Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17

03/22/2005 01:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 120 HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEE PROTECTION TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
*+ HB 190 REQUIRED ID FOR PURCHASING ALCOHOL TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= HB 180 WORKERS' COMPENSATION
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                         March 22, 2005                                                                                         
                           1:16 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Tom Anderson, Chair                                                                                              
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Norman Rokeberg                                                                                                  
Representative Harry Crawford                                                                                                   
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pete Kott                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 120                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to safety  devices and sharp instruments for the                                                               
prevention of the  spread of bloodborne pathogens  in health care                                                               
employees; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 120 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 190                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to the  purchase of alcoholic beverages  and to                                                               
requiring  identification to  buy alcoholic  beverages; requiring                                                               
driver's  licenses and  identification cards  to be  marked if  a                                                               
person  is restricted  from consuming  alcoholic  beverages as  a                                                               
result of a conviction or condition of probation or parole."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 180                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to a special deposit  for workers' compensation                                                               
and  employers' liability  insurers;  relating  to assigned  risk                                                               
pools; relating  to workers'  compensation insurers;  stating the                                                               
intent  of   the  legislature,   and  setting   out  limitations,                                                               
concerning the  interpretation, construction,  and implementation                                                               
of workers'  compensation laws; relating  to the  Alaska Workers'                                                               
Compensation   Board;  establishing   a   division  of   workers'                                                               
compensation  within  the  Department   of  Labor  and  Workforce                                                               
Development,  assigning  certain   Alaska  Workers'  Compensation                                                               
Board  functions   to  the  division  and   the  department,  and                                                               
authorizing the board to  delegate administrative and enforcement                                                               
duties  to the  division;  establishing  a Workers'  Compensation                                                               
Appeals Commission;  providing for workers'  compensation hearing                                                               
officers  in  workers'   compensation  proceedings;  relating  to                                                               
workers'  compensation medical  benefits and  to charges  for and                                                               
payment of fees for the  medical benefits; relating to agreements                                                               
that  discharge  workers'  compensation  liability;  relating  to                                                               
workers' compensation  awards; relating to  reemployment benefits                                                               
and  job  dislocation  benefits;   relating  to  coordination  of                                                               
workers' compensation  and certain disability  benefits; relating                                                               
to  division  of  workers'   compensation  records;  relating  to                                                               
release of  treatment records; relating to  an employer's failure                                                               
to insure  and keep  insured or  provide security;  providing for                                                               
appeals   from   compensation   orders;  relating   to   workers'                                                               
compensation   proceedings;    providing   for    supreme   court                                                               
jurisdiction of  appeals from  the Workers'  Compensation Appeals                                                               
Commission;  providing  for a  maximum  amount  for the  cost-of-                                                               
living  adjustment for  workers' compensation  benefits; relating                                                               
to  attorney fees;  providing for  the department  to enter  into                                                               
contracts  with nonprofit  organizations  to provide  information                                                               
services   and  legal   representation   to  injured   employees;                                                               
providing  for administrative  penalties for  employers uninsured                                                               
or without adequate security  for workers' compensation; relating                                                               
to fraudulent acts or false  or misleading statements in workers'                                                               
compensation and penalties for the  acts or statements; providing                                                               
for members of  a limited liability company to be  included as an                                                               
employee for  purposes of  workers' compensation;  establishing a                                                               
workers'  compensation benefits  guaranty fund;  relating to  the                                                               
second injury  fund; making conforming amendments;  providing for                                                               
a study and report by  the medical services review committee; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 120                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEE PROTECTION                                                                                    
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) WILSON                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
02/02/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/02/05       (H)       HES, L&C                                                                                               
02/24/05       (H)       HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/24/05       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
02/24/05       (H)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
02/25/05       (H)       HES RPT 4DP 1NR                                                                                        
02/25/05       (H)       DP: CISSNA, GARDNER, SEATON, WILSON;                                                                   
02/25/05       (H)       NR: KOHRING                                                                                            
03/22/05       (H)       L&C AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 190                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REQUIRED ID FOR PURCHASING ALCOHOL                                                                                 
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) CRAWFORD                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
03/01/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/01/05       (H)       L&C, JUD                                                                                               
03/22/05       (H)       L&C AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 180                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: WORKERS' COMPENSATION                                                                                              
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/25/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/25/05       (H)       L&C, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
03/09/05       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/09/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/05       (H)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/16/05       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/16/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/21/05       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/21/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/22/05       (H)       L&C AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY WILSON                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Spoke as the sponsor of HB 120.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
GREY MITCHELL, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Labor Standards & Safety                                                                                            
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 120.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PAT SENNER, Nurse                                                                                                               
Alaska Nurses Association                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 120.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JAY HARDENBROOK, Staff                                                                                                          
to Representative Crawford                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented HB 190 on behalf  of the sponsor,                                                               
Representative Crawford.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CINDY CASHEN                                                                                                                    
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   During discussion  of HB 190,  related that                                                               
the National  Council on Alcoholism and  Drug Dependence supports                                                               
the issue embodied in HB 190.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DUANE BANNOCK, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Motor Vehicles                                                                                                      
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified that  the division is  willing to                                                               
support the proposal  [embodied in HB 190], although  it has many                                                               
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
BRENDA MOORE, Community Liaison                                                                                                 
Christian Health Associates                                                                                                     
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Urged the committee to support HB 190.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS SCHUTTE                                                                                                                   
Anchorage Downtown Partnership                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Characterized HB 190 as a  valuable tool to                                                               
help inebriants and get them off the streets.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DOUGLAS B. GRIFFIN, Director                                                                                                    
Alcoholic Beverage Control Board                                                                                                
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified that  HB 190 isn't compatible with                                                               
existing  provisions allowing  alcohol to  be shipped  by written                                                               
order.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL J. JENSEN, Attorney at Law                                                                                              
Law Offices of Michael J. Jensen                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concerns with HB 190.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
BOB FAVRETTO Business owner;                                                                                                    
Board Member, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce                                                                                  
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Encouraged the  committee to pass HB 180 out                                                               
of committee.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JOHN DAVID RAGAN                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 180.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MARJORIE LINDER, Rehabilitation Counselor                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concerns with HB 180.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR TOM ANDERSON  called the House Labor  and Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order at  1:16:20  PM.    Representatives                                                             
Anderson, Lynn,  Rokeberg, Crawford, and Guttenberg  were present                                                               
at  the call  to order.    Representative LeDoux  arrived as  the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 120-HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEE PROTECTION                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 120,  "An Act  relating to safety  devices and                                                               
sharp instruments for the prevention  of the spread of bloodborne                                                               
pathogens  in  health  care  employees;   and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY  WILSON, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
announced that this bill basically  brings Alaska standards up to                                                               
the  federal standards.   The  main  difference between  Alaska's                                                               
regulations [for  bloodborne pathogens] and those  of the federal                                                               
government  is that  Alaska's regulations  didn't inlcude  dental                                                               
offices and other medical offices with less than 25 [employees].                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:17:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON said  that there were two  reasons for this                                                               
improvement.    She  explained  that  if  [these  procedures  for                                                               
bloodborne  pathogens] weren't  already being  used, the  effects                                                               
would be  disastrous to those  already working in  these offices.                                                               
Therefore, this  is almost a  housekeeping matter.   However, the                                                               
larger issue is  that failure to comply with  the federal minimum                                                               
standards  jeopardizes   the  state's  eligibility   for  federal                                                               
grants.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:19:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON highlighted  that HB 120 already  went through the                                                               
House Health,  Education and  Social Services  Standing Committee                                                               
and the  Department of Labor &  Workforce Development recommended                                                               
its introduction.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  if  there  were any  statistics                                                               
regarding people  who have been  exposed to  bloodborne pathogens                                                               
at  dental offices,  and  if  it was  greater  or  less than  the                                                               
exposure rates at regular medical offices.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON answered  that  dentists weren't  included                                                               
original   because  when   these   regulations  were   originally                                                               
implemented  a  member  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  who                                                               
happened to  be a dentist,  feared that including  dentists would                                                               
cost dentists more.  Therefore, dentists were exempted.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:19:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  asked  if  the  language  referring  to                                                               
having "not more than 25 employees" exempts dentists.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON indicated  that the aforementioned language                                                               
was used to exempt dentists.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:20:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  recalled that there was  concern for all                                                               
health care providers in all small settings, not just dentists.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  announced  that almost  all  health  care                                                               
providers are already in compliance  with [what is proposed in HB                                                               
120].                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
GREY MITCHELL,  Director, Division  of Labor Standards  & Safety,                                                               
Department  of Labor  & Workforce  Development  (DLWD), spoke  in                                                               
support  of  HB 120.    He  characterized  it as  a  housekeeping                                                               
measure.   He explained that  at the  time this law  was created,                                                               
there were  no federal  standards for  bloodborne pathogens.   In                                                               
the year  2000, the federal  employee protection law  was created                                                               
and  special exemptions  were created  for small  employer groups                                                               
and dental groups.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:22:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL then stated that  in the following year, the federal                                                               
government   came   out   with  comprehensive   regulations   for                                                               
bloodborne pathogen  standards.  However, these  two professional                                                               
exemptions were not included in  the new regulations and thus the                                                               
state  was  at odds  with  the  federal Occupational  Safety  and                                                               
Health  Administration (OSHA)  program  because the  state had  a                                                               
less   strict  interpretation   regarding  when   the  protective                                                               
regulations had  to be in place  to keep workers safe.   He noted                                                               
that   these  regulations   also  protect   customers  at   these                                                               
facilities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:23:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MITCHELL  turned  to the  earlier  questions  regarding  the                                                               
number of incidences  and the number of employees.   Referring to                                                               
a list  he had  that didn't  detail employers  with less  than 25                                                               
employees,  he  guesstimated  that   30  percent  of  these  were                                                               
employers with  less than 25 employees.   There is a  total of 85                                                               
businesses  that   had  incidences   between  October   2003  and                                                               
September 2004,  12 of which  were dental establishments  and the                                                               
other  73 were  other health  care-related businesses.   He  then                                                               
said that the  other confusing element is that the  state law, AS                                                               
18.60.030(6), established  when the state was  given jurisdiction                                                               
over occupational safety and health  issues required the state to                                                               
maintain   standards   as   effective   as   federal   standards.                                                               
Therefore,  there  is  a conflict  between  statute  and  federal                                                               
standards.    The legislation  simply  intends  to eliminate  the                                                               
conflict  and  clarifies  the obligation  of  these  health  care                                                               
businesses  in protecting  their  employees and  the public  from                                                               
bloodborne pathogens.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:25:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL characterized  this matter as a  common sense issue.                                                               
He  related  that  the  [department's]  occupational  safety  and                                                               
health industrial  hygienist has found  that all of  the dentists                                                               
are complying because they don't want to risk exposure.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:26:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG, referring  to AS  18.60.890(G), pointed                                                               
out that  this statute,  which came  out a  couple of  years ago,                                                               
states that a  employer who employs 10 or  more front-line health                                                               
care  workers  shall  be  required  to  establish  an  evaluation                                                               
committee.  He then asked what  businesses are to do if they have                                                               
very small practices and the exemption is eliminated.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL answered that right  now state law requires that the                                                               
business review the safety products on  the market.  If there are                                                               
10 employees or less, there has  to be one person who is directly                                                               
involved in reviewing  safety products.  Regardless  of the ratio                                                               
of  employees, 50  percent of  the employees  that do  the review                                                               
must have direct involvement with patient  care or lab work.  The                                                               
intent  is to  provide a  way for  the people  who are  using the                                                               
products to  have a  say in evaluating  the safety  procedures in                                                               
their clinic or lab.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  clarified  that he  is  concerned  with                                                               
throwing away  the provision.   He then asked how  the department                                                               
would  enforce  this and  determine  that  the business,  however                                                               
small, had an evaluation committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL  answered that  this was essentially  the case.   He                                                               
noted that  the dental community  doesn't have much  concern with                                                               
HB  120 because  there isn't  a lot  of technology  available for                                                               
dental facilities to use.  There is  a lot of common sense in the                                                               
[existing] statutes, he said.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:30:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MITCHELL  said that  there  are  provisions that  allow  for                                                               
individual  analysis of  each practitioner's  situation.   If, in                                                               
the  mind of  the  doctor, the  use of  the  equipment would  not                                                               
provide any  additional safety  margin, then  they do  not bother                                                               
purchasing the equipment.  The  dental community cannot use a lot                                                               
of the equipment  that is on the  market so they do  not have any                                                               
consternation about  the issue,  as long as  they comply  as best                                                               
they can and are in compliance with federal law.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PAT SENNER, Nurse, Alaska Nurses  Association, announced that she                                                               
as in  support of  the bill  and that she  was involved  with the                                                               
enactment of the  original Act.  She informed  the committee that                                                               
since the  federal act took  place in 2001,  there has been  a 50                                                               
percent  reduction  in  needle  sticks.   She  related  that  the                                                               
infection  of one  person  can  cost the  system  over a  million                                                               
dollars in  long-term care.   The safety devices  being discussed                                                               
were originally very expensive, which  is why the exemptions were                                                               
put into place.  However, the  cost has since decreased then, and                                                               
should no longer  be an issue.  She ended  by expressing the hope                                                               
that this bill would pass so  that state law can be in compliance                                                               
with federal law.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:33:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  asked  if   the  Alaska  State  Medical                                                               
Association (ASMA)  had taken a  position on  this or any  of the                                                               
other parts of the bill concerning  sharps and other devices.  He                                                               
surmised  that some  of the  smaller practitioners  would be  the                                                               
ones to testify because the larger entities are covered.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON  said that  he did not  think the  packet included                                                               
anything [from  the small practitioners  or ASMA].   He suggested                                                               
that the lack of testimony or  endorsement could be the result of                                                               
the matter not being on "their radar".                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG   recalled  relating  that   the  Dental                                                               
Society is amenable  to HB 120, although there  is no information                                                               
in  the  committee  packet specifying  the  aforementioned.    He                                                               
expressed  concern about  the teeth  cleaning  devices and  asked                                                               
whether they would qualify as sharps.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON   answered  that   this  will  be   addressed  by                                                               
Representative Wilson before it goes to the House floor.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  moved to  report HB  120 out  of committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
note.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 190-REQUIRED ID FOR PURCHASING ALCOHOL                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  190, "An  Act relating  to  the purchase  of                                                               
alcoholic  beverages  and  to  requiring  identification  to  buy                                                               
alcoholic    beverages;   requiring    driver's   licenses    and                                                               
identification cards to be marked  if a person is restricted from                                                               
consuming  alcoholic beverages  as a  result of  a conviction  or                                                               
condition of probation or parole."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:35:57                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JAY HARDENBROOK,  Staff to Representative Crawford,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that HB 190  is a step  toward preventing                                                               
problem  drinkers  from  purchasing   alcohol  in  Alaska.    Mr.                                                               
Hardenbrook informed  the committee  that Alaska has  the highest                                                               
rate  of  alcoholism  and  alcohol-related  crimes  in  the  U.S.                                                               
Although Alaska has some of  the strictest penalties for alcohol-                                                               
related crimes,  Alaska continues  to have astronomical  rates of                                                               
recidivism.  Therefore, it's time for  a new approach, and HB 190                                                               
moves in  that direction.   Currently, many people on  parole and                                                               
probation for  alcohol-related crimes aren't allowed  to purchase                                                               
alcohol.   This legislation would  simply place a mark  on state-                                                               
issued identification as a way  in which those who sell alcoholic                                                               
beverages will know  whether a person is not  allowed to purchase                                                               
alcohol.   The legislation also  requires that bar  tenders, wait                                                               
staff,  and clerks  in  liquor stores  check  a resident's  state                                                               
identification before selling the individual alcohol.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:37:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  asked  whether any  other  states  have                                                               
adopted similar legislation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARDENBROOK  answered that  no other  state has  adopted this                                                               
specific plan.  He informed  the committee that other states have                                                               
created  special   license  plates  for  those   who  have  [been                                                               
convicted of] driving while intoxicated (DWI).                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD,  speaking as  the  sponsor  of HB  190,                                                               
related  that  Oregon  is presently  hearing  legislation  almost                                                               
identical to HB 190.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  recalled  that   either  the  State  of                                                               
Washington or Oregon  put in place a "zebra  [license] plate" for                                                               
the  same reason  as  this, but  it was  withdrawn  from the  law                                                               
because of the "negative feel" it created.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:38:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD explained that  the aforementioned is why                                                               
HB 190 is  directed only toward drunk drinking.   He informed the                                                               
committee that  more than  80 percent of  the people  in Alaska's                                                               
jails  and prisons  were convicted  of alcohol-related  offenses.                                                               
Therefore,  the  desire is  to  prohibit  repeat [offenders  with                                                               
alcohol-related  offenses]  from  being  able to  buy,  sell,  or                                                               
consume alcohol.   The aforementioned is already in  law, but law                                                               
enforcement  hasn't  been  given  the tools  to  segregate  those                                                               
individuals  from  the  rest  of  society,  which  is  what  this                                                               
legislation attempts.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN pointed out  that tourists wouldn't have such                                                               
distinctions on their identification.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.   HARDENBROOK   explained   that   if   an   individual   has                                                               
identification specifying that  he or she is  from another state,                                                               
the  individual wouldn't  have  to  present [identification  from                                                               
Alaska].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:40:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN surmised  then  that  the legislation  would                                                               
prohibit an  individual from entering locations  at which alcohol                                                               
is served.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HARDENBROOK  clarified  that   HB  190  only  addresses  the                                                               
purchase of alcohol.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  interjected  that  the  prohibition  of                                                               
individuals   [with  alcohol-related   offenses]  from   entering                                                               
locations  where alcohol  is served  is a  law that's  already in                                                               
place.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG turned  attention to  Section 3(6),  and                                                               
asked  if the  language  specifying that  the  license would  "be                                                           
designed to  allow the electronic reading  and electronic display                                                           
of  the information"  means  that there  will be  a  new type  of                                                           
license.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARDENBROOK  explained that  the aforementioned  language was                                                               
used  because  of the  new  electronic  driver's licenses.    The                                                               
drafter felt  that it would be  appropriate to have this  be part                                                               
of the magnetic strip on the back of the driver's license.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  surmised that this special  driver's license                                                               
would  be provided  upon issuance  of a  new driver's  license or                                                               
when an individual is convicted of this particular crime.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARDENBROOK  explained that currently  when an  individual is                                                               
convicted  of  an  alcohol-related  crime, the  license  of  that                                                               
individual is  revoked.  That individual  has to have his  or her                                                               
license reissued.   Mr. Hardenbrook  related that the  sponsor is                                                               
going to work with the chair  to develop a mechanism by which the                                                               
Alaska Court  System and  the parole  board can  communicate with                                                               
the Division  of Motor Vehicles (DMV)  in order to avoid  the lag                                                               
time that's currently occurring.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:42:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether  an individual  convicted of                                                               
an  alcohol-related  offense  would  lose  his  or  her  driver's                                                               
license even if the offense isn't a DWI.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARDENBROOK replied yes, that's  the current situation.  This                                                               
legislation is merely specifying that  the new license would have                                                               
the information specified on the license.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:43:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether  an individual  convicted of                                                               
an alcohol-related offense  who has obtained a  new license would                                                               
still be precluded from buying alcohol.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON  posed  a  hypothetical  situation  in  which  an                                                               
individual who  received a DWI  20 years ago receives  another in                                                               
the next couple  of months.  If that individual  were to lose his                                                               
or her  license for 90  days and  the license is  returned, would                                                               
the  driver's  license  continue   to  specify  the  individual's                                                               
record.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARDENBROOK clarified that the  special mark would only be in                                                               
effect during the  time the individual is on  probation or parole                                                               
for the alcohol-related crime.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD clarified  that once  the individual  is                                                               
not  on  probation  or  parole,  he or  she  can  obtain  another                                                               
driver's license  without the special  mark and  consume alcohol.                                                               
The special mark on the  driver's license provides the Department                                                               
of Public Safety (DPS) the  ability to identify these individuals                                                               
from the rest of society.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:45:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether  an individual would lose his                                                               
or  her  driver's license  for  an  alcohol-related crime  if  it                                                               
didn't involve driving.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD answered that  it depends upon the judge.                                                               
He informed  the committee  that for  domestic violence,  one can                                                               
lose his or her right to drink.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX inquired  as to  where DPS  actually comes                                                               
into  the  picture.    She   suggested  that  it's  actually  the                                                               
restaurant  staff  and  bar  owners   [who  will  identify  these                                                               
individuals].                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CRAWFORD   agreed   that   food   and   beverage                                                               
establishments  are the  first  line of  defense.   However,  DPS                                                               
helps  enforce these  laws.   The partnership  [between food  and                                                               
beverage establishments and DPS]  that already occurs today would                                                               
continue.   Representative  Crawford  emphasized the  need to  do                                                               
something different  to address  the fact  that Alaska  leads the                                                               
nation in alcohol-related crime.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:48:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  said, "We  can save a  lot of  lives and                                                               
make  a huge  change  in what's  going on,  and  that's what  I'm                                                               
asking for you to  do."  He opined that a  difference can be made                                                               
[with this legislation].   Representative Crawford commented that                                                               
he is sorry he didn't  take more notice of Representative Green's                                                               
legislation  four years  ago, and  that it  took seeing  his wife                                                               
lying  on  the  emergency  room table  before  realizing  what  a                                                               
problem this is for everyone.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG  surmised   then  that   a  94-year-old                                                               
individual in  a Title  4 premise  would have  to be  carded each                                                               
time he or she is served a drink.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. HARDENBROOK replied yes.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that  perhaps there should be a                                                               
cost-benefit  analysis  of  all  statutory  legislation  that  is                                                               
introduced.  Representative Rokeberg  suggested that probably one                                                               
of the primary  reasons this proposal hasn't been  adopted in any                                                               
other  state  is  because  it  intrudes  on  privacy  and  is  an                                                               
impediment to human interaction.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD stated  that HB  190 has  nothing to  do                                                               
with an individual's  age; it only addresses those  who are under                                                               
court order.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG interjected  that the  only way  to know                                                               
whether  an individual  is under  court order  is by  carding the                                                               
individual.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  agreed,  and characterized  carding  an                                                               
individual to  determine whether he  or she is under  court order                                                               
as a small inconvenience.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:51:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked if this legislation  applies to repeat                                                               
offenders.   He  also  inquired  as to  the  point  at which  the                                                               
[decision  is made]  to not  allow the  individual to  [purchase]                                                               
alcohol.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  answered that judges can  already decide                                                               
that an individual can't have that privilege again.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CINDY   CASHEN,  National   Council   on   Alcoholism  and   Drug                                                               
Dependence, thanked  the sponsor  for the legislation  because it                                                               
addresses  a problem  that  has  existed for  many  years.   It's                                                               
common  knowledge that  some  people are  classified  as "not  to                                                               
enter or  consume alcohol  (NEOC)".   In the  old days,  bars and                                                               
liquor stores  would keep a  list of NOECs  and would be  able to                                                               
check because  they knew  everyone in  town; and  law enforcement                                                               
could keep  a check on those  individuals as well.   However, the                                                               
state  is just  too large  and [law  enforcement, bar  staff, and                                                               
liquor  store  staff]  don't know  everyone.    Furthermore,  the                                                               
probation  dates   with  the  court   system  have   become  more                                                               
complicated  and are  ever-changing.   All of  the aforementioned                                                               
has  resulted in  many people  who abuse  their probation.   When                                                               
such individuals are  caught, the punishment is merely  a slap on                                                               
the wrist.   Ms. Cashen  informed the committee that  often there                                                               
are  offenders  who  have repeatedly  violated  their  probation,                                                               
which is  frustrating.  Ms.  Cashen opined that by  bringing this                                                               
problem  to  light,  folks  can work  toward  a  solution  that's                                                               
palatable to  everyone.  In  conclusion, Ms. Cashen  related that                                                               
the National  Council on Alcoholism and  Drug Dependence supports                                                               
this issue.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:55:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  recalled that Ms. Cashen  had brought to                                                               
his attention  that judges  in the  1st judicial  district aren't                                                               
applying the  DUI law  evenhandedly but rather  are using  an old                                                               
court of  appeals' case  that allowed offenders  to get  off with                                                               
lesser fines.   He inquired  as to  Ms. Cashen's thoughts  on the                                                               
aforementioned.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:56:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN characterized HB 190  and [legislation addressing what                                                               
Representative  Rokeberg mentioned]  as similar.   She  indicated                                                               
agreement with  Representative Rokeberg's comments  regarding the                                                               
[1st judicial  district].  The issue  at hand in HB  190 has been                                                               
going on for many years.   Ms. Cashen related that the sentencing                                                               
for violating probation  often results in more  time being tacked                                                               
onto that  already assigned.   Occasionally, repeat  offenders on                                                               
probation are put in jail.   The aforementioned isn't done often,                                                               
she  indicated, because  the  Department  of Corrections  doesn't                                                               
like [housing that many drunk  driving violators].  She clarified                                                               
that the aforementioned is drawn from her own observations.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DUANE  BANNOCK,  Director,  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles  (DMV),                                                               
Department  of  Transportation   &  Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF),                                                               
stated  that the  division  is willing  to  support the  proposal                                                               
[embodied  in  HB 190],  although  it  has  many questions.    He                                                               
related his  understanding that in  the next few days  there will                                                               
be  a  good  grasp  of   the  number  of  individuals  that  this                                                               
legislation would  impact.   Still,  DMV is poised to  produce an                                                               
[identifying] mark  on one of  the three types  of identification                                                               
it  produces.   However,  the concern  is  regarding whether  the                                                               
division will have accurate information  as to who is impacted by                                                               
this proposed change.   There is also concern with  regard to how                                                               
the DMV  will be  able to  obtain the  information.   Mr. Bannock                                                               
informed the committee  that DMV will be attaching  a fiscal note                                                               
to HB 190.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:00:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD announced his intent  to pass the cost of                                                               
issuing  a  new  license  on  to the  perpetrator.    He  further                                                               
announced that  he would continue to  work with the DMV  in order                                                               
to address its concerns.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. BANNOCK  informed the  committee that it  should be  proud to                                                               
know that Alaska's  new digital license is second to  none in the                                                               
nation.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BRENDA  MOORE, Community  Liaison,  Christian Health  Associates,                                                               
explained  that she  became aware  of repeat  offenders when  she                                                               
worked for  an outreach  program.   She said  it was  amazing how                                                               
many  offenders were  repeat offenders  who  hadn't received  any                                                               
treatment  or education.   The  aforementioned  became very  real                                                               
when the  daughter of one of  the peer counselors was  struck and                                                               
killed  by a  drunk  driver who  had  a number  of  DUIs and  was                                                               
driving with a revoked  license.  If HB 190 had  been in place at                                                               
the  time, Ms.  Moore opined  that it  might have  "detoured" him                                                               
because the driver wouldn't have had  a license to present and if                                                               
he managed to  have such, it [would've been marked]  such that he                                                               
wouldn't have been able to  purchase liquor.  Ms. Moore concluded                                                               
by asked the committee to support HB 190.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS  SCHUTTE,  Anchorage  Downtown  Partnership,  informed  the                                                               
committee   that  the   aforementioned  organization   represents                                                               
downtown businesses, property owners,  and residents in the area.                                                               
Mr. Schutte said  that one of the largest  issues facing downtown                                                               
businesses  and  residents is  the  issue  of public  inebriants.                                                               
Many of  the members of  the Anchorage Downtown  Partnership view                                                               
HB 190 as  a valuable tool to help these  inebriants and get them                                                               
off  the streets.   Those  chronic inebriants  frequent the  same                                                               
establishments and  are served until  they are  incapacitated and                                                               
then  they  return  to  the  streets.    The  Anchorage  Downtown                                                               
Partnership, he  related, hopes that  HB 190 would help  curb the                                                               
aforementioned.    In response  to  Chair  Anderson, Mr.  Schutte                                                               
confirmed  that  there  would  be a  letter  from  the  Anchorage                                                               
Downtown Partnership.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:08:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUGLAS B.  GRIFFIN, Director,  Alcoholic Beverage  Control Board                                                               
(ABC), Department of  Public Safety, said he  didn't believe that                                                               
HB 190  is compatible with  existing provisions  allowing alcohol                                                               
to be shipped  by written order.  Those who  ship alcohol to damp                                                               
communities have to  have licenses on file,  although no face-to-                                                               
face inspection occurs.  The  aforementioned can be addressed, he                                                               
said.  Mr. Griffin informed  the committee that currently the ABC                                                               
Board maintains  a list of  those package  stores who want  to do                                                               
business via written  order because these stores need  to be kept                                                               
well informed  regarding changes  to the local  option list.   He                                                               
noted that the ABC Board  also provides liquor stores listings of                                                               
individuals who  are convicted bootleggers.   Therefore, there is                                                               
already a mechanism by which  those who purchase by written order                                                               
are  screened and  thus  the legislation  would  need to  address                                                               
that.   Mr. Griffin  opined that there  will be  some operational                                                               
issues  with regard  to requesting  identification  each time  an                                                               
alcoholic beverage is  sold, but he viewed  the aforementioned as                                                               
the legislature's policy call.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:12:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  inquired  as to  the  ramifications  if                                                               
there was a breech of [AS  04.16.160 and AS 04.16.167] in Section                                                               
1 of  the legislation.   He  inquired as  to the  sanctions under                                                               
Title 4.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRIFFIN answered that he assumed  that it would be similar to                                                               
the current violations imposed on  wait staff who [sell alcoholic                                                               
beverages]   without   properly    checking   identification   or                                                               
recognizing  the identifying  mark  on the  identification.   The                                                               
aforementioned  could  result  in   a  misdemeanor  and  criminal                                                               
prosecution.  Furthermore, there  could also be ramifications for                                                               
the licensee as well.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:13:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG asked  whether  the  licensee's Title  4                                                               
license would ultimately be held in jeopardy.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRIFFIN  confirmed   that  it  could  lead  to   that.    He                                                               
characterized it as a progressive  thing in most cases.  Usually,                                                               
it's  a situation  in which  the  licensee knows  that there's  a                                                               
problem  and has  been notified  of  such, but  hasn't taken  any                                                               
corrective actions.   The [situation],  he said,  certainly could                                                               
lead to the revocation of the license.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  asked if  Mr. Griffin  was aware  of any                                                               
private causes of  action against a licensee for  breech of Title                                                               
4 provisions.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRIFFIN said  that he  wasn't aware  of any  such causes  of                                                               
action.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  specified that  it wasn't  his intention                                                               
to broaden the  law further than what it is  already when someone                                                               
sells  to an  underage  individual.   Furthermore,  the law  only                                                               
applies to those individuals under court order.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON announced that HB 190 would be held over.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 180-WORKERS' COMPENSATION                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON announced  that the final order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 180, "An  Act relating to a special deposit for                                                               
workers'   compensation   and  employers'   liability   insurers;                                                               
relating   to  assigned   risk   pools;   relating  to   workers'                                                               
compensation  insurers; stating  the intent  of the  legislature,                                                               
and  setting  out  limitations,  concerning  the  interpretation,                                                               
construction, and  implementation of workers'  compensation laws;                                                               
relating to the Alaska  Workers' Compensation Board; establishing                                                               
a  division of  workers'  compensation within  the Department  of                                                               
Labor  and   Workforce  Development,  assigning   certain  Alaska                                                               
Workers'  Compensation Board  functions to  the division  and the                                                               
department, and authorizing the  board to delegate administrative                                                               
and enforcement  duties to the division;  establishing a Workers'                                                               
Compensation   Appeals   Commission;   providing   for   workers'                                                               
compensation   hearing   officers    in   workers'   compensation                                                               
proceedings; relating  to workers' compensation  medical benefits                                                               
and to charges for and payment  of fees for the medical benefits;                                                               
relating  to  agreements  that  discharge  workers'  compensation                                                               
liability; relating to workers'  compensation awards; relating to                                                               
reemployment benefits  and job dislocation benefits;  relating to                                                               
coordination  of  workers'  compensation and  certain  disability                                                               
benefits; relating to division  of workers' compensation records;                                                               
relating  to  release  of  treatment   records;  relating  to  an                                                               
employer's  failure  to  insure   and  keep  insured  or  provide                                                               
security;  providing   for  appeals  from   compensation  orders;                                                               
relating  to  workers'  compensation proceedings;  providing  for                                                               
supreme  court   jurisdiction  of   appeals  from   the  Workers'                                                               
Compensation Appeals  Commission; providing for a  maximum amount                                                               
for  the  cost-of-living  adjustment  for  workers'  compensation                                                               
benefits;   relating  to   attorney  fees;   providing  for   the                                                               
department to  enter into contracts with  nonprofit organizations                                                               
to  provide  information  services and  legal  representation  to                                                               
injured  employees; providing  for  administrative penalties  for                                                               
employers  uninsured or  without adequate  security for  workers'                                                               
compensation; relating to fraudulent  acts or false or misleading                                                               
statements in  workers' compensation  and penalties for  the acts                                                               
or  statements;  providing for  members  of  a limited  liability                                                               
company to  be included as  an employee for purposes  of workers'                                                               
compensation;  establishing  a   workers'  compensation  benefits                                                               
guaranty  fund;  relating  to  the  second  injury  fund;  making                                                               
conforming amendments;  providing for a  study and report  by the                                                               
medical  services   review  committee;   and  providing   for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:16:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL J.  JENSEN, Attorney at Law,   Law Offices of  Michael J.                                                               
Jensen, informed the committee that  [the committee packet should                                                               
include] a letter  dated March 16, 2005, from  himself and Joseph                                                               
Kalamarides, Chancy Croft, Steve  Constantino, and William Soule.                                                               
He   explained  that   he   and   the  aforementioned   attorneys                                                               
exclusively represent  injured workers and  workers' compensation                                                               
cases.  Mr.  Jensen said that he would limit  his comments to the                                                               
creation  of the  commission  and the  concern  the governor  has                                                               
raised  regarding  premium increases.    The  statistics used  to                                                               
justify  HB 180  specify the  following:   overall benefits  have                                                               
only increased 7 percent; the  number of injuries have decreased;                                                               
the  vocational rehabilitation  costs have  decreased; time  loss                                                               
claims have  decreased; indemnity benefits have  decreased; legal                                                               
expenses of the plaintiff's lawyer  have decreased; defense legal                                                               
expenses have  increased; and medical  benefits have  increased 8                                                               
percent.   Therefore, Mr.  Jensen opined  that it's  difficult to                                                               
understand  how  employers  can face  premium  increases  of  400                                                               
percent.   He  offered an  analogy  in which  natural gas  prices                                                               
increase 7 percent, but the electric  user has a rate increase of                                                               
400 percent.  The natural inclination  is to ask the regulator of                                                               
the utility why  the electric users would be  charged 400 percent                                                               
[more]  when  the  gas  prices  have only  risen  by  7  percent.                                                               
However, when  dealing with injured  workers, the  solution seems                                                               
to be to go after the workers and the physicians.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JENSEN opined  that HB  180 doesn't  address the  legitimate                                                               
concerns of  Alaskan employers.   Although Alaskan  employers are                                                               
experiencing a dramatic increase  in premiums, it's not explained                                                               
by the  relatively modest  increase in benefit  costs.   In fact,                                                               
the  commission created  by  HB  180 will  increase  the cost  to                                                               
workers  and physicians  in  litigating claims.    This seems  to                                                               
create a  court and judges without  calling them such.   "For the                                                               
first time  in Alaska's  history, judges  will be  near political                                                               
appointees  not subject  to the  standards  of judicial  conduct,                                                               
preemption  would not  be allowed,  the commission  would not  be                                                               
subject  to the  present standards  of judicial  review; it  will                                                               
decide cases de  novo and the judges will never  be evaluated for                                                               
their ability  or fairness."   He highlighted  that the  power of                                                               
the board  to determine  credibility of  medical reports  will be                                                               
taken  away  by   this  Act.    "The   board's  determination  of                                                               
credibility will  be exclusively  limited to  testimony presented                                                               
by  a  witness at  hearing,"  which  will  increase the  cost  of                                                               
litigation  to employers  and employees  alike,  he pointed  out.                                                               
Mr.  Jenson further  pointed out  that  [AS 23.30.128]  clarifies                                                               
that  the  commission  will  review   de  novo  all  prior  board                                                               
decisions; permit parties to present  new or additional evidence;                                                               
permit easier granting of stays  without surety bonds; and ensure                                                               
that all adverse  board decisions will appealed by  the party who                                                               
lost  at   the  board  level.     He  opined  that  all   of  the                                                               
aforementioned will greatly increase  litigation costs as well as                                                               
medical costs  because physicians  will now have  to wait  one to                                                               
two years  for the litigation  to be concluded at  the commission                                                               
level.   He noted  that every  party that  lost before  the board                                                               
will be  compelled to appeal  for a chance  "at two bites  of the                                                               
apple."   "We  simply don't  see how  the governor's  proposal to                                                               
create this  commission will save  ... costs ..., time,  and will                                                               
make the system fairer for  injured workers and employers alike,"                                                               
he opined.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ROKEBERG  suggested  that Mr.  Jensen  should  be                                                               
invited back  at another  time because  he represents  four other                                                               
counselors  who represent  the plaintiff's  bar.   Representative                                                               
Rokeberg  said he  would  like to  hear  suggestions regarding  a                                                               
solution  from Mr.  Jensen.    Representative Rokeberg  expressed                                                               
concern  that  Mr.  Jensen  admits that  there's  a  400  percent                                                               
premium increase, but denies what's causing it.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. JENSEN  said that he  and his colleagues have  addressed what                                                               
they  believe  would  be better  solutions,  and  certainly  much                                                               
cheaper  and  speedier  solutions.    He said  that  he  and  his                                                               
colleagues have  some suggestions  regarding the  medical issues.                                                               
In  regard to  the  premium increases,  the  statistics from  the                                                               
Division of Workers' Compensation show  that the cost of benefits                                                               
have only increased  by 7 percent.  Therefore, there  seems to be                                                               
a  disconnect  between  what  employers   are  being  charged  in                                                               
premiums and what  those premiums are purchasing, he  opined.  No                                                               
one  is addressing  the aforementioned  concern, he  highlighted.                                                               
Mr. Jensen claimed  that HB 180 won't save  employers 400 percent                                                               
in premium increases.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BOB FAVRETTO, Business owner; Board  Member, Alaska State Chamber                                                               
of  Commerce, informed  the committee  that he's  the twice  past                                                               
president  of  the  Kenai  Chamber of  Commerce.    Mr.  Favretto                                                               
relayed that  a hotel/restaurant/property management  business in                                                               
the  area had  workers' compensation  premiums in  the amount  of                                                               
about $16,000 in 2000, which  increased to about $36,000 in 2004.                                                               
Those premiums  are estimated to  increase another  20-30 percent                                                               
in 2005.   He then  turned to attention  to a local  machine shop                                                               
that  employs approximately  36  individuals and  had $40,000  in                                                               
[workers' compensation] premiums in  2001, which will increase to                                                               
in excess of  $100,000 this year.  Mr.  Favretto highlighted that                                                               
in  2001  the  McDonald's  franchises   on  the  Kenai  Peninsula                                                               
employed  approximately 130  employees of  which he  estimated 65                                                               
percent  to  be  part-time  employees.   In  2001,  the  workers'                                                               
compensation premium  was $24,000  and in  2005 the  premiums are                                                               
projected to be in excess of  $133,000.  Mr. Favretto then turned                                                               
to a  local fish processing plant  that had 233 employees  in the                                                               
year 2000  of which  90-95 percent are  part-time employees.   In                                                               
2000,  the local  fish processing  plant's workers'  compensation                                                               
premiums  were  a  little  over  $31,000.   In  2005,  this  fish                                                               
processing plant  will employ  less than  130 employees,  but the                                                               
workers' compensation premium will exceed $148,000.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:28:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FAVRETTO  then related similar information  regarding his own                                                               
business.  He noted that  in any of the aforementioned businesses                                                               
he highlighted, there were no  catastrophic injuries to cause the                                                               
[workers'   compensation]  premiums   to  rise   to  the   levels                                                               
specified.   The  rise in  workers' compensation  premiums causes                                                               
employers   to  reduce   benefits  and   employees  and   require                                                               
participation of  employees and  their families to  subsidize the                                                               
premiums.  In  fact, small businesses are borrowing  money to pay                                                               
for their workers' compensation  premiums, which he characterized                                                               
as destined for failure.   In conclusion, Mr. Favretto encouraged                                                               
the committee  to pass HB 180  out of committee and  address this                                                               
matter this session.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CRAWFORD  informed   the   committee  that   the                                                               
[workers' compensation] premium for  one of his rental properties                                                               
was $197 per year and it had  no claims against it.  However, two                                                               
years later the  premium increased to $856,  although there still                                                               
had been no claim.   He related that he has  heard that costs are                                                               
increasing  by  7-15  percent  a  year,  although  premiums  have                                                               
increased approximately 400  percent in that same  timeframe.  He                                                               
asked if this  is different from workers' compensation.   He also                                                               
asked  if  [the  legislature]  should  also  go  after  insurance                                                               
companies  for  increasing  the insurance  rates  on  homeowners'                                                               
insurance.  He asked if another  factor could be at play, such as                                                               
the loss of $7 trillion in the stock market.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:31:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FAVRETTO  empathized  with   Representative  Crawford  as  a                                                               
business owner  and commented that  everyone is  experiencing the                                                               
same thing.   He acknowledged that  there is a lack  of carriers,                                                               
but expressed the  need to do what's possible to  correct as much                                                               
as can be corrected.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JOHN DAVID RAGAN suggested that  premium rate increases in Alaska                                                               
aren't  being  driven  by  cost increases  in  Alaska.    Rather,                                                               
insurance companies  paid out massive claims  after the terrorist                                                               
attacks  of September  11, 2001  and suffered  massive investment                                                               
losses due  to the  stock market  crash.   Furthermore, companies                                                               
insuring in  Alaska have also  had serious financial  problems in                                                               
other  states.    Therefore,  cutting costs  in  Alaska  may  not                                                               
actually impact those premiums, he  opined.  As a firefighter and                                                               
a  laborer,  Mr.  Ragan  said  that  firefighters  and  emergency                                                               
medical  technicians  (EMTs)  deserve   the  best  possible  care                                                               
available when  injured in  the line of  duty, which  falls under                                                               
workers' compensation.   Mr. Ragan characterized  the freezing of                                                               
the medical  reimbursement rates  that physicians can  charge for                                                               
specific injuries  as a major  problem.  The aforementioned  is a                                                               
very bad idea,  which he predicted would produce  poor or second-                                                               
rate  medical care  for  workers'  compensation patients  because                                                               
many  physicians   will  simply  choose  not   to  take  workers'                                                               
compensation patients  as is often  done with  Medicare patients.                                                               
Mr. Ragan  emphasized that "fixing  up" workers and  getting them                                                               
back to  work after being  injured on the  job is merely  part of                                                               
the  cost of  the job  and part  of the  cost of  doing business,                                                               
which is what workers' compensation is about.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. RAGAN  urged the committee  to provide  workers' compensation                                                               
patients the best medical care  possible by opposing this medical                                                               
reimbursement  cap  at the  1999  level.   He  characterized  the                                                               
aforementioned  as  the smart  thing  to  do because  second-rate                                                               
medical  care will  increase medical  and nonmedical  costs.   He                                                               
informed the committee that almost  all of the studies performed,                                                               
including  one  performed  by the  International  Brotherhood  of                                                               
Electrical  Workers (IBEW),  have  concluded that  the most  cost                                                               
effective way  to deal with  workers' compensation is  to provide                                                               
the injured  worker the best  medical care available and  get the                                                               
worker  back to  work as  quickly as  possible.   Therefore, this                                                               
legislation,  which caps  the medical  reimbursement  cap at  the                                                               
1999  level, doesn't  make sense.   Furthermore,  the legislation                                                               
deducts pension money from workers' compensation payments.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:36:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. RAGAN maintained that personal  assets, such as an employee's                                                               
pension,  shouldn't   be  attacked  because  of   the  employee's                                                               
accident.  He stressed that  it's not appropriate to punish those                                                               
who  have   prudently  set  aside   money  in  a   pension  plan.                                                               
Furthermore, it's  not [appropriate]  to punish those  who, after                                                               
retirement,  stay   productive  by  getting  another   job.    In                                                               
conclusion, Mr. Ragan related his  understanding that there was a                                                               
very   good,  bipartisan,   ad   hoc   committee  consisting   of                                                               
representatives  of   employees  and   laborers  who   made  some                                                               
excellent suggestions.   However, somehow those  suggestions were                                                               
brushed aside  and HB  180 was introduced.   He  characterized HB                                                               
180  as a  "knee-jerk punitive  approach".   Mr. Ragan  suggested                                                               
that HB  180 be  killed and  the committee return  to the  ad hoc                                                               
committee's recommendations.   He  further suggested that  if the                                                               
desire is to  cut costs, it should be done  with massive emphasis                                                               
on  safety  in the  workplace  and  training.   Current  law,  he                                                               
charged, doesn't do enough to reward safe employers.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MARJORIE  LINDER,  Rehabilitation  Counselor,  expressed  concern                                                               
with HB 180,  which seems to take out the  profit margin that the                                                               
insurance  companies  want.   She  related  her belief  that  the                                                               
reemployment  benefit  is  being   amended  based  on  erroneous,                                                               
unreliable,  and unverifiable  data.   The  data  is filled  with                                                               
nonrehabilitation related  costs, such as  settlement inducements                                                               
so that  employers can avoid  paying a 6 percent  assessment into                                                               
the second injury fund.   The reemployment benefits administrator                                                               
can only find one-third of the  cost reported by the carriers for                                                               
claimants under the program he administers.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:39:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LINDER  said that  this faulty  data is  being used  to raise                                                               
rates  for employers  and  reduce benefits  for  employees.   She                                                               
noted that the  committee should have her  testimony and exhibits                                                               
illustrating this faulty  data.  She informed  the committee that                                                               
her fees  were reported to be  $75,761 one year when  in fact she                                                               
was   paid  $43,478.     Some   carriers  have   reported  paying                                                               
rehabilitation   providers  over   $20,000  for   an  eligibility                                                               
evaluation,  which typically  cost $1,500  to $2,000.   She  then                                                               
turned attention  to exhibits two  and three, which  are examples                                                               
of different  reporting practices for  the sample carriers.   The                                                               
overall benefit is  7.4 percent, although she  mentioned that the                                                               
aforementioned  figure  can't  be  trusted because  they  are  so                                                               
disparately reported.  However,  when one reviews Freemont, which                                                               
contributed to the situation in  which Alaska finds itself today,                                                               
the data specifies it paid  15.45 percent in rehabilitation costs                                                               
[of the  eligibility costs].   The  reason the  aforementioned is                                                               
reported is  because the insurance  carrier can avoid paying  a 6                                                               
percent  assessment  on  rehabilitation  costs  into  the  second                                                               
injuries  fund,   and  therefore  non-rehabilitation   costs  are                                                               
characterized as rehabilitation costs.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:42:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LINDER  turned  attention to  Wausau  (ph),  which  reported                                                               
paying 5.1 percent of its  claim dollar to monitor rehabilitation                                                               
plans  for  which  it  paid   no  one  to  write.    Furthermore,                                                               
Lieberman's  Mutual reported  paying .45  percent for  plan costs                                                               
that it paid no one to  write.  Still, these companies have large                                                               
amounts in  041k, which is  typically a waste basket  for placing                                                               
settlement  inducements.   Although the  aforementioned money  is                                                               
characterized  as rehabilitation  costs,  it isn't.   Ms.  Linder                                                               
said that  if she were an  employer, she would be  very concerned                                                               
because  the  Division  of Vocational  Rehabilitation  is  making                                                               
these insurers report  costs under the correct  column.  However,                                                               
these  are used  to  raise  rates on  employers  and  now to  cut                                                               
benefits.  These  costs aren't real, she emphasized.   Ms. Linder                                                               
directed attention  to exhibits  4 and  5, which  illustrate that                                                               
overall rehabilitation  costs have  decreased from 2002  to 2003,                                                               
yet [insurers] are  acting as if rehabilitation  costs are rising                                                               
and out of control and the  reason for this 400 percent increase.                                                               
She highlighted  exhibit 6,  which notes  Commissioner O'Claray's                                                               
written comment  that he has  found 155  people in 2002  who were                                                               
paid  rehabilitation  costs but  weren't  even  eligible for  the                                                               
benefit.   Exhibits  7  and 8  illustrate  that the  reemployment                                                               
benefit  administrator who  administrates  the  program can  only                                                               
find  one-third of  the  costs  reported by  the  carrier in  the                                                               
legitimate program that the administrator administers.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LINDER suggested  that the  committee  ensure that  insurers                                                               
report  their costs  accurately  and in  a standardized  fashion.                                                               
Furthermore,  she   suggested  that  the  Division   of  Workers'                                                               
Compensation and  the Insurance Commission ensure  that the costs                                                               
are reported correctly before making more problems.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:46:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LINDER announced  that  she has  three  amendments that  she                                                               
would propose and fax to the committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:47:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON   announced  that  he  intended   to  review  the                                                               
physician  issues  brought  up  by  Mr.  Ragan  as  well  as  the                                                               
recommendations of the ad hoc  committee in order to develop some                                                               
amendments.   Chair Anderson  expressed his  desire to  hear more                                                               
testimony and  entertain amendments next Wednesday.   However, he                                                               
noted that there  is other legislation that  the committee [needs                                                               
to hear as well].                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:47:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  highlighted that there are  people who                                                               
have  been waiting  to testify  for four  days, and  therefore it                                                               
might be  prudent to  have a meeting  dedicated to  taking public                                                               
testimony on HB 180 only.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON clarified  that that's  the [tentative]  plan for                                                               
next Wednesday.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:49:01 PM.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG pointed out  that there is concern from                                                               
small  businesses  regarding  increased  [workers'  compensation]                                                               
rates.   However, he said that  he didn't get a  sense that small                                                               
business [owners]  understand HB  180 and its  complexity, rather                                                               
they merely  want relief.  Representative  Guttenberg related his                                                               
perspective that HB 180 "doesn't  get there" with regard to lower                                                               
[workers' compensation] rates.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
[HB 180 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Labor and Commerce Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at                                                                  
2:49:46 PM.                                                                                                                   

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