Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106

03/09/2021 03:00 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 76 EXTENDING COVID 19 DISASTER EMERGENCY TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 76(HSS) Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
*+ HSCR 1 DISAPPROVING EXECUTIVE ORDER 119 TELECONFERENCED
Moved HSCR 1 Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      HOUSE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                     
                         March 9, 2021                                                                                          
                           3:06 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Liz Snyder, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Zack Fields                                                                                                      
Representative Ken McCarty                                                                                                      
Representative Mike Prax                                                                                                        
Representative Christopher Kurka                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE SPECIAL CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 1                                                                                       
Disapproving Executive Order No. 119.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HSCR 1 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 76                                                                                                               
"An Act  extending the  January 15,  2021, governor's  declaration                                                              
of a  public health  disaster emergency in  response to  the novel                                                              
coronavirus   disease  (COVID-19)   pandemic;   providing  for   a                                                              
financing  plan;   making  temporary  changes  to   state  law  in                                                              
response  to  the  COVID-19  outbreak   in  the  following  areas:                                                              
occupational  and professional licensing,  practice, and  billing;                                                              
telehealth;   fingerprinting   requirements    for   health   care                                                              
providers; charitable  gaming and  online ticket sales;  access to                                                              
federal  stabilization funds;  wills;  unfair  or deceptive  trade                                                              
practices;  and meetings  of shareholders;  and  providing for  an                                                              
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 76(HSS) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HSCR 1                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: DISAPPROVING EXECUTIVE ORDER 119                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
03/05/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/05/21       (H)       HSS                                                                                                    
03/09/21       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  76                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EXTENDING COVID 19 DISASTER EMERGENCY                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       HSS, FIN                                                                                               
02/19/21       (H)       HSS REFERRAL REMOVED                                                                                   
02/19/21       (H)       BILL REPRINTED                                                                                         
02/26/21       (H)       FIN AT 1:30 PM ADAMS 519                                                                               
03/01/21       (H)       HSS REFERRAL ADDED BEFORE FIN                                                                          
03/01/21       (H)       BILL REPRINTED                                                                                         
03/02/21       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM BY TELECONFERENCE                                                                       
03/02/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/04/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/21       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM DAVIS 106                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ANDREW DUNMIRE, Legislative Counsel                                                                                             
Legal Services                                                                                                                  
Division of Legal and Research Services                                                                                         
Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing of HSCR 1, answered                                                                   
questions relating to HSCR 1 and Executive Order (EO) 119.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HEATHER CARPENTER, Healthcare Policy Advisor                                                                                    
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing of HSCR 1, answered                                                                   
questions related to the resolution.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS, President                                                                                                           
Mat-Su Chapter of Association of Mature American Citizens Action                                                                
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HSCR 1.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
KIM KUKLIS                                                                                                                      
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing of HSCR 1, testified it                                                               
is wrong to keep facilities and assistance closed to the public.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
FRANCINE REUTER                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing of HB 76, testified                                                                   
against continuing the emergency order.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHANDRA CAFFROY                                                                                                                 
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HERMAN MORGAN                                                                                                                   
Aniak, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing of HB 76, testified                                                                   
against continuing the emergency order.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
KELSA BRANDENBURG                                                                                                               
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 76.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
LOUIS IMBRIANI                                                                                                                  
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing of HB 76, testified that                                                              
passing the bill would still not fix the problem.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
PAMELA FAMISH                                                                                                                   
Nenana, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS, President                                                                                                           
Mat-Su Chapter, Association of Mature American Citizens Action                                                                  
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
KATHRYN MAWERY                                                                                                                  
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
BEATRICE HUCK                                                                                                                   
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH HOLMES                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
JONATHAN GALIN                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 76.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
LEONARD SABICH                                                                                                                  
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
EDWARD MARTIN                                                                                                                   
Cooper Landing, Alaska                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:   During  the hearing of  HB 76,  testified in                                                            
opposition to giving this power to the governor.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ADAM HYKES                                                                                                                      
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MARSHALL SEVERSON                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 76.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER MEYER                                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 76.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JESSIE CHILSTROM                                                                                                                
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ANNIE MASSEY                                                                                                                    
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 76.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:06:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TIFFANY  ZULKOSKY called  the  House Health  and  Social                                                            
Services  Standing  Committee  meeting   to  order  at  3:06  p.m.                                                              
Representatives Fields,  Spohnholz, McCarty, Prax,  Kurka, Snyder,                                                              
and Zulkosky were present at the call to order.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SNYDER related  that there was  a misunderstanding  last                                                              
week about whether  the administration had provided  a response to                                                              
questions  submitted by  committee  members.   She apologized  for                                                              
the  committee's   oversight  in   missing  the   administration's                                                              
response.    She  offered the  committee's  appreciation  for  the                                                              
collaboration   provided   by  the   senior   leadership  of   the                                                              
[Department  of Health  and Social  Services  (DHSS)] and  Suzanne                                                              
Cunningham, [Special Assistant to the DHSS Commissioner].                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  offered her appreciation  as well to  DHSS [for                                                              
its  collaboration]  as  the committee  has  considered  Executive                                                              
Order (EO)  119 and [HB 76],  the proposal to extend  the COVID-19                                                              
disaster declaration.   She said the committee has  heard loud and                                                              
clear   from  stakeholders,   healthcare   leaders,  tribes,   and                                                              
entities   representing   diverse   interests   that   these   are                                                              
consequential policy issues of great importance.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
            HSCR 1-DISAPPROVING EXECUTIVE ORDER 119                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:08:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  announced that  the  first order  of  business                                                              
would be HOUSE  SPECIAL CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO.  1, Disapproving                                                              
Executive Order No. 119.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY explained  that she and  Co-Chair Snyder  would                                                              
take turns  presenting HSCR 1.   She handed the gavel  to Co-Chair                                                              
Snyder so she could provide her portion of the presentation.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:09:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:09:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  began her  presentation on  HSCR 1.   She spoke                                                              
as follows:                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     On December  22, 2020,  the governor  announced that  he                                                                   
     advised  the Department  of  Law to  draft an  executive                                                                   
     order  to  reorganize  the   Department  of  Health  and                                                                   
     Social Services  into the Department  of Health  and the                                                                   
     Department  of Family and Community  Services.   Then on                                                                   
     January  20,  [2021],  Executive   Order  [EO]  119  was                                                                   
     transmitted  to the  Senate where it  was introduced  on                                                                   
     January  25.    Per  Article III,  Section  23,  of  the                                                                   
     Alaska  Constitution, quite  simply  HSCR 1  disapproves                                                                   
     of  the enactment  of Executive  Order 119.   Given  the                                                                   
     enormity of  the proposed executive order, I  would like                                                                   
     to discuss the basis for the proposed disapproval.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's  Department  of  Health   and  Social  Services                                                                   
     oversees  the delivery  of crucial  programs that  offer                                                                   
     essential  services and  supports  to families,  elders,                                                                   
     and   vulnerable   Alaskans   across  the   state   from                                                                   
     overseeing  health   coverage  to  low-income   Alaskans                                                                   
     through Medicaid,  to ensuring permanency  and wellbeing                                                                   
     of  children   served  by   the  Office  of   Children's                                                                   
     Services   [OCS],  to  providing   emergent  and   court                                                                   
     ordered  inpatient psychiatric  services  at the  Alaska                                                                   
     Psychiatric Institute,  also known as API.   And yet the                                                                   
     department   is  faced   with  significant   challenges,                                                                   
     including  high  turnover   rates  and  burnout  of  OCS                                                                   
     workers,    having   a   significant    disproportionate                                                                   
     representation of  Alaska Native children in  the foster                                                                   
     care system,  and significant  accreditation and  safety                                                                   
     issues that have long plagued API, to name a few.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The  breadth   of  important  programs,   importance  of                                                                   
     finding  solutions to  much-needed  programs in  crisis,                                                                   
     and magnitude  of resources  required by the  department                                                                   
     is   clear.     While   the   department   has   clearly                                                                   
     demonstrated  the need for  improvements in the  way and                                                                   
     services Alaska  provides for our most  vulnerable, what                                                                   
     has not  been demonstrated  is that Executive  Order 119                                                                   
     is the vehicle to do so.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:12:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Instead,   it  has   become   clear  through   committee                                                                   
     consideration  of the  executive  order that  EO 119  is                                                                   
     wrought  with  program, legal,  and  fiscal  ambiguities                                                                   
     that  carry  real consequences  for  Alaskans.   In  the                                                                   
     administration's   initial   announcement   about   this                                                                   
     executive  order   and  the  commissioner's   subsequent                                                                   
     presentations  to this  committee,  it  was stated  that                                                                   
     the  reorganization  will "streamline  and  improve  the                                                                   
     delivery  of   critical  programs  and   services  while                                                                   
     creating  more   flexibility  and  responsiveness   that                                                                   
     ultimately result in improved outcomes."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     But,  as  we  heard  in  testimony   from  Casey  Family                                                                   
     Programs,  the  nation's  largest  operating  foundation                                                                   
     focused  on safely reducing  the need  for foster  care,                                                                   
     there   is  no  research   or  evidence   of  an   ideal                                                                   
     organizational   structure   which  exist.      Positive                                                                   
     outcomes  cannot be  attributed  to a  particular  model                                                                   
     and no  research provides  evidence that  reorganization                                                                   
     improves  accountability or  service quality.   However,                                                                   
     what has  been well  evidenced is  that transition  to a                                                                   
     new structure  can take  ... two to  five years  with at                                                                   
     least one or  more years for planning,  preparation, and                                                                   
     stakeholder engagement.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     I  commend the  department  for its  recent and  ongoing                                                                   
     efforts  to engage  tribes,  nonprofits, and  healthcare                                                                   
     entities on  this proposal, and would like  to thank the                                                                   
     department  for the March 4  follow-up to the  committee                                                                   
     in  which  they  provided   their  schedule  for  public                                                                   
     engagement.     But  as   we  heard  resoundingly   from                                                                   
     stakeholders  in  the  field, there  was  no  meaningful                                                                   
     engagement in the development of this executive order.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:13:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     In  fact, the  schedule for  public engagement  provided                                                                   
     by  the  department  shows  the majority  of  work  with                                                                   
     stakeholders,  including townhalls  with employees  that                                                                   
     will be  impacted, occurred  after the governor's  press                                                                   
     event  announcing this action,  effectively cutting  the                                                                   
     department's  tribal healthcare  and nonprofit  partners                                                                   
     from  having  a  hand  in  shaping  the  future  of  the                                                                   
     department and  attributing to the solutions  looking to                                                                   
     be realized  across it.   As Alaska Native  Health Board                                                                   
     chairman  Andrew Jimmie  wrote in a  February 26  letter                                                                   
     to the  commissioner on this  issue, tribes  should have                                                                   
     fundamentally  been  involved   in  the  decision-making                                                                   
     process.   I believe  this extends  to all  stakeholders                                                                   
     impacted by Executive Order 119.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     With regard  to legal ambiguity,  in a February  25 memo                                                                   
     from the  Department of Law  regarding background  on EO                                                                   
     119  Chief  Assistant  Attorney   General  Stacie  Kraly                                                                   
     affirms  that an  executive order  "may not  be used  to                                                                   
     enact   new  substantive  law   before  outlining   what                                                                   
     statutes   the   administration   believes   have   been                                                                   
     properly passed  by the legislature."  This  is in stark                                                                   
     contrast   to  the   March  5  memo   provided  by   the                                                                   
     legislature's   nonpartisan   Legal  Services   Division                                                                   
     which  outlines   in  detail  multiple   examples  where                                                                   
     Executive Order  119 "impermissibly creates  substantive                                                                   
     changes  to  existing  law."   While  the  governor  may                                                                   
     reorganize executive  departments "he may not  delete or                                                                   
     add functions  or make other  substantive changes."   In                                                                   
     just  one example,  Section 130  of EO  119 repeals  the                                                                   
     definition of  crisis stabilization center and  does not                                                                   
     replace  it  anywhere  else  in Alaska  statutes.    The                                                                   
     opinion  goes on  to  note that  this  change will  have                                                                   
     unintended consequences.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's  constitution  charges the  legislative  branch                                                                   
     with  crafting the  broad  contours  of Alaska's  policy                                                                   
     and budgetary  direction, and the executive  branch with                                                                   
     the  enactment  of the  policies  and budgets  that  the                                                                   
     legislature  directs.    By allowing  the  executive  to                                                                   
     usurp   the  legislature's   constitutionally   mandated                                                                   
     powers we would  be violating the systems  of checks and                                                                   
     balances  laid out by  the framers  of our  constitution                                                                   
     as  well as  potentially  putting at  risk  a number  of                                                                   
     programs  that  are  essential to  Alaskans  across  the                                                                   
     state at a time when they rely on them the most.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:16:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Finally,  the  administration  has  claimed  that  while                                                                   
     some   costs  come  along   with  this   reorganization,                                                                   
     ultimately,  they say,  the budget  for two  departments                                                                   
     would be  less than  the FY 21  [fiscal year 2021]  DHSS                                                                   
     budget.    Yet  the  cost savings  referred  to  in  the                                                                   
     presentation on  this proposal hinge on  the elimination                                                                   
     of positions  that exist under the department's  current                                                                   
     structure,   and   instead   we   know   the   committed                                                                   
     investments  through  this  proposal are  for  high-cost                                                                   
     executive  positions.  So  as the legislature  continues                                                                   
     our work  to diligently comb  through agency  budgets to                                                                   
     find cost savings  and cut programs that  serve Alaskans                                                                   
     directly,  this proposal would  guarantee we are  adding                                                                   
     top heavy  government salaries  in perpetuity.   Cutting                                                                   
     frontline positions  like public assistance  eligibility                                                                   
     specialists  and clinicians or  psychiatrists at  API in                                                                   
     favor of increases  to overhead expenses  and leadership                                                                   
     positions  is neither  a fiscal  nor  policy practice  I                                                                   
     can support.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     It  is also  worth considering  what we  are putting  at                                                                   
     risk if the  department fails to deliver on  the promise                                                                   
     to  reorganize seamlessly,  which could  mean a  massive                                                                   
     reorganization   of  the   state's  largest   department                                                                   
     costing  an  unforeseen amount  of  money than  what  is                                                                   
     ambitiously  projected.    This  means  more  waste  for                                                                   
     administrative  time  and less  resources  for  enacting                                                                   
     desired solutions  for children and families  in crisis,                                                                   
     supports   for  seniors   and   disable  Alaskans,   and                                                                   
     ensuring  staff and  patients at  high needs  facilities                                                                   
     like API are safe and care for.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Further, we  would be losing funding for  these programs                                                                   
     during an  economic and public  health crisis at  a time                                                                   
     when  Alaskans are  relying on  essential services  more                                                                   
     than ever.   The programs overseen by the  Department of                                                                   
     Health   and   Social  Services,   from   Medicaid   and                                                                   
     Behavioral Health  to the Alaska Pioneers' Home  and the                                                                   
     Office  of Children's  Services,  play a  vital role  in                                                                   
     keeping  Alaska communities  across  the state  healthy.                                                                   
     The  department  has  clearly  demonstrated  a  need  to                                                                   
     evaluate  the  way programs  are  administered,  however                                                                   
     they have not  been able to meet the policy,  legal, and                                                                   
     fiscal thresholds  that would  allow the legislature  to                                                                   
     sign  off  on this  substantial  reorganization  without                                                                   
     putting   Alaskan   families   and   the   legislature's                                                                   
     constitutional  authority  at risk.    I would  like  to                                                                   
     thank the committee  for their time and ask  that we all                                                                   
     support passing House Special Concurrent Resolution 1.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:18:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee  took a  brief at-ease.   [Co-Chair Snyder  returned                                                              
the gavel to Co-Chair Zulkosky.]                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:19:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SNYDER began  her portion of the presentation  on HSCR 1,                                                              
disapproving  Executive Order  (EO)  119.   She thanked  committee                                                              
members for  their thoughtful consideration  of EO 119.   She also                                                              
thanked those who  provided written and oral testimony  as well as                                                              
the leadership and  employees of DHSS.  She offered  her gratitude                                                              
to DHSS  employees for  their tireless  work through the  COVID-19                                                              
pandemic, noting  that they have provided  critical evidence-based                                                              
guidance  and  communications,  implemented  essential  mitigation                                                              
measures,   ensured  access   to  testing,   promoted  access   to                                                              
vaccinations, and  connected Alaskans to needed  support services.                                                              
Co-Chair  Snyder  said  the department's  efforts  in  combination                                                              
with tribal  partners have  resulted to date  in the  third lowest                                                              
death rate  in the country,  successful efforts at  flattening the                                                              
infection curve, and  one of the highest vaccination  rates in the                                                              
country.    She  stated  she  is  grateful  for  the  department's                                                              
dedication  and  expertise  as  everyone  works  to  ensure  these                                                              
trends continue and Alaska can begin its road to recovery.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SNYDER emphasized  that she doesn't want  her support for                                                              
HSCR 1  to overshadow her gratitude  for the department.   Rather,                                                              
she continued,  her support of  the resolution reflects  the value                                                              
placed  on the  work of  the department  and her  respect for  the                                                              
people who  carry out that  work in the  service of  Alaskans, the                                                              
many partner  organizations that  facilitate connections  with the                                                              
public, and  the public themselves.   She added that  the pandemic                                                              
has  truly highlighted  the importance  of  the department's  many                                                              
moving parts  and the services it  provides to Alaskans,  and that                                                              
all  Alaskans need  DHSS to  succeed.   Co-Chair Snyder  continued                                                              
her summary of the motivations for HSCR 1 as follows:                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:21:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Similarly,   the  questions   we  have   asked  of   the                                                                   
     department  regarding  EO 119  is  a reflection  of  the                                                                   
     seriousness with  which we legislators take  our duty to                                                                   
     helping  ensure  our  governmental   agencies  meet  the                                                                   
     needs  of Alaskans.   The questions  we have asked  have                                                                   
     been direct,  intentional, and reasonable.  What  is the                                                                   
     plan?   How have stakeholders  been engaged?   What will                                                                   
     it cost?   What  is the evidence  supporting this  plan?                                                                   
     And what are the metrics for success?                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Knowing the  department's successes, I think  many of us                                                                   
     can  agree   that  the  department,   for  all   of  its                                                                   
     fantastic  services and accomplishments,  also has  room                                                                   
     for  improvement,   as  we  all  do.     Improvement  in                                                                   
     efficiencies.    Improvement  in timely,  thorough,  and                                                                   
     compassionate  care for  Alaskans.   And improvement  in                                                                   
     access and communication.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     I understand  that these needs for improvement  are what                                                                   
     motivated  the  creation  of  EO 119.    These  proposed                                                                   
     changes  would  automatically  go  into  effect  if  the                                                                   
     legislature  does not  vote to disapprove  by March  21,                                                                   
     less  than  two  weeks away.    These  proposed  changes                                                                   
     would also  coincide with changes currently  outlined in                                                                   
     the  FY 22  budget, including  the  elimination of  over                                                                   
     100  department  positions  affecting  the  Division  of                                                                   
     Public  Assistance,  Juvenile  Justice, and  the  Alaska                                                                   
     Psychiatric Institute.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     While it  is clear that changes  need to be made  to the                                                                   
     operations  and  possibly  to the  organization  of  the                                                                   
     department  to improve  services  and functionality,  it                                                                   
     is  not  clear  that bifurcation  and  the  addition  of                                                                   
     several  new high-level  positions is  the answer.   And                                                                   
     make  no  mistake,  if  we get  this  answer  wrong  the                                                                   
     victims  of the fallout  most likely  aren't most  of us                                                                   
     sitting in this  room today.  Those  negatively impacted                                                                   
     are  vulnerable   Alaskan  children  in   unsafe  homes.                                                                   
     Children and  families who  don't know where  their next                                                                   
     meal is going  to come from.  A caretaker  of an Alaskan                                                                   
     with mental  health challenges who has nowhere  to turn.                                                                   
     Elders  facing  increased  uncertainty  about  how  they                                                                   
     will live  out their golden  years.  And the  father and                                                                   
     his  son who is  struggling with  addiction and  finding                                                                   
     treatment.    I  want  to keep  these  Alaskans  in  the                                                                   
     forefront  of our minds  today.   We owe  it to them  to                                                                   
     get this right.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:24:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The  resolution   is  not  a  complete   disapproval  of                                                                   
     department reorganization.   Rather, it's a way  to give                                                                   
     us  the  time  needed  to make  the  best  decision  for                                                                   
     Alaska.   While the discussions  in this committee  have                                                                   
     been  a great  starting point,  they are  just that    a                                                                   
     starting  point.  There  are still  many questions  that                                                                   
     have  been left  unasked  and unanswered.    We need  to                                                                   
     give the public,  stakeholders, and the  legislature the                                                                   
     time   to    ask   them,   and   the    department   and                                                                   
     administration  the  time  to  answer them.    With  the                                                                   
     looming  deadline of the  EO we  have not been  afforded                                                                   
     that time.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     As  Co-Chair Zulkosky  said  and is  highlighted in  the                                                                   
     legislative  legal  memo, there  are  significant  legal                                                                   
     concerns around  the EO.  There are  substantive changes                                                                   
     to  existing law,  which  impedes on  the  legislature's                                                                   
     authority.    There  is  also   mention  of  significant                                                                   
     litigation  risk,   which  would  take  away   from  the                                                                   
     department,  the administration,  and the  legislature's                                                                   
     time and resources.   If we are aiming to  be efficient,                                                                   
     risking a lawsuit is not the way.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     In addition  to what  [Co-Chair] Zulkosky covered,  it's                                                                   
     also  worth  highlighting   that  there  is  a  lack  of                                                                   
     clarity  regarding  authorities  between the  two  newly                                                                   
     proposed  departments  and  the creation  of  new  board                                                                   
     positions  and  resulting  imbalance  in  representation                                                                   
     regardless of whether the new member can vote or not.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The savings or  costs of EO 119 are still  unclear.  The                                                                   
     plan relies  on a net  loss of 139 full-time  positions,                                                                   
     positions  that work  directly  with providing  services                                                                   
     for  Alaskans.   But  it adds  13 new  executive  branch                                                                   
     positions   that  would   cost   $1.8   million.     The                                                                   
     department  is already  understaffed.   It is  difficult                                                                   
     to  see  how cutting  positions  even  with  bifurcation                                                                   
     would  increase  the  quality of  services  provided  to                                                                   
     Alaskans.   Additional cost associated  with bifurcation                                                                   
     will  include,  but  are  not  limited  to,  changes  in                                                                   
     signage,  IT  licensing,  and   recruitment,  but  these                                                                   
     costs are unclear.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:26:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     [Co-Chair]  Zulkosky   clearly  outlined   the  concerns                                                                   
     regarding    the   approach    taken   to    stakeholder                                                                   
     engagement.   While we commend  the submitted  plans for                                                                   
     including continued  engagement the cart was  put before                                                                   
     the  horse, so  to speak.    With EO  being crafted  and                                                                   
     announced   prior   to   meaningful    engagement   with                                                                   
     stakeholders to  inform it.  And as a reminder  to those                                                                   
     members  of the public  who are  following along,  an EO                                                                   
     cannot   be  amended.     As  a   result,  we've   heard                                                                   
     overwhelming pushback  or concern from a broad  suite of                                                                   
     partners,  many  of whom  are  on the  stakeholder  list                                                                   
     provided by the department.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Please let me  be clear, this is a committee  that wants                                                                   
     to find  responsible effective  solutions, and  we thank                                                                   
     leadership  at   the  department  for   initiating  this                                                                   
     important and  long overdue discussion.  I  look forward                                                                   
     to continued  conversations with the department  and the                                                                   
     administration,  the public,  and other stakeholders  to                                                                   
     find  ways  to  improve the  Department  of  Health  and                                                                   
     Social Services as well.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Again,  while we currently  lack the  evidence that  the                                                                   
     EO is the  best path forward for the department,  EO 119                                                                   
     started  an  important  conversation,  and  we  need  to                                                                   
     continue  having it.    I welcome  continued  engagement                                                                   
     with  stakeholders,  more   detailed  reports  of  major                                                                   
     findings  or  transition plans  for  review,  or even  a                                                                   
     task  force  like  the  ones   we've  seen  in  previous                                                                   
     administrative    orders   and   economic    development                                                                   
     initiatives in Alaska.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     We  look   forward  to  contributing  to   this  effort,                                                                   
     recognizing that  HSCR 1 is not a no  on reorganization,                                                                   
     but  a  vehicle  for  increasing   public  trust,  time,                                                                   
     transparency,   and  stakeholder   engagement  for   any                                                                   
     significant  department  changes.   I  urge  a yes  vote                                                                   
     from committee members.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:27:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:27:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  invited committee  members to ask  questions in                                                              
relation to HSCR 1.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS asked  whether the  lack of a  severability                                                              
clause  potentially puts  the entire  EO at  risk if  any of  EO's                                                              
individual provisions were challenged by a party with standing.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:29:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDREW DUNMIRE,  Legislative Counsel, Legal Services,  Division of                                                              
Legal and Research  Services, Legislative Affairs  Agency, replied                                                              
he  would like  the  opportunity  to do  more  research before  he                                                              
gives a  formal answer.   He said his  sense is that  because this                                                              
is an  all or nothing  proposition in the  way that the  EO either                                                              
gets disapproved  by the legislature or becomes  effective by law,                                                              
and because theoretically  speaking there should be  no changes to                                                              
the law in an  executive order, he does think there  would be that                                                              
kind of risk if the EO goes through.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:29:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  requested Mr. Dunmire to summarize  the legal                                                              
challenges/substantive changes he sees with EO 119.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DUNMIRE responded  with his belief that there  are four boards                                                              
which would  be impacted  by EO  119 by  increasing the  number of                                                              
members serving  on each of  the boards.   He said there  are some                                                              
changes to  substantive law.   For example,  he stated,  Section 2                                                              
changes  which nurses  are allowed  to pronounce  a patient  dead;                                                              
the definition  of "crisis  stabilization  center" is deleted  and                                                              
that  would have  an  impact on  Title  12 which  is  the Code  of                                                              
Criminal   Procedure  has   a  provision   that  relies   on  that                                                              
definition to give  peace officers the authority,  he believes, to                                                              
arrest people  without a warrant.   There are several  substantive                                                              
changes in the EO, he added.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  stated  he is  looking  for  a list  of  Mr.                                                              
Dunmire's concerns  so the committee  could discuss each one.   He                                                              
inquired whether  crisis [stabilization]  center, as  mentioned by                                                              
Mr. Dunmire, is defined in any of those statutes.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. DUNMIRE  answered he would have  to get back to  the committee                                                              
with  an  answer.   He  said  his  [legal memo  dated  3/5/21]  is                                                              
available  on  BASIS  and  that it  details  all  the  substantive                                                              
changes to the law that would be enacted by EO 119.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:33:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked  whether  the  crisis  [stabilization]                                                              
center itself  would go away if  there was no definition  of it in                                                              
statute.   He further  asked what  the effect  would be  if crisis                                                              
[stabilization] center is not defined in statute.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. DUNMIRE  replied that  the fallout would  be that  an existing                                                              
statute that  relies upon  that definition  by directly  citing to                                                              
it would  no longer  have a  definition.   So, it  would render  a                                                              
statute that currently has a definition to be more ambiguous.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX stated  that somebody  taking a  person  to a                                                              
crisis  [stabilization]  center would  still  know  where to  take                                                              
that person.   He said a  definition therefore doesn't  strike him                                                              
as important  or significant  and that it  could be sorted  out in                                                              
regulation or in  the court.  He requested Mr.  Dunmire to explain                                                              
the importance of a definition.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DUNMIRE responded  that AS  12.25.031(a)  currently allows  a                                                              
police officer as  an alternative to an arrest  to deliver someone                                                              
to  a crisis  stabilization  center under  certain  circumstances.                                                              
This is  a procedure  that police  officers would  use instead  of                                                              
taking  somebody to  jail, he explained,  but  to follow the  law,                                                              
police  officers  must know  what  the  law  is.   Currently  that                                                              
provision  of  the  statute  cites to  the  definition  of  crisis                                                              
stabilization center  that would be  repealed under EO  119, which                                                              
would cause  some ambiguity  in those types  of situations.   But,                                                              
he  continued,  the  facilities   that  are  crisis  stabilization                                                              
centers would still exist.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:35:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTY  stated that his reading of EO  119 is that                                                              
the  intent is  there  to  find ways  to  resolve  issues to  help                                                              
people in Alaska.   He said EO 119 is not to  avoid responsibility                                                              
of services,  but to find  other ways of organization  management.                                                              
Regarding crisis  stabilization, he  noted that the  Mental Health                                                              
Trust and various  institutions throughout Alaska  have spent much                                                              
time and money on  "a Crisis Now program, which  the whole concept                                                              
seems to be in  that format there."  He said he  also knows "words                                                              
mean a lot and  funding for different programs have  to be defined                                                              
in the  words."  This is  an all or  nothing type of  proposal, he                                                              
continued,  with  great things  in  it,  things in  question,  and                                                              
things  that still  need to  be defined.   As to  EO 119  removing                                                              
[crisis stabilization  center],  he asked  Mr. Dunmire whether  it                                                              
is accurate  to say that  words mean a lot  as far as  the state's                                                              
ability for  being able to collect  for services like  Crisis Now.                                                              
He further asked  Mr. Dunmire to respond to the  concern that it's                                                              
all or nothing.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DUNMIRE answered  he doesn't  know  how the  removal of  that                                                              
definition  might  impact  funding  but said  Legal  Services  can                                                              
investigate that  and provide  a thorough legal  analysis.   As to                                                              
whether this  would be severable  or subject to being  repealed in                                                              
whole in  a lawsuit, he  said he certainly  thinks that is  a risk                                                              
that could happen.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:38:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS   followed  up  on   Representative  Prax's                                                              
question  by  referring  to  a letter  written  by  the  Anchorage                                                              
Police  Department Employees  Association (APDEA).   He  specified                                                              
that the  concern is  not so  much the  physical facility  but the                                                              
authority.  He said  the letter states: "I write  today my support                                                              
for  HSCR 1  and my  disapproval  of EO  119's potential  negative                                                              
impacts.   The language  in AS 12.25.031  which allows  for police                                                              
offers to  use their  discretion to take  a person suffering  from                                                              
an  acute  behavioral  health crisis  to  a  crisis  stabilization                                                              
center  in  lieu   of  arresting  them  is  necessary   and  fully                                                              
supported by  APDEA."  Representative  Fields interpreted  this to                                                              
mean that  the police are  telling the  committee that it  is very                                                              
risky for a police  officer to do something for  which the officer                                                              
doesn't have  clear statutory authority.   He related that  in his                                                              
district   behavioral  health   issues  and   public  safety   are                                                              
intimately connected  and it is  important for the police  to have                                                              
that  ability.   He said  he  doesn't want  to  endanger what  the                                                              
municipality   and   others  have   done   in  terms   of   crisis                                                              
stabilization.  Obviously,  the facilities are going  to be there,                                                              
he  continued, but  if the  police  don't have  authority to  take                                                              
folks there then they don't function.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:40:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  pointed out  that  currently the  state                                                              
doesn't  have  any  actual  crisis  stabilization  centers.    She                                                              
related  that it's  a goal of  the administration  and the  Mental                                                              
Health  Trust Authority  to  create crisis  stabilization  centers                                                              
and  be able  to divert  people away  from emergency  departments,                                                              
in-patient  psychiatric  facilities,  and  jails  so  that  mental                                                              
health can  be decriminalized,  and people  can get the  treatment                                                              
they  need.   She said  important  reform being  advanced by  this                                                              
administration  and the  Mental  Health Trust  Authority would  be                                                              
seriously  undermined if  creating  the new  crisis  stabilization                                                              
centers, envisioned  as a part  of Crisis  Now, is not  allowed in                                                              
statute when it was passed by the legislature just last year.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:41:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked  whether  anyone is  online  from  the                                                              
administration  who could  address the  points brought  up in  the                                                              
Legal Services memo.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:41:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HEATHER  CARPENTER,  Healthcare  Policy  Advisor,  Office  of  the                                                              
Commissioner,  Department of  Health and  Social Services  (DHSS),                                                              
replied  that  the Department  of  Law  (DOL) received  the  Legal                                                              
Services  memo  on  Saturday [3/6/21],  is  still  doing  internal                                                              
analysis,  and has  a meeting  scheduled with  Legal Services  for                                                              
tomorrow [3/10/21].   She related that  DOL has been asked  by the                                                              
Senate  Finance Standing  Committee  to testify  next  to DHSS  on                                                              
these  questions on  Thursday  [3/11/21].   So,  she continued,  a                                                              
speedy turnaround  is expected  to the  questions raised  by Legal                                                              
Services.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:43:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:43:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY opened public testimony on HSCR 1.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:44:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS,  President, Mat-Su  Chapter of  Association of  Mature                                                              
American  Citizens (AMAC)  Action, related  that his  organization                                                              
has been  briefed by Commissioner  Crum on the splitting  of DHSS.                                                              
He said  working toward  billing the  work in  a timely  and cost-                                                              
effective manner  is good  business practice.   Government  is not                                                              
business, he continued,  and that explains the  over-the-top costs                                                              
to government  versus businesses  which give  out services  and do                                                              
so  with  a profit.    This  split,  he asserted,  will  give  all                                                              
Alaskans a far better  "bang for the buck" that  government so far                                                              
has not  ever given.   He  stated that  his organization  supports                                                              
the  splitting  of  DHSS  in the  manner  that  the  governor  and                                                              
Commissioner Crum  have done.  He  urged the committee  to vote no                                                              
on HSCR 1.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:44:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIM KUKLIS  testified it is wrong  to extend this  executive order                                                              
and keep  facilities  and assistance  closed to  the public.   She                                                              
said  she works  in healthcare,  and  it is  unreal when  watching                                                              
people  on  the  streets with  doors  closed,  facilities  closed,                                                              
support systems closed,  and seeing sadness in the  eyes of little                                                              
ones  in  the schools  knowing  what  they're  going to  at  home.                                                              
"Some  of the  top  healthcare  providers  that are  running  this                                                              
whole   executive  COVID   thing,"  she   continued,  "it's   just                                                              
disheartening, and  it hurts my  heart to even be  affiliated with                                                              
some  of the  healthcare because  it's  just become  such a  power                                                              
link."  She  stated she wants the  governor and all the  folks who                                                              
are giving out  information to keep things closed  to realize that                                                              
they're  in  their  positions  because they  are  supposed  to  be                                                              
serving  the needy  public that  needs  advocates.   She said  she                                                              
hopes somebody does the right thing.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:48:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  closed public  testimony after ascertaining  no                                                              
one else wished to testify on HSCR 1.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:48:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SNYDER moved  to report  HSCR  1 out  of committee  with                                                              
individual  recommendations  and   the  accompanying  zero  fiscal                                                              
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:49:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX objected.   He said  it seems the  discussion                                                              
and testimony on  Executive Order 119 is either too  far down into                                                              
the details  that cannot be  known at this  time or  concern about                                                              
the level  of services.  He  stated he hasn't seen  any indication                                                              
that the  department intends to  reduce or eliminate  any services                                                              
at the  service level  and the  intent is  to help the  department                                                              
run more  efficiently.  He  said it makes  sense for  a department                                                              
this large  to have its own director  so that that person  can pay                                                              
attention to  fewer things and pay  closer attention to  the fewer                                                              
things.   With one commissioner  in charge  of a very  broad range                                                              
of services,  it's very difficult  to focus  on any one  thing, he                                                              
argued.   It is  his experience,  he related,  that when  large or                                                              
small companies  are structured  with smaller  units where  people                                                              
can focus  on a  specific thing  those units  tend to run  better.                                                              
This is  a sound  idea in  principle, he  stated, and  he supports                                                              
the  administration's efforts.    Regarding  the general  public's                                                              
concern about  the level of  service, Representative Prax  said he                                                              
doesn't think there's  any intention to lower those  services.  He                                                              
maintained  it  would not  work  to  have  dozens or  hundreds  of                                                              
stakeholders  engaged  in  the  process  of  trying  to  determine                                                              
something at the  end.  It must be allowed to play  out, he added,                                                              
and odds are it will be found that some changes need to be made.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:52:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  continued speaking  to  his  objection.   He                                                              
stated  the committee  should  wait until  [3/11/21]  to hear  the                                                              
discussion about  the specific legal objections.   For example, he                                                              
explained,  his focus  on the  definition  of a  crisis center  is                                                              
because he  is pretty  sure that the  Fairbanks police  do deliver                                                              
people  to places  other  than jail.    Functionally  it would  be                                                              
understood as a  crisis center, he asserted, and might  be a place                                                              
that deals  with alcoholism  or  something else.   There might  be                                                              
lots of  facilities that  are understood to  function as  a crisis                                                              
center  and   could  be   defined  in   regulation  or   contract.                                                              
Therefore,  he argued,  crisis  center should  not  be defined  in                                                              
statute because  there are  many variations to  what it  could be.                                                              
It is  an example  of getting too  far into  the details  when the                                                              
focus needs to be on the higher level.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  further  stated   that  the  purpose  of  an                                                              
executive department  is to review  its organizations and  come up                                                              
with how  to run the  business that  the legislature  has directed                                                              
the executive  department to run.   He maintained it  doesn't work                                                              
to have 60 people  trying to figure out how to  tell the executive                                                              
to do something.   That's the executive's job and  that's what has                                                              
been done, he added, and the legislature should support that.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:54:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ   asserted  that  words,   details,  and                                                              
language matter  and are literally  the work that  the legislature                                                              
does.   On  the House  floor and  in committee,  she pointed  out,                                                              
legislators have  had detailed  substantial conversations  about a                                                              
single word  because the  words that  the legislature  approves or                                                              
disapproves impact  the lives of hundreds of  thousands of people.                                                              
Alaska  has sobering  centers,  addiction  treatment centers,  and                                                              
in-patient  psychiatric institutions,  she  continued, but  Alaska                                                              
does not  currently have crisis  stabilization centers,  which are                                                              
needed  to   divert  people  away   from  prisons   and  emergency                                                              
departments.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  specified  that  the  [Legal  Services]                                                              
memo  has  identified many  flaws  and  numerous  unconstitutional                                                              
provisions in  the EO.  These  are not unsubstantial  changes, she                                                              
stressed,  but  changing  law  in  a  way  not  permitted  by  the                                                              
Constitution of the  State of Alaska.  There  are very significant                                                              
errors.  As was  said in testimony, she continued,  if it's a good                                                              
idea now it  will still be a  good idea in 6-12 months  when there                                                              
has been a chance to do the work and engage stakeholders.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:56:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  outlined the  things  she believes  are                                                              
particularly  saliant  about  the   EO.    She  pointed  out  that                                                              
drafting errors in  an executive order cannot be  corrected by the                                                              
legislature,  it  is an  "all  or nothing"  vote,  a  yea or  nay.                                                              
There  are substantial  changes in  the EO  that are  problematic,                                                              
she said,  so she will  oppose EO [119] and  support HSCR 1.   One                                                              
problem  is the  changing of  board  membership from  nine to  ten                                                              
members, she  opined, which  is a  significant expansion  of power                                                              
on  the  administration's  part.    Not  only  is  an  odd  number                                                              
important  for  resolving  issues,  she  said, but  it  would  add                                                              
additional  administrative members.    She recalled  [Commissioner                                                              
Crum] stating  that it  shouldn't matter  because the  legislature                                                              
confirms members  of those boards.   She allowed that  that's true                                                              
but noted that every  one of those boards was crafted  in law in a                                                              
very carefully negotiated  compromise.  So, she argued,  the EO to                                                              
expand those boards  and have additional administrative  positions                                                              
on them is a  massive expansion of power, and the  EO would change                                                              
multiple boards in  that way.  Representative Spohnholz  noted the                                                              
committee  has already  discussed  the elimination  of the  crisis                                                              
stabilization  centers which  are important  to the reforms  being                                                              
looked at.  She  said the EO also eliminates  the Criminal Justice                                                              
Commission and  creates the Criminal Justice  Information Advisory                                                              
Commission.  While  this was recommended by  legislative auditors,                                                              
she maintained that  it needs to be done in statute  because it is                                                              
a very  significant change that  needs to be discussed  in detail.                                                              
Representative   Spohnholz  further  pointed   out  that   the  EO                                                              
dramatically  expands  the  administration's  authority  to  issue                                                              
regulations  and that  the administration  has said  not to  worry                                                              
because there's  an extensive public review process  for approving                                                              
new  regulations.   However,  she continued,  this  administration                                                              
has  advanced numerous  emergency  regulatory packages,  including                                                              
rate  cuts   and  new  regulations   for  implementation   of  the                                                              
[Medicaid]  1115 Waiver, and  didn't respond  to the public  input                                                              
on  those, creating  much heartache  and headache  for the  people                                                              
providing  those services  and who  didn't  have a  chance to  get                                                              
their  input delivered.    It's  a disingenuous  statement  to say                                                              
[DHSS] has a robust public process, she charged.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:59:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  added   that  she  is  not  opposed  to                                                              
reorganizing  DHSS and  agrees  with the  commissioner's  position                                                              
that  additional  leadership  is  needed  to manage  some  of  the                                                              
complicated  challenges  had  by   the  department,  given  it  is                                                              
roughly  a  $3.4 billion  organization.    But  how that  is  done                                                              
really matters, she  said.  Last year the  administration proposed                                                              
adding a couple  executive positions, she stated, but  this year a                                                              
massive  expansion  of  13  new  senior  executives  is  proposed.                                                              
There are many problems  with this, she asserted, and  it's such a                                                              
massive expansion  of power on  the administration's part  that it                                                              
would  be irresponsible  to approve  it.  She  stated that  voting                                                              
for HSCR  1, declining EO  119, is the  only responsible  thing to                                                              
do for  the people  of Alaska  and to  avoid the  risk of  certain                                                              
lawsuits that  would happen if  this executive order  were allowed                                                              
to go through.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:00:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS thanked  the stakeholders  who weighed  in.                                                              
He said he is  particularly concerned about the  ability of police                                                              
to deal  with people  in mental  health crisis,  about impacts  on                                                              
foster care articulated  by Facing Foster Care,  and about impacts                                                              
on OCS and vulnerable  children as heard from tribal  leaders.  He                                                              
acknowledged DHSS  has many hard  working and inspiring  staff who                                                              
have done incredible  work in the last year.  He  said he hopes it                                                              
is ensured  that any proposed  reorganization has  sufficient time                                                              
to be executed smoothly and in coordination with stakeholders.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:01:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA explained  he is conflicted  because  of the                                                              
big  concerns  about  legislative  authority  brought  up  by  Mr.                                                              
Dunmire.   There has  been a  lot of long-term  erosion  of things                                                              
that  are   clearly  the   legislature's  responsibility   in  the                                                              
constitution,  he opined.    He said  he would  like  to hear  the                                                              
Department  of Law   answers  before deciding  whether to  support                                                              
the current version  of EO 119 and, until he  hears those answers,                                                              
he cannot support HSCR 1.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:02:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCARTY offered  his understanding  that only  the                                                              
executor can amend  the executive order and legislators  have many                                                              
questions  but cannot make  any changes  to the  EO.   However, he                                                              
opined,  in just  a  few days  people will  be  presenting to  the                                                              
questions and  it would  be appropriate to  postpone this  vote to                                                              
give fair audience  to those people and the questions.   He stated                                                              
he  is concerned  about  several things  in  the EO  and sees  the                                                              
expeditious  need to serve  the people  of Alaska.   He  said many                                                              
interesting  things have  happened with  COVID-19 and  reassessing                                                              
management of  operations of different  things.  He  suggested the                                                              
vote be postponed until after the answers are heard.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:03:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SNYDER  said she appreciates  the desire to wait  to vote                                                              
until  hearing from  the  Department of  Law  regarding the  Legal                                                              
Services  memo.   However,  she  stated,  the  committee is  in  a                                                              
predicament with the  timing and looming deadline of  3/21/21.  If                                                              
HSCR 1 isn't  passed out of committee today,  she continued, being                                                              
able  to  vote on  this  in  joint  session  would be  in  serious                                                              
jeopardy   given  the  remaining   steps   that  must  be   taken.                                                              
Something  might be  heard from  the Department  of Law this  week                                                              
that  puts Representative  McCarty in  opposition to  EO 119,  she                                                              
said, but  there wouldn't  be the chance  to consider  it together                                                              
in joint  session.  It isn't  just issues with the  Legal Services                                                              
memo,  she  opined,   but  also  the  issues   around  stakeholder                                                              
engagement,  details  of the  plan,  and unknown  and  unclarified                                                              
costs that  are enough for  her to want to  be able to  bring this                                                              
to a vote in joint session.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:08:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY asked  whether  Representative Prax  maintained                                                              
his objection.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX appreciated  folks  wanting  to be  cautious,                                                              
and  that members'  only options  are do  nothing or  say no,  and                                                              
that  the  deadline is  3/21/21.    He  suggested there  would  be                                                              
enough time for  committee members to listen to  the discussion in                                                              
the  Senate hearing  [on  3/11/21] and  then  the committee  could                                                              
meet that  afternoon  or the following  day [3/12/21]  to  pass or                                                              
not pass [HSCR 1].                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY noted  the  concerns are  about  constitutional                                                              
authority,  fiscal ambiguity,  and  program ambiguity.   She  said                                                              
the House has an  opportunity to consider HSCR 1,  the Senate will                                                              
be  considering  a special  concurrent  resolution,  and then  the                                                              
bodies meet  in joint session,  so there  is nothing that  goes to                                                              
the  floor.    She  specified  that  the  3/21/21  deadline  is  a                                                              
deadline  that  is  set  in constitution  and  is  what  puts  the                                                              
legislature  against  a  timeclock   that  otherwise  wouldn't  be                                                              
there.  She  reiterated that if this  is a good idea  now, it will                                                              
continue to be a  good idea six months from now.   She offered her                                                              
belief that the  committee   intent is to make  a consideration on                                                              
HSCR  1.     She  surmised  Representative  Prax   maintained  his                                                              
objection to moving the resolution from committee today.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:10:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  maintained  his  objection.   He  stated  he                                                              
would like to  ask the administration what the  consequences might                                                              
be of the legislature  declining [the EO] and whether  it could be                                                              
brought back  the next day and  the process started over  again or                                                              
a significant setback if this turns out to be a good idea.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   ZULKOSKY  outlined   the  timeline   under  which   the                                                              
administration proposed  EO 119: EO  announced by the  governor on                                                              
December  22, [2020],  work done  with the Department  of  Law for                                                              
about a  month, EO  read across  the Senate  floor on  January 25,                                                              
[2021].   It is  now the  beginning of  March and  there has  been                                                              
ample opportunity  for engagement  on this issue,  she said.   She                                                              
stated  she  would  not  entertain  prolonged  discussion  as  the                                                              
committee  has had  opportunity for  dialogue today.   She  stated                                                              
that consideration  and clarity will be forthcoming  in the Senate                                                              
and recommended  that this  body tune into  that and  follow along                                                              
in the process.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SNYDER pointed  out that  the committee  is required  to                                                              
give adequate notice  if it holds additional meetings,  which adds                                                              
additional days when calculating backward from the deadline.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:13:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:16:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA  stated  that considering  the  schedule  he                                                              
would like  the opportunity  to vote  on the floor  on HSCR  1 but                                                              
has not yet decided  whether he supports the executive  order.  If                                                              
the  resolution is  not  passed out  of  committee, he  continued,                                                              
then members will  not have the opportunity to  stop the executive                                                              
order  if that is  what they  want to  do, and  therefore he  will                                                              
support the resolution.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was taken.   Representatives Spohnholz,  Fields,                                                              
McCarty, Kurka, Zulkosky,  and Snyder voted in  favor of reporting                                                              
HSCR  1 from  committee.   Representative Prax  voted against  it.                                                              
Therefore, HSCR  1 was reported  from the House Health  and Social                                                              
Services Standing Committee by a vote of 6-1.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:17:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The  committee took  an at-ease  from 4:17  p.m. to  4:22 p.m.  to                                                              
sign the committee reports.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          HB  76-EXTENDING COVID 19 DISASTER EMERGENCY                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:22:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  announced that  the  final order  of  business                                                              
would be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 76,  "An Act  extending the  January 15,                                                              
2021,  governor's   declaration  of   a  public  health   disaster                                                              
emergency  in response to  the novel  coronavirus disease  (COVID-                                                              
19) pandemic;  providing  for a financing  plan; making  temporary                                                              
changes to state  law in response to the COVID-19  outbreak in the                                                              
following   areas:   occupational  and   professional   licensing,                                                              
practice,  and billing;  telehealth;  fingerprinting  requirements                                                              
for health  care providers;  charitable gaming  and online  ticket                                                              
sales; access  to federal  stabilization  funds; wills; unfair  or                                                              
deceptive  trade  practices;  and meetings  of  shareholders;  and                                                              
providing for an  effective date."  [Before the  committee was the                                                              
proposed  committee  substitute   (CS)  for  HB  76,  Version  32-                                                              
GH1011\B,  Dunmire,  3/3/21,  ("Version  B"), adopted  as  a  work                                                              
draft on 3/4/21.]                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:22:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  specified that 18  amendments to Version  B are                                                              
proposed for the committee's consideration today.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:23:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 4:23 p.m. to 4:26 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:26:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  offered  her appreciation  for  the  committee                                                              
working its way through these big policy considerations.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:26:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 4:26 p.m. to 4:27 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:27:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTY stated he would not offer Amendment 1.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:27:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  asked whether  Representative  McCarty  [would                                                              
not be offering] Amendments 2 through 16.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCARTY  confirmed  he  [would  not  be  offering]                                                              
Amendments 2 through 16.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:27:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KURKA moved to adopt Amendment 17, [labeled 32-                                                                  
GH1011\B.2, Dunmire, 3/5/21], which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, lines 8 - 9:                                                                                                       
          Delete "relating to personal objections to the                                                                      
     administration of COVID-19 vaccines;"                                                                                    
          Insert "relating to the right to refuse                                                                             
     administration of COVID-19 vaccines;"                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Page 10, lines 9 - 10:                                                                                                     
          Delete "PERSONAL OBJECTIONS TO THE ADMINISTRATION                                                                     
     OF COVID-19 VACCINES."                                                                                                     
          Insert "RIGHT TO REFUSE ADMINISTRATION OF COVID-                                                                      
     19 VACCINES. (a)"                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page 10, following line 15:                                                                                                
     Insert new subsections to read:                                                                                            
          "(b)  Notwithstanding AS 14.07.020(a)(7) and                                                                          
     AS 14.30.125,   a  school  may   not  require   a  child                                                                   
     attending the school to be immunized against COVID-19.                                                                     
          (c)  A common carrier may not require a                                                                               
     passenger,   as  a   condition  of   transport,  to   be                                                                   
     vaccinated   against  COVID-19.   In  this   subsection,                                                                   
     "common    carrier"   has    the   meaning   given    in                                                                   
     AS 04.16.125(c).                                                                                                           
          (d)  An employer may not require an employee, as                                                                      
     a  condition of  employment,  to be  vaccinated  against                                                                   
     COVID-19.   In    this   subsection,   "employee"    and                                                                   
     "employer" have the meanings given in AS 18.60.105(a).                                                                     
          (e)  A business, state agency, or political                                                                           
     subdivision of  the state may not require  an individual                                                                   
     to  be vaccinated  against COVID-19  for the  individual                                                                   
     to  access  an area  or  service  that  is open  to  the                                                                   
     public. In  this subsection, "business" has  the meaning                                                                   
     given in AS 18.35.399.                                                                                                     
          (f)  A state agency or political subdivision of                                                                       
     the  state   may  not  adopt  or  issue   a  regulation,                                                                   
     ordinance,  order, or  similar policy  that requires  an                                                                   
     individual  to be  vaccinated against  COVID-19 for  the                                                                   
     individual  to exercise  a  right or  receive a  benefit                                                                   
     that is available to the public."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:27:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ objected.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:27:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KURKA  explained Amendment  17 makes it  clear that                                                              
Alaskans have  the right to choose  whether to receive  the COVID-                                                              
19 vaccines.   He stated that  the vaccines have not  gone through                                                              
the regular approval  process at the Food and  Drug Administration                                                              
(FDA)  and have  been rushed.   In  a time  of extraordinary  fear                                                              
around COVID,  he opined, it  is important  to make it  clear that                                                              
health  care choice  is  a freedom  and  people  can choose  which                                                              
immunizations they do or don't want to take.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:28:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ offered  her  understanding that  nobody                                                              
is being  forced to take a  vaccine and that vaccines  are totally                                                              
optional  right  now  with the  exception  that  potentially  some                                                              
employers  might require  them,  particularly in  the health  care                                                              
arena which  she would consider  to be a personal  responsibility.                                                              
She further  offered her  understanding that  the approval  of the                                                              
COVID-19 vaccines  did go through the traditional  FDA process and                                                              
what happened  was that the  research and development  process was                                                              
accelerated  because  everybody  in health  care  science  dropped                                                              
everything else  and collaborated.   She maintained  her objection                                                              
to Amendment 17.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:30:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY stated  that  Section 11  includes  protections                                                              
that an  individual may object to  the administration of  a COVID-                                                              
19 vaccine and  that there is no requirement  that anybody provide                                                              
justification for declination.   There is no force  of law that is                                                              
requiring  the COVID-19 vaccine,  she continued,  so Amendment  17                                                              
seems redundant.   She asked  Representative Kurka whether  she is                                                              
misinterpreting that.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA replied  that  Amendment 17  leaves most  of                                                              
the language  in place  but makes the  language stronger  and very                                                              
clear that  Alaskans have the right  to choose whether  to receive                                                              
the vaccine.   For example,  he explained,  on page 1,  lines 8-9,                                                              
"personal  objections" would  be  deleted and  replaced with  "the                                                              
right to  refuse  administration  of COVID-19 vaccines  because he                                                              
believes it  is a right to  choose whether to receive  the vaccine                                                              
and is not just about personal objection.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:32:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  agreed with Amendment 17's sentiment  that no                                                              
one should  be required  to accept a  vaccine but maintained  that                                                              
[citizens] have  the constitutional right  to not be forced  to do                                                              
that in the  first place.  He  concurred it is in Section  11, but                                                              
said  he is  uncomfortable  about  precedents that  get  set.   He                                                              
stated he  doesn't want people  to get  the idea that  their right                                                              
to  something comes  from the  government,  the government  should                                                              
just be  recognizing rights,  which is being  done at  this point.                                                              
He  said it  is for  that reason  that the  committee should  vote                                                              
against Amendment 17.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:33:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 4:33 p.m. to 4:40 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:40:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  reminded members that Representative  Spohnholz                                                              
had previously maintained her objection.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:40:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA spoke  further  to Amendment  17.   He  said                                                              
Section 11 of  Version B "lists personal objections  and lists who                                                              
may not  be required, but  it doesn't clarify  who they  might not                                                              
be required  by,and   it could be  interpreted that it  may not be                                                              
required  by  the state.    He  specified  that the  proposed  new                                                              
subsections in  Amendment 17  - (b), (c),  (d), and (e)  - clarify                                                              
employers may not  require this as a condition of  employment.  He                                                              
added  that he  isn't concerned  about  this administration  which                                                              
has made  it clear that  it is not  going to require  vaccination,                                                              
only  encourage it  strongly;  his concern  is  that other  actors                                                              
outside the administration  will, and he wants to  ensure that the                                                              
right to decline a vaccine is upheld.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:42:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ maintained her objection.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:42:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.   Representatives Kurka  and McCarty                                                              
voted  in  favor  of  adopting   Amendment  17.    Representatives                                                              
Spohnholz, Fields,  Prax, Zulkosky,  and Snyder voted  against it.                                                              
Therefore, Amendment 17 failed by a vote of 2-5.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:43:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA moved  to adopt Amendment  18, [labeled  32-                                                              
GH1011\B.1, Dunmire, 3/4/21], which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 7, following "shareholders;":                                                                               
          Insert "relating to the powers of the governor                                                                      
     during a disaster emergency; relating to the powers of                                                                   
     municipalities;"                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Page 10, following line 21:                                                                                                
     Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                          
        "* Sec. 13. AS 26.23.020(b) is amended to read:                                                                     
          (b)  Except as provided in (l) of this section,                                                                   
     the  [THE]  governor may  issue  orders,  proclamations,                                                               
     and regulations  necessary to carry out the  purposes of                                                                   
     this chapter,  and amend or rescind them.  These orders,                                                                   
     proclamations, and regulations have the force of law.                                                                      
        *  Sec. 14.  AS 26.23.020  is amended  by adding  new                                                                 
     subsections to read:                                                                                                       
          (l)  The governor may not issue an order,                                                                             
     proclamation, or regulation that                                                                                           
               (1)  requires an individual to stay at home                                                                      
     or shelter in place;                                                                                                       
               (2)  prohibits or restricts the operations                                                                       
     of a business or a place of worship; or                                                                                    
               (3)  declares a person or a business as                                                                          
     essential  or   nonessential  based  on  the   trade  or                                                                   
     occupation of the person or business.                                                                                      
          (m)  In this section, "business" has the meaning                                                                      
     given in AS 18.35.399.                                                                                                     
        *  Sec. 15.  AS 26.23.140  is amended  by adding  new                                                                 
     subsections to read:                                                                                                       
          (d)  Notwithstanding a local disaster emergency                                                                       
     declared under  (a) of this section, a  municipality may                                                                   
     not issue an order, proclamation, or regulation that                                                                       
               (1)  requires an individual to stay at home                                                                      
     or shelter in place;                                                                                                       
               (2)  prohibits or restricts the operations                                                                       
     of a business or a place of worship; or                                                                                    
               (3)  declares a person or a business as                                                                          
     essential  or   nonessential  based  on  the   trade  or                                                                   
     occupation of the person or business.                                                                                      
          (e)  In this section, "business" has the meaning                                                                      
     given in AS 18.35.399."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page 11, line 7:                                                                                                           
          Delete "this Act is"                                                                                                  
          Insert "secs. 1 - 12 and 16 - 18 of this Act are"                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:43:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:43:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA explained  that Amendment  18 addresses  the                                                              
issue  of  government   shutdowns  and  what  he   calls  a  clear                                                              
violation  of the  Constitution of  the State  of Alaska  ("Alaska                                                              
Constitution")  in  terms of  religious  liberty.   He  read  from                                                              
Article  I, Section  1, of  the Alaska  Constitution which  states                                                              
that the  constitution "is  dedicated to  the principles  that all                                                              
persons  have a natural  right to  life, liberty,  the pursuit  of                                                              
happiness,  and  the  enjoyment   of  the  rewards  of  their  own                                                              
industry".   Over the last year,  he opined, that was  violated in                                                              
a way  never seen by this  country and he  wants to make  it clear                                                              
that it's not going  to happen again with an executive  order.  He                                                              
said he has many  concerns about [HB 76] and any  extension of the                                                              
governor's executive orders.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:44:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS spoke to  his objection.   He related  that                                                              
the  businesses in  his district  have been  affected by  capacity                                                              
limits  and other  emergency orders,  which  are local  government                                                              
decisions, not  state decisions.   He stated  that HB 76  does not                                                              
impose  such  limitations,  nor  impose new  limits  on  municipal                                                              
power, and  he is concerned  about the  bill being used  to impose                                                              
new  limits on  municipal power  and he  isn't a  fan of  unfunded                                                              
mandates.   This bill, he added,  is focused on  efficient vaccine                                                              
distribution,  and maintaining  testing at  airports for  incoming                                                              
travelers,  which   businesses  in   his  district  tell   him  is                                                              
important.   He said  he wants  Anchorage to  be able  to continue                                                              
pulling back  on capacity limits  and letting businesses  function                                                              
at full capacity  which is much  more likely to continue  if there                                                              
is  testing  and  efficient  vaccine  distribution  to  help  keep                                                              
variants out  of Alaska.  While  he understands the  sentiments of                                                              
Amendment  18, he  continued, it  isn't what  the underlying  bill                                                              
deals  with,  and  he  doesn't   want  to  go  down  the  road  of                                                              
relitigating  state and municipal  power as  it relates  to public                                                              
health emergencies.  He said he will maintain his objection.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:46:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives  Prax and  Kurka                                                              
voted  in  favor  of  adopting   Amendment  18.    Representatives                                                              
Spohnholz,  Fields, McCarty,  Zulkosky, and  Snyder voted  against                                                              
it.  Therefore, Amendment 18 failed by a vote of 2-5.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:46:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:47:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY opened public testimony on HB 76, Version B.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:48:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
FRANCINE  REUTER stated  she is  not  in favor  of continuing  the                                                              
emergency order.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:48:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHANDRA CAFFROY  recalled  that on 2/14/[21]  the governor  stated                                                              
in a press release  that he reserved the right  to declare another                                                              
emergency if  the data showed a need.   She said the  data shows a                                                              
decline in  COVID-19 cases  and deaths  despite expiration  of the                                                              
emergency order  and that  according to the  governor there  is no                                                              
need  for another  extension  or declaration  of  emergency.   She                                                              
said she  represents 125  people meeting  across Alaska  and about                                                              
2,000   people   in  a   Facebook   group  called   Alaskans   for                                                              
Constitutional     Rights    that     oppose    the     governor's                                                              
unconstitutional  mandates.  She  stated that in  testimony before                                                              
a Senate  committee in  early February  [2021], Commissioner  Crum                                                              
admitted  that  none  of  the  items  in  HB  76  require  another                                                              
emergency order.   She asserted  that every item can  be addressed                                                              
in  separate   legislation  that   does  not  give   the  governor                                                              
unnecessary  powers to  again  trample constitutional  rights  and                                                              
circumvent  the   voice  of  the  people  through   their  elected                                                              
legislators.    She  stated  that  the same  or  higher  value  of                                                              
importance should  be given to the  will of the people  as opposed                                                              
to the will of  businesses and organizations that  profit from the                                                              
continuation  of emergency orders  and spreading  fear.   She said                                                              
the  testimony  of  doctors  should not  be  given  unfair  weight                                                              
against  the  people  and the  people's  inherent  rights  because                                                              
Alaskans  can assess  risk  and  make their  own  decisions.   She                                                              
urged  for other  avenues to  be  pursued and  asked that  members                                                              
vote no on HB 76.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:51:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HERMAN  MORGAN  urged   committee  members  to  vote   no  on  the                                                              
governor's  [proposed] extension.    He stated  that on  1/20/[21]                                                              
the  World  Health  Organization  reported that  there  were  many                                                              
false positives, so  a lot of people said to  have COVID-19 didn't                                                              
have it.   He asserted  that a  lot of deaths  claimed to  be from                                                              
COVID-19  were not.    He related  that  he testified  before  the                                                              
Senate Health  and Social Services  Standing Committee a  week and                                                              
a half ago where  he urged a no vote on the  emergency extensions.                                                              
He maintained  that the  infection numbers  are inflated  and that                                                              
medicines  like  Ivermectin cure  COVID.   He  further  maintained                                                              
that there  is no concern  for a hospital  bed shortage,  which is                                                              
the  argument for  emergency  orders and  lockdowns.   He  alleged                                                              
that this is  all about receiving federal disaster  money and said                                                              
it  shouldn't  be  that  way.    He  charged  that  extending  the                                                              
emergency  order  is  an  acceptance  of  $530  million  from  the                                                              
federal  government and  that most  of  it goes  to the  teachers                                                               
union  lobbyists  while  Alaska  has  the  lowest  scores  in  the                                                              
nation.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:53:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KELSA BRANDENBURG  testified in  support of HB  76.  She  said she                                                              
loves   that  Alaska   is   leading   the  way   for   vaccination                                                              
distribution.   She related that  since January [2021]  Dillingham                                                              
has  had  two  mass  vaccination   events,  vaccinating  over  700                                                              
people,  as well  as  ongoing  vaccination appointments  and  home                                                              
visits.   Dillingham schools were  closed for about two  weeks due                                                              
to potential  exposure in  February.  Progress  is being  made but                                                              
nothing has really  changed, she opined, in that there  is still a                                                              
worldwide pandemic  with people dying  and getting sick  every day                                                              
everywhere.   This past  summer Dillingham  managed the  spread of                                                              
COVID-19  with  some strict  ordinances,  she  stated.   The  fish                                                              
processing  plant  kept  to itself,  fishermen  went  directly  to                                                              
their vessels,  tourists  went directly to  their destinations,  a                                                              
10-day   quarantine  is   required   upon   arrival,  and   travel                                                              
notification  forms  and  masks  are required  in  businesses  and                                                              
public  places.   To date  Dillingham  has had  76 positive  cases                                                              
with  zero  deaths.   She  offered  her  belief that  without  the                                                              
governor's  original declaration,  the  health  mandates, and  the                                                              
advisories,  Dillingham    and Alaska's  positive  COVID-19  cases                                                              
and  mortality  rates  would  be   much  higher.    She  said  the                                                              
governor's  declaration helped  Dillingham  and other  communities                                                              
with  guidance  and  assistance  to protect  themselves  from  the                                                              
pandemic; without  it, communities  would have been  scrambling to                                                              
figure it  out on their  own.  The  pandemic cannot  be controlled                                                              
but  it can  be  managed, she  continued,  and  with tourists  and                                                              
fishing  season right  around the  corner, now  isn't the  time to                                                              
relax.  She  urged diligence in  continuing to slow the  spread of                                                              
COVID-19 by extending the declaration through passage of HB 76.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:55:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LOUIS IMBRIANI testified  that whether HB 76 is passed  or not, it                                                              
is still  a Band-Aid that  doesn't fix the  problem.  He  said the                                                              
people  who provided  invited  testimony  identified some  serious                                                              
issues with the  state just on a regular basis.   He asserted that                                                              
even if  the emergency  order goes  away the  people who  need the                                                              
most help  will still  not have  been helped    people  struggling                                                              
with drug  and alcohol abuse, people  who are hungry  or homeless.                                                              
The red tape that  government has put up in different  sectors has                                                              
caused  severe inequity  to people  around  Alaska, he  continued.                                                              
He stated he doesn't  know what the final solution  to the problem                                                              
is, but  that allowing  one person  to make sweeping  declarations                                                              
[doesn't  help]  places that  might  need  more support,  such  as                                                              
Petersburg, or places  like Anchorage that are being  held down by                                                              
unconstitutional  orders.   He  maintained  that certain  supports                                                              
are needed and have not been received.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:57:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAMELA FAMISH  testified she was  sad that Representative  Kurka's                                                              
amendments   failed  because   she  feels   he  is  proactive   in                                                              
protecting Alaskans.   She urged committee members  to not support                                                              
HB  76  because everyone  is  "COVIDed  out."   She  related  that                                                              
business owners in  Fairbanks have suffered so  much, even without                                                              
lockdowns, and  that there  has been a  mental health toll  on the                                                              
people in  her community.   She  said the  federal money  [that is                                                              
received] comes  with rules that continue the  lockdowns, masking,                                                              
and what  she calls  oppression.   This perpetuates the  problems,                                                              
she maintained,  because the longer  the lockdowns the  less money                                                              
is  made  and   then  more  money  is  needed   from  the  federal                                                              
government, which  continues the  cycle.  She  urged a no  vote on                                                              
HB 76 to set Alaskans free.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:59:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  COONS,  President,  Mat-Su Chapter,  Association  of  Mature                                                              
American  Citizens  (AMAC)  Action,   testified  that  the  Mat-Su                                                              
Chapter  supported   the  emergency  order  originally,   but  the                                                              
emergency order  has expired,  and the  governor has still  gotten                                                              
the job done.   He said seniors  have still received  vaccines and                                                              
the therapeutics  of care  needed are still  being delivered.   He                                                              
stated  that  the  Senate  is working  on  getting  the  non-COVID                                                              
issues within  [Executive Order  119] done via legislation,  which                                                              
his  organization  supports.   He  said  the governor  is  showing                                                              
those cities that  still have their economies closed  by mandating                                                              
masks and lockdowns  in the guise of an emergency  are not needed.                                                              
Government must  get out  of the way,  he asserted,  this governor                                                              
did a  good job during  this pandemic and  Alaska is far  ahead of                                                              
other states  and is in a recovery  phase.  He asked  that members                                                              
not  step in  front of  that recovery  and  said his  organization                                                              
opposes HB 76 because it is no longer needed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:00:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHRYN MAWERY  urged a no  vote on HB  76 which would  extend the                                                              
emergency order.   (Indisc.  -- poor phone  reception.)   She said                                                              
it is  restraining and  a power play  and that it  is time  to let                                                              
people  get back  to work  and provide  for their  families.   She                                                              
questioned  why  HB 76  is  being  discussed  and said  the  state                                                              
should be opened.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY   encouraged  Ms.  Mawery  to   submit  written                                                              
testimony due to technical difficulties with phone reception.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:02:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEATRICE HUCK  urged that  HB 76  not be approved.   She  said she                                                              
works for  a local emergency department  and that she  has noticed                                                              
a decline  in patient [numbers]  since before the start  of COVID-                                                              
19 and  last year's  emergency declaration.    She opined  that if                                                              
Alaska  were  in   a  real  emergency  state  there   would  be  a                                                              
significant  number of  patients and  her place  of work would  be                                                              
overrun, which has  not been the case.  Since  the emergency order                                                              
ended a  month ago  the number of  patients hasn't  gone up.   She                                                              
further related  that her  teenage son  has been  at home  for the                                                              
past year  unable to socialize in  person with other kids  and all                                                              
his learning  has been  done online.   She  said her son's  health                                                              
has  been negatively  affected and  he has  depression issues  and                                                              
continuing the  lockdowns and mandates  will not be helpful.   She                                                              
shared  that  she has  friends  who  have lost  their  livelihoods                                                              
because  of  the lockdowns.    Summer  is  coming and  tourism  is                                                              
needed to  help the state  with revenue,  she added, and  having a                                                              
lockdown  until the  end  of summer  would  cause  more harm  than                                                              
good.   She  urged there  not  be an  extension  of the  emergency                                                              
order and that there be some other resolution.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:05:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH HOLMES  asked that  the committee  vote no on  extending                                                              
the  COVID-19 mandate.   She  pointed  to South  Dakota and  Texas                                                              
which  have no  mandates and  said  those states  are doing  well.                                                              
She  said  Alaska  needs  tourism  to  be  opened  and  urged  the                                                              
committee to vote no.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:06:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JONATHAN GALIN  testified that  HB 76  and extending the  COVID-19                                                              
disaster  declaration is  important legislation  that needs  to be                                                              
passed now.   He  maintained that  not passing  the bill  would be                                                              
foolhardy    and   irresponsible    and   would   ignore    public                                                              
endangerment.   The  bill should  not  and is  not about  partisan                                                              
politics,  he opined,  it is about  Alaska's  safety.  Without  an                                                              
updated public  health disaster emergency declaration,  he stated,                                                              
Alaska's healthcare  system will  not be  able to access  critical                                                              
operational flexibilities  that have  aided in testing,  treating,                                                              
and vaccinating  for COVID.   He further  stated that the  lack of                                                              
emergency  declaration further  limits  cancer  patients to  tele-                                                              
health services  and lifesaving  treatment  and that some  adverse                                                              
effects  of  the  declaration's   expiration  include  closure  of                                                              
drive-through COVID-19  testing sites and travelers  are no longer                                                              
required  to   present  a  negative   COVID-19  test   or  undergo                                                              
mandatory  testing upon  arrival at  Alaska's airports.   He  said                                                              
the  recent  mandatory  airport   testing  was  made  possible  by                                                              
funding  through the  declaration  that has  expired.   This is  a                                                              
life and  death issue,  he continued,  and the  reason Alaska  has                                                              
had  tremendous  success  is  because  of  the  past  declaration,                                                              
specifically  for mandatory testing.   He  maintained that  if the                                                              
virus spikes  again Alaska's  fiscal issues  cannot be  rectified,                                                              
nor businesses reopened in a meaningful way.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:08:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LEONARD  SABICH  testified he  opposes  HB 76.    He  said he  has                                                              
watched  the  past declaration  kill  things  around Alaska.    He                                                              
stated that tourism  for this summer is in limbo  in Homer, people                                                              
are  depressed including  in his  own family,  and businesses  are                                                              
being killed including  his business.  He urged that  the state be                                                              
opened  and  returned  to  work.     He  maintained  that  nothing                                                              
warrants  this   oppression  against  constitutional   rights  and                                                              
advocated for the committee vote no on the bill.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:09:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EDWARD MARTIN  testified that he  just returned from  Hawaii after                                                              
more  than a year  and that  this is  because he  wouldn't sign  a                                                              
travel document that  would further take away his  liberties under                                                              
criminal  and  civil penalties.    He  charged that  something  is                                                              
seriously  wrong  to  think  about extending  these  powers  to  a                                                              
governor  who  has  already  abused  his  authority  three  times;                                                              
rather,  the  legislature  should  impeach the  governor  and  the                                                              
commissioner  for  bringing  this  scourge  on  the  liberties  of                                                              
Alaskans.   He said he  doesn't need an  education from  anyone on                                                              
how to stay six  feet away from someone else or  whether to wear a                                                              
mask,  and  that vaccines  are  the  same and  legislators  cannot                                                              
force people  to do anything.   The rights  of Alaskans  are being                                                              
deprived under the  color of law, he opined, and  it is foolish to                                                              
give the governor this power.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:12:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADAM HYKES testified  in opposition to HB 76.  He  opined that the                                                              
reasons and  findings on  pages 2-3  of the  bill are the  reasons                                                              
that he  would use  to no  longer have  the emergency  declaration                                                              
and to oppose HB  76.  He asserted that the provisions  on page 8,                                                              
line  17,   meetings  of  shareholders,   and  page  9,   line  9,                                                              
Department  of Revenue, are  no longer  necessary when  people can                                                              
maintain  social  distance,  properly   mask,  be  vaccinated,  or                                                              
receive preventative  treatment as ways to beat COVID.   This bill                                                              
is obsolete, he  said.  Corporations have had a year  to get their                                                              
act together and  make this happen themselves; it  doesn't need to                                                              
be legislated.   He maintained that there is no piece  of the bill                                                              
that  cannot  be   legislated  on  its  own  without   a  disaster                                                              
declaration, and  therefore it is unnecessary.   He further stated                                                              
that  citizens   cannot   be  forced  to   take  an   experimental                                                              
vaccination.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:14:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARSHALL SEVERSON  related that he  has read about the  1918 [flu]                                                              
disaster in  history books, which  impacted Alaska and  the Native                                                              
community.   He  noted  that   andemic   means  worldwide and  for                                                              
this  reason he  believes reopening  Alaska  without an  emergency                                                              
declaration  will probably  lead the  state into  another wave  of                                                              
COVID-19 infections  with a bad effect on communities.   He stated                                                              
Alaska's  Native villages  have it  right with  the mandates  they                                                              
have  in effect,  and they  need the  cover of  a state  emergency                                                              
declaration.    He  said  he  doesn't   take  his  information  or                                                              
recommendations  from Texas or  South Dakota;  Alaska led  the way                                                              
with  an emergency  declaration.    The  declaration needs  to  be                                                              
extended, so  he supports HB 76,  he continued.  He added  that it                                                              
will be better  for Alaska to  have the testing and  the mandatory                                                              
quarantines  of people coming  into the  state who are  identified                                                              
as having COVID.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:15:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  MEYER testified  that she  supports HB  76.  She  stated                                                              
that the  pandemic itself is causing  harm, not the  public health                                                              
restrictions  that  have  kept  people  alive and  the  spread  of                                                              
COVID-19  low.  If  the virus  can be  controlled, she  said, then                                                              
more normal  social and economic  conditions can be  brought back.                                                              
She encouraged  the committee to  support HB 76 because  in public                                                              
health  response  the  ability  to move  quickly  is  critical  to                                                              
contain a virus,  and the emergency declaration allows  that to be                                                              
done.  Without a  declaration in place, she continued,  it takes a                                                              
tremendous  amount   of  time  and   energy  to  go   through  the                                                              
regulatory process  and the delicate window is often  missed.  She                                                              
said that while  the numbers in Alaska overall may  be going down,                                                              
the  reproductive rate  is increasing  in several  regions of  the                                                              
state.     Until  80  percent  or   more  of  the   population  is                                                              
vaccinated, the state isn't out of the woods, she added.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:17:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JESSIE  CHILSTROM testified  in opposition  to HB  76.  She  asked                                                              
that the  emergency declaration  not be  extended and  stated that                                                              
it is  too much  government, too  much strain  on the budget,  too                                                              
much strain on  the taxpayers, too much strain  on the businesses,                                                              
and too much stress  for the students.  She said  COVID-19 numbers                                                              
have gone down,  and medical technology has improved,  so HB 76 is                                                              
not needed.   She added that she supports the  amendments proposed                                                              
by Representative Kurka because medical freedom is paramount.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:18:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNIE  MASSEY first  noted she is  the parent  of three  children,                                                              
two in the Anchorage  School District.  She stated  she opposes HB
76  and  asserted  there  is no  emergency  disaster.    The  true                                                              
disaster  for Anchorage,  she continued,  has been  the denial  of                                                              
in-person education  for a year, the loss of  Anchorage's economy,                                                              
businesses  closing  and residents  losing  jobs,  and the  mental                                                              
health  crisis   for  [Alaska's]   youngest.     She  asked   that                                                              
[Alaska's] government  empower citizens  to pursue life,  liberty,                                                              
and happiness,  and to protect the  freedoms of Alaskans  to grow,                                                              
build,  work,  and  play.    She  maintained  that  extending  the                                                              
disaster   order  ignores   that   individual  responsibility   is                                                              
essential  in  [Alaska's]  democratic  republic.    Lockdowns  and                                                              
masking  are  unconstitutional   and  put  Alaskans   at  risk  to                                                              
domestic and  foreign enemies in  every way possible,  she opined,                                                              
and  Alaskans  are   more  at  risk  to  a  tyrannical   power  in                                                              
government  than  a  virus.    They act  as  a  trojan  horse  for                                                              
deliberate corruption,  she charged, and Alaska's  leaders need to                                                              
acknowledge that and protect Alaskans' freedom.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:20:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  closed public  testimony after ascertaining  no                                                              
one else wished to testify.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY invited  committee discussion  of the  proposed                                                              
CS for HB 76, Version B.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:20:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  stated  that  summer  is  approaching  and                                                              
keeping the  decline in cases is  needed to save  Alaska's economy                                                              
and to reopen schools.   He said his district has  been hit harder                                                              
than  others  because  of  its reliance  on  tourism  and  another                                                              
COVID-19  surge will  put even  more businesses  out of  business.                                                              
Businesses that have  been open for generations  are struggling to                                                              
survive, he  continued, businesses  must be  saved, and  the virus                                                              
must be  defeated.   He stated that  dangerous virus  variants are                                                              
out there and  cannot be stopped without testing  at the airports.                                                              
He  further  stated that  the  virus  cannot be  defeated  without                                                              
efficient distribution  of vaccines.  He urged that  the good work                                                              
to  date  be  kept  up  and  the  needed  levels  be  reached  for                                                              
defeating the  virus.  He said  HB 76 is about  defeating COVID-19                                                              
and  helping  businesses  survive,  it  has  nothing  to  do  with                                                              
lockdowns, and to open the state the virus must be defeated.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  related that the message he  has heard over                                                              
the  past month  and  a half  from  restaurant  owners, oil  field                                                              
service companies,  and local  tourism companies  in his  district                                                              
is to extend  the disaster declaration.  He said  these businesses                                                              
have told  him that when working  on the North Slope  the variants                                                              
need to  be stopped  at the airport,  that cases  need to  be kept                                                              
low  for tourism  companies so  people  can travel  to Alaska  and                                                              
spend  money, and  that  cases  need to  go  lower  so people  can                                                              
return  to restaurants  and dine  inside  again.   He offered  his                                                              
appreciation to  the businesses in  his district for  reaching out                                                              
and said he will  strongly support extending the  declaration.  He                                                              
further   related   that  local   religious   organizations   that                                                              
distribute  food to  hard  hit families  have  told  him they  are                                                              
seeing a doubling  or tripling of families that  are going hungry.                                                              
He pointed  out that with this  bill millions of dollars  from the                                                              
federal  Supplemental  Nutrition  Assistance  Program  (SNAP)  are                                                              
available to  Alaska, which  reduces the  tax burden on  Alaskans.                                                              
He  added  that   hungry  kids  cannot  do  well   in  school  and                                                              
reiterated his support for HB 76.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:22:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTY  stated that COVID-19  is real.   He shared                                                              
that when  he flew  back to Alaska  from Cambodia on  Thanksgiving                                                              
Day 2019  the airport in Shanghai  was nearly empty while  the Los                                                              
Angeles  and  Anchorage  airports   were  very  busy.    What  was                                                              
happening, he  said, was that  COVID-19 was already  hitting China                                                              
at that time  and until March [2020],  when it was revealed  to be                                                              
in the  U.S., people here had  already gotten COVID-19  but didn't                                                              
know what it was  other than they were very sick.   The effects of                                                              
this disease  have been like that  of the Spanish Flu  in 1918, he                                                              
continued, and  over time  the world has  found different  ways to                                                              
deal with this virus and is improving in doing so.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCARTY said  the  question is  whether Alaska  is                                                              
still in the situation  of a crisis   are the  numbers going down?                                                              
He related  that he is a skeptic  and therefore looks  at the data                                                              
to see  what is  going on,  and currently  the data shows  numbers                                                              
dropping  way below  being  in  a disaster.    He  asked what  the                                                              
problem is  if the virus is  being contained, there  are vaccines,                                                              
and there  are methods  of dealing  with the virus.   He  said the                                                              
impact  of this on  state, the  state's economy,  and the  ability                                                              
for people to function  needs to be looked at and  that it is time                                                              
to release Alaska  back to operating.  Alaskans are  more aware of                                                              
hygiene than  ever before, he  added, so sanitizers  will continue                                                              
being  used.  This  is the  time for  Alaska to  move forward,  he                                                              
opined,  and not  be stuck  in fear  of  false evidence  appearing                                                              
real.   The data shows  numbers going down.   The question  to ask                                                              
when  numbers are  rising, he  continued, is  whether the  numbers                                                              
are in the  severe situation that  was seen in March  [2020] where                                                              
people's  lives were threatened  or whether  people have  COVID-19                                                              
with  an influenza  type  condition, which  is  what is  currently                                                              
being  heard  from  physicians.     People  are  coming  into  the                                                              
hospital but  are sent home  the same day,  whereas in  March 2020                                                              
they were being kept  in the hospital.  He stated  he will vote no                                                              
on HB 76 in order to move forward for Alaska.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:28:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SNYDER  appreciated that  everyone  is  tired of  COVID.                                                              
She acknowledged  that everyone is exhausted, as  heard in today's                                                              
testimony,  but said  she doesn't  want to pump  the brakes  right                                                              
before being  crossing the  finish line.   She specified  that the                                                              
[proposed]  CS extends  the  declaration not  the  disaster.   She                                                              
noted that Alaska  has not been in lockdown in  months, businesses                                                              
have been open,  people have been free to go where  they like, and                                                              
kids have  gone back  to school  - all when  a declaration  was in                                                              
place.   Extending  the declaration  doesn't change  any of  this,                                                              
she said, rather  it gives Alaska the ability  to ensure continued                                                              
testing  and vaccinating  so the  pandemic can  finally be  ended,                                                              
and  the finish  line  crossed  as Alaska  is  almost  there.   It                                                              
ensures  healthcare   providers  can  continue   providing  needed                                                              
services  without  unnecessary   risk  or  prohibitive  cost,  she                                                              
added.  Providers  have stated that  they are operating  in a grey                                                              
zone and  are not  protected with  the absence  of a  declaration.                                                              
Also, it ensures  healthcare providers don't have  to hack through                                                              
bureaucratic hurdles to set up care sites.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SNYDER  stressed that the declaration ensures  Alaska can                                                              
respond  quickly  if  the  decreasing  numbers  suddenly  take  an                                                              
uptick, which was  seen in the past few months.   Variants are out                                                              
there, and  it would  be best if  Alaska can  be ready,  she said.                                                              
It ensures  Alaskans have  access to  tele-health, access  to food                                                              
through expanded  SNAP eligibility,  and  removes any doubt  about                                                              
Alaska's  eligibility for  federal  relief  funds, she  continued.                                                              
It ensures  that Alaska  can safely  promote that  it is  open for                                                              
business and can  welcome healthy tourists who  can help jumpstart                                                              
Alaska's economy this summer.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
5:31:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ stated  that Version  B is much  smaller                                                              
than the original  bill introduced by the governor  in January and                                                              
much smaller than  the bill that was passed in March  [2020].  She                                                              
said  the  proposed  CS is  a  measured  compromise  that  doesn't                                                              
contain many of  the elements that were included  in [Senate Bill]                                                              
241  and doesn't  include  many of  the things  asked  for by  the                                                              
governor,  including many  of the  open-ended receipt  authorities                                                              
that gave the  governor a completely undefined  authority to spend                                                              
money.   Also,  she  specified, it  doesn't  force mask  mandates,                                                              
vaccinations, or business closures.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SPOHNHOLZ  stated  that   Version  B   gives  the                                                              
administration  some flexibility  to  license healthcare  workers,                                                              
provide  some regulatory  stability for  healthcare providers  and                                                              
hospitals,  and to  deploy  resources as  needed  for testing  and                                                              
vaccination  clinics;   for  example,  in  Anchorage   an  outdoor                                                              
vaccination clinic  has been contracted.   Providence  Hospital is                                                              
considering  pulling   back  on   the  Alaska  Airlines   COVID-19                                                              
vaccination  and  testing facility,  she  continued.   This  looks                                                              
like a bit  of risk, she opined,  as it seems the  hospital should                                                              
be allowed to do  that if it is needed.  She said  the proposed CS                                                              
allows Alaska to  receive federal resources that  other states are                                                              
going  to  get if  Alaska  doesn't  receive  them, and  she  wants                                                              
hungry Alaskans to be able to receive those SNAP benefits.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  said  Version  B  allows  for  required                                                              
testing at  Alaska airports which,  she argued, keeps  Alaska open                                                              
for  business.    Tourism  is  a  huge  industry  in  Alaska,  she                                                              
continued, with  Southeast Alaska  the most economically  impacted                                                              
region  by  COVID-19 because  it  is  so  reliant on  the  fishing                                                              
industry  and tourism.   Not  being able  to test  people as  they                                                              
come into  the state means  Alaska is not  going to be able  to be                                                              
as aggressive  with its  tourism plan.   She  pointed out  that 20                                                              
percent  of  Alaska's  workers  don't  live  in  Alaska  and  said                                                              
ensuring  these  workers get  tested  will identify  variants  and                                                              
positive  cases as they  come into  the state.   For example,  she                                                              
related,  Director Hedberg  [Division of  Public Health]  has said                                                              
3,000  cases were  found that  way.   It is  important that  small                                                              
towns  be able  to protect  themselves while  still ensuring  that                                                              
Alaska can be  open for business, she  opined.  There is  a lot of                                                              
flexibility  and freedom  and the  reins have  been taken  back on                                                              
unencumbered  power, she said,  so the proposed  CS is  a measured                                                              
and important compromise.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:35:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KURKA  concurred   with  Representative  McCarty's                                                              
comments  that COVID-19 is  real and  that when  this came  out in                                                              
March  [2020]  there  was  much  fear  and  lack  of  information.                                                              
However,  he  said,  the  mortality  rate is  now  low,  there  is                                                              
information, and  there are more treatment options.   [Previously]                                                              
the  concern was  to  flatten the  curve  so  that the  healthcare                                                              
system wouldn't  be overwhelmed  and people  needing treatment  to                                                              
survive  could  get  that  treatment.    But,  he  stated,  Alaska                                                              
doesn't  have  that problem  and  passing  this  bill would  be  a                                                              
mistake.    The  incalculable  damage  that  the  declaration  has                                                              
caused might not  be known for a long time, he  opined.  He agreed                                                              
that Version  B is  scaled back  from what  was passed  originally                                                              
and what  was asked  for originally  but said  he understands  the                                                              
governor has withdrawn  his support from this bill  and is doing a                                                              
scaled  back request  for  authorizations  outside  of a  disaster                                                              
declaration.   He stated he therefore  doesn't see a need  for the                                                              
bill and because  he doesn't believe Alaska is in  a true state of                                                              
emergency, he will vote no.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:36:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  agreed that Version  B is structured  more to                                                              
enable state agencies  to respond and there is no  intent from the                                                              
governor's  office to  impose restrictions.   He  said it  was too                                                              
bad about  having to  start the  [previous] mandates  but  that he                                                              
had  concurred  with them  despite  knowing  there would  be  this                                                              
reaction.   Care needs  to be  taken so  another outbreak  doesn't                                                              
get going,  he continued.   Whether or  not it's an  emergency, it                                                              
will affect the  desire of people to live here, and  said he hopes                                                              
his neighbors  take it  upon themselves  to follow the  guidelines                                                              
and cover  their noses  when sneezing and  wear masks  when around                                                              
others.    He  offered his  understanding  that  when  people  are                                                              
forced  to  do something  it  causes  an overreaction  both  ways.                                                              
This has  become an emotional issue,  and the facts don't  seem to                                                              
matter for  either way, he  opined.  While  he is of  two opinions                                                              
on  this, he  said  the bill  should  at least  be  passed out  of                                                              
committee,  and he  will do some  research on  the statistics  and                                                              
think further.   He stated  he would like  to be able  to complete                                                              
the  response without  the emergency  but is  unsure whether  that                                                              
can be done.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:39:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY noted  that promising  numbers are being  seen,                                                              
treatments are being  better utilized in the hospitals  for people                                                              
with severe COVID-19  infections, and there are  now vaccinations.                                                              
But,  she  continued,  an  analogy   previously  provided  to  the                                                              
committee  was  that   "we  should  not  be  ending   a  seven-day                                                              
penicillin   prescription  three   days  into  that   prescription                                                              
because we are starting  to feel better."  She  said she continues                                                              
to believe in  the importance of remaining nimble.   Healthcare is                                                              
a  highly   regulated  industry   and  Alaska  is   geographically                                                              
positioned  in a way  that gives  the state  advantage to  keeping                                                              
variants  at a minimum  if they  can be  identified quickly.   She                                                              
said   she  believes   that  providing   the   tools  needed   for                                                              
communities,  hospital  systems,  and  the state  to  continue  to                                                              
respond  to a  global  pandemic  is necessary.    She related  she                                                              
agrees  with the  exhaustion that  families are  feeling but  also                                                              
identifies with  the sorrow  of families that  had to  say good-by                                                              
to a  loved one.  She  pointed out that  it is a  viral infection,                                                              
so  unlike a  bacterial  infection  there is  no  treatment.   She                                                              
stated that  for those  reasons she will  support the  proposed CS                                                              
in  the  context  of  ensuring  the  tools  that  communities  and                                                              
organizations need to continue responding to the pandemic.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:41:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SNYDER moved  to report  CSHB  76, Version  32-GH1011\B,                                                              
Dunmire,    3/3/21,    out   of    committee    with    individual                                                              
recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
5:41:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KURKA objected.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:42:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call  vote was  taken.   Representatives Prax,  Spohnholz,                                                              
Fields,  Zulkosky, and  Snyder voted  in  favor of  the motion  to                                                              
report  CSHB 76,  Version  32-GH1011\B,  Dunmire,  3/3/21, out  of                                                              
committee  with individual  recommendations  and the  accompanying                                                              
fiscal notes.   Representatives  Kurka and  McCarty voted  against                                                              
it.  Therefore,  CSHB 76(HSS) was  reported from the  House Health                                                              
and Social Services Standing Committee by a vote of 5-2.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:43:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  related  that  according  to  the  Fairbanks                                                              
North Star  Borough website  the borough  had been bouncing  along                                                              
in the  low-intermediate risk  area for nearly  a month,  but over                                                              
the  last  week  cases  have  gone   up  and  risk  level  is  now                                                              
intermediate.   He  said this drives  home the  point that  people                                                              
shouldn't  be  complying  because  government  told  them  to  but                                                              
rather thinking about  their neighbors and doing what  can be done                                                              
to control this disease.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:44:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further business  before the committee,  the House                                                              
Health  and  Social   Services  Standing  Committee   meeting  was                                                              
adjourned at 5:44 p.m.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
House HSS Response - EO 119 - Cover Letter and Attachments.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
Legal Opinion - Legality 3-5-21.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
LAW HOUSE HSS memo.final 2.25.21.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
HSCR - EO 119.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
FFC Alaska HSS Testimony - EO 119.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
DHSS_Law EO 119 Sectional Analysis.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
DHSS EO 119 Presentation_House HSS_02252021.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
ANHB to Commissioner Crum re. DHSS Reorganization - Final - EO 119.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
Alaska Healthcare Transformation Letter - EO 119.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
FFC Alaska - Preventing Early Departures Among the Child Welfare Workforce.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
FFC Alaska - 2020 HB 151 Report to the Legislature.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 151
HSCR 1
FFC Alaska - Caseload briefing paper Multi-page NCWWI.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
FFC Alaska - NCWWI Caseload-Workload 2011 One Pager.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
Casey Family Programs - Signed Final 2.18.21 Compact TA Findings Recommendations.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
Casey Family Programs - HO_Turnover-Costs_and_Retention_Strategies-1.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
Casey Family Programs presentation 3-2-21 AK H_SS Comte.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
EO 119
HSCR 1
CSHB76 Amendment 15 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 16 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 17 Kurka.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 18 Kurka.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB 76 Sectional Analysis Version 32 GH1011 A.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB 76 AK ACEP Letter of Support HHSS.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB 76 Transmittal Letter.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB 76 Version 32 GH 1011 A.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB 76(HSS)-DOR-TAX-02-10-21.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB0076-1-2-021821-CED-N.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB0076-2-2-021821-DHS-N.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB0076-3-2-021821-DPS-N.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB0076-4-2-021821-MVA-Y.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB76 AEMA Letter of Support to HHSS.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
Providence Supports SB 56.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
SB 56
CSHB76 32-GH1011B.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 1 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
ASHNHA Legislative Analysis SB 56 Extending Public Health Emergency Disaster Declaration.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
SB 56
CSHB76 Amendment 2 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 3 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 4 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 5 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 6 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 7 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 8 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 9 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 10 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 11 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 12 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 13 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76 Amendment 14 McCarty.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
APDEA Letter of Support_HSCR 1.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSCR 1
CSHB76, DPS FN.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
EO 119 Written Testimony - Approve.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSCR 1
CSHB76, DHSS FN.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HSCR 1, FN.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HSCR 1
HB76, AKPhA Ltr to HSS.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
Public Testimony HB-76 - Disapprove.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76, DCCED FN.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
CSHB76, DMVA FN.pdf HHSS 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 76