Legislature(2007 - 2008)CAPITOL 17

04/18/2007 03:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 93 PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
*+ HB 226 REPEAL TERMINATION OF STEP PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 226(L&C) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 162 MORTGAGE LENDING TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 162(L&C) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                         April 18, 2007                                                                                         
                           3:26 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kurt Olson, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Jay Ramras                                                                                                       
Representative Robert L. "Bob" Buch                                                                                             
Representative Berta Gardner                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 162                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to mortgage  lenders, mortgage brokers, mortgage                                                               
originators,  state  agents  who collect  program  administration                                                               
fees,  and other  persons who  engage in  activities relating  to                                                               
mortgage lending; relating to  mortgage loan activities; relating                                                               
to  an  originator  fund;  relating to  fees  for  mortgage  loan                                                               
transactions; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 162(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 226                                                                                                              
"An  Act repealing  the  termination of  the  state training  and                                                               
employment program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 226(L&C) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 93                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating  to   licensed  professional  counselors;  and                                                               
relating  to  the  unlicensed  use  of  the  title  'professional                                                               
counselor.'"                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED SB 93 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 162                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MORTGAGE LENDING                                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) LYNN                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
02/28/07       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/28/07       (H)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
03/23/07       (H)       L&C AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/23/07       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/23/07       (H)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
04/11/07       (H)       L&C AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
04/11/07       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/18/07       (H)       L&C AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 226                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REPEAL TERMINATION OF STEP PROGRAM                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) COGHILL                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
03/27/07       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/27/07       (H)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
04/18/07       (H)       L&C AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  93                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS                                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DAVIS                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/22/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/22/07       (S)       L&C                                                                                                    
03/06/07       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/06/07       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/06/07       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/08/07       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/08/07       (S)       Moved SB  93 Out of Committee                                                                          
03/08/07       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/09/07       (S)       L&C RPT  3DP                                                                                           
03/09/07       (S)       DP: ELLIS, BUNDE, DAVIS                                                                                
03/21/07       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
03/21/07       (S)       VERSION: SB  93                                                                                        
03/22/07       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/22/07       (H)       L&C                                                                                                    
04/18/07       (H)       L&C AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MARK DAVIS, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Banking & Securities                                                                                                
Department of Commerce, Community, & Economic Development                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Reviewed the changes embodied in CSHB 162,                                                                 
Version O.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COGHILL                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Spoke as the sponsor of HB 226.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CLARK "CLICK" BISHOP, Acting Commissioner                                                                                       
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During hearing of HB 226, highlighted the                                                                  
need for a sustainable funding source for [STEP].                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
GUY BELL, Assistant Commissioner                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During hearing of HB 226, answered                                                                         
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HUGH GARRITY, Apprentice Coordinator                                                                                            
Alaska Laborers' Training School                                                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During hearing of HB 226, testified in                                                                     
support of STEP.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TIM SHARP, Union Trustee                                                                                                        
Alaska Laborers' Training School                                                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 226.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JOHN BROWN, Member                                                                                                              
Operating Engineers Local 302                                                                                                   
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 226.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
RON AXTELL, Business Agent                                                                                                      
Laborers Local 341                                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the hearing on HB 226, testified as                                                                 
to the importance of the continuation of STEP.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA LOGAN, President                                                                                                        
Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) Alaska Chapter                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concerns related to HB 226 and                                                                   
stated support of STEP.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS OBERMEYER, Staff                                                                                                         
to Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                         
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB  93 on behalf of Senator Davis,                                                               
prime sponsor.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KURT  OLSON called  the House  Labor and  Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order at  3:26:44  PM.    Representatives                                                             
Olson,  Ramras, Buch,  and Gardner  were present  at the  call to                                                               
order.  Representative  LeDoux and Neuman arrived  as the meeting                                                               
was in progress.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 162-MORTGAGE LENDING                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:28:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  162,  "An Act  relating  to  mortgage  lenders,                                                               
mortgage brokers, mortgage originators,  state agents who collect                                                               
program  administration fees,  and  other persons  who engage  in                                                               
activities  relating to  mortgage lending;  relating to  mortgage                                                               
loan  activities; relating  to an  originator  fund; relating  to                                                               
fees  for  mortgage  loan  transactions;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  moved  to  adopt CSHB  162,  Version  25-                                                               
LS0070\O,  Bannister, 4/14/07,  as the  working document.   There                                                               
being no objection, Version O was before the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:29:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS requested  an explanation  of the  changes                                                               
made by Version O.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:29:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK  DAVIS,   Director,  Division   of  Banking   &  Securities,                                                               
Department  of   Commerce,  Community,  &   Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED), detailed  the major changes  embodied in Version O.   He                                                               
pointed  out that  Version O  exempts companies  already licensed                                                               
under Alaska's  Small Loan Act  [on page 1,  line 4].   Version O                                                               
also includes a modification of  exemption language for federally                                                               
regulated  financial  institutions.     Mr.  Davis  informed  the                                                               
committee that yesterday the U.S.  Supreme Court decided the case                                                               
Waters  v. Wachovia  Bank  and determined  that  a subsidiary  or                                                             
operating subsidiary  of a  national bank  was exempt  from state                                                               
examination  powers.   The language  of Version  O would  allow a                                                               
national bank or national bank  holding company to certify to the                                                               
Division  of Banking  & Securities  that they  are exempt,  based                                                               
upon  a letter  or  other documentation  from  the three  federal                                                               
regulatory  agencies.   The  aforementioned  doesn't address  the                                                               
matter  of affiliates.   Pages  14-15 of  the U.S.  Supreme Court                                                               
[decision]  specify  that  affiliates  of a  national  bank  that                                                               
engage  in   "nonbanking"  activities,  such  as   securities  or                                                               
insurance, would  need state licensure.   However, [the decision]                                                               
didn't address a situation in  which an affiliate engages in bank                                                               
activities  and nonbanking  activities.   For example,  the state                                                               
currently  has  the  right to  examine  Wachovia  Securities,  an                                                               
affiliate of Wachovia Bank.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DAVIS  then pointed  out  that  Version O  includes  changes                                                               
[regarding the  notification] where  there's a change  in control                                                               
of  a   corporation  or  limited  liability   corporation  (LLC).                                                               
Version O includes language in  AS 06.60.065(3)(E) that clarifies                                                               
that the  basis for  denial of an  originator license  includes a                                                               
violation of a  regulation adopted under the chapter  or an order                                                               
of the  department under  the chapter.   The work  draft includes                                                               
proposed  AS 06.60.157  and  .159  in order  to  ensure that  all                                                               
licensees  perform origination  services  through an  originator.                                                               
Version O also  specifies that a licensee may  not represent that                                                               
he/she  has  a  professional certification  that  he/she  doesn't                                                               
actually have.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAVIS noted that the  change in proposed AS 06.60.370(b)-(d),                                                               
in  order  to  ensure  that  all the  misdemeanors  are  class  A                                                               
misdemeanors,  was  requested by  the  Department  of Law  (DOL).                                                               
Version  O also  changes the  definition of  "escrow account"  in                                                               
proposed  AS  06.60.990(5)(D)  in  order to  clarify  that  money                                                               
disbursed from  an escrow  account must be  in accordance  with a                                                               
written  agreement.    Mr. Davis  mentioned  that  the  remaining                                                               
changes in Version  O were largely requested by DOL  and were due                                                               
to  drafting differences  between DOL  and Legislative  Legal and                                                               
Research Services.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  expressed appreciation  for the  work done                                                               
by Mr. Davis.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:34:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked if the  division has had a chance to                                                               
respond to the statement by AARP.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DAVIS replied  that  the division,  through  Version O,  has                                                               
responded to some  of the [concerns] stated by  AARP, including a                                                               
provision  that provides  for restitution  as  a requirement  for                                                               
relicensing.   He pointed  out that AARP  is also  concerned with                                                               
predatory lending practices, which he  feels is best handled with                                                               
a predatory lending statute.  The  way such statutes work in most                                                               
states is that  there is a series of licensing  and the predatory                                                               
lending law  applies to  all who aren't  licensed.   Until Alaska                                                               
has  more licensing  it will  be difficult  to draft  a predatory                                                               
lending law that makes sense, he opined.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER drew attention  to AARP's concern with the                                                               
"express private right of action".                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAVIS  said that he  disagrees with AARP's legal  analysis of                                                               
the  aforementioned.    He  pointed   out  that  the  legislation                                                               
specifies that in addition to all  of the remedies one may make a                                                               
claim  on the  surety fund.   The  aforementioned means  that one                                                               
doesn't have  to go to the  surety fund.  As  a former practicing                                                               
attorney,  Mr. Davis  related his  belief  that a  client with  a                                                               
substantial  loss will  sue if  the  person making  the loss  has                                                               
money, but  will go for  the surety  fund if that  person doesn't                                                               
have many assets or the case is small.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER highlighted  that AARP [expressed concern]                                                               
with the statute  of limitations of two years  since the standard                                                               
in most states is three years from discovery.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAVIS replied that [the  statute of limitations] is two years                                                               
from  discovery.    He  opined  that two  years  will  work,  but                                                               
deferred to DOL, which hasn't suggested such a change.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  turned  to   AARP's  desire  for  making                                                               
stronger the  capping of  claims against  a single  originator at                                                               
$50,000 irrespective  of the actual  damages to the  borrower and                                                               
the apportionment among the borrowers.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAVIS clarified  that is correct if one is  going through the                                                               
surety fund.   Again, if one has  a major loss, he  said he would                                                               
assume that individual wouldn't go  through the surety fund.  The                                                               
surety fund, he pointed  out, has to have a cap  so that it won't                                                               
run out of money.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:38:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER moved  to  report CSHB  162, Version  25-                                                               
LS0070\O, Bannister,  4/14/07, out  of committee  with individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no objection,  CSHB 162(L&C)  was reported  from the  House Labor                                                               
and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 3:38:46 PM to 3:42:09 PM.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB 226-REPEAL TERMINATION OF STEP PROGRAM                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:42:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  announced that the  next order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  226, "An  Act repealing  the termination  of the                                                               
state  training  and employment  program;  and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:42:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN  COGHILL, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
explained  that  HB  226  would   make  the  state  training  and                                                               
employment program  (STEP) -  currently a  temporary program  - a                                                               
permanent  program.   He highlighted  that when  the Baby  Boomer                                                               
generation leaves  the workforce there will  be a large gap.   He                                                               
opined that  the state has  some responsibility to  encourage the                                                               
best  training  possible.    This   program  has  proven  itself,                                                               
although he  acknowledged that there  has been  some controversy,                                                               
including the  union/nonunion debate.   He  specified that  he is                                                               
neither for  nor against the  union, but opined that  they should                                                               
be able to share fairly.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if the sponsor  had any ideas on how to address                                                               
those concerns.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL replied  that he  has much  confidence in                                                               
the  commissioner-designee for  Department of  Labor &  Workforce                                                               
Development (DLWD).   He  related that  he's open  to suggestions                                                               
regarding the  grants, but emphasized  that [the  legislature] is                                                               
interested in  what would provide  the most "bang for  the buck."                                                               
He  opined that  the entire  program  shouldn't be  held under  a                                                               
negative light  due to concerns  of the [Associated  Builders and                                                               
Contractors (ABC) Alaska Chapter].                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:47:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  requested   that  Representative  Coghill                                                               
expand on  the difference  between ABC's and  DLWD's view  on the                                                               
issues.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  replied  that   there  is  some  tension                                                               
regarding the integrity  of the granting process  and whether the                                                               
union or nonunion  [shops] received more [in the  way of grants].                                                               
He  shared  his belief  that  although  the aforementioned  is  a                                                               
legitimate  debate, he  wasn't sure  that  it [should  determine]                                                               
whether this  [proposal] is authorized.   He emphasized  that the                                                               
program should move forward due to the training possibilities.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:49:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX highlighted that  STEP was started in 1989.                                                               
She asked  why it would  take a program such  as this so  long to                                                               
become permanent.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said that  unfortunately this program gets                                                               
caught  up  in  other  labor/"nonlabor"  issues.    However,  the                                                               
training provided by STEP is  done well and the program shouldn't                                                               
have remained a pilot program.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  related his intent  to move HB [226]  from committee                                                               
today, but  noted that he  is trying to develop  some sideboards,                                                               
such as a sunset date.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL remarked  that he would rather  not have a                                                               
sunset date,  because once  a program is  placed in  statute it's                                                               
the legislature's  responsibility to "pay  attention to it."   He                                                               
shared  his belief  that  a  report back  to  the legislature  is                                                               
probably  the  best  way   to  [provide  legislative  oversight].                                                               
However, he  acknowledged that between  December and  February he                                                               
receives 300-plus annual  reports.  He reiterated that  STEP is a                                                               
tool that can be used well or poorly by a commissioner.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN related  his view  that sunsets  allow the                                                               
legislature to take a closer look at programs.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  opined that as  a pilot program  STEP has                                                               
been highly scrutinized and has  been authorized six times by the                                                               
legislature.  He further opined that  at this point, the areas of                                                               
controversy  are known  and the  continued record  of success  is                                                               
more appropriate than a sunset.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  shared   her  understanding  that  sunset                                                               
provisions are  typically for boards  and commissions,  and asked                                                               
if this is correct.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied that it's  not unusual to sunset a                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:56:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH mentioned  that  he attended  all the  House                                                               
Finance  Subcommittee meetings  on Labor  & Commerce.   When  the                                                               
subcommittee addressed STEP,  its track record was  reviewed.  He                                                               
opined  that  STEP  had  proven  its  success  in  every  regard.                                                               
Furthermore, for the amount of  money spent, the state received a                                                               
large  return on  its  investment.   The  Department  of Labor  &                                                               
Workforce Development  (DLWD), he  recalled, testified  that STEP                                                               
is one of its valued programs.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   added   that   Alaska's   unemployment                                                               
insurance laws  place many  in tension as  folks are  expected to                                                               
move off  the welfare rolls  after 60 months.   Therefore, [STEP]                                                               
provides an avenue offering some relief to that tension.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:58:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CLARK "CLICK" BISHOP, Acting Commissioner,  Department of Labor &                                                               
Workforce Development  (DLWD), related  that during  a transition                                                               
team  meeting he  made the  comment that  for the  state to  move                                                               
forward  with  job  training  there needs  to  be  a  sustainable                                                               
funding  source for  training that  all  people can  access.   He                                                               
opined that at this time, STEP  is the best vehicle to accomplish                                                               
the aforementioned.   Acting Commissioner Bishop  related that he                                                               
has charged the department with  placing more STEP dollars on the                                                               
street than  ever.  He  then shared his  belief that 18  years is                                                               
long enough  for this program  to be considered a  pilot program.                                                               
He  shared a  recent experience  touring the  STEP classroom  and                                                               
viewing how the hands-on experience was applied.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:02:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON reiterated  his earlier  suggestion  for a  six-year                                                               
sunset, and inquired as to the commissioner's thoughts on such.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
ACTING  COMMISSIONER  BISHOP said  he  would  be amenable  to  [a                                                               
sunset].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON commented  that if the department  could develop some                                                               
sideboards that accomplish  the same thing as a  sunset, he would                                                               
speak on  its behalf in the  House Finance Committee.   He stated                                                               
his desire  for HB  226 to  move from  committee today  with some                                                               
sideboards.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:03:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ACTING COMMISSIONER BISHOP  reiterated that he could  live with a                                                               
six-year extension.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL restated his  preference for a report, but                                                               
left it to the will of the committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN, referring to the  fiscal note, asked if it                                                               
would  need  to  be  increased   during  the  upcoming  years  of                                                               
declining revenues.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
GUY  BELL, Assistant  Commissioner, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Labor  & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  explained                                                               
that  the  fiscal  note  the  department  prepared  reflects  the                                                               
expected  revenue  that  was   received  [from]  this  particular                                                               
funding stream.  The source of  revenue for STEP is an allocation                                                               
of   the  employee   contribution   to  unemployment   insurance.                                                               
Therefore,  it's  a  set  aside   of  employee  contributions  to                                                               
unemployment insurance.   The only  factor that might  change the                                                               
amount of  funding the department  requests from  the legislature                                                               
would be if  the revenue generated is more than  projected in the                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  asked if  applicants  are  allowed to  go                                                               
through STEP  more than  once.   He then inquired  as to  how the                                                               
commissioner  will ensure  that all  training programs  will have                                                               
equity.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ACTING COMMISSIONER  BISHOP replied  that currently,  through the                                                               
Request for Grant  Applications (RGA) process, the  money is made                                                               
available  for  anyone   who  applies.    He   then  related  his                                                               
understanding  that there's  a  $10,000 limit  in  the amount  of                                                               
funds  an individual  can receive,  but offered  to confirm  that                                                               
information.    He  mentioned  that there  may  be  an  exception                                                               
allowing a waiver on a case-by-case basis.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:08:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS stated support for  STEP.  He then inquired                                                               
as  to  what  programs  the   department  hopes  to  steward  for                                                               
[nonunion workers].                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ACTING COMMISSIONER  BISHOP emphasized that STEP  is available to                                                               
everyone, union or nonunion.  He  recalled that 70 percent of the                                                               
STEP recipients were not union workers.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  said that  the information he  has doesn't                                                               
seem to indicate that.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  interjected  that  she  posed  the  same                                                               
question to DLWD.   Of the 23 entities  offering training, almost                                                               
half are  union and the  other half  are nonunion.   However, the                                                               
entities  with  the  most  participation seem  to  be  the  labor                                                               
unions.   She  related her  understanding that  to be  trained in                                                               
STEP, one doesn't need to be a [union] member.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ACTING COMMISSIONER  BISHOP emphasized that he  doesn't want this                                                               
to be  a union/nonunion debate.   He  noted that he  visits those                                                               
entities offering STEP training, union and nonunion alike.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS   expressed  his  desire  for   union  and                                                               
nonunion shops to flourish in Alaska.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTING COMMISSIONER BISHOP informed the  committee that STEP is a                                                               
competitive grant award  that he is attempting to  make more user                                                               
friendly and efficient  for all entities, including  those from a                                                               
one-man shop.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:15:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS inquired as  to how many grant applications                                                               
are made per year and the  percentage of grants awarded.  He also                                                               
inquired  as to  whether there  is  an active  effort to  solicit                                                               
nonunion shops.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL  offered to provide  that information to  the committee.                                                               
He  estimated   that  roughly  speaking,  twice   as  many  grant                                                               
applications are received than grants  awarded.  The [awarding of                                                               
grants] is  managed by scrutinizing individual  award amounts and                                                               
ranking  applicants overall.   Historically,  the department  has                                                               
engaged members  of the Alaska Workforce  Investment Board during                                                               
the review process, and thus  there's a private person engaged in                                                               
the scoring  of the  applications.  The  solicitation is  done by                                                               
the standard  solicitation process, which includes  public notice                                                               
in  the form  of a  general announcement  of the  availability of                                                               
awards.  The award period, he  related, is usually open for about                                                               
30 days.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:17:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  asked  if  there  is  departmental  staff                                                               
available  to  help  with  the grant  application  process.    He                                                               
further asked where the department posts information.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BELL replied  that from  time  to time,  the department  has                                                               
offered  technical  assistance   to  grantees  through  technical                                                               
assistance  sessions.     The  aforementioned  affords  potential                                                               
grantees  the  guidance  and advice  of  the  STEP  administrator                                                               
through work sessions.  After  the request for proposals (RFP) is                                                               
issued, there  will be the  opportunity for anyone  interested to                                                               
call in  with questions and request  technical assistance related                                                               
to preparing  grant applications.   Mr.  Bell related  that broad                                                               
advertising, such  as over the  radio, hasn't been utilized.   He                                                               
then highlighted that the STEP  dollars are available through the                                                               
job  centers   throughout  the  state.     Those   dollars  allow                                                               
individuals to  come directly to  the job centers  for additional                                                               
training in order to receive employment.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:19:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  inquired as to the  percentage of entities                                                               
that  have  applied  for  grants  in the  past  five  years  have                                                               
received grants.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL  replied that he  would provide this information  to the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:20:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HUGH GARRITY,  Apprentice Coordinator, Alaska  Laborers' Training                                                               
School,  related  that  he  has   been  an  instructor  with  the                                                               
aforementioned  school since  1994.   During  that  time the  job                                                               
market has shifted to mining and  now seems to be shifting to the                                                               
pipeline.     All  of  the  aforementioned   requires  compliance                                                               
training   for  federal   and  state   agencies,  on   which  the                                                               
organization  has   focused.    Mr.  Garrity   commented  on  the                                                               
generational shift that's also occurring,  such that employees of                                                               
the  Trans-Alaska Pipeline  System (TAPS)  are becoming  younger.                                                               
He related  that over  the last few  years, the  Alaska Laborers'                                                               
Training School  has provided  considerable training  for village                                                               
housing.  In  conclusion, Mr. Garrity related his  support of the                                                               
continuation  of  STEP as  it  has  provided the  opportunity  to                                                               
practice on  the equipment  that will  be used  and results  in a                                                               
safe, well-trained workforce.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:23:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM  SHARP,  Union  Trustee, Alaska  Laborers'  Training  School,                                                               
stated support for  HB 226.  Mr. Sharp characterized  [STEP] as a                                                               
bridge to training in Fairbanks.   He informed the committee that                                                               
the school  provides pipeline  training, home  building training,                                                               
and  hazardous waste  training in  the villages.   In  fact, last                                                               
week a  tanker overturned in   Prudhoe  Bay and five  people from                                                               
Tanacross with STEP training were  sent in response.  With regard                                                               
to  union  versus  nonunion  training,   Mr.  Sharp  related  his                                                               
understanding that the  unions have received the  majority of the                                                               
focus  because  the  Knowles and  the  Murkowski  Administrations                                                               
tended  to reward  success.   The unions  have been  particularly                                                               
effective,  in part,  because they  don't train  for the  sake of                                                               
training.   Training  is performed  in  order to  move people  to                                                               
employment in  the areas  with high  unemployment and  the unions                                                               
have  done a  great job.   In  fact with  the recent  BP pipeline                                                               
incident,  about  100  people  were mobilized  and  much  of  the                                                               
training occurred  with STEP funds.   In terms of  the suggestion                                                               
of a  sunset, Mr. Sharp opined  that STEP has proven  itself time                                                               
and again since 1989.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:27:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN BROWN, Member,  Operating Engineers Local 302,  said that he                                                               
would address the  need for training.  He  informed the committee                                                               
that  in  January  2005,  the Department  of  Labor  &  Workforce                                                               
Development  (DLWD)  held a  construction  labor  summit, and  he                                                               
indicated  that at  that time,  operating engineers  ranked fifth                                                               
among occupations  "for priority  training."   He stated  that 45                                                               
percent of  operating engineers  are over  the age  of 45  and 26                                                               
percent of  them are over  50.  He  emphasized the need  to train                                                               
for the future and said STEP is a  good way to do it.  He related                                                               
that the training programs for  operating engineers are primarily                                                               
funded  through  employer  contributions.    He  offered  further                                                               
details.  He said STEP  has allowed the Operating Engineers Local                                                               
302 to reach  out further into rural Alaska,  because it provides                                                               
transportation for people all over  Alaska to get to the training                                                               
facility  in  Palmer.   He  explained  that  operating  engineers                                                               
operate heavy equipment, and it  would cost more to transport the                                                               
equipment  to the  rural areas  for that  training.   He provided                                                               
numbers illustrating  the increasing number of  trainees over the                                                               
years, and emphasizing the high  percentage of those trainees who                                                               
have found work.  He encouraged  the committee members to pass HB                                                               
226 out of committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:31:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RON AXTELL,  Business Agent, Laborers  Local 341, said  the union                                                               
represents over 2,100 in Southcentral  Alaska.  He emphasized the                                                               
importance of the continuation of  STEP, calling it a "vital part                                                               
of training  for all  Alaskans that  strive for  a better  way of                                                               
life."  He said training is  necessary in order to keep people in                                                               
Alaska and working.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON  asked  if  there  was anyone  else  who  wished  to                                                               
testify.  [There was no response.]                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:32:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS said after  hearing from all the testifiers                                                               
he  is curious  what percentage  of the  training done  with STEP                                                               
dollars is  done with union  members and what percentage  is done                                                               
with nonunion  members.  He  expressed concern that there  may be                                                               
an under-represented group.  He also  said he would like to see a                                                               
comparison  of  union  dollars   spent  versus  State  of  Alaska                                                               
dollars.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BELL replied  that the  STEP dollars  do not  supplant other                                                               
dollars that are  available, and he said, "We  take steps through                                                               
the  application  and  review  process   to  [ensure]  that  this                                                               
supplanting does not occur."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS responded:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     I  appreciate  that  it's  an  augmentation;  I'm  just                                                                    
     wondering how  ... many people  were being  trained and                                                                    
     what  the  scope of  the  augmentation  is.   ...  [For                                                                    
     example],  does  it represent  25  percent  of the  ...                                                                    
     outcome, or  is it 10 percent,  is it 50 percent?   ...                                                                    
     Ever since  I read  the book, Freakonomics,  I question                                                                  
     everything that's statistically  or numerically driven,                                                                    
     because   numbers   just   consistently   offer   false                                                                    
     representation ....                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN   asked,  "When  you're   considering  the                                                               
grants, do  you consider the  funds that  are already going  to a                                                               
program from outside the STEP program?"                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:36:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BELL said  the  department  tries to  use  state dollars  to                                                               
leverage  private funding  for  training.   He  said the  federal                                                               
Office  of Apprenticeship  keeps statistics  such as  [whether or                                                               
not]  "the number  of people  enrolled as  [apprentices] were  to                                                               
give an  indication about  the number of  people engaged  in that                                                               
type of apprenticeship activity, at least,  at any one time."  He                                                               
offered to provide that information.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON said the committee would like to receive it.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:38:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  in regard to  state dollars being  used to                                                               
augment  union training  programs,  inquired as  to whether  most                                                               
trainees are union  members prior to training  or are unemployed,                                                               
unskilled workers.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL replied that one  requirement for eligibility to STEP is                                                               
that  the individual  either be  unemployed  or be  in danger  of                                                               
losing his/her  job due to lack  of training.  STEP  gives people                                                               
an entry-level opportunity.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  surmised that STEP benefits  the state and                                                               
employees much more than it benefits the unions.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL responded, "That's the  whole intention of the program."                                                               
He  reported an  earning growth  of 23  percent in  one year  for                                                               
those  who have  completed STEP.   Furthermore,  he said  in that                                                               
same period  of time,  there was  a "reduction  in 23  percent of                                                               
unemployment benefits paid to those that participated."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   asked  how   unions  benefit   from  the                                                               
existence of STEP.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL replied  that there is a need to  fill the jobs, whether                                                               
union  or  non-union,  and there  is  a  significant  nonresident                                                               
component  to   the  workforce   -  about   20  percent   in  the                                                               
construction field.  He mentioned recruitment and retention.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:41:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH,  in  response  to an  earlier  question  by                                                               
Representative Ramras,  indicated that  of the  STEP participants                                                               
in 2005, 11  were nonunion and 12  were union.  In  response to a                                                               
former question from Representative LeDoux, he stated:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     One of the vehicles  that this STEP program administers                                                                    
     to is  the fact that there's  no means to which  to get                                                                    
     these  people  who  need this  training  to  where  the                                                                    
     training   is   available.      So,   it's   used   for                                                                    
     transportation  and  housing  in  many  instances,  and                                                                    
     therefore, it becomes a vehicle  for [whoever] wants to                                                                    
     train them.   And  that's why  you can  say that  it is                                                                    
     used for both  union and nonunion.  The  unions have no                                                                    
     means  by  which  to  transport   people  to  get  that                                                                    
     training, either.   So, that  is not a function  of the                                                                    
     training that they provide.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:43:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA  LOGAN, President,  Associated Builders  and Contractors,                                                               
Inc.  (ABC)  Alaska Chapter,  expressed  support  of STEP.    She                                                               
encouraged the  increase of the  contribution rate  to two-tenths                                                               
of a percent,  explaining that in the future,  general fund money                                                               
will not  be available  for workforce  development and  STEP will                                                               
"truly be  the one creative  way to fund  workforce development."                                                               
She  said  ABC  Alaska  also   supports  Governor  Sarah  Palin's                                                               
intention,  stated   during  her  October  2006   campaign  press                                                               
release, to "take  the STEP program, correct  the deficiencies in                                                               
it, and  return it to  its original intent."   She said  she does                                                               
not  think  the issue  needs  to  be  divided between  union  and                                                               
nonunion.   She said the  legislature has  not yet seen  the data                                                               
for FY 06 or [the beginning of FY 07].  She continued:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     1,336 people were to be  trained, according to the RFPs                                                                    
     awarded;  1,120 of  those  people  were union  members.                                                                    
     And in that round, the  majority of those union members                                                                    
     were already  apprentices or journeymen.   In fact, one                                                                    
     of the ... applicants stated  that 250 of the people to                                                                    
     be trained were union journeyman.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     ...  And in  regard to  Mr. Bell's  testimony about  an                                                                    
     increase in wages:   that is one of  the questions that                                                                    
     we  think   the  Department   of  Labor   [&  Workforce                                                                    
     Development] needs  to explain  a little  more clearly.                                                                    
     I  think  you have  a  sheet  that shows  a  percentage                                                                    
     increase in wages.  And  when you are speaking about an                                                                    
     apprenticeship  program or  a journeyman  who's covered                                                                    
     by a  collective bargaining agreement,  the application                                                                    
     of  the STEP  grant to  that person's  training program                                                                    
     does not increase  their wages.  That  happens on their                                                                    
     own.  An  apprenticeship program is a  program that has                                                                    
     staggered increases, so, regardless  of having the STEP                                                                    
     grant,  if  you  are training  apprentices  using  STEP                                                                    
     dollars, those people are going  to receive an increase                                                                    
     in  their  wages.    So,  I  think  that  there's  some                                                                    
     clarification the department needs to make there.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The same is  true with journeymen who are  covered by a                                                                    
     collective bargain  agreement.  The application  of the                                                                    
     STEP   grant  to   their  training   doesn't  naturally                                                                    
     increase their wages.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Now, to  the side bar issue:   Again, we would  like to                                                                    
     see this ... be a  permanent program, increased, but we                                                                    
     think there are some things that  need to be fixed.  We                                                                    
     filed the complaint against the  Department of Labor [&                                                                    
     Workforce  Development].   I have  30 of  these that  I                                                                    
     have  had  the  privilege  of reviewing,  so  I'm  very                                                                    
     familiar with the data.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Here are  things that  we see:   The  supplanting issue                                                                    
     that  Mr. Bell  brought up.   In  2005, the  actual RFP                                                                    
     itself had  an assurance  point where the  grantees had                                                                    
     to  assure   the  Department  of  Labor   [&  Workforce                                                                    
     Development]  that  they  were not  supplanting  funds.                                                                    
     And it lists  off about six different  things that they                                                                    
     couldn't supplant.  One of those was training trusts.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Most of  the applicants left  that piece on  there, and                                                                    
     several of  the applicants took out  the word "training                                                                    
     trust"  and  then  signed   off  on  the  applications.                                                                    
     That's an issue.  That's been  an issue since 2000.  It                                                                    
     was an  issue brought  up by  the Legislative  Budget &                                                                    
     Audit Committee  in 2002  about what  "supplant" means.                                                                    
     I think the department  needs direction on exactly what                                                                    
     that means.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Another issue is the people  to be served.  In statute,                                                                    
     very,  very strict  regulations about  what people  are                                                                    
     STEP eligible.  In the  material that we reviewed, when                                                                    
     the  department   did  an  audit  of   the  2006  award                                                                    
     recipients  on pulled,  random files,  to see  if there                                                                    
     was  information there  that showed  somebody was  STEP                                                                    
     eligible,  every  file  they pulled  was  missing  that                                                                    
     information.   There was not  information to  show that                                                                    
     somebody was STEP  eligible ....  That has  to be taken                                                                    
     care of.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     One of the  more interesting things:  In  the title, it                                                                    
     says that  grantees must dispose  of grant  proceeds in                                                                    
     accordance with intended  use of the program.   So, two                                                                    
     kind[s]  of more  interesting things  that we've  found                                                                    
     were that somebody  used STEP funds to  buy an athletic                                                                    
     club membership  and hire personal trainers  for people                                                                    
     in their  program, and I  think that people  would find                                                                    
     that questionable.   And somebody also  used STEP grant                                                                    
     funds to fly a trustee and  his wife to Las Vegas.  And                                                                    
     so,  those are  the  more extreme  issues; things  like                                                                    
     that do exist.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     ...  The administrative  costs:    the statute  clearly                                                                    
     states  that  20 percent  is  the  cap, and  in  almost                                                                    
     [every]  grant that  we looked  at, the  administrative                                                                    
     costs  were higher  than  20 percent.    And the  final                                                                    
     thing  the  commissioner  mentioned -  the  competitive                                                                    
     process for the  RFP:  kind of true.   The RFPs are put                                                                    
     out in  the street.   People who are applying  are told                                                                    
     that there's  a committee that reviews  those, and that                                                                    
     the committee ... actually grades  those and attaches a                                                                    
     score to them and makes  a recommendation on who should                                                                    
     receive awards.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     What actually  happens is that  that happens,  and then                                                                    
     the  Department  of  Labor  [&  Workforce  Development]                                                                    
     staff takes that and they  kind of mess around with it.                                                                    
     So, if you  look at what happened this year  - and this                                                                    
     shows you that  this is ... not  a union/nonunion issue                                                                    
     -  people  who  scored  very  highly  did  not  receive                                                                    
     grants, and people  who scored ... terribly  - and some                                                                    
     of  those were  nonunion programs  - got  grants.   So,                                                                    
     there's  no method  to the  madness.   ... That  really                                                                    
     needs to be corrected.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     In regard to  applications that are denied:   There are                                                                    
     people who  show on the  performance reports  that they                                                                    
     have some  of the  best performance,  and yet  they are                                                                    
     not receiving grants now ....                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:49:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS asked why the bill is so brief if there                                                                   
are so many problems of which people have been made aware.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. LOGAN reiterated that ABC Alaska supports the bill but                                                                      
thinks it is premature to award the department before some of                                                                   
the changes  have been made.   She added,  "But I could  see that                                                               
with some  side bars that kind  of hold them to  that commitment,                                                               
that could  be done."  She  said ABC Alaska met  just last Friday                                                               
with  the department  to discuss  the possibility  of settling  a                                                               
lawsuit and working out some issues.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  opined that  the House Labor  and Commerce                                                               
Standing  Committee is  the appropriate  place  to address  these                                                               
issues; therefore, he questioned why  the bill would be moved out                                                               
of  committee  before  the aforementioned  sidebars  are  decided                                                               
upon.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  explained that there is  a shortage of time  and the                                                               
sponsor is  considering the sidebars.   Nevertheless, he  said he                                                               
would follow the will of the committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH said if there is  a retort to the message the                                                               
committee just heard [from Ms. Logan],  he would like to hear it.                                                               
[No one responded.]                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:51:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  observed that the committee  had not heard                                                               
any of the  complaints regarding HB 266 before  the bill hearing,                                                               
and  he  noted  that  Ms.  Logan  is  usually  good  about  being                                                               
proactive in  these matters.   Now, he said, questions  have come                                                               
up that  are casting doubt  on the movement  of HB 226,  and they                                                               
are good questions.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LOGAN  responded  that  she   had  not  been  aware  of  the                                                               
department's intentions;  ABC Alaska was not  given notification.                                                               
In  response  to  a question  from  Representative  Gardner,  she                                                               
offered  her  understanding  that  the 2002  audit  is  the  most                                                               
current audit.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX stated  her desire  to see  the bill  "get                                                               
moving."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS stated his wish  to see the bill held until                                                               
the aforementioned concerns are addressed.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:52:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH called for the question.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  respectfully requested  that the  bill be                                                               
moved out of committee, and he  stated that he is amenable to the                                                               
six year  sunset.  He  expressed his commitment to  answering the                                                               
concerns of the committee as the bill moves forward.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:54:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON,  in  response to  a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Neuman, said if the bill is  heard and held, it would be doubtful                                                               
it could be  heard again by the committee for  another week and a                                                               
half.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:55:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS asked the  sponsor what other sideboards he                                                               
would consider apart from the six-year sunset.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL clarified  that his  preference is  not a                                                               
sunset date, but  rather to have some kind  of evaluation report.                                                               
He indicated that most of the  issues will be found in hindsight.                                                               
He said the success or failure of  a program is not always due to                                                               
the program itself,  but often has to do with  the people running                                                               
it.  He posited that it is important to stay alert to that.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:58:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  expressed  his  trust  in  Representative                                                               
Coghill, and  he asked  that an  amendment be  proposed regarding                                                               
the  six-year   sunset.    He   related  his  concern   that  the                                                               
legislation is "loose" rather than "tight."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL said  he fears  that if  the bill  is not                                                               
passed this year, then there will  be other issues related to the                                                               
running of the program.  He  stated, "I think, at this point, ...                                                               
the  overriding interest  of  ... getting  those  who are  either                                                               
unemployable, unemployed, or needing  retraining is worthy of the                                                               
effort ...  under this  program."  He  questioned putting  in the                                                               
language  about dividing  50/50;  he said  he  thinks that  would                                                               
create problems beyond the intent of the program.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL, in  response to  Representative Gardner,                                                               
suggested that the aforementioned report  be designed to show all                                                               
statistics related  to grant recipients, the  competitive process                                                               
used, and the breakdown between union and nonunion.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:03:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON,  after   discussion  with  Representative  Coghill,                                                               
offered his  understanding that the  question is whether  to move                                                               
HB 226 out of committee.  He requested the roll be called.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives LeDoux,  Buch, and                                                               
Gardner  voted  in  favor  of   moving  HB  226  from  committee.                                                               
Representatives  Ramras,  Neuman,  and Olson  voted  against  it.                                                               
Therefore, HB  226 failed to be  reported out of the  House Labor                                                               
and Commerce Standing Committee by a vote of 3-3.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  said, "At this  point I'd entertain an  amendment on                                                               
the sunset provision."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:06:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  [moved to  adopt] Conceptual  Amendment 1,                                                               
to place a 6-year sunset date on STEP.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:06:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS objected for discussion purposes.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  stated his support  of STEP.   However, he                                                               
reiterated  that  legitimate  questions and  concerns  have  been                                                               
brought up  which the members  have not  had a chance  to discuss                                                               
with the  sponsor or  with the acting  commissioner.   He offered                                                               
his understanding that Ms. Logan was  not aware that the bill was                                                               
scheduled for  a hearing, thus  her concerns were  not previously                                                               
made  known.   In  regard  to Amendment  1,  he  opined that  the                                                               
concerns brought up  today will most likely be  concerns when the                                                               
6-year sunset date is reached.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL informed the  committee that Ms. Logan was                                                               
aware that  he was moving  forward with HB  226.  He  stated that                                                               
her concerns  were not made  known to  him.  These  concerns were                                                               
made known to his staff, although to a lesser degree, he said.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   said  she  does  not   think  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1 is  necessary, nor does she support  it; however, she                                                               
related that  she would vote  in favor  of it, because  she said,                                                               
"It's apparent that that's the only  way this bill is getting out                                                               
of committee."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON  commented  that  he   was  present  when  STEP  was                                                               
previously considered by  the legislature.  He  opined that while                                                               
not all  problems have  been addressed,  progress is  being made.                                                               
He stated his intention to support Amendment 1.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS maintained  his objection.   He  explained                                                               
that  he  would prefer  a  reporting  requirement over  a  6-year                                                               
sunset date.  He stated that it  is not his intention to keep the                                                               
bill from moving  forward.  He said  "I think a report  is a more                                                               
constructive way to  manage this.  I fear that  sunsets often are                                                               
the equivalent of egg-timers.   And egg-timers and unwatched pots                                                               
of water don't work well."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    LEDOUX   offered    her   understanding    that                                                               
Representative  Ramras   would  support   an  amendment   to  add                                                               
reporting  requirements,  and that  he  would  vote in  favor  of                                                               
passing the bill  from committee, were such  an amendment adopted                                                               
in place of Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  shared his understanding that  the sponsor                                                               
feels the reporting requirement is  a better mechanism to address                                                               
concerns.   He stated  that he  is in  support of  STEP; however,                                                               
there is  concern that  money is  not being  spent appropriately.                                                               
He  stated  his  intention  to vote  against  the  amendment  and                                                               
subsequently vote  in favor of  passing the bill  from committee.                                                               
He  shared  his  hope  that  the  sponsor  would  then  have  the                                                               
opportunity  to address  concerns.   He  reiterated  that he  has                                                               
"great trust"  in Acting  Commissioner Bishop  and Representative                                                               
Coghill.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON  reiterated that  his  intent  regarding the  6-year                                                               
sunset  date  was to  allow  the  bill  to  move forward  in  the                                                               
legislative process.   He then said  that it is his  intention to                                                               
move  the  bill from  committee,  thus  allowing the  sponsor  to                                                               
develop an alternative  approach before the bill is  heard by the                                                               
House Finance  Committee.   He stated that  he would  support any                                                               
changes made  by the sponsor, and  would be willing to  voice his                                                               
support of the changes before the House Finance Committee.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  indicated  that based  on  Chair  Olson's                                                               
comments, he would be willing to withdraw his objection.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  reiterated that  he does  not see  any other  way to                                                               
move the bill from committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  stated that he would  have an appropriate                                                               
amendment  prepared prior  to the  aforementioned hearing  in the                                                               
House Finance  Committee, and would  distribute the  amendment to                                                               
members when it becomes available.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS withdrew  his objection.   There  being no                                                               
further objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:11:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX moved to report  HB 226, as amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.   There  being  no  objection, CSHB  226(L&C)  was                                                               
reported from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 5:12:05 to 5:14:10.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SB  93-PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
SENATE BILL  NO. 93,  "An Act  relating to  licensed professional                                                               
counselors;  and relating  to  the unlicensed  use  of the  title                                                               
'professional counselor.'"                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:14:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS  OBERMEYER, Staff  to Senator  Bettye Davis,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, presented  SB 93 on  behalf of Senator  Davis, prime                                                               
sponsor.    He  offered  paraphrased excerpts  from  the  sponsor                                                               
statement,   which  read   in  entirety   as  follows   [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     SB  93  amends  two  sections of  the  Alaska  Statutes                                                                    
     concerning  professional  licenses   and  insurance  as                                                                    
     regards Licensed Professional Counselors.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Section  1   of  the   bill  amends   AS  08.29.0100(a)                                                                    
     regarding  unlicensed use  of the  title, "professional                                                                    
     counselor"   and    clarifies   words,    letters,   or                                                                    
     abbreviations  reasonably confused  with the  titles of                                                                    
     "licensed    professional   counselor,"    professional                                                                    
     counselor,"  and  "licensed  counselor." SB  93  better                                                                    
     protects   the  public   from  unlicensed   individuals                                                                    
     misusing  these titles  and misrepresenting  themselves                                                                    
     as   having  the   same   qualifications  of   licensed                                                                    
     professional  counselors   who  must   complete  formal                                                                    
     educational  requirements  with  a master's  degree  or                                                                    
     higher in  this area;  pass a license  qualifying exam;                                                                    
     and complete  lengthy supervised practice for  not less                                                                    
     than two years.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Section  2   amends  AS  21.36.090(d),   the  insurance                                                                    
     provision   that   prohibits   discrimination   against                                                                    
     licensed  service   providers  under  a   group  health                                                                    
     insurance policy  if that service  is within  the scope                                                                    
     of  the provider's  occupational  license.  SB 93  adds                                                                    
     Licensed professional  Counselors to  the long  list of                                                                    
     "providers" in this category. SB  93 will also increase                                                                    
     access to  needed services for  some who  formerly were                                                                    
     excluded because Licensed  Professional Counselors were                                                                    
     not included  with other  health care  professionals in                                                                    
     the  non-discrimination  clause of  insurance  statute,                                                                    
     AS21.36.090(d).                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Licensed Professional  Counselors (LPCs) make  up about                                                                    
     1/3 of all mental health  professionals in the State of                                                                    
     Alaska  and  represent  the   same  proportion  of  all                                                                    
     counselors working  in state  funded mental  health and                                                                    
     substance   abuse   treatment  facilities.   Officially                                                                    
     established ten years ago, last year the Legislature                                                                       
     approved a  statutory change to allow  LPCs to practice                                                                    
     "psychotherapy"  and  make  Title 47  civil  commitment                                                                    
     evaluations.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     SB 93 helps ensure third  party billing parity for LPCs                                                                    
     while it allows  them to be included  with other health                                                                    
     care  professionals in  this area.  SB  93 will  better                                                                    
     protect  and better  serve the  public and  has a  zero                                                                    
     ($0.00) fiscal note.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:16:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON, after ascertaining that there was no one to                                                                        
testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:16:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN moved  to report  SB 93  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no  objection, SB  93 was reported  from the                                                               
House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Labor and Commerce Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at                                                                  
5:17:05 PM.                                                                                                                   

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