Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/06/1995 03:00 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
               HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE                              
                        February 6, 1995                                       
                           3:00 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Representative Pete Kott, Chairman                                            
 Representative Norman Rokeberg, Vice Chairman                                 
 Representative Brian Porter                                                   
 Representative Jerry Sanders                                                  
 Representative Kim Elton                                                      
                                                                               
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
                                                                               
 Representative Beverly Masek                                                  
 Representative Gene Kubina                                                    
                                                                               
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
                                                                               
 Departmental Overview by Tom Cashen, Commissioner, Department of              
 Labor                                                                         
                                                                               
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
                                                                               
 TON CASHEN, Commissioner                                                      
 Department of Labor                                                           
 P.O. Box 21149                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2700                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Gave the Department of Labor Overview                    
                                                                               
 ED FLANAGAN, Assistant Commissioner                                           
 Department of Labor                                                           
 P.O. Box 21149                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2700                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Participated in the Department of Labor                  
                      Overview                                                 
                                                                               
 JIM ARNOLDT, Program Budget Analyst                                           
 Employment Security Division                                                  
 Department of Labor                                                           
 P.O. Box 21149                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2700                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Participated in the Department of Labor                  
                 Overview                                                      
                                                                               
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
                                                                               
 None                                                                          
                                                                               
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
 (DUE TO A TAPING MALFUNCTION, THIS MEETING WAS NOT RECORDED)                  
                                                                               
 The House Labor and Commerce Committee was called to order by                 
 Chairman Pete Kott at 3:00 p.m.  Members present at the call to               
 order were Representatives Kott, Rokeberg, Porter, Sanders and                
 Elton.  Members absent were Representatives Masek and Kubina.                 
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN PETE KOTT stated there is a quorum present.  There was no            
 new business to be brought before the committee.  Chairman Kott               
 introduced TOM CASHEN, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL), and           
 asked him to give an overview of the Department of Labor.                     
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN introduced ED FLANAGAN, DWIGHT PERKINS, ARBE              
 WILLIAMS, PAUL GRASSE, JOHN ABSHIRE, REBECCA NANCE, JIM ARNOLDT,              
 MIKE HOLMES, all, of the Department of Labor.  Commissioner Cashen            
 passed out a report titled, "NONRESIDENTS WORKING IN ALASKA 1993."            
 Commissioner Cashen explained how, in terms of general funds, the             
 department ranked 18 out of 19.  In 1993, more than 75,000                    
 nonresidents were employed in the state.  The total amount paid to            
 nonresidents, in 1993, was greater than all wages paid to state               
 government workers in the same year.  Commissioner Cashen stated              
 that the department gets most of their funds from the federal                 
 government, he went on to further explain what happens to the                 
 budget in relationship to general funds that have been downsized              
 considerably.  FY96 shows a $200,000 increase in program receipts             
 from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA);                    
 basically this is the same as 1995.  The Commissioner then                    
 described the budget and makeup of the department and stated that             
 the general fund budget had gone down in the last four years, and             
 that this was with an increase in the number of employees.                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were questions for Commissioner                  
 Cashen.                                                                       
                                                                               
 VICE CHAIRMAN NORMAN ROKEBERG stated that he was from Spenard and,            
 therefore, wasn't familiar with the Fisherman's Fund within the               
 department.                                                                   
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN  explained that this fund was not part of                 
 worker's compensation.  It is funded by licensing receipts, and it            
 provides benefits for injured fishermen.                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER asked the Commissioner if he was                  
 anticipating any concern that there would be a decrease in federal            
 funds to the department.                                                      
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN replied that there's always that concern but              
 that they might turn to block grants.                                         
                                                                               
 JIM ARNOLDT, PROGRAM BUDGET ANALYST, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, stated              
 that they had information that there would be a 5% reduction for              
 the employment services program and that they would try the block             
 grant approach to funding.                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if the Department of Labor was going to propose           
 any legislation that would take care of the Gilmore decision of               
 last year.                                                                    
                                                                               
 COMMISSION CASHEN answered that yes, they would require some                  
 legislation.                                                                  
                                                                               
 ED FLANAGAN,  ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER,DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, commented           
 that the Gilmore decision caused some concern with the ad hoc                 
 committee on Workman's Compensation.  This was the primary vehicle            
 for reading the decision.  The `88 reform is ahead of the majority            
 of states.  Mr. Flanagan stated that the department's position was            
 to support any legislation coming out of the ad hoc committee.                
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated that the courts had put them in a precarious             
 position, concerning the consistency between the ad hoc committee             
 and the Department of Labor.  Chairman Kott then asked Commissioner           
 Cashen if he could foresee any important labor relations issues               
 requiring legislation.                                                        
                                                                               
 COMMISSION CASHEN replied that they would hold to the status quo.             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if the Governor had discussed the need            
 for consolidation of the job training programs.                               
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN  replied that they would coordinate out of the            
 Governor's Office.  He stated that there were seven different                 
 departments that had training offices, sometimes training for jobs            
 that no longer existed.  He further stated that training was the              
 answer to Alaska's welfare problem.                                           
                                                                               
 VICE CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG, inquired as to which industries employed              
 the 75,000 nonresident workers.                                               
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN replied that the primary industries were the              
 seafood and logging industries.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON wanted to point out that 76 percent of the           
 people employed in the seafood industry were the harvesters, which            
 are all Alaska residents.                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated that Alaska is number one in occupational                
 accidents.  He asked Commissioner Cashen if we are addressing that            
 and any potential solutions to this problem.  Is it because of the            
 type of industry?                                                             
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN explained that there were several factors we              
 could lump together.  The high mortality rate in the fishing and              
 logging industries combined with fatalities from small aircraft,              
 which have gone down over the last few years, contribute to the               
 high mortality rate.  He also stated that further cuts to OSHA,               
 combined with fewer safety inspections, causes the rates to go up.            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated that he had one final question concerning the            
 next five to ten years.  What did the Commissioner feel the outlook           
 was for jobs and Alaska's growth potential.                                   
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN replied that certainly they have the dynamics             
 out there.  He stated that with our Congressional Delegation we               
 have this year, we are in the best position we've ever been in to             
 affect legislation on the National level.  He stated further that             
 he'd like to see action with the Arctic National wildlife Refuge              
 (ANWR), the mining Industry and of course within the oil and gas              
 industry.                                                                     
                                                                               
 VICE CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked how the outlook was for the next 12              
 months.                                                                       
                                                                               
 COMMISSIONER CASHEN explained that there were pressing problems               
 with the timber industry.  He stated that we need to do something             
 with the Wrangell mill.  He feels that the oil industry has a                 
 better attitude about the state since the Governor traveled to                
 Texas.  He stated that the feeling was that the oil industry people           
 were prepared to spend money in Alaska this year.                             
                                                                               
 ADJOURNMENT                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were any further questions for the               
 Commissioner.  Hearing none, the House Labor and Commerce Committee           
 adjourned at 3:45 p.m.                                                        
                                                                               

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