Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/06/1995 03:00 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.