Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/29/2017 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:19:11 PM Start
03:19:42 PM Confirmation Hearing(s)
03:25:14 PM HB126
03:42:27 PM HB142
04:34:22 PM HB103
05:16:10 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 142 UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BENEFITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ HB 126 ORGANIZED MILITIA: WORKERS COMPENSATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+ Confirmation Hearings: TELECONFERENCED
- Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives
- Board of Pharmacy
- Board of Professional Counselors
+= HB 103 OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                         March 29, 2017                                                                                         
                           3:19 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Sam Kito, Chair                                                                                                  
Representative Adam Wool, Vice Chair                                                                                            
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
Representative Bryce Edgmon (alternate)                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Board of Pharmacy                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     James Henderson - Soldotna                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - CONFIRMATION(S) HEARD                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Katherine Ostrom - Homer, Alaska                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     -CONFIRMATION(S) SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Board of Professional Counselors                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Harold Henderson - No address provided                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     -CONFIRMATION(S) SCHEDULED BUY NOT HEARD                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 126                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to workers' compensation benefits for members                                                                  
of the organized militia."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 142                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to unemployment insurance benefits; increasing                                                                 
the maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit rate; and                                                                     
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 103                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the practice of optometry."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 126                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ORGANIZED MILITIA: WORKERS COMPENSATION                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
02/15/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/15/17       (H)       MLV, L&C                                                                                               
02/21/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/21/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/21/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
02/23/17       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/23/17       (H)       Moved CSHB 126(MLV) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/23/17       (H)       MINUTE(MLV)                                                                                            
02/24/17       (H)       MLV RPT CS(MLV) 5DP 1NR                                                                                
02/24/17       (H)       DP:    LEDOUX,     SADDLER,    RAUSCHER,                                                               
                        SPOHNHOLZ, TUCK                                                                                         
02/24/17       (H)       NR: REINBOLD                                                                                           
03/29/17       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 142                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BENEFITS                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): TUCK                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
02/24/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/24/17       (H)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
03/29/17       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 103                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS                                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): SPOHNHOLZ                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
02/03/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/03/17       (H)       HSS, L&C                                                                                               
03/14/17       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/14/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/14/17       (H)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
03/16/17       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/16/17       (H)       Scheduled but Not Heard                                                                                
03/18/17       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/18/17       (H)       Moved CSHB 103(HSS) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/18/17       (H)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
03/22/17       (H)       HSS RPT CS(HSS) NT 5DP 1NR                                                                             
03/22/17       (H)       DP: JOHNSTON, TARR, SULLIVAN-LEONARD,                                                                  
                        KITO, SPOHNHOLZ                                                                                         
03/22/17       (H)       NR: EASTMAN                                                                                            
03/27/17       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/27/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/27/17       (H)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
03/29/17       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JAMES HENDERSON, Appointee                                                                                                      
Board of Pharmacy                                                                                                               
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as appointee to the Board of                                                                   
Pharmacy.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions during the hearing                                                                
on HB 142, on behalf of Representative Tuck, prime sponsor.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                               
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA)                                                                              
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142 and answered                                                              
questions during the hearing.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL JOHN JAMES, Commander                                                                                                   
Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF)                                                                                               
Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs (DMVA)                                                                             
Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions during the hearing                                                                
on HB 142.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MARIE MARX, Director                                                                                                            
Division of Workers' Compensation                                                                                               
Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD)                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions during the hearing                                                                
on HB 142.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT JORDAN, Director                                                                                                          
Division of Risk Management                                                                                                     
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions during the hearing                                                                
on HB 142.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ED FLANAGAN, Director                                                                                                           
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Division of Employment & Training Services                                                                                      
Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD)                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing on HB                                                              
142.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
AARON PLIKAT, President                                                                                                         
Building and Construction Trades Council of Southcentral Alaska                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DOUG TANSY                                                                                                                      
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BRANDON MCGUIRE                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RALPH KIBBY, Owner                                                                                                              
Chatham Electric Inc                                                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WALTER ROBINSON                                                                                                                 
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local                                                                   
1547                                                                                                                            
Nenana, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LAKE WILLIAMS, District Representative                                                                                          
International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Local 302;                                                                   
President                                                                                                                       
Fairbanks Building and Construction Trades Council                                                                              
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BRONSON FRYE, Recording Secretary                                                                                               
Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Alaska                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PAUL GROSSI                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 142.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE IVY SPOHNHOLZ                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime sponsor, presented HB 103.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
BERNICE NESBITT, Staff                                                                                                          
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions on House Bill 103 on                                                              
behalf of Representative Spohnholz, prime sponsor.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL REINHARDT, MD                                                                                                            
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 103 on behalf                                                              
of The American Academy of Ophthalmology.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DAVID S. ZUMBRO, MD, Ophthalmologist                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 103.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CARL ELI ROSEN, MD, Ophthalmologist                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 103.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ERIC COULTER, MD, Ophthalmologist;                                                                                              
Director                                                                                                                        
Alaska Eye Surgery and Laser Center                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 103.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DAVID KARPIK, OD                                                                                                                
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 103.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ALFRED DERAMUS, MD, Ophthalmologist                                                                                             
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 103.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH MORGAN, MD, Ophthalmologist                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 103.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JEFF GONNASON, OD, Legislative Chair                                                                                            
Alaska Optometric Association                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 103.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:19:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SAM KITO  called  the House  Labor  and Commerce  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   3:19  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
Josephson, Wool,  Birch, Knopp,  Sullivan-Leonard, and  Kito were                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                                        
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                 
                       Board of Pharmacy                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
3:19:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
confirmation hearings for the  governor's appointments to various                                                               
state boards and commissions.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO  stated that  the committee has  received 61  names of                                                               
the  governor's appointments  and  members were  asked to  submit                                                               
names of  any appointees  they wished to  speak with  directly or                                                               
question.   He stated  that the committee  requested to  speak to                                                               
nine  individuals.   The  committee  has spoken  to  five of  the                                                               
individuals and has forwarded 57 names.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:21:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    JOSEPHSON   thanked    James   Henderson    for                                                               
volunteering to  serve on the  Board of  Pharmacy.  He  asked for                                                               
clarification about  any potential  conflicts of interest  and he                                                               
asked Mr. Henderson  to explain any financial  benefit that might                                                               
arise.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:21:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAMES HENDERSON,  Appointee, Board  of Pharmacy, stated  that his                                                               
lack of  explanation in his  application was mostly due  to there                                                               
being too  many possibilities to  list.   He explained that  as a                                                               
business owner  and a potential  board member, many  things could                                                               
occur.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON asked  whether Mr.  Henderson would  be                                                               
prepared to explain and declare a conflict if one occurred.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. HENDERSON affirmed  that he would recuse himself  and let the                                                               
other board members take care of the issue.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:22:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD asked Mr.  Henderson why he wants                                                               
to  be on  the board,  what challenges  he sees  in the  Pharmacy                                                               
world, and how he would address those challenges.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. HENDERSON  stated there are  several reasons why he  wants to                                                               
serve on the  board.  He offered  his opinion that it  is a civic                                                               
duty, and  at this point he  has some time to  fulfill that duty.                                                               
He  noted his  desire to  shape the  way the  pharmacy profession                                                               
runs  in   the  state  and   to  use  his  experience   to  shape                                                               
regulations.   He said he wants  to be involved with  new trends.                                                               
He  informed the  board is  currently  considering Governor  Bill                                                               
Walker's recent mandates  on opioids.  The board  is also looking                                                               
at updating  rules in U.S.  Pharmacopoeia (USP) 797 and  USP 800,                                                               
which regulate compounding and sterility.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:24:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  thanked Mr.  Henderson for his  interest in                                                               
the board.  He stated that  four of the five pharmacists studying                                                               
in the first  class of Pharmacy at the University  of Alaska were                                                               
on the House floor this morning.   He expressed that it's nice to                                                               
see an Alaskan crop of pharmacists.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:24:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO thanked Mr. Henderson.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
[Confirmation was held over.]                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
         HB 126-ORGANIZED MILITIA: WORKERS COMPENSATION                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:25:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO announced that the next order of business would be CS                                                                
FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 126(MLV) "An Act relating to workers'                                                                        
compensation benefits for members of the organized militia."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:25:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  noted that  when the  legislature modernized                                                               
the judicial system for the  military during the last legislative                                                               
session, it recognized the need  for other changes to the current                                                               
military  code.   He read  the sponsor  statement, which  read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The   Alaska  State   Legislature  and   Department  of                                                                    
     Military  and  Veterans'   Affairs  have  been  working                                                                    
     together to modernize the 1955  Alaska Military Code by                                                                    
     providing statutory changes that  will better serve our                                                                    
     Alaska organized militia.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     House  Bill  126  would  expand  workers'  compensation                                                                    
     coverage  to  the  organized  militia  while  they  are                                                                    
     participating  training  exercises.  Currently,  Alaska                                                                    
     statutes   already   provides   workers'   compensation                                                                    
     coverage during  active state  service, but  not during                                                                    
     training. By expending [sic]  this protection, we could                                                                    
     potentially  provide  a fiscally  significant  coverage                                                                    
     and save the state money in the future.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     This  issue came  to light  during an  incident when  a                                                                    
     member of  the Alaska  State Defense Force  suffered an                                                                    
     injury  during  a training  exercise  that  led to  his                                                                    
     inability to work. Since  workers' compensation was not                                                                    
     available, this injury ultimately  cost the state twice                                                                    
     the amount  of the entire  annual budget of  the Alaska                                                                    
     State Defense  Force. The  Risk Management  Division of                                                                    
     the  Alaska  Department   of  Administration  estimates                                                                    
     there would  be little to  no additional cost  to cover                                                                    
     the Alaska  State Defense Force members  under existing                                                                    
     state workers' compensation policies.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     As we face tight fiscal  times, it is important that we                                                                    
     are taking  steps to ensure  cost savings where  we can                                                                    
     and  pass  responsible  legislation that  will  protect                                                                    
     Alaskans.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  stated that  this  was  one of  four  bills                                                               
updating  the  Military  Code  of Alaska;  HB  126  would  expand                                                               
workers compensation for the militia and save the state money.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:28:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SULLIVAN-LEONARD  asked   if   there  were   any                                                               
statistics on  members that were  injured during  training within                                                               
the last 10 years.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:28:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Chris Tuck,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Tuck,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB  126,  said that  currently  the  Alaska State  Defense  Force                                                               
(ASDF) has  76 members that  participate and that the  only known                                                               
incident  was  a  leg  injury.     She  noted  that  the  injured                                                               
individual intended  to bring the  matter to court, but  the case                                                               
eventually settled out of court.   She said it was this case that                                                               
brought the bill to  life.  She made the point  that if the state                                                               
is  going to  cover members  during their  active state  service,                                                               
then it will want to cover them for their training as well.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD  requested confirmation  that the                                                               
injury described was the only one in the last 10 years.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOUSTER  stated that it  was the only  one of which  she was                                                               
aware.    She  suggested  Department of  Military  and  Veterans'                                                               
Affairs Deputy Commissioner Bob Doehl could confirm this.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:29:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  DOEHL, Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of Military  and                                                               
Veterans' Affairs (DMVA), stated  that the department supports HB                                                               
126 as it  provides predictability and sound  risk management for                                                               
the  training activities  of ASDF.    He remarked  that even  one                                                               
injury  can  be  "budget  busting,"   as  was  evidenced  in  the                                                               
previously  discussed case.   He  also stated  that the  proposed                                                               
bill  would  create  parity  with  volunteer  search  and  rescue                                                               
groups, volunteer firefighters, and  the [Alaska] National Guard,                                                               
all of which are in a paid status with federal training.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:31:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  if  anyone could  provide  him  with                                                               
information on the militia in  Alaska; for example, what it does,                                                               
how  many members  exist, and  how it  differs from  the National                                                               
Guard.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:32:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER DOEHL  said  that the  organized militia  in                                                               
Alaska consists of four components;  the best known being the Air                                                               
and  Army National  Guards,  which make  up  about 4,000  members                                                               
combined.  The  two lesser known components are  the Alaska Naval                                                               
Militia made  up of Navy  and Marine Corps reservists,  and ASDF,                                                               
which is the  group to which this bill pertains.   He stated that                                                               
ASDF is a state-only militia,  having no federal affiliation, and                                                               
it trains  to augment the  National Guard at times  when disaster                                                               
response needs  exceed the  capacity of the  National Guard.   He                                                               
stated  that ASDF  has  communications  detachments running  high                                                               
frequency  and satellite  radios, water  purification units,  and                                                               
generators,  and  recently  ASDF  ran  the  phone  bank  for  the                                                               
disaster  assistance  center  after  the storms  in  Gambell  and                                                               
Savoonga.   Their  duties of  ASDF  include basic  first aid  and                                                               
other training.   Last  year during the  fires, ASDF  ran shelter                                                               
management at evacuation points.   Deputy Commissioner Doehl said                                                               
that  members  are  paid  only  when  they  are  in  active  duty                                                               
assisting in a disaster; preparation  for a disaster is performed                                                               
on their own time.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:33:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked how ASDF's schedule  is different from                                                               
the National Guard, regarding whether  their training periods are                                                               
specified or as needed.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER  DOEHL  responded   by  saying  that  ASDF's                                                               
training consists  of one weekend  each month  to be ready  for a                                                               
disaster.   He  explained that  unlike the  National Guard,  ASDF                                                               
members do  not deploy  or go  to federal  training but  may have                                                               
periods  of annual  training greater  than the  one weekend  each                                                               
month or  take courses like  officer candidate school.   Training                                                               
is specialized.   He  said currently ASDF  does not  have weapons                                                               
training like the National Guard.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked if ASDF members are paid for training.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DOEHL answered that  they are not paid at all                                                               
when  in training;  they  are only  paid  when performing  actual                                                               
operational duties.   All training time is  volunteer time, which                                                               
adds up to thousands of hours among all the volunteers.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:35:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  inquired further  about the  general nature                                                               
of ASDF training.  He stated that  he did not want to refer to it                                                               
as administrative or  clerical; however, it did not  appear to be                                                               
the same  as the training  or fieldwork provided to  the National                                                               
Guard and Reserves.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER DOEHL  offered his  understanding that  ASDF                                                               
members are  trained in the field  rather than at a  desk setting                                                               
when,  for  example,  operating generators  or  other  equipment,                                                               
performing litter  drills, or providing  first aid training.   He                                                               
also  included  the  example  of  [members]  setting  up  a  high                                                               
frequency  radio and  erecting an  antenna in  a field  expedient                                                               
site.  He  said that they don't, for example,  work in protective                                                               
chemical  gear,  but that  there  are  some physically  demanding                                                               
requirements for working in an emergency environment.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:36:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL  JOHN  JAMES,  Commander,   Alaska  State  Defense  Force                                                               
(ASDF),  Department  of  Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA),                                                               
confirmed that  Deputy Commissioner  Doehl's comments  were "spot                                                               
on."   He added that  ASDF augments  the National Guard  when the                                                               
latter has "capability gaps" or  personnel shortages.  While some                                                               
of the responsibilities include  administrative duties or perhaps                                                               
operating  a  radio,  there  are times  when  ASDF  augments  the                                                               
National Guard in the field  with more strenuous types of duties.                                                               
He said  their purpose is  to augment  and be a  force multiplier                                                               
for  the National  Guard, and  the department  feels this  is how                                                               
they can be most effective.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:37:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL noted  the  zero-fiscal note  and asked  how                                                               
there  can  be  zero  cost  when the  state  would  be  providing                                                               
workers' compensation benefits.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:37:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   said  he  would  let   the  Department  of                                                               
Administration respond to that question.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:37:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARIE   MARX,  Director,   Division  of   Workers'  Compensation,                                                               
Department of  Labor & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  said there                                                               
were a  few fiscal notes Chair  Kito attached to this  bill.  One                                                               
is from the Division of  Workers' Compensation, which administers                                                               
but does  not pay workers' compensation  benefits.  It is  a zero                                                               
fiscal note because the bill would  not require any change in the                                                               
administration  of the  Alaska Workers'  Compensation  Act.   She                                                               
then  deferred to  the  Division of  Risk  Management, which  she                                                               
described as the  employer arm of the state, to  speak to its own                                                               
fiscal note.   She said  the Division  of Risk Management  is the                                                               
entity that  would pay  benefits if  there was  a work  injury or                                                               
death.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:38:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT JORDAN,  Director, Division of Risk  Management, Department                                                               
of  Administration   (DOA),  said  that  the   Division  of  Risk                                                               
Management covers similar  groups, such as Search  and Rescue for                                                               
the Department of Public Safety  (DPS) and some Emergency Medical                                                               
Technicians, and  they are not calculated  as full-time employees                                                               
(FTEs).    He said  that  the  militia  members in  question  are                                                               
already  covered  for  active  duty,   and  adding  coverage  for                                                               
training is  a low risk,  which is the  reason for a  zero fiscal                                                               
note.   He added that Risk  Management has no way  of calculating                                                               
the risk for  these people, because they are  not calculated into                                                               
the FTEs of their departments.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:39:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  stated his  understanding is  that workers'                                                               
compensation  typically  extends to  employees  and  the cost  is                                                               
covered  by  employer/employee  contributions; however,  in  this                                                               
case the  legislature is  being asked to  extend that  benefit to                                                               
volunteers that are not employees  and are not compensated unless                                                               
they are on official business.   He said this situation brings to                                                               
mind a  discussion held about  extending the "life  benefits" for                                                               
non-profit  emergency medical  service  members  that respond  to                                                               
accidents on  the highway, in  the same fashion as  public safety                                                               
officers,  yet don't  receive  the same  benefits  as the  public                                                               
safety officers.   He asked if it would be  normal to extend this                                                               
type  of benefit  to volunteers  or if  the legislature  would be                                                               
creating a precedence.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JORDAN said  it would  be  normal for  them to  do this  for                                                               
volunteers  and  would  not  create  a  precedence  by  providing                                                               
workers' compensation  for this group.   He said the  Division of                                                               
Risk Management is self-insured and  its rates are different from                                                               
what you  might see at  a private  entity.  The  division insures                                                               
several  volunteer  groups,  like search  and  rescue,  emergency                                                               
medical  technicians operating  in  an  unincorporated city,  and                                                               
even high  school students involved  in work programs  within the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:42:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO announced that HB 126 was held over.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
           HB 142-UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BENEFITS                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:42:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO  announced that  the next order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  142.  "An Act relating  to unemployment insurance                                                               
benefits;  increasing the  maximum weekly  unemployment insurance                                                               
benefit rate; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:42:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK described  HB 142 by stating  that it relates                                                               
to  the effectiveness  of  Alaska's  Unemployment Insurance  (UI)                                                               
program.  He continued as follows:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     The   national  unemployment   insurance  program   was                                                                    
     initially created  in 1935 by the  Social Security Act.                                                                    
     Congress  chose   to  create   a  national   system  of                                                                    
     compensation  for   unemployed  workers  based   on  an                                                                    
     insurance  model rather  than  an entitlement  program.                                                                    
     This  insurance  model  has worked  well  for  over  80                                                                    
     years.    As  with  any other  insurance  program,  the                                                                    
     objective is to underwrite  and identify potential loss                                                                    
     incurred by  a small percentage of  the insured through                                                                    
     accumulation  of funds  collected from  the group  as a                                                                    
     whole.  The loss insured by  the program is the loss of                                                                    
     wages by unemployed workers.   The premiums required to                                                                    
     cover  this  potential loss  are  in  most states  paid                                                                    
     solely by the employer; although  in Alaska the cost is                                                                    
     shared by the  employer and the worker.  We  are one of                                                                    
     three states  in the  nation that  does this.   Alaskan                                                                    
     employers carry 73  percent of the direct  cost and the                                                                    
     workers pay  27 percent of these  costs through payroll                                                                    
     taxes.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  stated  that   as  with  any  program  that                                                               
compensates individuals while they are  not working, there may be                                                               
concerns about  providing a disincentive  for returning  to work.                                                               
He said, "In  striving to provide sufficient  temporary income to                                                               
enable workers to bridge the  gap between jobs while meeting non-                                                               
deferrable   expenses  without   that   disincentive,  the   U.S.                                                               
Department  of  Labor encourages  a  target  of 50  percent  wage                                                               
replacement to try to balance that  out."  He explained that wage                                                               
replacement measures  the state's  average weekly  benefit amount                                                               
as a percent  of the average weekly wage.   According to the most                                                               
recent figures published by the  U.S. Department of Labor, Alaska                                                               
ranks last in  wage replacement at 28.8  percent, forty-fourth in                                                               
the  nation  in terms  of  the  average  weekly benefit  paid  to                                                               
unemployed workers  - $252 per  week, and  39th in the  nation in                                                               
terms  of the  maximum weekly  benefit amount  of $370  per week.                                                               
Benefit amounts are  based on the amount of wages  a worker earns                                                               
during a  prescribed base period.   Workers with  higher earnings                                                               
whose loss  of work has a  higher financial impact can  receive a                                                               
higher benefit  amount.  Representative  Tuck related  that under                                                               
Alaska's current statute, the maximum  benefit amount that can be                                                               
paid  to workers  who have  earned $42,000  or more  is $370  per                                                               
week, regardless whether the amount  of wages lost was $42,000 or                                                               
$100,000  or  $200,000 per  year.    The current  maximum  weekly                                                               
benefit  amount  represents  approximately   36  percent  of  the                                                               
average  weekly  wage   of  $1,020  in  Alaska.     The  proposed                                                               
legislation seeks to  raise the maximum weekly  benefit amount in                                                               
Alaska to an  amount that is roughly one-half  the average weekly                                                               
rate  in the  state  for  2017, up  to  $510  per week  effective                                                               
January 1, 2018.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  stated  that   the  second  intent  of  the                                                               
proposed bill  is to tie  future increases to the  maximum weekly                                                               
benefit amount to a percentage of  the average weekly wage, as is                                                               
the  case  in  36  other  states.   This  would  allow  the  wage                                                               
replacement  offered  by  the  program   to  rise  based  on  the                                                               
relationship to the  wages that are being replaced.   He said the                                                               
estimated cost to  employers, for each employee  earning the full                                                               
taxable  wage  base  of  approximately  $38,000,  would  increase                                                               
gradually  beginning in  2019 [until  it  reaches] an  additional                                                               
$233  per employee  in  2023.   He  indicated  this  is over  the                                                               
baseline forecast, and  the proposed bill would  not increase the                                                               
minimum wage  benefit assessment.  The  estimated additional cost                                                               
to employees earning  the full taxable wage base in  2023 will be                                                               
$31  over the  baseline  forecast.   Representative Tuck  advised                                                               
that after December  31, 2019, the maximum  weekly benefit amount                                                               
would be calculated each year based  on 50 percent of the average                                                               
weekly wage  in the  state.   He said  tying future  increases to                                                               
increases in the average weekly wage  over time would result in a                                                               
less dramatic  change to employer  taxes than what the  state has                                                               
experienced in the past when  the maximum benefit amount remained                                                               
static and  became less and  less adequate  over time, as  it has                                                               
since the last increase in 2009.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:47:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  said  he  had   a  number  of  letters  of                                                               
opposition from individuals concerned  about the impact that this                                                               
additional cost increment will have  on small businesses during a                                                               
time  of economic  challenge and  recession.   He asked  what the                                                               
actual cost would be to elevate this benefit.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:47:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK said  the estimated  cost  to employers  for                                                               
each   employee   earning  the   full   taxable   wage  base   of                                                               
approximately  $38,000   will  increase   gradually  and   be  an                                                               
additional $233 per employee by the year 2023.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked  if it would be $233  per employee per                                                               
year.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said yes, that  it would be $233 per employee                                                               
once it reaches its full maximum in 2023.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  pointed out  that the  bill refers  to base                                                               
period  wages and  a  weekly  benefit amount,  and  he asked  for                                                               
clarification on the duration of a base period.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  said that he  believed it is  the qualifying                                                               
period  for someone  to  receive UI  benefits and  that  it is  a                                                               
period of one year.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH, referring to the  table in HB 142, asked if                                                               
someone with  a base period  of $2,500  to $2,700 per  year would                                                               
then be entitled to a $56 per week benefit.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered yes.   He said that for  every $250                                                               
increase  in  annual  base  period   wages,  the  weekly  benefit                                                               
increases  $2.   However, again  referring  to the  table in  the                                                               
bill, he  pointed out that  HB 142  would not change  UI benefits                                                               
for those at lower incomes.  He  said the change HB 142 brings to                                                               
the current statute is that of  an increase in the weekly benefit                                                               
for those  at higher  income levels,  and this  could be  seen on                                                               
page 7 of  the bill.  He  said that HB 142 would  allow for those                                                               
who earn more and have  contributed more to the insurance program                                                               
to be  able to receive  a larger  proportion of their  annual pay                                                               
than what they  would receive now.  It would  also bring benefits                                                               
closer  to the  recommended  average of  the  U.S. Department  of                                                               
Labor, as well  as making Alaska current with 36  other states in                                                               
the country.   Representative Tuck said Alaska  has more seasonal                                                               
workers than any other state  in the country, citing the seasonal                                                               
industries of fishing, tourism, and  construction, as well as the                                                               
labor that occurs  on the North Slope and in  mining.  He stated,                                                               
"We want to make sure that  families are able to weather out some                                                               
of those ... tough economic times ...."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:51:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH, referencing page 8  of the bill, asked what                                                               
the duration  of a benefit  would be in  the case of  a fisherman                                                               
working  three  months  and  earning  $50,000  annually,  with  a                                                               
corresponding benefit of approximately $20,000.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  requested  to  bring  Ed  Flanagan  of  the                                                               
Department of  Labor and Workforce Development  to the discussion                                                               
to  explain the  number of  weeks someone  would be  qualified to                                                               
receive a benefit.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:51:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ED FLANAGAN,  Director, Central Office, Division  of Employment &                                                               
Training Services,  Department of  Labor &  Workforce Development                                                               
(DLWD),  responding to  the question  from Representative  Birch,                                                               
said  fishermen are  not covered  under UI.   He  added that  the                                                               
maximum  benefit for  a  seafood processing  worker  would be  26                                                               
weeks.  He also said that in  the past, a claim could be extended                                                               
under a federal  extended benefit program, which would  add up to                                                               
an additional  13 weeks of benefits.   In the 1980s,  the program                                                               
was changed  to address  claims from  workers with  earnings that                                                               
occurred  in  only  one  quarter.     Mr.  Flanagan  offered  his                                                               
understanding that  at least  10 percent of  earnings occur  in a                                                               
second quarter.   In  addition, there  is "a  differential ratio"                                                               
utilized to determine  the length of the benefit  period based on                                                               
how  well earnings  were distributed  over the  entire year.   He                                                               
said that  earnings occurring in  just two quarters  would result                                                               
in a maximum benefit period of 18 weeks rather than 26 weeks.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH said  the concern voiced to him  was that of                                                               
the cost  impact on an  employer and "certainly not  a reflection                                                               
on the  individuals involved."  He  also said he wasn't  aware of                                                               
the mechanics of the system, for  example, how it would prevent a                                                               
situation  where someone  could work  for only  three months  and                                                               
then "basically kick back for nine months."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FLANAGAN said  that such  a situation  was not  possible and                                                               
that he  would not presume to  tell an employer at  any time, let                                                               
alone in  troubled times, that  $233 per employee five  years out                                                               
is not  something they  should be concerned  about.   However, he                                                               
would encourage employers to think  about how UI benefits support                                                               
many  communities, especially  those  that  have strong  seasonal                                                               
workforces.   He noted that  he feels  we lost something  when we                                                               
went away from  paper payroll checks, as people  would cash those                                                               
checks after hours at a time  when there were limited banking and                                                               
credit card  options.   He summarized by  saying he  thinks there                                                               
are  employers that  understand  UI benefits  not  only help  the                                                               
worker but also insure the community.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:54:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON asked  Representative  Tuck to  explain                                                               
his  earlier statement,  which indicated  Alaska is  one of  only                                                               
three states that does or does not "do something."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  responded that Alaska  is one of  only three                                                               
states   where  employees   contribute   to  their   unemployment                                                               
insurance program.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON then made the  point that in addition to                                                               
Alaska's  [UI  benefit]  rates  not being  anything  close  to  a                                                               
livable  wage,  the state  is  one  of  only three  that  require                                                               
employees to contribute to their UI program.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  added that  he did not  recall the  names of                                                               
the  three  other states,  but  that  of  the three,  Alaska  has                                                               
employee contribution rates that are significantly greater.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  asked why the  sponsor of the  bill did                                                               
not want to [increase] the lower wage earner's rates.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:55:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said  that the bill was  focused on providing                                                               
UI  benefits to  higher income  wage  earners and,  in doing  so,                                                               
balancing   the  increase   in  benefits   with  the   associated                                                               
additional cost to the employee.   He emphasized his concern that                                                               
Alaska   retain  skilled   workers  and   support  industry   and                                                               
employers, while sharing the burden "on both sides."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:56:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  if the  annual  salary is  calculated                                                               
based on a weekly salary extrapolated over 52 weeks.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:56:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANNAGAN answered no; it  is based on actual earnings during                                                               
the base  period.  He  gave the example  that if someone  filed a                                                               
new claim  this week, then all  the wages for the  period October                                                               
1, 2015, to September 30, 2016,  would be considered.  If a claim                                                               
was  filed  next week,  when  it  would  be  a new  quarter,  the                                                               
earnings period would  be the calendar year 2016.   He said there                                                               
is no averaging or smoothing; and  that it is the actual earnings                                                               
that are utilized.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL said that the  reason he asked was because he                                                               
knows that  some people work  seasonally and  [become unemployed]                                                               
following a  season of  high earnings, and  he wanted  to confirm                                                               
that  someone who,  for example,  earned  $1,000 per  week for  3                                                               
months  (for a  total of  $12,000) would  fall under  the $12,000                                                               
category and not the $48,000 or $52,000 category.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANNAGAN stated that's correct.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked for confirmation that  under his prior                                                               
example,  the UI  benefit would  be  $132 per  week, even  though                                                               
earnings were $1,000 per week for one quarter.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN stated  that this is correct.  He  added that if the                                                               
beneficiary had dependents, then he/she  would be eligible for an                                                               
additional $24 per week for up to three children.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:58:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SULLIVAN-LEONARD pointed  out  that the  existing                                                               
statute describes the  eligible individual, and then  asked how a                                                               
benefit is calculated for a family.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN  stated unemployment insurance is  based strictly on                                                               
the  individual,  with  the  possibility  of  a  dependent  child                                                               
allowance of  $24 per child  to maximum of  three.  He  said that                                                               
this has been in  statute for some time.  He  added that there is                                                               
no measure in any system nationwide regarding family income.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD asked what  the fiscal note might                                                               
be, noting that it was shown as zero.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN said that the  fiscal note reflects the agency cost,                                                               
and in this case, it is  de minimis, if calculable.  He indicated                                                               
that a change  in benefit amount does not change  the cost to the                                                               
agency.   He said if  Representative Sullivan-Leonard  was asking                                                               
for  the   cost  to  individuals   or  businesses,  it   was  his                                                               
understanding that this was never reflected in the fiscal note.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:59:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SULLIVAN-LEONARD  asked if  there  was  a way  to                                                               
quantify what  the financial impact is  going to be, not  only to                                                               
the  department but  also what  the benefits  would show  for the                                                               
individual  as well  as for  one, two,  or three  children.   She                                                               
asked if there was a way to calculate what it would be annually.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FLANAGAN   said  he  could   provide  the   agency's  annual                                                               
projections on  what it  expects to  pay.   He said  the benefits                                                               
paid out have never been considered relevant to the fiscal note.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SULLIVAN-LEONARD said  that she  was looking  for                                                               
those  dollar amounts,  especially since  there is  a request  to                                                               
increase  the unemployment  insurance for  both the  employee and                                                               
the employer.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN said  it was those dollar amounts that  were used to                                                               
come up  with the estimates  for 2022 for additional  cost versus                                                               
"doing nothing."   He said  that they  have run those  numbers to                                                               
figure out a  "phasing up" over five years to  an additional $233                                                               
per  employee for  the  employer.   He noted  that  this was  for                                                               
employees making the  $38,000 or $39,000 taxable wage  base.  The                                                               
employer's and the employee's contributions  stop there.  For the                                                               
employee it is an additional $31  per year.  These are determined                                                               
from the  estimate of  the change  in the  benefits that  will be                                                               
paid.  He said the agency can provide this information.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:02:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH pointed  out  that HB  142  would create  a                                                               
second, and therefore additional,  increase under the UI program,                                                               
as  there was  an earlier  bill  that established  training as  a                                                               
benefit.  He then asked if  there are any other existing parts or                                                               
if we would see any other new additions to the UI program.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:03:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FLANAGAN  said that  he  was  not  aware  of any  others  or                                                               
proposals  for  any  others.    He said  that  the  two  training                                                               
programs  Representative Birch  was  referring to  are the  State                                                               
Training  and Employment  Program  (STEP) and  the Technical  and                                                               
Vocational  Education Program  (TVEP).   He  stated  that in  the                                                               
past,   he  had   misunderstood   these   programs  by   thinking                                                               
incorrectly that because  there is a diversion  from the employee                                                               
share, it  is an additional cost  to the employee.   He explained                                                               
that  the cost  of  the program  is determined  on  a 73  percent                                                               
employer/27 percent  employee split, and  it is after  that split                                                               
that the  diversion is made.   He  said that employees  don't pay                                                               
more except over time in the  long run, because some money is not                                                               
coming out  of the trust fund  that otherwise would.   He said he                                                               
could provide even more detailed  information if requested, as he                                                               
had a staff member from research and analysis on hand.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO said additional information  would not be necessary as                                                               
the issue was not related to the bill.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:04:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP directed  attention to Section 2,  on page 9                                                               
of HB  142, and asked  what the maximum  benefit would be  for an                                                               
individual that makes $100,000 per year.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:04:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  offered his  understanding that  the maximum                                                               
benefit would be  $510, because the benefits "max out"  at a base                                                               
income of  $59,500.  However,  he pointed  out that Section  2 is                                                               
"kind  of a  self-evaluating factor"  that he  mentioned earlier,                                                               
which  would  allow the  unemployment  benefit  to update  itself                                                               
based on 50 percent of the average income.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:05:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN clarified  that the current weekly  benefit is $370,                                                               
and under the  proposed bill it would increase to  $510. He added                                                               
that "at  the lower end  it's much closer  to 50 percent  than it                                                               
is, because  it starts  at that $2,500,  with a  benefit amount."                                                               
He  explained  that  currently  an  unemployed  worker  who  made                                                               
$42,000 in his/her base year receives  the same benefit as a laid                                                               
off worker making  $84,000.  Both workers  would have contributed                                                               
the  same amount,  "because  $39,000  is where  it  cuts off  for                                                               
contributions."   He said that  the benefits are "out  of whack,"                                                               
because  the person  with  the  higher income  is  going to  have                                                               
higher expenditures.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  said that  his interpretation of  Section 2                                                               
was that the maximum benefit of  $510 would increase at a rate of                                                               
$2 for every $250 increase in  earnings greater than $59,500.  He                                                               
provided  a   hypothetical  example  of  an   individual  earning                                                               
$100,000 and  asked if  his maximum  benefit calculation  of $834                                                               
for  the individual  (based on  the  language in  Section 2)  was                                                               
correct.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:06:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FLANAGAN said  that he  understood  how Section  2 might  be                                                               
interpreted in  that way; however,  the annual income  of $59,500                                                               
is a cap, and income greater  than $59,500 is not considered.  He                                                               
explained  that Section  2  would provide  an  adjustment to  the                                                               
benefit  schedule by;  extending  it out  beyond  $59,500 if  the                                                               
average annual  wage for the state  increases.  He added  that he                                                               
does  not  expect  any  adjustments  in  the  schedule  to  reach                                                               
$100,000 in his lifetime.  He  again acknowledged that this was a                                                               
confusing element of the bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  reiterated his interpretation  that Section                                                               
2  states  that  weekly  benefits  would  increase  based  on  an                                                               
"individual's base period wages," not  based on changes in "state                                                               
wages on an average."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN  reemphasized that  no one  would receive  a benefit                                                               
greater than that listed for  an income of $59,500; in subsequent                                                               
years,  if the  average annual  wage  went up,  say $4,000,  then                                                               
"they would  use that column on  the left to calculate  a benefit                                                               
which would go up another $2,000 total in the year."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:08:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  brought  attention   to  the  language  [in                                                               
Section 2],  to which Mr.  Flanagan and Representative  Knopp had                                                               
referred, was  on Page  9, Line  25, and  read:   "the department                                                               
shall determine the  average annual wage paid to  employees".  He                                                               
then asked  for confirmation that  this referred to  the "overall                                                               
state average" and not individual wage.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN  answered that's  correct.   He said  the department                                                               
[reviews the  average annual wage],  which currently  is $53,000.                                                               
The  taxable wage  base is  three-fourths of  the average  annual                                                               
wage.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:09:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK  brought   the  committee's   attention  to                                                               
language in  [Section 2], subsections  (j) and (h), and  he noted                                                               
that the  language in subsection  (h), [on page 9],  lines 15-17,                                                               
refers  to the  ["average annual  wage"] mentioned  in subsection                                                               
(j).                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:09:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked for confirmation of  his understanding                                                               
of the  issue by providing an  example where the average  wage is                                                               
$52,000  or  $1,000  per  week.    He  then  asked  if,  in  this                                                               
situation, benefits under this section  may not exceed 50 percent                                                               
of $1,000 per week or a $500 weekly benefit.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLANAGAN answered that is correct.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:10:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KITO asked if Mr. Flanagan had any further comment.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR FLANAGAN stated that he would  be available for questions.  He                                                               
added, "It hasn't been done since 2009 ..., and it is past due."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:11:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO opened public testimony on HB 142.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:11:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AARON  PLIKAT,   President,  Building  and   Construction  Trades                                                               
Council  of  Southcentral  Alaska,   introduced  himself  as  the                                                               
business agent for  Plumbers and Steamfitters, Local  367 and the                                                               
president  of the  Building and  Construction  Trades Council  of                                                               
Southcentral Alaska.   He stated that as the son  of a journeyman                                                               
pipefitter and  someone who has been  in the trade for  22 years,                                                               
he is  knowledgeable about  being out  of work.   He said  he can                                                               
tell firsthand about  the pride a worker feels  when completing a                                                               
project,  as  well as  the  fear  of  the impending  layoff  that                                                               
follows  project completion.    He said  construction has  always                                                               
been  a  path  of  peaks   and  valleys;  when  it's  good,  it's                                                               
fantastic, and  when it's bad,  the span between projects  can be                                                               
months or even  longer.  As a business agent,  he spoke about the                                                               
highly skilled  craftsmen that are  more than willing  to perform                                                               
their  crafts anywhere  under any  circumstances.   These workers                                                               
and all workers  should take some comfort in the  fact that there                                                               
is  a   benefit  for  their  short-term   security  should  their                                                               
employment end suddenly or otherwise.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. PLIKAT said  the current benefit is one of  the lowest in the                                                               
country and has  not been adjusted since 2008.   He said the cost                                                               
of living  is increasing  in Alaska.   He  stated support  for an                                                               
adjustment  of  the  state's   unemployment  insurance  from  the                                                               
current  weekly maximum  benefit of  $370 to  the proposed  $510,                                                               
because doing  so will assist  workers by allowing them  the time                                                               
to  find  long  term  quality  employment  again.    He  strongly                                                               
encouraged the committee to support HB 142.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:13:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUG TANSY introduced himself as  a person wearing multiple hats:                                                               
current president of the Fairbanks  Central Labor Council; member                                                               
of  the Alaska  Workforce  Investment Board;  and  member of  the                                                               
Fairbanks Building  and Construction  Trades Council.   He opined                                                               
that  wage  (indisc.)  unemployed or  underemployed  is  critical                                                               
because of the  high rate of seasonal employment  here in Alaska.                                                               
He is  a construction electrician  who served  his apprenticeship                                                               
in Fairbanks and  he has experienced UI benefits first  hand.  He                                                               
is  now a  member of  his local  apprenticeship committee,  which                                                               
oversees the  school and  the apprentices while  they are  in the                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. TANSY said  the school has invested close to  $50,000 in each                                                               
apprentice by the time each  completes the program.  The benefits                                                               
of the  program are having journeyman-level  workers available to                                                               
safely and  efficiently do high-quality jobs  for contractors and                                                               
to train the next batch of  apprentices that are coming up behind                                                               
them.   He  said that  with low  UI wage  replacement there  is a                                                               
stress on individuals and families,  and sometimes the way out of                                                               
that  stress   is  to  look   for  employment   opportunities  in                                                               
Washington,  Oregon, and  California.   He  said  that when  this                                                               
occurs,  a percentage  of those  who leave  the state  don't come                                                               
back home, which  results in a loss on our  investment, a loss on                                                               
the  investment of  contractors, and  a diminishment  of a  ready                                                               
workforce.    This   scenario  is  a  typical   setting  for  all                                                               
construction trades, not  only the mechanical trades.   Mr. Tansy                                                               
said  the outward  migration during  leaner  times doesn't  cause                                                               
only financial impact  to families; he has seen  it contribute to                                                               
divorce  or  stress  for  children who  must  move  to  different                                                               
schools and  not have in place  the things that are  conducive to                                                               
their  development.    He strongly  encouraged  movement  of  the                                                               
proposed  legislation.   He noted  that the  groups he  mentioned                                                               
today have passed resolutions in support of HB 142.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:16:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRANDON MCGUIRE expressed  his support for the  bill and provided                                                               
an example of  how it supports the working class,  which not only                                                               
helps  drive  the local  economy  but  also  the economy  of  the                                                               
nation.  He said that he  has a typically employed friend that is                                                               
a construction  worker with the  laborers union.  The  friend and                                                               
his  wife  are expecting  a  child  later  this  year and,  as  a                                                               
seasonal  construction  worker,  Mr. McGuire's  friend  stands  a                                                               
chance of being unemployed in and  around the birth of his child.                                                               
He noted that in a situation  like this, "when Murphy's Law rears                                                               
its head, every little thing helps."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCGUIRE said  he knows that when a person  is laid off, after                                                               
working  for 1.5  years on  a long  project, unemployment  checks                                                               
don't cover  the bills.   He said Alaska  is such a  great state,                                                               
yet it's  UI benefits are low  compared to those of  other states                                                               
in the country.   Given this, he  said he doesn't see  how a bill                                                               
like this  could see any  opposition, and  he hopes that  it will                                                               
not.   He opined that  Alaska should lead  the way in  support of                                                               
its working-class citizens.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:19:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RALPH  KIBBY, Owner,  Chatham Electric  Inc, stated  that Chatham                                                               
Electric  Inc is  a statewide  electrical  contractor that  works                                                               
primarily  in Southeast  Alaska.   He  stated  that his  business                                                               
provides  the first  response for  many communities  in Southeast                                                               
Alaska and  other areas, for  power outages and emergencies.   He                                                               
said his company  hires highly skilled workers, and  he asked the                                                               
committee  to pass  HB 142  to  retain that  highly skilled  work                                                               
force.   He expressed concerned  about workers leaving  the state                                                               
because  their needs  are not  being  met.   He said  contractors                                                               
spend hundreds  of thousands of dollars  training their employees                                                               
regardless  of   the  five-year  period  required   to  become  a                                                               
journeyman.   At this  point, he  said, whatever  can be  done to                                                               
maintain a  skilled workforce -  "our brain-trust" - is  going to                                                               
help Chatham Electric Inc stay in business.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:20:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WALTER ROBINSON, International  Brotherhood of Electrical Workers                                                               
(IBEW),  stated that  he feels  the  past and  current UI  weekly                                                               
benefit  amount in  Alaska  is  far too  low.   Alaska's  average                                                               
weekly  benefit amount  ranks  forty-fourth  nationally, yet  the                                                               
state has one of the highest  costs of living.  Having personally                                                               
drawn UI benefits himself, he can  attest to the fact that a $370                                                               
weekly benefit is  not enough.  With this amount  of money, it is                                                               
hard to maintain  a household and put food on  the table with two                                                               
kids and a wife to support.  Alaska  is not a cheap state to live                                                               
in because of  the cost of housing, food,  electricity, and heat.                                                               
Under  the current  price of  oil and  state of  the economy,  he                                                               
said,  jobs  are  decreasing,  and  unemployment  is  increasing.                                                               
Alaskans are going to need help  in this recession to get through                                                               
hard times.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBINSON  said that he  feels the proposed increase  comes at                                                               
the perfect  time to  ensure Alaskans will  remain in  the state.                                                               
People  on  UI benefits  spend  money  in the  state;  therefore,                                                               
increasing the  maximum weekly benefit  will put more  money into                                                               
the  economy and  help the  business community.   He  stated that                                                               
people  do not  want to  be on  unemployment insurance  as it  is                                                               
stressful not having a job while  trying to pay the bills and put                                                               
food on the  table.  The proposed legislation  bill would relieve                                                               
some  of  the hardship  placed  on  Alaskans during  the  current                                                               
recession and  unemployment.   Mr. Robinson stated  that he  is a                                                               
proud Alaskan but feels rating  forty-fourth in the nation for UI                                                               
benefits  is  not  something  he  is proud  of.    He  urged  the                                                               
committee to move HB 142 and help Alaskans that are suffering.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:22:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LAKE  WILLIAMS, District  Representative, International  Union of                                                               
Operating  Engineers  (IUOE),  Local  302;  President,  Fairbanks                                                               
Building and  Construction Trades  Council, stated that  on March                                                               
15 the council  passed a resolution in support of  HB 142, urging                                                               
the House  to pass the  bill and for  the Senate to  take action.                                                               
He said he would submit that resolution into the record.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WILLIAMS said  as an  apprentice  he relied  on UI  benefits                                                               
while he  was in  school to  help pay  bills, and  when he  was a                                                               
journeyman he relied  on them until the next job  came along.  He                                                               
pointed out  that work has  slowed, with smaller  capital budgets                                                               
and a reduction of  work on the North Slope.   He said that often                                                               
employers  are struggling  to maintain  their workforce;  while a                                                               
lot of them  will find things for workers to  do, they are forced                                                               
to lay people off and then  hope that this skilled workforce will                                                               
not leave the state.  He said  that this is a constant battle for                                                               
employers; they are always worried  about losing skilled workers.                                                               
He said that  [employers] are seeing more and  more people "raise                                                               
the white flag" and move out  of state when they cannot find work                                                               
or  pay  their bills.    Some  of them  come  back  and then  are                                                               
referred to  as "out-of-state workers."   He said that  it's hard                                                               
to  blame these  people  as they  are going  places  where it  is                                                               
cheaper to live, but they are  taking their money with them.  Any                                                               
little bit  [the state] can  do to help workers  and contractors,                                                               
maintain a  workforce, and  assist local  families in  getting by                                                               
until the  next job  comes around  is a  smart thing  to do.   He                                                               
reiterated  his support  for HB  142 and  urged the  committee to                                                               
pass it.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:25:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRONSON FRYE, Recording Secretary,  South Central Alaska Building                                                               
Trades Council, stated  that he is a  business representative for                                                               
the Painters Union  and is at the meeting to  testify in his role                                                               
as  the  Recording Secretary  of  the  Building and  Construction                                                               
Trades Council  of Southcentral Alaska.   He said he is  in favor                                                               
HB  142 and,  while  many  reasons for  supporting  it have  been                                                               
already articulated,  he thinks  it is  notable that  UI benefits                                                               
have  not been  raised since  2009 and  that the  state's maximum                                                               
weekly  benefit amount  ranks thirty-ninth  in the  country.   He                                                               
pointed out  that the  U.S. Department of  Labor recommends  a 50                                                               
percent  wage  replacement  and  that  HB  142  would  meet  that                                                               
recommendation, increasing  the benefit from the  current maximum                                                               
benefit of $370 to  a maximum of $510.  He  said he believes that                                                               
it  is also  noteworthy that  the State  of Washington's  current                                                               
maximum weekly benefit  is $681, almost double  our $370 benefit.                                                               
A benefit of $510 would bring  Alaska much closer to other states                                                               
in the Pacific Northwest.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. FRYE  opined that when workers  lose their job, it  is a loss                                                               
to not  only the individual  but to the entire  community; having                                                               
adequate  unemployment insurance  benefits lessens  that negative                                                               
impact.  He  pointed out that Alaska is seeing  a downturn in its                                                               
economy and  that if  all the skilled  workers must  move Outside                                                               
for work and stay there, then  the state loses a major investment                                                               
in time,  money, training, and  development of  assets productive                                                               
to Alaska.   He warned against  a situation in which  the economy                                                               
improves and Alaska finds itself with  a shortage of workers.  He                                                               
indicated  that  [helping  workers]  "stay afloat"  and  stay  in                                                               
Alaska is  a wise investment.   In conclusion, he  encouraged the                                                               
passage of HB 142.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:27:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL  GROSSI stated  that he  was representing  the Alaska  State                                                               
Pipe  Trades.   He stated  that  [the Alaska  State Pipe  Trades]                                                               
support HB  142, as  it will  help unemployed  workers.   He said                                                               
that he was hearing a lot  of resistance about the proposed bill,                                                               
based it not  being the appropriate time to  increase the benefit                                                               
because there  is a  downturn in  the economy.   He  provided two                                                               
reasons why  he thinks this is  the "exact time" to  increase the                                                               
benefit:  to help unemployed  workers and to help businesses that                                                               
rely on the  workers as customers.  He said  that although the UI                                                               
benefit  would not  replace the  wages earned  during employment,                                                               
the lower income would provide some  help to both the workers and                                                               
the businesses.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GROSSI said  he is  probably the  only one  in the  room old                                                               
enough  to remember  the last  recession.   He said  that he  was                                                               
living in  Anchorage at the  time, and the recession  was "really                                                               
terrible";  it  affected him  personally.    He described  people                                                               
having  to leave  their homes  and condos,  with their  furniture                                                               
left behind.   He also described families leaving  the state with                                                               
only their  suitcases, after  driving down  to the  Department of                                                               
Labor to pick up  their checks. He said that the  bill was "not a                                                               
cure for  that" but would  help to create  a softer landing.   He                                                               
finished by urging the committee to pass HB 142.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:30:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  ventured that  Mr. Grossi was  referring to                                                               
the recession in '85, '86, and '87.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:30:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH remarked  there had been a  lot of testimony                                                               
about  the  job  losses  that are  occurring  and  discussion  on                                                               
whether Alaska is or is not in  a recession.  He stated that from                                                               
a budget standpoint, Alaska has issues  to deal with at the state                                                               
level and  "some of us would  like to see the  state budget track                                                               
the private budget"  if there is "a contraction."   He then asked                                                               
if benefits are taxable as income.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSSI  replied that  he could not  remember for  certain but                                                               
thinks they are taxable.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:31:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL said  that he shares the concerns  of most of                                                               
the people  testifying and, along  with Mr. Grossi,  is concerned                                                               
that laid off  workers will go to other parts  of the country and                                                               
that some of them will not come  back to Alaska.  He said that he                                                               
is not  sure the $200 increase  in weekly benefits that  the bill                                                               
would  provide would  be sufficient  to keep  a worker  here when                                                               
they could  make "decent money"  [elsewhere].  He  indicated that                                                               
it would  be helpful if  the provision  under HB 142  kept people                                                               
here a  little longer.   He  ventured that  the real  solution is                                                               
getting the economy back on line to ensure future jobs.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROSSI  responded, "The  only real  solution is  a job."   He                                                               
said he  hopes Alaska would  not again experience a  recession as                                                               
bad  as  the  one  in  the  mid-1980s,  in  Anchorage,  which  he                                                               
characterized  as  "pretty  terrible"  and "like  the  Grapes  of                                                               
Wrath."  He said that he didn't  know if [HB 142] was enough, but                                                               
he thinks  it's worth a try,  as it may cause  a "softer landing"                                                               
and  help  not only  individuals  but  businesses  as well.    He                                                               
pointed  out  that while  individuals  can  leave to  find  work,                                                               
businesses will  close and, as a  result, will be gone.   He said                                                               
that there  were a  lot of  businesses in  the 1980s  that closed                                                               
because they did not have the customers to stay open.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:33:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL   added  that  training  through   the  TVEP                                                               
program,  which  is  covered  under  the  UI  program,  was  also                                                               
available.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:34:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO announced that HB 142 was held over.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                HB 103-OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:34:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO  announced that the  final order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  103  "An   Act  relating  to  the  practice  of                                                               
optometry."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:35:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE IVY  SPOHNHOLZ provided a brief  reintroduction of                                                               
HB 103.  She  said the bill would give authority  to the Board of                                                               
Optometry to  regulate the  practice of  optometrists.   It would                                                               
ensure that the Board of  Optometrists would have the opportunity                                                               
to  update the  current  and continuing  education standards  and                                                               
scope of  practice based  on best available  evidence.   The bill                                                               
would not  allow optometrists to  perform outside of  their scope                                                               
of practice,  for example as  in performing surgeries.   It would                                                               
allow  the board  to  utilize the  regulatory  process to  manage                                                               
itself, just as doctors, chiropractors,  nurses, and dentists are                                                               
regulated.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ pointed  out that  current statute,  AS                                                               
08.72.273,  does  not  allow  optometrists  to  provide  invasive                                                               
surgeries.   She  further noted  that licensees  must submit  the                                                               
necessary   credentials,   including   the   proper   experience,                                                               
education,  and  training,  to perform  procedures  that  require                                                               
approval from the board.   Lastly, she pointed out that Assistant                                                               
Attorney  General  Harriet  Milks  had testified  that  a  robust                                                               
process for adopting new regulations  already exists and includes                                                               
board  meetings that  are open  to  the public,  a 30-day  public                                                               
comment period, a  Department of Law review period,  and a review                                                               
from the governor's office.  She  said that this final point gets                                                               
at  Representative Josephson's  question  about  "where the  buck                                                               
stops";  it  stops with  the  governor  when  it relates  to  the                                                               
adoption of any new regulations.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SPOHNHOLZ   acknowledged   that   it   was   the                                                               
legislature that developed  the statute in question.   She stated                                                               
that it was  her hope that this bill will  remove the legislature                                                               
from the business of managing  optometrists, so they can focus on                                                               
other issues  they need to  resolve, rather than the  "eye wars."                                                               
She said that the intent of HB  103 is to delegate the "eye wars"                                                               
to  the Board  of  Optometry, which  is where  it  belongs.   She                                                               
pointed  out further  that  the  legislature is  not  a group  of                                                               
medical professionals, and yet they  have been discussing medical                                                               
procedures.   Such  discussions should  be held  at the  Board of                                                               
Optometry, just  as dental and chiropractic  issues are discussed                                                               
at their respective boards.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:39:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  if there  was perhaps  an analogy  to                                                               
this issue in the world of  dentists and oral surgeons; such that                                                               
there might be one board for dentists and one for oral surgeons.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:41:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BERNICE  NESBITT,  Staff,  Representative Ivy  Spohnholz,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  on behalf of Representative  Spohnholz, prime                                                               
sponsor of HB 103, said  that she thought Representative Wool was                                                               
correct:  because  oral surgeons are medical  doctors, they would                                                               
be regulated by a medical  board, whereas dentists, she believed,                                                               
would be regulated by a board of dentistry.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL said  that if  that  is the  case, then  the                                                               
situation   with  optometrists   and  ophthalmologists   is  very                                                               
similar.  He  said that he would assume that  a dentist would not                                                               
have to  come and  ask the  legislature if  say he/she  wanted to                                                               
pull a tooth.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:42:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  said that Representative  Wool provided                                                               
a  good analogy;  if dentists  wanted to  introduce a  regulation                                                               
that would expand their scope, then  the process would occur at a                                                               
board of  dentistry.  She  also said  that in that  process, oral                                                               
surgeons,  like  any  member  of   the  public,  would  have  the                                                               
opportunity to  provide testimony and feedback.   Similarly, oral                                                               
surgeons could  attend any  board of  dentistry meetings  to stay                                                               
apprised of new developments.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:43:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KITO  stated   that  they  would  now   return  to  public                                                               
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:43:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL REINHARDT,  MD, stated that  she was testifying  on behalf                                                               
of The  American Academy of  Ophthalmologists and  its world-wide                                                               
membership of 32,000 eye physicians  and surgeons.  She said that                                                               
she was a board-certified  ophthalmologist from Washington state.                                                               
She stated, "We  are asking for your opposition to  HB 103."  She                                                               
stated that  the bill was "without  a shred of doubt"  a "surgery                                                               
bill" that  would make  two very  concerning changes  to existing                                                               
law:   removing from existing  law the surgery  restrictions that                                                               
currently  exist; and  inserting  a new  definition  of the  word                                                               
optometry in  Section 6 that  includes the words  "treatment" and                                                               
"procedures".   She  said the  addition of  the word  "treatment"                                                               
would  leave   "absolutely  no  limitations"   on  the   type  of                                                               
treatment; therefore, any  surgeries on the eye  would be allowed                                                               
under this new  law if the Board of Optometry  deemed them within                                                               
its scope.  She said the  new definition would allow the Board of                                                               
Optometry to  redefine itself  into a surgical  field.   She also                                                               
said that  if proponents of the  bill continue to insist  that it                                                               
is not  a surgery bill,  then she  thinks the bill  either cannot                                                               
pass  or  "it  needs  to  be put  in  writing,"  because  without                                                               
specific language Alaska would be  the first state in the country                                                               
to adopt such broad unprecedented legislation.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. REINHARDT  said that  a number  of years  ago a  similar bill                                                               
proposed in Washington  state added a definition  of surgery that                                                               
cleared  up the  issue, specifically  prohibiting an  optometrist                                                               
from performing  surgery.  She  stated that there are  only three                                                               
states in the  United States that have allowed  bills similar [to                                                               
HB  103] to  pass.   In  Oklahoma,  language in  a  bill did  not                                                               
specifically allow  surgery, including laser surgery,  but it was                                                               
never specifically restricted.   As such, the  Board of Optometry                                                               
in Oklahoma interpreted the law  to redefine its scope to include                                                               
surgery.   A study  now shows that  optometrists in  Oklahoma are                                                               
causing people harm and increasing healthcare costs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DR.   REINHARDT   stated   that    [the   American   Academy   of                                                               
Ophthalmologists] respectfully  but strongly disagrees  that [the                                                               
board addressed  under HB 103]  is similar to  other professional                                                               
boards,  such   as  those  for   nursing,  dentistry,   and  even                                                               
engineers.   She said  that unlike  nursing, dentistry,  and even                                                               
pharmacy, optometry education is  not medical education, and it's                                                               
not surgical  education, yet this  bill would allow the  Board of                                                               
Optometry, which  is made up  of nonmedical  nonsurgical doctors,                                                               
to  regulate a  profession  that is  nonmedical and  nonsurgical.                                                               
She said, "This  says everything."  The  statutes and regulations                                                               
for  the  boards  of  pharmacy,   nursing,  dentistry,  and  even                                                               
engineering  comprise 45-65  pages  of Alaska  Statutes, yet  the                                                               
optometry statutes and regulations comprise 12 pages.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR.  REINHARDT  said  two  days ago,  an  optometrist  was  heard                                                               
stating that insurance companies understand  risk.  She said that                                                               
while she agrees with that  100 percent, committee members should                                                               
bear  in  mind  that  the  Ophthalmic  Mutual  Insurance  Company                                                               
(OMIC),  the largest  insurance company  for ophthalmologists  in                                                               
the country,  has essentially come  out with a policy  stating it                                                               
will  refuse   to  insure  any  ophthalmologist   that  hires  an                                                               
optometrist  to perform  surgery, including  laser surgery.   She                                                               
said that  this is the  third consecutive year this  surgery bill                                                               
has  been heard,  the  first  time being  under  Senate Bill  55,                                                               
during the  Twenty-Ninth Alaska State  Legislature.   During that                                                               
time, she noted, the legislature  heard the concerns of scores of                                                               
MDs,  who  were  not  all ophthalmologists.    She  implored  the                                                               
committee to listen to the experts  in eye care and "not to leave                                                               
the safety of your constituents up  to a public comment period or                                                               
the assistant  attorney general after  the fact."  Those  are not                                                               
people  that  are  trained  medically.    If  MDs  are  having  a                                                               
difficult  time  voicing  their   concerns  now,  she  proffered,                                                               
imagine  how  futile  their  efforts will  be  to  protect  their                                                               
patients  after HB  103 is  passed.   She stated  there are  four                                                               
states  in the  country  that don't  even  allow optometrists  to                                                               
prescribe  oral medication,  yet here  we are  debating (indisc.)                                                               
surgery in Alaska.   She said HB 103 would  be unprecedented, and                                                               
it would  change the scope  for the  practice of optometry.   She                                                               
said  that  she  respectfully  asks the  committee  to  vote  no;                                                               
however, she stated  that if the proposed  legislation must pass,                                                               
then  at the  very  least  the definition  of  surgery should  be                                                               
added,  as it  was in  other  states like  Washington, to  ensure                                                               
public   safety.     She  said   that   the  committee   member's                                                               
constituents are counting on them.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR.   REINHARDT  concluded   by  mentioning   amendment  language                                                               
regarding  the practice  and  procedures  of optometry  complying                                                               
with acceptable standards,  and she said such  language would not                                                               
resolve the core concern regarding board authority.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:49:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  asked Dr. Reinhardt whether  she had an                                                               
opinion on  what he  described as  the apparent  conflict between                                                               
the two  following conditions:   passage of a bill  with language                                                               
stating an optometrist cannot perform  any invasive surgery other                                                               
than removal of  a foreign body; and the  elimination of existing                                                               
language that says [optometrists] can  do assorted things but not                                                               
surgery.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:50:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. REINHARDT said the concern  is that when there is conflicting                                                               
language  in  a  bill,  it  is   not  abnormal  for  laws  to  be                                                               
interpreted in  different ways.   The risk  is that  not defining                                                               
the  term "invasive  surgery"  creates  loopholes for  performing                                                               
surgeries.  She said she  takes issue with categorizing surgeries                                                               
as   "invasive"  versus   "noninvasive,"   because  "surgery   is                                                               
surgery."     She  explained   that  surgery   involves  cutting,                                                               
ablating, or  altering tissue somehow.   She also said  that it's                                                               
not  hard to  define surgery,  adding that  the American  Medical                                                               
Association has had  a definition for decades.   She concluded by                                                               
saying that  the problem  lies in not  defining the  word surgery                                                               
[in the proposed bill].                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:51:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID S.  ZUMBRO, MD, Ophthalmologist,  introduced himself  as an                                                               
eye  physician,  surgeon,  and retina  specialist  in  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska.   He said that  he is also  a partner with  Alaska Retina                                                               
Consultants and a retired colonel from  the U.S. Army, and he has                                                               
had  the opportunity  to participate  in a  training program  for                                                               
ophthalmologists  for  five years  in  San  Antonio, Texas.    He                                                               
expressed his  hope that the  committee would  consider rejecting                                                               
or  modifying HB  103.   He  said that  while the  bill may  seem                                                               
"innocent and  safe," the vagueness  of the language  would allow                                                               
non-physicians  and non-surgeons  to  determine  the medical  and                                                               
surgical procedures they can perform on  the eye, which is a real                                                               
patient safety issue.  He proposed  the question of why he should                                                               
still be worried about procedures when  it has been said the bill                                                               
is not about surgery and  optometrists will not perform surgeries                                                               
they are  not trained to perform.   In response to  his question,                                                               
he stated  that an optometrist in  Alaska told him that  they are                                                               
planning  to help  with eye  injections.   He  said that  looking                                                               
around the country we see  multiple states which have similar and                                                               
current  legislation, some  of which  are  worded more  directly.                                                               
All of these are associated  with expanding the scope of practice                                                               
for optometry into surgery.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR.  ZUMBRO said  that the  reason  he is  worried about  patient                                                               
safety  is because  the "optometry  curriculum" does  not provide                                                               
the  training   for  optometrists   to  perform   surgery,  gives                                                               
injections,  and   operate  lasers,   let  alone   regulate  such                                                               
activity.    He  stated  that  with  any  procedure  there  is  a                                                               
difference between  knowing what to do  and how to do  it safely,                                                               
and the  hardest thing  for a  surgeon to learn  is when  to step                                                               
back and not do something.   As in any profession, where a person                                                               
is young  and eager to  serve, inexperience  sometimes interferes                                                               
with proper judgement.   He said that all one must  do is look at                                                               
the ophthalmology  curriculum to  understand the  "gold standard"                                                               
for  training eye  physicians and  surgeons.   He  asked for  the                                                               
evidence  optometry  has produced  to  show  their curriculum  is                                                               
equivalent to the gold standard.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR.  ZUMBRO stated  that  he has  no problem  with  the Board  of                                                               
Optometry regulating  the optometry profession.   Notwithstanding                                                               
that, he  stated that while  it has been  said that the  Board of                                                               
Optometry will hold  public testimony for any  procedure, that is                                                               
what is  being done  now, and  he opined that  if eye  surgery is                                                               
being  discussed,  then it  would  make  sense that  the  current                                                               
board-certified   eye   surgeons   should  participate   in   the                                                               
discussion.   Dr. Zumbro questioned  how it could be  logical for                                                               
non-physicians  and non-surgeons  to  regulate eye  surgery.   He                                                               
stated that  the antidote  to this  argument is  simple:   if the                                                               
optometrists  wish to  practice medicine  and surgery,  then they                                                               
should  be  regulated  by  the  medical  board,  as  it  is  with                                                               
podiatry.   If  this is  unpalatable,  then Alaska  needs an  eye                                                               
surgery  amendment just  like Washington,  Arizona, and  Florida.                                                               
He said  HB 103 is  not a simple  housekeeping bill, as  it would                                                               
redefine  optometry into  a surgical  profession, and  this makes                                                               
for legitimate patient safety concerns.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:54:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARL  ELI ROSEN,  MD, Ophthalmologist,  specified that  he is  an                                                               
ocular plastic  surgeon and neuro-ophthalmologist.   He said that                                                               
he  interfaces with  neurology and  neurosurgery  with regard  to                                                               
patient diagnosis  and treatment.   He said  that he  "takes care                                                               
of"  bumps and  cysts on  eyelids and  has performed  over 15,000                                                               
surgeries   on  eyelids   for  folks   with  eyelid   and  cornea                                                               
abnormalities, cancers,  reconstructions, trauma, et cetera.   He                                                               
said  he  has been  in  practice  for  23 years  with  Ophthalmic                                                               
Associates   in  Anchorage   and   has   taken  emergency   calls                                                               
voluntarily.   He said  he is  a past  president with  the Alaska                                                               
State Medical Association.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. ROSEN  indicated that he had  been confused by what  he heard                                                               
at the committee's  previous hearing on HB 103,  on Monday, March                                                               
27, 2017.   He pointed out  that at that meeting,  Dr. Dobson had                                                               
said that  the bill was  not about surgery and  that optometrists                                                               
have no  business performing surgery  and do not want  to perform                                                               
surgery.  He  said the prime sponsor  of HB 103 and  her aide had                                                               
stated  that the  proposed bill  is  not about  surgery, and  all                                                               
surgery language was removed from the  bill.  He went on to point                                                               
out that  during that  meeting, Dr.  Matheson had  testified that                                                               
she had  been doing  surgical procedures  for 30  years, removing                                                               
eyelashes and  foreign bodies from  the cornea.  He  reminded the                                                               
committee  that  Dr.  Christianson  said that  he  drains  sties.                                                               
Further,  he had  heard that  optometry removes  fish hooks  from                                                               
eyes.  He said that he also  heard that as times change, scope of                                                               
practice must be  modernized by the Board of  Optometry; should a                                                               
surgical procedure be deemed within  the scope of practice by the                                                               
board, it  won't want to come  back to the legislature.   He also                                                               
recollected  that the  attorney  general had  stated that  public                                                               
testimony would  help decide  if surgery  was appropriate  for an                                                               
optometrist.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  ROSEN asked,  "Doesn't that  bother any  of you?   Not  only                                                               
would there  be no  one with actual  surgical experience  on this                                                               
board, but  you're going to  double down  and ask the  public for                                                               
help?"   He  answered his  own  question by  emphasizing that  an                                                               
expert -  someone with actual  experience - should  be consulted,                                                               
because "the  stakes are far  too high."   He said that  while it                                                               
seems  so innocent  for  someone  to say  that  they'll remove  a                                                               
foreign body or  drain/inject a sty or a cyst,  there are serious                                                               
situations   that   might   arise  under   those   circumstances,                                                               
including:  when a foreign body  is full thickness and results in                                                               
a  leaking,  open  globe;  when  a drained  sty  results  in  lid                                                               
retraction,  and  the  patient  can't  close  the  eye;  or  when                                                               
infection and necrosis  of the eyelid results,  requiring a full-                                                               
thickness skin graft.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR.  ROSEN stated  that (indisc.)  boards and  nurse practitioner                                                               
boards  police themselves  because of  the procedures  learned in                                                               
graduate school.  He said  that optometry students do not perform                                                               
surgery,   operate  lasers,   or  administer   injections.     He                                                               
questioned  why [someone  without sufficient  training] would  be                                                               
allowed to  put a needle  into an eye with  macular degeneration,                                                               
for example.   He  warned that  if something  is said  enough, it                                                               
becomes reality;  therefore, he  is asking folks  to wake  up and                                                               
think about what is being said here [in this process].                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR. ROSEN  said an article,  dated July  2016, in the  Journal of                                                             
American  Medical Association  (JAMA) states  that health  policy                                                             
making  should be  cautious with  approving laser  privileges for                                                               
optometrists.   He said  that optometrists  do not  take hospital                                                               
emergency  calls or  (indisc. --  overlapping voices).   He  said                                                               
that  optometrists  cannot  transfer  or admit  patients  to  the                                                               
hospital as  bylaws do not allow  this.  He remarked  that people                                                               
like  to plan  for  the  unknown by  buying  fire and  earthquake                                                               
insurance, even though it is unlikely  they will ever use it.  He                                                               
then asked why  anyone would be willing to  risk patients' safety                                                               
based on  the words "trust  us."  He  emphasized the need  to set                                                               
boundaries and consequences.   He said, "Let's fix  this all with                                                               
a  definition of  surgery and  we can  all go  home."   Dr. Rosen                                                               
concluded,  "At  some  point  in  your lives  you  will  need  an                                                               
ophthalmologist.    Do  you  want to  continue  to  alienate  and                                                               
marginalize the  Alaskan ophthalmology  community?  As  it stands                                                               
it  is  difficult  enough  to  recruit  new  ophthalmologists  to                                                               
Alaska.  This bill only makes it more so."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:58:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERIC COULTER,  MD, Ophthalmologist; Medical Director,  Alaska Eye                                                               
Surgery  and Laser  Center,  stated that  the  last testimony  in                                                               
favor  of HB  103 expressed  nebulous reasons  why [optometrists]                                                               
require HB 103,  except "to modernize and be more  able to manage                                                               
themselves."   He mentioned  the testimony of  Dr. Rosen  and the                                                               
questions  of why  ophthalmologists  should get  into a  conflict                                                               
over a  nonsurgical issue.   Dr. Coulter  stated, "We  agree that                                                               
they are good  and great optometrists, but we  disagree that that                                                               
group is ready,  now or in the future, to  be great surgeons, and                                                               
despite  what they  say, this  is a  surgical bill.   ...  Unless                                                               
self-governance is dependent upon  expanded scope of practice and                                                               
surgical  privileges, this  really  doesn't have  anything to  do                                                               
with self-governance."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR.  COULTER said  there  is ample  evidence that  HB  103 is  "a                                                               
surgical-oriented  bill."    He  noted  that  the  original  bill                                                               
version would  have, under AS  08.72.050, required the  Board [of                                                               
Optometry]  to   adopt  regulations  "describing  the   scope  of                                                               
practice  for  a  licensee  to  perform  ophthalmic  surgery  and                                                               
noninvasive procedures"; however,  that language was subsequently                                                               
removed from [CSHB  103(HSS), the version that passed  out of the                                                               
previous  committee of  referral],  as a  result the  legislature                                                               
receiving  "overwhelming  concern about  optometrists  performing                                                               
surgery."   He said  this is  a moot  point, because  the current                                                               
version  would  define "optometry"  under  AS  08.72.300 as  "the                                                               
examination, evaluation, diagnosis,  treatment, or performance of                                                               
preventive   procedures  related   to  diseases,   disorders,  or                                                               
conditions  of   the  human  eyes  or   adjacent  and  associated                                                               
structures, consistent with this  chapter and regulations adopted                                                               
by  the  board".   He  said  this language  removes  restrictions                                                               
related to the  use of lasers or performing surgery.   He said he                                                               
does not  see how this change  in the definition of  optometry is                                                               
going to enhance the ability to self-regulate.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
5:02:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID KARPIK,  OD, introduced himself as  a residency-trained and                                                               
board-certified Doctor  of Optometry  testifying in  full support                                                               
of HB 103.  He said that he  and his wife are partners in a four-                                                               
doctor, two-location  practice that provides the  majority of eye                                                               
care  on the  Kenai  Peninsula.   He  said that  he  is also  the                                                               
medical  director  for  the  Vision  Source  Network  in  Alaska,                                                               
representing  18 private  optometry practice  locations scattered                                                               
throughout the  state, many of  which are  remote and rural.   He                                                               
said that some  of the opposing testimony has  indicated that all                                                               
optometrists'  training occurs  within  the statutorily  required                                                               
continuing  education but  neglects to  mention the  thousands of                                                               
hours  of  training on  the  human  body  for the  diagnosis  and                                                               
treatment of  eye disease that optometrists  receive during their                                                               
4  years  at  optometry  school,  post  graduate  residency,  and                                                               
additional  maintenance  requirements  for  board  certification,                                                               
which are well beyond the statutory requirements.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR. KARPIK said that Doctors of  Optometry have a long history of                                                               
providing quality,  conservative care  and practicing  within the                                                               
limits  of   what  they   are  highly  trained   to  do.     Non-                                                               
ophthalmologist   medical   doctors,    osteopaths,   and   nurse                                                               
practitioners are not statutorily  restricted from performing any                                                               
eye treatment or  surgery.  The average  medical student receives                                                               
about two  weeks in  an ophthalmology  rotation, yet  they safely                                                               
perform  eye treatment  within their  training and  comfort level                                                               
and  refer  the balance  often  to  optometrists in  their  small                                                               
communities, like himself.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. KARPIK said  that a U.S. News & World  Report study published                                                             
this month  ranked Alaska last in  access to health care.   Today                                                               
[the  legislature] has  an opportunity  to  change that  alarming                                                               
statistic by  creating a statute  that will be durable  and allow                                                               
incorporation  of new  technology  as it  is developed,  provided                                                               
that training  is certified.   He  said all  healthcare providers                                                               
need to practice to the extent  of their training, which he added                                                               
is  provided  at great  cost  to  tax  payers whose  tax  dollars                                                               
support optometry  schools at state universities,  hospitals, and                                                               
VA hospitals.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. KARPIK said  that he supports the proposed  bill because it's                                                               
simple and  would replace the  rigid and aging  current optometry                                                               
law  with one  that would  match the  laws for  other prescribing                                                               
professions like  dentistry and advanced practice  nursing, which                                                               
are also regulated by state boards.   He said that as regulation,                                                               
technology,  and  research  continue to  change  best  practices,                                                               
regulation by  an optometry board  appointed by the  governor and                                                               
confirmed  by the  legislature ensures  protection of  the public                                                               
with  timely updates  in practice,  and that  allows for  optimum                                                               
access to eye care for Alaskans.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:05:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ALFRED  DERAMUS,   MD,  Ophthalmologist,  stated,  "It   is  well                                                               
understood  by both  sides  that  the issue  of  surgery and  the                                                               
definition of surgery is the  lynchpin for the continued need for                                                               
us to go  back to the legislature and be  very specific about the                                                               
definition."   He said that both  sides have tried to  talk about                                                               
performing and  not performing  surgery, but  that this  does not                                                               
ring true to him.  He said  that the definition of surgery is the                                                               
incision  and  the   alteration  of  tissue.     He  opined  that                                                               
optometrists  are doing  a very  good job  in optometry,  and the                                                               
surgeons -  the ophthalmologists - are  doing a very good  job at                                                               
what  they  do.   He  emphasized  the  need  to provide  a  clear                                                               
definition of  surgery in statute,  because "... just  like water                                                               
goes through  small cracks,  we are  very concerned  that surgery                                                               
will be performed by the optometrists if there's a small crack."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:07:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL recollected that  the definition of surgery -                                                               
possibly  with   a  laser  -   that  he  had  heard   from  other                                                               
ophthalmologists  that  testified is  to  cut,  ablate, or  alter                                                               
tissue.  He asked Dr. Deramus if this is correct.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR.  DERAMUS answered  that the  definition  was "getting  close,                                                               
yes."  He  added that if laser energy is  applied to tissue, then                                                               
there would be no question that tissue would be altered.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked if that would qualify as surgery.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. DERAMUS responded  that it would qualify  as surgery, because                                                               
laser  trabeculoplasty  affects  the  tissue in  a  fashion  that                                                               
causes  contraction and  movement of  the microstructures,  which                                                               
increases outflow; therefore, that is surgery.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  if  having a  tattoo  removed with  a                                                               
laser would fall under the same definition.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. DERAMUS  said, "Yes,  I'm sorry, you  walked right  into that                                                               
one, it sure does."  He offered further details.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:09:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH MORGAN,  MD, Ophthalmologist,  introduced herself  as a                                                               
board-certified  ophthalmologist who  also  has  a fellowship  in                                                               
glaucoma.    She  said  that she  has  heard  repeated  testimony                                                               
regarding how  "self-legislation" by optometrists  could "easily"                                                               
result in  increased scope  of care for  optometrists.   She said                                                               
that  this  precedent  has  been  set in  Oklahoma.    She  cited                                                               
information from  JAMA, dated  October 2016,  which looks  at the                                                               
difference  in  outcomes  in  the  use  of  lasers  for  glaucoma                                                               
performed by  optometrists versus ophthalmologists.   She said it                                                               
was a very powerful study, as  there were 13,084 eyes included in                                                               
it.   She  said the  study discovered  there were  more than  two                                                               
times  the   number  of  repeat  laser   surgeries  performed  by                                                               
optometrists.   She said  the potential  explanation for  this is                                                               
ominous, because  it indicates that  either optometrists  are not                                                               
performing  laser surgery  correctly  or they  are repeating  the                                                               
laser surgeries as an effort  to increase reimbursement, which is                                                               
an issue with  cost containment in healthcare today.   Dr. Morgan                                                               
acknowledged that  she was  repeating a lot  of what  had already                                                               
been said,  but as  a glaucoma specialist  wanted to  bring these                                                               
details to light.  She said  she would like to work together with                                                               
optometrists and ophthalmologist but  thinks it is very important                                                               
to "come up with a definition  of surgery so that we may continue                                                               
to do that for the people of Alaska."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:11:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEFF   GONNASON,  OD,   Legislative   Chair,  Alaska   Optometric                                                               
Association, stated that he has  served under the state optometry                                                               
board under  two different governors  and has been  testifying on                                                               
this issue for over  40 years in Alaska.  He  said that every one                                                               
of  the  ophthalmologists  and medical  organizations  that  have                                                               
testified on this  issue for the past 40 years  have the same two                                                               
demeaning arguments:   optometrists are  a danger to  the public,                                                               
and  optometrists' education  is not  adequate.   He stated  that                                                               
both of these statements have been proven patently untrue.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. GONNASON, regarding the claim  that optometrists are a danger                                                               
to the public, stated that public  safety has never been an issue                                                               
in over 40 years  of expanding scope of practice.   He said he is                                                               
not aware of  a single case before the board  involving harm from                                                               
any optometrist's treatment  or drug prescription, and  this is a                                                               
wonderful record for  Alaska.  He pointed out  that Dr. Lindstrom                                                               
commented  on  the  current  statute's   4-day  supply  limit  on                                                               
narcotics, as  described in Sections  4 and 5  of HB 103,  and he                                                               
stated that this  restriction would be kept in  regulation by the                                                               
board.   He said  that "optometry" strongly  agrees with  the new                                                               
push  to  limit narcotics  by  all  providers, and  optometry  in                                                               
Alaska  has a  10-year history  of prescribing  narcotics without                                                               
issue; therefore,  this part  of the  bill is not  an issue.   He                                                               
said that optometrists  began using eyedrop drugs in  the U.S. in                                                               
1972, but it was 16 more  years before Alaska became the fiftieth                                                               
and last  legislature to  approve this practice.   He  added that                                                               
this  was a  result  of the  same arguments  of  danger and  poor                                                               
training.  He said that he would  not be able to give eyedrops to                                                               
a child in Yakutat that had  pinkeye, even though the health aide                                                               
with only a  few weeks of training  could do this.   He said that                                                               
Alaskans  suffer  and pay  more  when  educated providers  cannot                                                               
utilize their skills.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DR.  GONNASON,  regarding  inadequate education,  said  that  the                                                               
education  model is  identical to  dentistry with  8-10 years  of                                                               
university  study.    He  said that  optometrists  are  not  like                                                               
technicians; they are real doctors  receiving a bachelor's degree                                                               
followed by  a four-year doctoral  program, which  first includes                                                               
two years  of sciences,  then two  years of  clinical experience,                                                               
which is followed by the requirement  of having to pass state and                                                               
national  boards.    He  added that  many  optometrists  take  on                                                               
additional  residencies.   He said  that optometry  and dentistry                                                               
schools  are similar  to  medical schools  during  the first  two                                                               
years of  sciences, stating that  optometry and  medical students                                                               
often train together and have the  same professors.  He said that                                                               
the second two years of  clinical are different:  Because medical                                                               
students must cover  the entire range of the  body, more clinical                                                               
time is  spent on  the priorities of  heart disease,  cancer, and                                                               
stroke;   in  comparison,   optometry  students   cover  systemic                                                               
diseases, diabetes,  hypertension, and  brain tumors to  make the                                                               
appropriate referrals.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR. GONNASON  said that his  final comment pertains to  the scare                                                               
tactic regarding  surgery.  He  said optometrists do  very little                                                               
of  the work  of ophthalmologists  and that  optometrists perform                                                               
none of  the advanced specialty surgeries  of the subspecialists,                                                               
who have testified.   He said that optometrists  perform only the                                                               
minor procedures for which they are  fully competent.  He went on                                                               
to say that the reason surgery  cannot be well defined in statute                                                               
is  because,  technically,  anything  touching  human  tissue  is                                                               
surgery;  including clipping  fingernails, tattooing  of eyelids,                                                               
and piercing  metal through parts of  the body.  He  said that if                                                               
the legislature tries  to define surgery in statute,  it will end                                                               
up with the problem that exists  in other states, where they have                                                               
long lists  of everything that can  and cannot be performed.   He                                                               
stated  that having  to return  to  the legislature  is the  main                                                               
problem.     He  indicated  there   is  always   opposition  from                                                               
"organized  medicine."   For  example,  there  was opposition  to                                                               
Alaska's  advanced  practice  nurses, whom  Dr.  Gonnason  opined                                                               
provide  a  "magnificent" service  to  Alaskans.   He  asked  the                                                               
committee to  please note the  support letters  from Southcentral                                                               
Foundation,   other   native   health  organizations,   and   Dr.                                                               
Castillo's letter,  which "aren't,  you know,  on either  side of                                                               
this."   He said optometrists  in Alaska provide the  majority of                                                               
eye care at  lower cost; therefore, he would  thank the committee                                                               
for [supporting] better eyecare access for Alaskans.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:15:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO,  after ascertaining  that there was  no one  else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 103.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KITO announced that HB 103 was held over.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:16:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Labor and  Commerce Standing Committee  meeting was  adjourned at                                                               
5:16 p.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB142 Fiscal Note DOLWD-UI 3.1.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Sponsor Statement 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Letter of Opposition Agosti 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Letter of Opposition NFIB 3.7.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Letter of Support Miller 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-MWBA Analysis 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Resolution AWIB 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-Unemployment Insurance Handbook 3.8.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB142 Supporting Document-WBA charts 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 142
HB126 Fiscal Note DOA-DRM 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Fiscal Note DOLWD-WC 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Fiscal Note MVA-COM 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Memo of Changes L&C 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Sponsor Statement 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB126 Supporting Document-Letter Adjutant General Hummel 2.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 126
HB103 Supporting Documents-AS 08.72.273 Removal of foreign bodies 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 1 3.28.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 3 3.29.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 2 3.29.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Amendment 4 3.29.17.pdf HL&C 3/29/2017 3:15:00 PM
HB 103