                                                                    
     to engage  in shellfish enhancement  projects; relating                                                                    
     to  application fees  for salmon  hatchery permits  and                                                                    
     shellfish  enhancement  project permits;  allowing  the                                                                    
     Alaska  Seafood Marketing  Institute to  market aquatic                                                                    
     farm products; and providing for an effective date."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:02:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick indicated  that HB 41 was heard  in a prior                                                                    
hearing on April 21., 2021.  She reported that there was one                                                                    
amendment by Representative Thompson.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson  withdrew   Amendment  1  (copy  on                                                                    
file).                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:03:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Thompson   MOVED    to   ADOPT   Conceptual                                                                    
Amendment 1 (copy on file):                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     I Move  A Conceptual  Amendment; Sections 7  Through 10                                                                    
     Are Effective Through June 30, 2025.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson explained  that the  bill would  be                                                                    
amended  to  sunset sections  7-10  on  June 30,  2025.  The                                                                    
sections  addressed the  Alaska Seafood  Marketing Institute                                                                    
ASMI portion of the bill.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:03:46 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:08:49 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Thompson   further   explained   Conceptual                                                                    
Amendment 1.  He indicated that the  bill contained sections                                                                    
providing that  ASMI would market aquatic  farm products and                                                                    
that the industry would be  exempt from reparations to ASMI.                                                                    
He relayed  prior testimony  stating the  shellfish industry                                                                    
would be  worth $100 million  in a  few years. He  felt that                                                                    
the  industry  should  have  some   skin  in  the  game  and                                                                    
contribute to ASMIs  marketing.  The sunset date would allow                                                                    
time to revisit  the issue to determine whether  there was a                                                                    
need  to  contribute  for  marketing.  He  shared  that  the                                                                    
fishing industry  contributed .50  percent of  the ex-vessel                                                                    
price through the processors.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:10:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Edgmon   thanked   the   former   fisheries                                                                    
committee  chairman.  He thought  Representative  Thompson's                                                                    
amendment was beneficial and supported it.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Merrick WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster  MOVED  to  report   CSHB  41(FIN)  out  of                                                                    
Committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 41(FIN) was REPORTED out  of committee with a "do pass"                                                                    
recommendation  and with  five  previously published  fiscal                                                                    
notes,  two zero  notes: FN1(CED)  and  FN2(DFG); and  three                                                                    
indeterminant  notes:  FN3(DFG),   FN4(GOV/SP  Approp),  and                                                                    
FN5(REV).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Merrick  reviewed  the agenda  for  the  following                                                                    
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:12:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 3:12 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 41 Amendment 1 Thompson.pdf HFIN 4/26/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 41
HB 41 Legal Memo Thompson 042221.pdf HFIN 4/26/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 41
HB 47 Letter of Support_ATOH-OHNC 042421.pdf HFIN 4/26/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 47
HB 151 Public Testimony rec'd by 042621.pdf HFIN 4/26/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 28 Public Testimony as of 042621.pdf HFIN 4/26/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 28