Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

02/27/2019 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
03:16:50 PM Start
03:17:47 PM Overview(s): Department of Labor by Commissioner Tamika L. Ledbetter
04:15:14 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
+ Overview: Dept. of Labor by Commissioner TELECONFERENCED
Tamika L. Ledbetter
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                       February 27, 2019                                                                                        
                           3:16 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Adam Wool, Co-Chair                                                                                              
Representative Zack Fields                                                                                                      
Representative Sara Hannan                                                                                                      
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Josh Revak                                                                                                       
Representative David Talerico                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
OVERVIEW(S): DEPARTMENT OF LABOR BY COMMISSIONER TAMIKA L.                                                                      
LEDBETTER                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAMIKA L. LEDBETTER, PhD, Commissioner-Designee                                                                                 
Department of Labor and Workforce Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented an overview of the Alaska                                                                      
Department of Labor and Workforce Development.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PATSY WESTCOTT, Director                                                                                                        
Division of Employment and Training Services                                                                                    
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the overview of                                                                
the DOLWD.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
PALOMA HARBOUR, Director                                                                                                        
Division of Administrative Services                                                                                             
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions  during the  overview of                                                             
the DOLWD.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
GREY MITCHELL, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Workers' Compensation                                                                                               
Department of Labor and Workforce Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions  during the  overview of                                                             
the DOLWD.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
NELSON SAN JUAN, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                            
Department of Labor and Workforce Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions  during the  overview of                                                             
the DOLWD.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:16:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR ADAM WOOL  called the House Labor  and Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 3:16 p.m.  Present  at the call to                                                               
order  were   Representatives  Hannan,  Fields,   Revak,  Stutes,                                                               
LeDoux,  and  Wool.    Representative  Talerico  arrived  as  the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
^OVERVIEW(S):  DEPARTMENT  OF  LABOR BY  COMMISSIONER  TAMIKA  L.                                                               
LEDBETTER                                                                                                                       
   OVERVIEW(S): DEPARTMENT OF LABOR BY COMMISSIONER TAMIKA L.                                                               
                           LEDBETTER                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:17:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL announced that the  only order of business would be                                                               
an  overview of  the  Alaska Department  of  Labor and  Workforce                                                               
Development by Commissioner-Designee Dr. Tamika Ledbetter.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:18:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TAMIKA  L. LEDBETTER,  PhD, Commissioner-Designee,  Department of                                                               
Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD),  gave a brief overview of                                                               
her background,  education, and military  service.  She  said she                                                               
came  to  Alaska  with  the  Air Force  in  2003  and  served  at                                                               
Elmendorf Air Force  Base.  She said she has  two sons serving in                                                               
the United States  Marine Corps.  She also  discussed her teenage                                                               
daughter's  career  aspirations.   She  said  she presented  this                                                               
information to  offer insight  into why  she is  passionate about                                                               
workforce   development,   specifically  career   and   technical                                                               
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:20:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER said  she  started working  with DLWD  in                                                               
2007.  She said she was  hired as a career development specialist                                                               
with  the Division  of  Employment and  Training  Services.   Two                                                               
years  later, she  said, she  became  manager of  the Mat-Su  Job                                                               
Center [part of the Alaska Job  Center Network] in Wasilla, a job                                                               
she held  for eight  years.   She said she  was then  promoted to                                                               
regional manager  of the Anchorage/Mat-Su  Economic Region.   She                                                               
added that  her responsibilities included oversight  over all job                                                               
centers  in  the region  as  well  as all  workforce  development                                                               
programs and services provided.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:21:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER began  her PowerPoint  presentation [hard                                                               
copy included in  the committee packet].  She  stated that DLWDs                                                                
mission is "to  provide safe and legal working  conditions and to                                                               
advance opportunities for employment of  Alaskans."  She said she                                                               
wanted   the   department   "to   connect   Alaskans   with   job                                                               
opportunities  in  this  economy  and also  to  be  strategic  in                                                               
identifying   workforce  development   needs  of   each  region."                                                               
Commissioner Ledbetter  said she  wants the department  to "build                                                               
up" regional  workforces so that  individuals will not  be forced                                                               
to leave  their region to  find work.   "Part of  our challenge,"                                                               
she   said,  is   to  inform   young   Alaskans  about   in-state                                                               
opportunities, especially  opportunities in the regions  in which                                                               
they reside.  She  said it will be vital to  work with the public                                                               
and private sector, as well  as educational partners, in order to                                                               
direct the  department's limited  resources toward  training that                                                               
"actually leads  to employment."   She said  she believes  in her                                                               
ability to champion  the governor's message that  "Alaska is open                                                               
for  business."   She  said  she expects  the  leadership of  the                                                               
department to embody that message.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER  said she  interprets "Alaska is  open for                                                               
business" to mean  that the department will  direct everything it                                                               
does  "to  ensure all  workers  and  employers are  being  served                                                               
appropriately and  effectively."   She said the  department's key                                                               
priorities include  developing  an Alaskan workforce  for Alaskan                                                               
jobs.    She stressed the  importance of "[growing] our  own" and                                                               
ensuring Alaskan  workers get  first  priority of  jobs available                                                               
and created  in Alaska."   She  said another  key priority  is to                                                               
monitor and coordinate career and  technical education.  She said                                                               
any career  and technical  education plan  that does  not include                                                               
DLWD is "a failed plan."  She  said it is another key priority to                                                               
protect Alaskan workers through  consultation and enforcement, as                                                               
well as income replacement for  injured, disabled, and unemployed                                                               
workers.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:24:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER  addressed  slide 3,  titled  "Department                                                               
Organizational Chart."  She pointed  out the tripartite structure                                                               
of  the  department below  the  commissioner's  office with  each                                                               
section  focused  on  one of  the  department's  key  priorities:                                                               
Protect Workers, Workforce Development, and Income Replacement.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER  addressed slide  4, titled  "Research and                                                               
Analysis."   She extolled the department's  Research and Analysis                                                               
section and  the way it  presents data nonpolitically.   She said                                                               
this data informs workforce development and is very useful.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:26:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER  introduced the Alaska  Relations Agency's                                                               
core  goal  "to  promote  harmonious  and  cooperative  relations                                                               
between  government and  its  employees."   She  said the  agency                                                               
resolves disputes between organized labor and public employers.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   LEDBETTER  addressed   slide  5,   titled  "Alaska                                                               
Workforce Investment Board."  She  said she is very excited about                                                               
the  board,  which  "provides  policy   oversight  of  state  and                                                               
federally   funded   job   training  and   vocational   education                                                               
programs."   She added that  the board provides an  annual report                                                               
to the  legislature on  the performance  of the  state's training                                                               
programs.  She said this allows  the department to learn from the                                                               
past  and   coordinate  efforts  moving  forward   to  develop  a                                                               
workforce   plan  that   works  for   both  private   and  public                                                               
industries.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:28:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX  asked   how   many   people  each   year                                                               
participate  in job  training  and  vocational education  through                                                               
DLWD.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:28:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATSY  WESTCOTT, Director,  Division of  Employment and  Training                                                               
Services,  Department of  Labor and  Workforce Development,  said                                                               
the department  has those  numbers and  she can  get them  to the                                                               
committee at a later time.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER added  that her case load  was "very high"                                                               
when she worked as a career development specialist.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:30:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   LEDBETTER  addressed   slide  6,   titled  "Alaska                                                               
Vocational Technical  Center (AVTEC)."  She  explained that AVTEC                                                               
provides  "market-driven  vocational  and technical  training  to                                                               
prepare Alaska  residents for  jobs."  She  said that,  in fiscal                                                               
year 2018,  AVTEC had 197  long-term program enrollees  and 1,069                                                               
short-term program enrollees.   She pointed out that  AVTEC has a                                                               
maritime  training  center that  is  currently  working with  the                                                               
University  of   Alaska  on  "a   domestic  center   of  maritime                                                               
excellence delegation."  She  listed other training opportunities                                                               
offered by  AVTEC.   She said,  as of  fiscal year  2018, AVTEC's                                                               
completion rate was 92 percent.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:31:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES asked  what  the difference  is between  a                                                               
long-term and short-term program.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
PALOMA  HARBOUR, Director,  Division of  Administrative Services,                                                               
Department of  Labor and Workforce  Development, defined  a long-                                                               
term  program as  lasting  longer than  six weeks.    She said  a                                                               
majority of AVTEC's programs are nine months in length.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:31:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL asked  about how AVTEC keeps in  touch with program                                                               
graduates to verify  their employment status.  He  asked what the                                                               
long-term employment rate is for graduates.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER answered  that she would have  to get back                                                               
to the committee with accurate numbers.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:32:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER addressed slide  8, titled "Employment and                                                               
Training Services."   She introduced the mission  of the Division                                                               
of Employment and  Training Services and spoke to  its efforts to                                                               
develop  workforces  for  in-demand industries  and  occupations.                                                               
She   said  the   division  promotes   activities  and   develops                                                               
partnerships   that   strengthen   training,   recruitment,   and                                                               
retention  of  workers in  rural  Alaska.   It  serves  "priority                                                               
populations" such as young people,  veterans, Alaska Natives, and                                                               
transitioning  servicemembers.   She said  the division  partners                                                               
with  private  and  public   organizations  to  provide  outreach                                                               
services to  youth, address barriers  to employment,  assist with                                                               
high  school   completion,  and  provide  career   awareness  and                                                               
mentorship.    She  added that  the  division  promotes  economic                                                               
stability to  unemployed Alaskans through  unemployment insurance                                                               
that  allows them  to  purchase  food and  fuel  while they  seek                                                               
employment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:33:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  recalled  that  Alaska  has  one  of  the                                                               
nation's lowest levels of unemployment  insurance in terms of the                                                               
amount of  money that  unemployed workers receive.   He  asked if                                                               
Commissioner Ledbetter knew where  Alaska ranks compared to other                                                               
states.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER  said she did  not know offhand  but would                                                               
follow up later with the committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:34:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   LEDBETTER  addressed   slide   9,  titled   "Labor                                                               
Standards and Safety."  She  explained that the Division of Labor                                                               
Standards   and  Safety   provides  enforcement,   training,  and                                                               
monitoring  of laws  governing  occupational  safety and  health,                                                               
wages  and  hours, child  labor,  and  electrical and  mechanical                                                               
codes.    She  said  the  division  supports  the  Alaska  Safety                                                               
Advisory Council, which is responsible  for the governor's annual                                                               
safety  conference.     She  said   the  division  has   taken  a                                                               
consultative  approach to  employer outreach  in order  to ensure                                                               
employees do not "fall into safety issues."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:35:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  asked for confirmation that  the number of                                                               
division  staff  dedicated  to monitoring  wages  and  hours  has                                                               
remained the  same since  the early  1990s.   He noted  that this                                                               
would  represent a  "huge decline"  in  the number  of staff  per                                                               
capita as the state's population has risen in that time.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER said she did  not know the answer but that                                                               
the department would research it.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   WOOL   reminded   members  of   the   committee   that                                                               
Commissioner  Ledbetter   would  return   to  speak   before  the                                                               
committee in a week.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:36:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER addressed  slide  10, titled  "Vocational                                                               
Rehabilitation."     She   said   the   Division  of   Vocational                                                               
Rehabilitation  (DVR)  assists   Alaskans  with  disabilities  to                                                               
secure and maintain  employment.  She said  the division provides                                                               
economic stability  to Alaskans with disabilities  through Social                                                               
Security  disability determinations.   She  pointed out  that, in                                                               
2018, the  average wage of  individuals "exiting" DVR  was $15.25                                                               
per hour,  which is $5.41  per hour  more than the  Alaska hourly                                                               
minimum  wage.    She  added  that  the  nature  of  individuals'                                                               
disabilities  is  more  complex  today than  it  was  years  ago,                                                               
meaning  DVR  has  had  to  adopt  a  more  complex  approach  to                                                               
assisting   these  individuals.      She   said,  despite   these                                                               
challenges, there  are "several  success stories"  of individuals                                                               
persevering despite disabilities.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:37:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX,  referencing  slide 10,  addressed  DVR's                                                               
goal   of  providing   "economic  stability   to  Alaskans   with                                                               
disabilities through Social  Security disability determinations."                                                               
She  asked  whether the  federal  government  would provide  this                                                               
service if the State of Alaska did not.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:38:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HARBOUR answered  "yes" and  described  the process  through                                                               
which the  Social Security Administration  would assign  the task                                                               
to  out-of-state  adjudicators.    She  said  that  a  disability                                                               
adjudicator  in another  state "wouldn't  know the  issues facing                                                               
those people  ... because  Alaska is so  unique."   She explained                                                               
that Alaskans who  require support would be better  served by in-                                                               
state adjudicators.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:39:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER  addressed  slide  11,  titled  "Workers'                                                               
Compensation."   She said the  Division of  Workers  Compensation                                                               
helps  Alaskans with  employment-related  injuries and  illnesses                                                               
return  to work.   She  said  there are  several commissions  and                                                               
funds that  make up the  division.  She highlighted  the Workers'                                                               
Compensation  Appeals  Commission,  which   she  said  closed  84                                                               
percent   of  its   cases  within   twelve  months,   however  "a                                                               
significant  percentage" of  the commissions   decisions are  now                                                               
"pending  before  the Supreme  Court."    She asserted  that  the                                                               
division    Medical  Services  Review  Committee  is  focused  on                                                               
revising the medical fee schedule  to lower workers  compensation                                                               
medical costs in Alaska.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:40:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked if any  of the Division  of Worker's                                                               
Compensation's funds listed  on slide 11 have  been redirected in                                                               
the governor's  proposed fiscal year 2020  budget from designated                                                               
fund status  to "the new super-piled  fund that has swept  in, in                                                               
some  agencies."     She  mentioned   the  Fisherman's   Fund  in                                                               
particular.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:40:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HARBOUR  answered that  none  of  the Division  of  Worker's                                                               
Compensation's funds  have been  changed to  unrestricted general                                                               
funds  in the  governor's proposed  budget.   She added  that the                                                               
funds  had been  presented  in some  of  the department's  budget                                                               
presentations as "general funds added  together.   Each fund, she                                                               
clarified, is kept in individual, designated fund accounts.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:41:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS commented on  the positive trend of reduced                                                               
on-the-job  injuries.   He asked  Commissioner Ledbetter  how the                                                               
department seeks to  continue this trend as well as  how it plans                                                               
to address medical  costs in order to  make workers  compensation                                                               
more affordable  for employers without taking  away benefits from                                                               
workers.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER deferred  to Grey  Mitchell, Director  of                                                               
the Division of Workers' Compensation.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:42:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GREY  MITCHELL,  Director,  Division  of  Workers'  Compensation,                                                               
Department of Labor and Workforce  Development, said the division                                                               
is having conversations  and weighing various ideas.   He said he                                                               
has no  specific answer to  Representative Fields' question.   He                                                               
noted that  healthcare costs in  Alaska are among the  highest in                                                               
the country.   He said  his division  is also looking  forward to                                                               
working closely with the Division  of Labor Standards and Safety,                                                               
which seeks  to avoid workplace  accidents.   He said one  of the                                                               
plans  in  the works  is  to  combine  the Division  of  Workers'                                                               
Compensation  with the  Division of  Labor Standards  and Safety,                                                               
which  he said  would hopefully  "produce some  efficiencies" and                                                               
allow for "a better approach."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:44:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HANNAN   asked   Mr.  Mitchell   to   speak   to                                                               
Commissioner   Ledbetter's   comment   about   pending   workers'                                                               
compensation cases before the Supreme Court.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL  said there are  "probably a few reasons  for that."                                                               
He noted  that decisions from  the Workers'  Compensation Appeals                                                               
Commission are  appealed to the  Supreme Court at "a  fairly high                                                               
rate," nearly  50 percent.   He  said a  backlog has  amassed and                                                               
cited  the length  of  time it  takes for  issues  "to reach  the                                                               
Supreme Court level."   He said there can be  "a lag" between the                                                               
Appeals Commission's  decision and  when "enough legal  energy is                                                               
developed" to pursue  a case to the Supreme Court.   He explained                                                               
that many issues coming to the  Supreme Court now are "the result                                                               
of legislative changes that happened back in 2005."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:46:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  said  it  was her  understanding  that  a                                                               
recent  change   to  worker's   compensation  law   allowed  sole                                                               
proprietors   and   subcontractors    to   not   carry   worker's                                                               
compensation.     She  said   the   appeals  board"   is  finding                                                               
contractors responsible for  subcontractors not carrying worker's                                                               
compensation  despite the  change  to  the law.    She asked  Mr.                                                               
Mitchell to confirm this and asked what to expect in the future.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL  suggested that  Representative Hannan  was alluding                                                               
to  House  Bill   79  [passed  in  the   Thirtieth  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature],   which   established    a   new   definition   for                                                               
"independent   contractor."     He  said   many  businesses   had                                                               
previously misclassified employers  as independent contractors to                                                               
avoid workers'  compensation, unemployment insurance  taxes, "and                                                               
other  requirements that  go  along  with labor.     He said  the                                                               
intention of  the legislation was to  limit the misclassification                                                               
of workers  as independent  contractors.   He explained  that the                                                               
new definition only  went into effect in October 2018  so it will                                                               
take "a  couple years" before  the effects  can be measured.   He                                                               
said there  has been an  increased focus from insurers  to ensure                                                               
employers are correctly  classifying employees.  He  said this is                                                               
affecting  construction  contractors  due to  their  reliance  on                                                               
subcontracts.  Sometimes, he  said, subcontractor and second-tier                                                               
subcontractor  arrangements are  informal and  involve inadequate                                                               
record  keeping, which  can lead  to difficulties  with insurers.                                                               
He said contractor groups are  realizing they need to improve the                                                               
system  with   which  they  document  their   relationships  with                                                               
subcontractors.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:50:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  summarized  what he  felt  were  positive                                                               
aspects of House Bill 79.   He asked Mr. Mitchell to describe the                                                               
public  policy  and  worker   safety  implications  of  employers                                                               
misclassifying their employees.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITCHELL answered that  employee misclassification creates an                                                               
unfair competitive advantage for  businesses willing to flout the                                                               
rules.   He  added that  it  also creates  significant risks  for                                                               
workers  who  may  become  injured  through  employment.    These                                                               
workers,  he said,  do not  have  access to  the same  protective                                                               
coverage  as  correctly  classified  employees.    He  said  many                                                               
healthcare policies  do not  cover accidents  that happen  on the                                                               
job.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:54:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HARBOUR  addressed slide 12, titled  "FY2020 Governor Amended                                                               
Budget: $148,287.1."   She expounded  on DLWDs   proposed budget.                                                               
She mentioned  that around half the  budget - $75.9 million  - is                                                               
federal funds.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. HARBOUR reported  three key highlights for  the department in                                                               
the governor's  amended budget.   She said  the first  is reduced                                                               
travel  resulting in  general fund  reduction of  $146,700.   She                                                               
said  the second  was  the  cessation of  an  agreement with  the                                                               
Alaska  Mental  Health  Trust  Authority  that  had  supported  a                                                               
statewide   re-entry  coordinator   position.     She  said   the                                                               
department determined  it could  continue that work  by utilizing                                                               
federal funds and existing Job Center  staff.  She said the third                                                               
highlight was  increased funding to the  Technical and Vocational                                                               
Education Program (TVEP) and to  AVTEC, though the AVTEC increase                                                               
is  offset by  an equal  reduction in  undesignated general  fund                                                               
monies.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:55:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  expressed concern  for the  elimination of                                                               
the  statewide re-entry  coordinator position  eliminated in  the                                                               
governor's proposed budget.  He  asked that the department return                                                               
to the committee  with assurance it can  provide adequate support                                                               
for those re-entering society after incarceration.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER assured  Representative  Fields that  the                                                               
new approach  will improve  the level of  service offered  by the                                                               
department.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:57:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked for  clarification on  the increased                                                               
funding for TVEP and AVTEC.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:57:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HARBOUR explained  that the amount in the  fund changes every                                                               
year  and varies  based on  increases  or decreases  in jobs  and                                                               
wages.    She  said  the  department  utilizes  a  projection  to                                                               
determine distribution.   She said  the department  had projected                                                               
larger wage reductions in past  years than were experienced.  She                                                               
said this meant a higher fund balance to be dispersed.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN expressed  concern  for  the reduction  in                                                               
undesignated  general funds  for AVTEC.   She  said she  does not                                                               
want to create  a scenario where AVTEC funding in  two years will                                                               
not be enough to meet the needs of the state.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HARBOUR  assured Representative  Hannan  that  she has  been                                                               
conservative  in her  projections.   She expressed  confidence in                                                               
the department's approach.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:00:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER addressed  slide 13,  titled "Vision  for                                                               
the Department."   She  reiterated goals  for the  department and                                                               
re-emphasized efforts  to ensure  "Alaska is open  for business,"                                                               
to ensure  Alaskans are prepared  for jobs in  their communities,                                                               
and  to  ensure the  most  efficient  and effective  delivery  of                                                               
services.  She said the  department wants to engage with existing                                                               
industries  and  attract  new  ones  to Alaska.    She  said  the                                                               
department wants to connect young  Alaskans early to in-state job                                                               
opportunities.   She praised  DLWD as  a wonderful  department to                                                               
work for.  She praised the  department's employees.  She said her                                                               
overall  vision  for  the  department is  to  build  an  internal                                                               
workforce  that  will have  the  public's  trust and  to  deliver                                                               
services  in a  fashion that  meets the  needs of  every Alaskan.                                                               
She  restated  the  importance of  engaging  public  and  private                                                               
partners to  accomplish these goals.   She expressed hope  that a                                                               
locally-grown workforce will drive the economy.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:02:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN said Governor  Michael J. Dunleavy recently                                                               
repealed  an administrative  order  pertaining to  apprenticeship                                                               
programs.    She  asked  about  the  department's  commitment  to                                                               
training young Alaskans to work in the trades.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:03:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.   HARBOUR   said   the    department   had   found   previous                                                               
apprenticeship   reporting   requirements  too   burdensome   for                                                               
contractors,  employers, and  department  staff.   She  expressed                                                               
confidence  that the  department  could  effectively work  toward                                                               
employing apprentices without the burdensome process.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER  said the  department's goal is  to ensure                                                               
opportunities for  individuals who  want to work.   She  said she                                                               
wants  that  process  to  be  efficient  and  not  cumbersome  to                                                               
employers.   She restated  the goal  of connecting  young workers                                                               
and apprentices with well-paying jobs.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:04:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS stated  for  the record  that his  private                                                               
sector  job  is  with  [Laborers  International  Union  of  North                                                               
America  (LiUNA)].    He  offered a  historical  summary  of  the                                                               
apprenticeship requirements  repealed by  Governor Dunleavy.   He                                                               
said the repeal raises concerns  because past administrations had                                                               
shown strong support for apprenticeships.   He said Governor Bill                                                               
Walker's  administration  had  established  electronic  certified                                                               
payroll for  wage and  hour work  with contractors  to facilitate                                                               
efficient recordkeeping.  He said  he takes issue with the notion                                                               
that collection of records is extremely burdensome.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:06:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  noted that many  jobs in  the state are  filled by                                                               
out-of-state workers and  observed that this is part  of a trend.                                                               
Citing the state's high unemployment  rate, he asked Commissioner                                                               
Ledbetter  what  her short-term  goals  were  for increasing  the                                                               
number of Alaskans filling those jobs.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:08:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER described  it as   difficult  to  see the                                                               
high unemployment rate given current  job openings.  She said the                                                               
department's focus  was to increase  awareness of those  jobs for                                                               
younger workers.  She cited  the importance of parents and elders                                                               
in assisting young people in getting their first jobs.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL responded that he is  an employer and good labor is                                                               
hard to find.   He said he was hoping  for more information about                                                               
department efforts to reach high  schoolers and young adults.  He                                                               
asked if young people know to seek work through the department.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER expressed  that "we  have ...  a problem"                                                               
because of  an antiquated understanding  of how  individuals seek                                                               
employment.  She said the department  and its job centers need to                                                               
be  more proactive  in reaching  out to  job seekers  rather than                                                               
waiting for job seekers to make the first move.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:10:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES asked if the  department has reached out to                                                               
the seafood industry.  She  expressed that the industry has found                                                               
it difficult to  fill job vacancies and has even  had to bring in                                                               
workers from  outside the United  States.  She opined  that there                                                               
is an opportunity to train Alaskans to do those jobs.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDBETTER deferred  to  Deputy Commissioner  Nelson                                                               
San Juan.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:12:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NELSON  SAN JUAN,  Deputy Commissioner,  Department of  Labor and                                                               
Workforce  Development, said  he  has been  working closely  with                                                               
employers  statewide  and  had  met  that  morning  with  seafood                                                               
industry representatives  to continue the effort  to get Alaskans                                                               
trained  and  hired.   He  said  there is  a  plan  to create  an                                                               
employer's  forum to  alleviate the  shortage of  workers in  the                                                               
seafood industry.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:12:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   FIELDS  asked   if  Commissioner   Ledbetter  is                                                               
committed to  maintaining "Alaska hire requirements  for the zone                                                               
of underemployment consistent with statute."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER LEDBETTER said  she would get back  to the committee                                                               
with  a specific  answer.   She said  she is  committed to  every                                                               
Alaskan who desires  employment.  She restated  the importance of                                                               
developing a  workforce with  qualified applicants  for available                                                               
positions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   FIELDS   specified   that   the   "Alaska   hire                                                               
requirements" to which  he was referring are   90 percent Alaska-                                                               
hire  for state-funded  projects.    He  requested the  committee                                                               
receive an answer  in writing.  He shared  his understanding that                                                               
every   administration   except    one   has   "sustained   those                                                               
requirements" since they were enacted in the late 1980s.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   LEDBETTER  affirmed   that  it   is  a   statutory                                                               
requirement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:14:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  thanked Commissioner  Ledbetter and her  staff for                                                               
speaking before the committee.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:15:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Labor and  Commerce Standing Committee  meeting was  adjourned at                                                               
4:15 p.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
2019.Committees.House Labor and Commerce Overview Presentation.pdf HL&C 2/27/2019 3:15:00 PM
Commerce