Legislature(2015 - 2016)BARNES 124

01/30/2015 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
03:16:11 PM Start
03:16:47 PM Overview: Department of Labor and Workforce Development - Commissioner Heidi Drygas
04:00:32 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development,
Commissioner Drygas
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                        January 30, 2015                                                                                        
                           3:16 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Kurt Olson, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                       
Representative Jim Colver                                                                                                       
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Sam Kito                                                                                                         
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
OVERVIEW: DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT -                                                                       
COMMISSIONER HEIDI DRYGAS                                                                                                       
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
HEIDI DRYGAS, Commissioner Designee                                                                                             
Department of Labor and Workforce Development                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented a PowerPoint overview on the                                                                   
Department of Labor and Workforce Development.                                                                                  
PALOMA HARBOUR, Director                                                                                                        
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Division of Administrative Services                                                                                             
Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD)                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the overview of the                                                                     
Department of Labor and Workforce Development.                                                                                  
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KURT  OLSON called  the House  Labor and  Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   3:16  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
Josephson, Hughes,  Tilton, Kito, and  Olson were present  at the                                                               
call to order.  Representatives  Colver and LeDoux arrived as the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
^OVERVIEW:  DEPARTMENT  OF  LABOR  AND  WORKFORCE  DEVELOPMENT  -                                                               
COMMISSIONER HEIDI DRYGAS                                                                                                       
   OVERVIEW: DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT -                                                                
                   COMMISSIONER HEIDI DRYGAS                                                                                
3:16:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  announced that the  only order of business  would be                                                               
an overview of the Department  of Labor and Workforce Development                                                               
by Commissioner [Designee] Heidi Drygas.                                                                                        
3:17:42 PM                                                                                                                    
HEIDI  DRYGAS, Commissioner  Designee,  Department  of Labor  and                                                               
Workforce  Development  (DLWD),  provided a  brief  personal  and                                                               
professional history,  relating that she  was born and  raised in                                                               
Fairbanks,  and  has a  history  degree  from the  University  of                                                               
Alaska  Fairbanks.   She attended  law school  in Salem,  Oregon,                                                               
returned  to Fairbanks,  and clerked  for  Alaska Superior  Court                                                               
Judge Penguilly in Fairbanks.   She moved to Anchorage and worked                                                               
as an  associate for  Guess and  Rudd, primarily  in the  area of                                                               
insurance  defense,  and  as  general   counsel  for  the  Alaska                                                               
District  Council  of  Laborers  for nearly  10  years,  handling                                                               
negotiations,  contract  administration, grievance  adjudication,                                                               
arbitration,  and  hearings  before the  Alaska  Labor  Relations                                                               
Agency and the National Labor Relations Board.                                                                                  
3:20:16 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS  began a PowerPoint  overview by  stating the                                                               
department's  mission:    to  provide   safe  and  legal  working                                                               
conditions and advance opportunities  for employment for Alaskans                                                               
[slide  1].   The department  accomplishes this  mission and  key                                                               
program  priorities  of  protecting  Alaska's  workforce  through                                                               
statutory and  regulatory assistance and  enforcement, developing                                                               
an Alaskan  workforce for Alaska's  jobs, and  income replacement                                                               
for injured,  unemployed, and permanently disabled  workers.  She                                                               
highlighted  the offices  scattered  across the  state, with  red                                                               
dots  that represent  the Alaska  Job Center  Network, blue  dots                                                               
that indicate the vocational rehabilitation  offices - the Alaska                                                               
Vocational Technical  Center (AVTEC) is  located in Seward  - and                                                               
finally,  green dots  that represent  the other  program offices,                                                               
including  unemployment insurance,  labor  standards and  safety,                                                               
workers' compensation, and other  programs that will be discussed                                                               
later [slide 2].                                                                                                                
3:21:36 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS reviewed  the  DLWD's organizational  chart,                                                               
noting  this   chart  lists  the  organization   by  key  program                                                               
priorities.   She pointed  out that  two divisions  have programs                                                               
that  cross  program priority  lines  -  Employment Security  and                                                               
Vocational Rehabilitation,  but some lines of  distinction are "a                                                               
little  bit  fuzzy."    For example,  the  Division  of  Workers'                                                               
Compensation  has  some  crossover   into  the  "protect  workers                                                               
priority" since the division must  ensure employers have workers'                                                               
compensation insurance  for their employees.   The department has                                                               
historically placed  the aforementioned  division in  the "income                                                               
replacement" area  since workers' compensation  primarily ensures                                                               
benefit payments to Alaska's injured workers.                                                                                   
3:22:27 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  directed  attention  to  the  Alaska  Labor                                                               
Relations Agency  (ALRA) that  administers the  Public Employment                                                               
Relations Act  (PERA) and to  the labor provisions of  the Alaska                                                               
Railroad  Corporation Act,  pertaining  to collective  bargaining                                                               
for  public  employers.    The  ALRA  facilitates  resolution  of                                                               
disputes between organized labor and public employers.                                                                          
3:22:38 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  related  the  Alaska  Workforce  Investment                                                               
Board  (AWIB), a  26-member board  representing industry,  labor,                                                               
education,   commerce,  and   Native   groups,  provides   policy                                                               
oversight  of  state  and  federally   funded  job  training  and                                                               
vocational  education  programs.   The  AWIB  provides an  annual                                                               
report to  the legislature on  the performance and  evaluation of                                                               
the  state's  training  programs  and  will  meet  in  Juneau  on                                                               
February 2 and 3.                                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  directed  attention  to  Alaska  Vocational                                                               
(AVTEC) whose mission is to  provide market-driven vocational and                                                               
technical training to  prepare Alaska residents for jobs.   In FY                                                               
[fiscal year] 14,  AVTEC had 382 long-term  program enrollees and                                                               
898 short-term  enrollees and AVTEC's  FY 14 completion  rate was                                                               
89  percent, plus  89 percent  of  AVTEC's FY  13 graduates  were                                                               
placed in training-related  jobs within the following  year.  She                                                               
remarked that the department is  very proud of the aforementioned                                                               
3:23:43 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   DRYGAS  turned   to  the   Division  of   Business                                                               
Partnerships, which administers  the department's competitive and                                                               
pass-through workforce  development grant programs [slide  7]. In                                                               
FY 14,  a total of  2,954 Alaskans received training  through the                                                               
State Training and Employment Program  (STEP).  She reported that                                                               
87  percent  of the  FY  13  STEP training  participants  entered                                                               
training-related jobs in Alaska.                                                                                                
3:24:06 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   DRYGAS  directed   attention  to   the  Employment                                                               
Security  Division,   which  provides  employment   and  training                                                               
services  through  the  Alaska  Job  Center  Network  and  online                                                               
through  the Alaska  Labor Exchange  System (ALEXsys)  [slide 8].                                                               
This  division also  provides  economic  stability to  unemployed                                                               
Alaskans   through  unemployment   insurance   and  adult   basic                                                               
education services  to advance  opportunities for  employment for                                                               
Alaskans who need extra assistance.                                                                                             
3:24:39 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS directed  attention to  Labor Standards  and                                                               
Safety,  noting this  division provides  occupational safety  and                                                               
health, training  and monitoring  of laws  governing occupational                                                               
safety and health,  wages and hours, child  labor, and electrical                                                               
and mechanical codes [slide 9].   This division also supports the                                                               
Alaska  Safety Advisory  Council (ASAC)  that is  responsible for                                                               
the  annual Governor's  Safety Conference.   This  past year  the                                                               
division  developed  a  10-hour Occupational  Safety  and  Health                                                               
Administration  (OSHA) safety  course used  to improve  safety in                                                               
the target  industry of seafood  processing.  As a  direct result                                                               
of  this  OSHA  course,  the   state  experienced  a  record  low                                                               
workplace lost time per 100  employees of 0.51 percent, down from                                                               
1.13  percent in  FY  13.   She  characterized  this  as being  a                                                               
remarkable  drop.   A majority  of the  decrease occurred  in the                                                               
seafood processing industry  and the department is  very proud of                                                               
that statistic.                                                                                                                 
3:25:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked  what caused the drop  in the seafood                                                               
processing industry.                                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  offered her  belief  that  it was  directly                                                               
related to  the 10-hour OSHA  safety course,  specifically geared                                                               
towards the seafood processing industry,  which had a significant                                                               
and  immediate  effect.    She   indicated  the  department  will                                                               
continue  this program  in  the  future since  it  clearly had  a                                                               
positive effect for Alaska's workforce.                                                                                         
3:26:11 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  stated  that  the  Division  of  Vocational                                                               
Rehabilitation  (DVR)  assists   Alaskans  with  disabilities  to                                                               
secure and  maintain employment  and provides  economic stability                                                               
to   disabled  Alaskans   through   Social  Security   disability                                                               
determinations.  In  FY 14, the DVR had  607 individuals employed                                                               
upon  exit  of their  individualized  plan  for employment:    an                                                               
increase from  598 in FY  13 represents the second  highest level                                                               
on record.  The average  wage of employed individuals exiting the                                                               
program equaled  $14.31, an  increase from $13.84  in FY  13, she                                                               
said.  In  fact, Alaska has regularly  been in the top  15 in the                                                               
nation for the average wage.                                                                                                    
3:27:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES   noticed  the  map  does   not  show  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna  valley as  having a  vocational rehabilitation                                                               
center.  She asked whether that center is still in operation.                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  assured   Representative  Hughes  that  the                                                               
department has a vocational rehabilitation  center located in the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna valley.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES remarked that  her daughter participated in                                                               
the center  a number of years  ago.  She had  significant hearing                                                               
loss and it was a great resource  for her, she said.  She counted                                                               
her   daughter  among   the  vocational   rehabilitation  success                                                               
stories,  given  that  her  daughter   went  on  to  college,  is                                                               
gainfully employed, and is a good citizen.                                                                                      
CHAIR OLSON  commented he heard  the Muldoon office  might close.                                                               
He asked whether the Muldoon job center office is still open.                                                                   
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS  answered yes; however, due  to a significant                                                               
reduction  of federal  funds and  general  funds, it  is all  but                                                               
certain  that  some  job  centers will  close.    The  evaluation                                                               
process is currently  underway, but she would like  to review the                                                               
final  list.     She  expressed  an  interest   in  working  with                                                               
legislators on  offices being  considered, commenting  that while                                                               
the centers may  still close, she prefers to  use a collaborative                                                               
process.  She  agreed the map needs to be  revised to reflect the                                                               
Wasilla  center to  ensure  that people  know  the center  offers                                                               
3:29:03 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS   stated  that  the   Workers'  Compensation                                                               
Division  aids  Alaskans  with  employment-related  injuries  and                                                               
illnesses by administering the  Alaska Workers' Compensation Act,                                                               
the   Fishermen's  Fund,   the  Workers'   Compensation  Benefits                                                               
Guaranty Fund, and the Second Injury Fund [slide 11].                                                                           
3:29:31 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS directed attention  to the FY 2016 Governor's                                                               
endorsed  budget, which  totals  $179.4 million,  of which  $94.4                                                               
million  or  53 percent  is  derived  from  federal funds.    The                                                               
department's  unrestricted general  funds in  the FY  16 endorsed                                                               
budget total  $29.2 million, which  is down $4.2 million  from FY                                                               
15.    She  indicated  this  is  equivalent  to  a  12.5  percent                                                               
reduction.   To  implement  this reduction,  the department  will                                                               
focus  on  the  governor's  goal  of  redesigning  administrative                                                               
infrastructure  to  maintain  maximum program  and  services  and                                                               
delivery [slide  13].  She  said there will obviously  be funding                                                               
implications  for   programs  resulting   from  a  cut   of  this                                                               
magnitude,  but  she  is   committed  to  streamlining  services,                                                               
finding  efficiencies, and  developing  partnerships to  maintain                                                               
key services and program priority.                                                                                              
3:30:31 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS outlined her vision  for the department.  She                                                               
related  she  has  had  an  opportunity  to  visit  many  of  the                                                               
department's campuses  in Anchorage and Juneau  and looks forward                                                               
to  visiting  those  offices  in  the  Matanuska-Susitna  valley,                                                               
Fairbanks, and in  other outlying areas.  She has  been struck by                                                               
the staff's  attitude and  commitment to  protect the  public and                                                               
provide  assistance.    She  emphasized that  her  goals  are  to                                                               
streamline programs  and revamp the workforce  development system                                                               
to  ensure   maximum  effectiveness   and  efficiency   within  a                                                               
sustainable  budget.   Under  consideration  is  a proposal  that                                                               
would  return  the  department  to  its  FY  13  structure,  with                                                               
workforce  development grants  administered  by  the Division  of                                                               
Employment Securities instead of  a separate Division of Business                                                               
Partnerships, she said, estimating this  will result in a savings                                                               
of $850,000.  This revamp is  critical to ensuring the maximum of                                                               
funds are  being distributed in  the form of grants  for training                                                               
and workforce development opportunities for Alaskans.                                                                           
3:32:07 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  emphasized  the  importance  of  increasing                                                               
Alaska hire  to ensure that  Alaskans are getting  Alaska's jobs.                                                               
Part of this  effort will be more  targeted workforce development                                                               
funding in  areas with high  nonresident hire and  increasing the                                                               
focus on Alaska  hire enforcement.  In fact, the  DLWF is charged                                                               
by statute  to enforce  the state's resident  hire laws.   Hiring                                                               
Alaskans  to  fill Alaska's  jobs  is  critical to  the  economic                                                               
success of  the state  and the  residents the  department serves,                                                               
she said.   Alaska has one  of the highest ratios  of nonresident                                                               
to  resident workers  in the  nation, which  impacts the  rate of                                                               
unemployment among  residents.  Further, nonresident  workers use                                                               
services provided  by the state  but do not contribute  fairly to                                                               
the  cost of  those services  because the  state has  no personal                                                               
income  or  sales  tax.    She  concluded  that  Alaskans  suffer                                                               
economically  when  nonresidents   displace  qualified  residents                                                               
since  resident workers  contribute  to local  taxes  as well  as                                                               
their share of royalties from  natural resources.  She offered to                                                               
continue to focus on the  department's other key priority program                                                               
areas  of fostering  economic stability  for injured,  unemployed                                                               
and  disabled  workers  and  ensuring   safe  and  legal  working                                                               
conditions for Alaska's workers.                                                                                                
3:33:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON   asked  for   further  clarification   whether  the                                                               
department will continue with the construction academies.                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS said  she thinks  it  is a  good example  of                                                               
training  young Alaskans.   She  characterized it  as a  terrific                                                               
program  that exposes  youth  to the  construction  trades.   She                                                               
acknowledged that it uses general  fund monies, but she will work                                                               
hard to  maintain the  funds since the  program is  important and                                                               
vital to young Alaskans.                                                                                                        
3:34:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON commented  that he is familiar with the  one in Kenai                                                               
and  the program  has been  helpful as  the region  ramps up  for                                                               
gasline  projects.   He recalled  that the  DLWD suffered  budget                                                               
reductions last year.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS agreed.                                                                                                     
3:34:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   HUGHES   recalled    the   governor   mentioning                                                               
vocational education and partnering with  the schools.  She asked                                                               
whether  any   work  has  been   done  with  the   Department  of                                                               
Corrections in assisting inmates return to the workforce.                                                                       
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS  answered that  the governor is  committed to                                                               
vocational and  technical training.   He  has requested  that the                                                               
commissioners   of  the   Department  of   Labor  and   Workforce                                                               
Development   (DLWD),   Department   of   Education   and   Early                                                               
Development (EED),  and the university  partner together  to work                                                               
on making workforce development  opportunities more efficient and                                                               
essentially do more with less.   In fact, she met with University                                                               
of Alaska  President Gamble to  discuss vocational  and technical                                                               
training and  they plan  to work  together on  the aforementioned                                                               
issues.  In  addition, she met with Commissioner  Hanley [EED] on                                                               
career and technical training education.   The DLWD, EED, and the                                                               
UA are  partnering together  and hope to  identify key  areas for                                                               
workforce training and are excited about the opportunity.                                                                       
3:37:17 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS   also  related   that  she  has   met  with                                                               
Department  of Corrections  Commissioner Taylor  to continue  the                                                               
partnership  with respect  to re-employment  of  prisoners.   She                                                               
offered that jobs give prisoners  a purpose, which has an obvious                                                               
effect  on recidivism.    She  related a  scenario  in which  the                                                               
judicial  system worked  with women  at  the Hiland  Correctional                                                               
Center.   Later she received  feedback from a woman  who received                                                               
the training who credited the  training with helping her turn her                                                               
life around.   She remarked that stories  like the aforementioned                                                               
one impact  us and she's  wondered how she  could help.   Now she                                                               
has a  chance to  enhance the  partnership with  the DOC  on that                                                               
program, she said.                                                                                                              
3:39:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES related  a personal  scenario, noting  her                                                               
husband  ran a  medical department  in five  of the  correctional                                                               
institutions  and recalled  him  sharing  that inmates  sometimes                                                               
purposefully  get  arrested and  return  to  prison because  they                                                               
cannot  obtain jobs,  need medical  attention, but  cannot afford                                                               
it.   This  also  leads  her think  about  veterans.   She  asked                                                               
whether the  department partners with the  Department of Military                                                               
and  Veterans  Affairs  (MVA)  on  job  placement  for  returning                                                               
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS  stated that  the Helmets to  Hard Hats  is a                                                               
program to help  employ veterans in the construction  trades.  In                                                               
addition, the  department works with  the Military  Youth Academy                                                               
on some  of their  program requirements.   She reported  that she                                                               
was invited  to speak to  a group of currently  enlisted officers                                                               
and members  of the military  about career opportunities  as they                                                               
transition  into civilian  life.   She deferred  to her  staff to                                                               
3:41:32 PM                                                                                                                    
PALOMA   HARBOUR,   Director,   Central   Office,   Division   of                                                               
Administrative   Services,  Department   of  Labor   &  Workforce                                                               
Development (DLWD),  stated that the Healing  Heart program works                                                               
with  veterans who  need assistance  adjusting to  civilian life.                                                               
The department partners with the  Healing Heart program through a                                                               
state training and employment grant.                                                                                            
3:42:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  said he was interested  in Alaska hire.                                                               
He understands some constitutional  issues prevent the state from                                                               
not hiring  people from other  states.  He expressed  an interest                                                               
on how  far the  envelope can  be pushed.   He asked  whether the                                                               
department has an expert on reform.                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS  stated that she  is very familiar  with many                                                               
experts on  Alaska hire.  She  offered that the department  is in                                                               
the  process  of an  Alaska  resident  hire  study, plus  she  is                                                               
familiar  with  the  challenges  from  her  work  at  the  Alaska                                                               
District Council  of Laborers.   She indicated the  department is                                                               
committed to enforcing  Alaska hire to the fullest  extent of the                                                               
law.  Governor  Walker has made it clear that  Alaska hire is one                                                               
of his top  priorities.  She said, "It's good  for Alaskans, it's                                                               
good for  the state, and it's  good for the economic  bottom line                                                               
so that will be one of my key focuses moving forward."                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON asked to be kept informed.                                                                             
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS agreed to do so.                                                                                            
3:44:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KITO  referred to  the issue of  coordination with                                                               
the EED and the UA on efforts.   He wondered what types of things                                                               
all three agencies could work on together.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS  answered that the Department  of Education &                                                               
Early Development,  the University  of Alaska, and  Department of                                                               
Labor  & Workforce  Development  have started  discussions.   The                                                               
governor has  made it clear  that these three agencies  needed to                                                               
create  a  CTE [Career  and  Technical  Education] plan  for  the                                                               
state.   She has  held discussions  with Commissioner  Hanley and                                                               
although they haven't identified  specifics, they have considered                                                               
perhaps a task  force approach to develop benchmarks  to focus on                                                               
actual  results and  improve  CTE  training in  the  state.   She                                                               
highlighted that  there is sense  of cooperation between  the UA,                                                               
the DLWD,  and the  EED.   She wants  to make  an impact  when it                                                               
comes to CTE.                                                                                                                   
3:47:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KITO  asked whether  the three  organizations will                                                               
consider where  Alaska's workforce will  be in 8-10 years  as the                                                               
state  gears  up for  a  gasline  to  ensure that  resources  are                                                               
available to train Alaskans.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS  offered   that  the  department  previously                                                               
worked on  a plan when the  Alaska Gasline Inducement Act  was in                                                               
place.  Thus,  the department has a gas development  plan that it                                                               
can build  on that identifies  many different  occupations Alaska                                                               
needs to be  ready to fill in  the event of a gas  pipeline.  She                                                               
related that the  department wants to update and  refine the plan                                                               
for this administration.  She  concluded by saying the nice thing                                                               
is that the department is not starting from zero.                                                                               
3:48:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  recalled  there being  spreadsheets  that                                                               
highlighted the  various types of  workers that would need  to be                                                               
trained for the  future.  She also reported that  she visited the                                                               
Donlin   Gold  site   this  fall   and  understood   the  company                                                               
anticipates  that current  7th grade  students  will provide  the                                                               
workforce  for   its  proposed  project.     She  emphasized  the                                                               
importance  of  the department  working  with  the Department  of                                                               
Education  and  the  school districts  throughout  Alaska.    She                                                               
suggested  that   the  commissioner  should  also   look  at  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna  Career   and  Technical   high  school   as  a                                                               
competitive model high school.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES asked  how Commissioner  Drygas likes  her                                                               
new position.                                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  DRYGAS said  has  only  been on  the  job for  four                                                               
weeks, and although she loved her  previous work, it is not often                                                               
one has an  opportunity to influence and  affect Alaskan workers.                                                               
She feels like  the job provides her with a  broader scope due to                                                               
the  department's emphasis  on  protecting  Alaska's workers  and                                                               
increasing  training opportunities  for Alaskans.   She  said she                                                               
finds  her staff  to be  very committed  and she  is humbled  and                                                               
honored to serve in this capacity.                                                                                              
3:53:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON  highlighted  that approximately  1,000  people  are                                                               
working at Point  Thomson and about 400-500 in Cook  Inlet on the                                                               
new gas work in existing fields  and on the prep work at Nikiski.                                                               
Many  workers  come from  the  Lower  48  since the  state  lacks                                                               
skilled workers.  He predicted  that further labor shortages will                                                               
occur.  However, he also noted  that most of Alaska's workers are                                                               
familiar  with  [UA]  urinalysis  tests  whereas  some  Lower  48                                                               
workers come in and cannot pass  them.  He suggested drug testing                                                               
might need  to be incorporated  into training programs.   He also                                                               
commented that the state is closer  [to a gasline] than ever, but                                                               
it is not ready for it in terms of skilled workers.                                                                             
COMMISSIONER   DRYGAS  agreed.     She   also  agreed   that  the                                                               
aforementioned labor  issues need to  be addressed.   She assured                                                               
members  that  this  administration   is  committed  to  training                                                               
Alaska's workforce  and in  developing a  comprehensive workforce                                                               
development  plan.   She highlighted  that  the Alaska  Workforce                                                               
Investment Board (AWIB)  will be meeting next  week and workforce                                                               
development  is   something  the   board  will  consider.     She                                                               
emphasized her  desire to  elevate the work  this board  does for                                                               
the state.   She offered her  belief that the AWIB  should be the                                                               
overall policy making authority  for workforce development in the                                                               
state.  The  governor is also interested in  enhancing the AWIB's                                                               
role in leading the state  in terms of workforce development, she                                                               
3:55:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON pointed out that drug  testing will get a little more                                                               
complicated when  marijuana is legalized.   He  expressed concern                                                               
that some  people will think it  is legal and will  fail their UA                                                               
testing  as a  result.   He  offered his  belief  that the  state                                                               
should  have studied  Colorado  and  Washington's experiences  in                                                               
legalizing marijuana prior to taking action.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER DRYGAS answered that  the aforementioned issues were                                                               
raised in  the Senate Labor  & Commerce Standing Committee.   She                                                               
said plenty of  things are legal, but it doesn't  mean people can                                                               
keep  their jobs  if they  are under  the influence  of drugs  or                                                               
alcohol, especially when operating heavy equipment.                                                                             
3:57:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  brought up  a  problem  with abuse  of                                                               
independent   contractors,   with   employees  not   covered   by                                                               
unemployment insurance  or workers' compensation under  the guise                                                               
of  their  workers  not  being  employees.    He  hoped  this  is                                                               
something  the department  will examine.    He said  it seems  as                                                               
though some type of reform is needed.                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER   DRYGAS  said   she   is  very   aware  of   worker                                                               
misclassification issues.   She recently met with  John Lund from                                                               
the federal  Department of  Labor (U.S.-DOL)  in the  West Coast.                                                               
She recalled  he wanted to  address worker  misclassification and                                                               
whether the  U.S.-DOL can  partner with  the state  Department of                                                               
Labor & Workforce Development on  enforcement of those laws.  She                                                               
offered that the  federal agency has a  framework for enforcement                                                               
actions  in terms  of  independent contractors.    She said  this                                                               
issue has  a huge  effect on the  economy since  some independent                                                               
contractors  are  not  paying  the  appropriate  taxes,  such  as                                                               
workers'  compensation or  unemployment  insurance.   She  agreed                                                               
there  are huge  ramifications for  that.   She stated  that Grey                                                               
Mitchell,  Division of  Labor Standards  director will  work with                                                               
Mr. Lund, U.S.-DOL  on these issues.  She stated  that this issue                                                               
is  very important,  not just  in terms  of the  economy, but  in                                                               
terms of  how it affects Alaskans  who are injured on  the job or                                                               
need   unemployment  insurance   benefits.     Some   independent                                                               
contractors  don't  realize they  have  to  file the  appropriate                                                               
taxes on their workers, who are employees as defined by the law.                                                                
4:00:32 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Labor  & Commerce  Standing Committee  meeting  was adjourned  at                                                               
4:00 p.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
DOLWD Overview HLC 01-30-15.pdf HL&C 1/30/2015 3:15:00 PM
DOLWD Presentation 1-30-15
Resume of Heidi Drygas 01-30-15.pdf HL&C 1/30/2015 3:15:00 PM
H. Drygas Resume