Legislature(2015 - 2016)ANCH LIO AUDITORIUM

09/01/2016 01:00 PM LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL


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Audio Topic
01:05:34 PM Start
02:12:59 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Ratification of Charity Events TELECONFERENCED
- Kenai Peninsula Boys-Girls Club Annual Auction
Gala
Other Committee Business:
- FY17 LIO Budget Cuts
                ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                      
                  LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL                                                                                         
                   SEPTEMBER 01, 2016                                                                                         
                        1:05 PM                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Kevin Meyer                                                                                                             
Representative Craig Johnson                                                                                                    
Representative Harriet Drummond, alternate                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ON TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
Representative Bob Herron, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Anna MacKinnon                                                                                                          
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                    
Representative Steve Thompson, alternate                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Charlie Huggins                                                                                                         
Representative Mike Hawker                                                                                                      
Representative Sam Kito                                                                                                         
Representative Charisse Millett                                                                                                 
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
AGENDA                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
APPROVAL OF AGENDA                                                                                                              
RATIFICATION OF CHARITY EVENTS                                                                                                  
OTHER COMMITTEE BUSINESS                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SPEAKER REGISTER                                                                                                              
Pam Varni, Executive Director, Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                       
Sue Cotter, Manager, Legislative Information and                                                                                
  Teleconference, Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                    
      1:05:34 PM                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
  I. CHAIR GARY STEVENS called the Legislative Council meeting                                                                
      to  order  at  1:05  p.m.  in  the  Anchorage  Legislative                                                                
      Information Office  Auditorium. Present at the  call were                                                                 
      Senators  Stevens,  Meyer;  Representatives  Johnson  and                                                                 
      Drummond, alternate. Participating via teleconference were                                                                
      Senators    Coghill,   Hoffman,    MacKinnon,   Micciche;                                                                 
      Representatives Chenault, Herron, and Thompson, alternate.                                                                
      Absent  were  Senators Huggins,  McGuire,  alternate, and                                                                 
      Giessel,  alternate;  and  Representatives Hawker,  Kito,                                                                 
      Millett, and Neuman.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
 II. APPROVAL OF AGENDA                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                              
      REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  moved  that  Legislative Council                                                                 
      approve the agenda                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
      Agenda was approved without objection.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
III. RATIFICATION OF CHARITABLE EVENT                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
      1:08:21 PM                                                                                                              
      REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  moved  that  Legislative Council                                                                 
      ratify the Chair's sanctioning of the following charitable                                                                
      event per AS 24.60.080(a)(2)(B): Kenai Peninsula Boys-Girls                                                               
      Club Annual Auction Gala.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
      The motion passed without objection.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
 IV. OTHER COMMITTEE BUSINESS                                                                                                 
      a. FY 17 LIO Budget Cuts                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR  STEVENS said  that Legislative Council  recommended                                                                
      some  budget reductions which  were sent  to  the Finance                                                                 
      Committee  with  some wording.  What  Legislative Council                                                                 
      received back from the Finance Committee was the removal of                                                               
      that  wording and there is  a reduction  of $298,000 that                                                                 
      needs  to  be cut  from  the  Legislative Information and                                                                 
      Teleconference (LIO) component. He said there were eleven                                                                 
      options being presented to Council for their consideration.                                                               
      His  hope was  that  Council make  a decision  today that                                                                 
      specifies  exactly where  that reduction  of  $298,000 be                                                                 
      taken. He said when he was speaking with staff this morning                                                               
      that  this was a  real "dog's breakfast" of  a situation,                                                                 
      which is either an unappetizing mess or an Australian rock                                                                
      band, so Council should understand what they're facing.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
PAMELA  VARNI,  Executive  Director, Legislative  Affairs                                                                       
Agency, said that the House  Finance Committee had a zero                                                                       
cut to  the LIO budget; the  Senate Finance Committee cut                                                                       
$250,000 and the  description said "Bethel, Nome, Seward,                                                                       
and Soldotna LIOs funded for session only." She said this                                                                       
cut was for the FY 17 budget and in the FY 16 budget, there                                                                     
were reductions made to the Information Officer positions                                                                       
in Barrow  and Kotzebue (going from  full-time to session                                                                       
only); the Information Assistant positions in Fairbanks and                                                                     
Mat-Su (going from full-time to session only); as well as                                                                       
to eight Information Assistants in Juneau going from five                                                                       
months to four months; and also a reduction of some of the                                                                      
Casual Labor Pool for a total reduction of $358,700 to the                                                                      
LIO budget.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Varni noted that while the original cut for FY 17 was                                                                       
$250,000,  Conference Committee  kept  the  $250,000  but                                                                       
changed the language to say "budget savings." Historically,                                                                     
Legislative Council has taken  action and wanted to  have                                                                       
input when we look at closing an LIO or doing reductions,                                                                       
because  the LIOs  are  really  an  extension of  the  60                                                                       
Legislator offices. The LIOs have professional staff in 23                                                                      
Information Offices, and the  majority of the Information                                                                       
Officers are  at a  range  16 and  a couple  of range  18                                                                       
positions,  such  as  Regional  Information  Officers  in                                                                       
Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Kenai.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Varni said she would be presenting a number of options                                                                      
to Council and certainly other options could be considered.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS noted that while members are listening to the                                                                     
options being  presented, they should keep  track of  the                                                                       
pieces they like and don't like of each option.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND asked what is the Casual Labor Pool                                                                     
and how does it fit into the structure of the LIO.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. VARNI  said that  the Casual Labor  Pool works on  an                                                                       
hourly basis at a range 13 level. These employees may fill                                                                      
in for salaried staff and supplement existing staff to, for                                                                     
example, staff nighttime or weekend teleconferences; fill                                                                       
in for when salaried staff go on vacation, etc.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SUE COTTER, Manager of Information and Teleconference for                                                                       
Legislative Affairs Agency, added that especially in some                                                                       
of the  smaller communities, the LIOs serve as a  sort of                                                                       
one-stop shops for other governmental needs, since there is                                                                     
often no  other government presence in the  vicinity. She                                                                       
said that the LIOs often do a lot of work on behalf of the                                                                      
      Permanent Fund Division. While she realizes that the PFD is                                                               
      another branch of government, this is another service that                                                                
      is provided to  constituents who may not have access to a                                                                 
      computer, have a difficult time filling out the forms, or                                                                 
      for  whom English is their second  language. We also have                                                                 
      been  given  special dispensation by  the  Permanent Fund                                                                 
      Division to certify documents, such as passports and birth                                                                
      certificates,  so people  don't  have  to  mail in  those                                                                 
      original documents to  the PFD.  This happens in  all the                                                                 
      communities with LIOs other than Anchorage, Fairbanks and                                                                 
      Juneau. She  said it's grown a lot  over the years: Sitka                                                                 
      helped over 500 people during the filing period of January                                                                
      through March;  Kenai helped over  600; Glennallen helped                                                                 
      almost 200; etc. This is one of the ways we use the casual                                                                
      labor pool, but mostly it is in case an office staffed by                                                                 
      one  person is sick or  out of necessity can't be  in the                                                                 
      office, an hourly employee will be brought in to cover.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR STEVENS said the PFD  issue is an important one. In                                                                 
      his Kodiak  office, his legislative staff also spend time                                                                 
      doing that in addition to the LIO staff, which is truly not                                                               
      their  responsibility, but  it's a  responsibility that's                                                                 
      fallen to the LIOs and legislative offices.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
      REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND asked if information was available                                                                
      on  how many constituents are requesting PFD help  in the                                                                 
      remote LIOs, as well as how many constituents are using the                                                               
      remote LIOs to participate in committee meetings during the                                                               
      interim.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
      MS.  COTTER  said  that  the  number  of  individuals who                                                                 
      requested help could  involve anything from giving them a                                                                 
      paper application to helping them establish their presence                                                                
      online with  MyAlaska for online filing. In a  lot of the                                                                 
      smaller  communities, Alaskans don't have  access to  the                                                                 
      internet or  may not have  a computer, so  they come into                                                                 
      their local LIO. The PFD is just one example, but the LIO                                                                 
      staff also help constituents with the other two branches of                                                               
      government,  Ombudsman inquiries,  providing federal  tax                                                                 
      forms,   unemployment  questions,  federal   congressional                                                                
      contact  information, register  voters,  general election                                                                 
      information, commercial fisheries entry commission forms,                                                                 
      etc., and  other types of government forms or  information                                                                
      they may have a hard time accessing or navigating in some                                                                 
      of these communities.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
      Ms. Cotter, in  response to a follow-up question by Chair                                                                 
      Stevens, said that casual labor is used  approximately 90%                                                                
      during the  session to  fill in; during  the interim, the                                                                 
offices that  are closed  (session-only) uses the  casual                                                                       
labor pool sparingly to come in maybe once a week to check                                                                      
messages, check the offices, retrieve mail, and respond as                                                                      
appropriate to inquiries. She said that probably half the                                                                       
session-only offices don't even charge the Legislature for                                                                      
these services. She said  she gets time  sheets for 30-90                                                                       
minutes a  week from some  session-only offices for these                                                                       
services, so it's not used very much during the interim.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SPEAKER CHENAULT had two points of clarification: (1) there                                                                     
is no Soldotna LIO, it's the Kenai LIO; and (2) the amount                                                                      
to  be  deducted was  originally $250,000  but now  we're                                                                       
talking  about $298,000;  so  for  public record,  please                                                                       
explain that discrepancy and why it's at $298,000 instead                                                                       
of $250,000.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  VARNI  said that  the  difference between  what  was                                                                       
authorized in FY 16 and what was requested in FY 17 to make                                                                     
the component  whole and  what the Legislature looked  at                                                                       
approving was a difference of $298,000. The LIO component                                                                       
needed $48,000 in  order to pay for  merit increases, for                                                                       
increases in  services, etc.,  and that  request was  not                                                                       
approved in  addition to  the $250,000 budget  cut, which                                                                       
brings the total cut to $298,000.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE asked if Council could find a combination                                                                      
where the savings were more substantial than the $298,000                                                                       
or what is the Committee's view on that potential.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said his goal was to get to $298,000 and most                                                                     
of the options have some reduction in casual labor.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. VARNI outlined the following budget reduction options:                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1.  Reduce the Kenai (Soldotna), Seward, Nome, Bethel LIOs                                                                      
    from 12 month positions to six month positions and also                                                                     
    reduce the Casual Labor Pool (CLP). This option is what                                                                     
    the Senate Finance Committee had originally proposed and                                                                    
    was also a recommendation by Legislative Council when                                                                       
    the Senate was looking for reductions.                                                                                      
2.  Reduce the Kenai, Seward, and Nome LIOs from 12 month                                                                       
    positions to six month positions and  also reduce the                                                                       
    Casual Labor Pool  by  50% across all  LIOs. If  this                                                                       
    reduction happens to the CLP to this magnitude, it means                                                                    
    that some of the  salaried employees will accrue more                                                                       
    compensation time.                                                                                                          
NOTE: The reasoning for options 1 and 2 is to not try and                                                                       
    spread the reduction to all the LIOs but rather look at                                                                     
    trying to identify a few LIOs for session-only offices.                                                                     
      3.  Reduce  all year  round  LIOs with  the  exception of                                                                 
          Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau from 12 months to 11                                                                 
          months (Kenai, Seward, Nome, Bethel, Kodiak, Ketchikan,                                                               
          Sitka, MatSu) and eliminate the CLP.                                                                                  
      4.  Reduce all year round LIOs from 12 months to 11 months                                                                
          and reduce the CLP.                                                                                                   
      5.  Reduce all year round LIOs  by closing all offices on                                                                 
          Fridays (7.5 hours) and reduce the CLP by approximately                                                               
          $10,000.                                                                                                              
      6.  Reduce  all year  round  LIOs with  the  exception of                                                                 
          Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau by closing all offices                                                                
          on Fridays throughout the year and reduce the CLP.                                                                    
      7.  Reduce all year round LIOs  by closing all offices on                                                                 
          Friday afternoons (3.5 hours) throughout the year and                                                                 
          reduce the CLP.                                                                                                       
      8.  Reduce all year round LIOs  by closing all offices on                                                                 
          Friday afternoons (3.5  hours) with the  exception of                                                                 
          Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau  during session) and                                                                 
          reduce the CLP.                                                                                                       
      9.  Reduce all year round LIOs  by closing all offices on                                                                 
          Friday afternoons (3.5 hours) during  the interim and                                                                 
          reduce the CLP. All LIOs will be open full time at all                                                                
          locations during session.                                                                                             
      10. Other possible budget cutting options that Legislative                                                                
          Council could consider, including a mixture of some of                                                                
          the above options to realize the $298,000 reduction:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
              a. Eliminate the Tok LIO - there are already three                                                                
                LIOs on the road system (Glennallen, Delta                                                                      
              Junction and Tok) saves $78,900;                                                                                  
              b. Reduce Ketchikan staff from 12 months to six                                                                   
                months saves $53,000;                                                                                           
              c. Reduce the LIOs at Kenai, Seward, Nome, Bethel,                                                                
                Ketchikan, Sitka, Kodiak and MatSu from 12 months                                                               
                to nine months would save $240,900.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
      11. Legislative Council, per AS 24.20.140, may direct the                                                                 
          Executive Director to transfer $250,000 from one of the                                                               
          legislative  appropriations to  the  Information  and                                                                 
          Teleconference appropriation,  which is  Ms.  Varni's                                                                 
          preference. It would still realize the $250,000 cut. One                                                              
          of the items provided to members shows the Legislature                                                                
          lapsed in FY 16 over $8 million. It would not impact the                                                              
          service or the LIOs by doing that transfer.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
      SENATE PRESIDENT MEYER asked whether lapsed funds go toward                                                               
      capital projects, which in  this case is refurbishing the                                                                 
      Capitol Building. He went  on to say  that there is money                                                                 
still left over, even after funds go toward the repair of                                                                       
the Capitol Building.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. VARNI confirmed that the funds for the renovations of                                                                       
the Capitol  Building are already  encumbered. The amount                                                                       
that  is going  into  capitol funds  will  be for  future                                                                       
projects.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATE PRESIDENT MEYER said it is really hard for  him to                                                                       
comment  on  the   LIOs  outside  Anchorage,  Juneau  and                                                                       
Fairbanks. For instance, in Option 10, Tok is a relatively                                                                      
small area and he doesn't know what kind of activity they                                                                       
have there and if the LIO staff are doing other functions,                                                                      
such as helping with the PFD applications or other things                                                                       
that probably either (a) aren't in their duties or (b) the                                                                      
Legislator's personal staff should be helping with. Perhaps                                                                     
these are  services that  shouldn't be provided in  these                                                                       
current times. He wanted to know if members could get some                                                                      
feel for the activity level at some of  the LIOs where it                                                                       
was suggested that they be reduced or closed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. COTTER said the LIOs spend a lot of time doing outreach                                                                     
to the community; they maintain lists of  people that are                                                                       
interested in certain bills and when those are being heard                                                                      
in committees - they reach out to let them know about any                                                                       
changes in  schedule or committee changes; let  them know                                                                       
that the LIO is available if they want to come and testify.                                                                     
She said, most importantly, unless you are a Legislator or                                                                      
a legislative employee, the  process is kind of  Greek to                                                                       
most people,  so it's  really important that  somebody be                                                                       
present to inform, explain the process and how constituents                                                                     
can become involved.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE PRESIDENT MEYER  said that  partially answered his                                                                       
question. For example, does the LIO in Tok have enough of                                                                       
the general public coming in to warrant keeping it open?                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. COTTER responded that she believed so. Over her tenure,                                                                     
there have been sessions where LIO  employees have done a                                                                       
sort of "tick list" for which services the public requests                                                                      
but that hasn't been done for the last six years. She asked                                                                     
members to remember that  just like what their  own staff                                                                       
deals with, one person's issue could take five minutes and                                                                      
another  person's an  hour  of  time, depending  on  many                                                                       
factors. Even if somebody only had five people come in one                                                                      
day, each person might have had issues that  take quite a                                                                       
bit of staff time. She said she would be happy to implement                                                                     
the  "tick list" duty  again if  that was  the desire  of                                                                       
Council.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
      SENATE PRESIDENT MEYER said that Ms. Cotter's response begs                                                               
      the question that perhaps a Legislator's own personal staff                                                               
      should be dealing with some of these issues.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
      MS.  COTTER  responded that  occasionally there are  some                                                                 
      constituents that want to talk to a non-partisan staff.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
      SENATE  PRESIDENT   MEYER  said  that   he  thought  that                                                                 
      Legislators  were elected  to represent  all  constituents                                                                
      regardless of party but wouldn't pursue the issue.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
      SENATOR MACKINNON said she believed Legislators' staff was                                                                
      non-partisan.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR STEVENS said that a Legislator's staff is partisan.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
      SENATOR MACKINNON said that was the public's perception she                                                               
      guessed. She went on to say that the budget isn't changing                                                                
      that much and we still have a $4 billion hole, so, for her,                                                               
      Option 11 was off the table. We shouldn't be robbing from                                                                 
      Peter to pay Paul, per se. We have to implement a cut. Not                                                                
      looking at choosing LIOs, she was interested in the option                                                                
      of closing all LIOs during the interim only. Chair Stevens                                                                
      said the  closest option to that suggestion was Option 9,                                                                 
      closing  Friday half-days and  reducing the  Casual Labor                                                                 
      Pool.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR STEVENS went on to say that where we started was with                                                               
      the  recommendation to close specific LIOs. He  said that                                                                 
      made  him  very  uncomfortable because  Council would  be                                                                 
      picking and choosing winners and losers, there could be a                                                                 
      political reason for  choosing one and not  the other. It                                                                 
      seemed to him at  that time that it would be best that we                                                                 
      all felt the pain, so that's why he supports all LIOs being                                                               
      reduced to some extent. We haven't done the work it takes                                                                 
      to know exactly how productive each and every LIO is, so to                                                               
      choose Tok, to choose Bethel, to choose specific LIOs for                                                                 
      reduction or closure is hard to  do. We have to look very                                                                 
      closely in the future about how productive each and every                                                                 
      LIO is for possible additional reductions.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
      Chair Stevens said we haven't really discussed why we have                                                                
      these  LIOs. He asked  members to keep  in mind  that the                                                                 
      purpose of the LIOs is  to be open to the public, to make                                                                 
      sure the  public has access to their government. No other                                                                 
      state has such a system, nor does any other state have the                                                                
      distances that need coverage, so he  believed it was wise                                                                 
whoever thought of  doing the LIOs. It  brings the entire                                                                       
public into the process.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said  from the  documents that  it                                                                       
appeared  that  Information  and  Teleconferencing lapsed                                                                       
$226,000 in FY 16.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. VARNI confirmed that was the  case because Ms. Cotter                                                                       
held  back on  allowing travel,  she did  not hold  their                                                                       
administrative meeting, for instance. Also, in FY 16, the                                                                       
Information and Teleconference had some vacancies in Barrow                                                                     
and Kotzebue which  saved some dollars until replacements                                                                       
were found through recruitment. Ms. Cotter also implemented                                                                     
some cost cutting measures. The  section has never lapsed                                                                       
that much money before. We would be over-extended, and the                                                                      
Information and Teleconference is a separate appropriation                                                                      
and Legislative Council would have to move money in if we                                                                       
don't do these cuts.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  said that  he  has always  had  a                                                                       
problem with the Legislature lapsing capital money and not                                                                      
going through the  same process of every other  entity of                                                                       
having to go through the capital budget, have it put in, go                                                                     
through public testimony. He said he  sees $500,000 right                                                                       
there that  he'd like to  see come out  of this. He  said                                                                       
pigeon-holing capital money and not putting it out front is                                                                     
not  a good  thing to  do  in  terms of  open and  honest                                                                       
government.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MICCICHE  said  he  thought Senator  MacKinnon's                                                                       
comment about robbing  Peter to pay  Paul was interesting                                                                       
considering the first two LIOs slated for reduction, Kenai                                                                      
and Seward, are in his district. He said Option 5 affects                                                                       
all LIOs similarly, which spreads the pain, if there is any                                                                     
pain. He said he thought a lot of facilities were closed on                                                                     
Fridays, certainly  the Court  System has  moved in  that                                                                       
direction. He said he thinks that works, people know they                                                                       
can come in Monday through Thursday, it's easy to adjust.                                                                       
When an  LIO is closed  for six months, people  just lose                                                                       
faith in  the LIO being  a resource for them.  The Friday                                                                       
closure is effective. He said that  if we wanted to do  a                                                                       
combination that would probably be the same value, we could                                                                     
close all offices on Fridays and if some chose to be open                                                                       
during the  session, we could offer two  weeks a year  to                                                                       
choose from where they could close to  make up that time.                                                                       
The Kenai LIO  is very active  and relatively speaking we                                                                       
only have one employee, and had over 600 visits in the last                                                                     
few months, but there are times of the year when we are not                                                                     
very busy, so the local LIOs could be offered a choice of                                                                       
perhaps two weeks during the year to also close, to get the                                                                     
      full value  of Option 5, and  he thought it would deliver                                                                 
      something over $298,000 if folks felt that could work. That                                                               
      way we're  not picking winners and losers, and folks that                                                                 
      are  on Legislative Council may not  understand the local                                                                 
      importance of the LIO aren't put in the position of having                                                                
      to  assume  how  those operations  are  working in  those                                                                 
      communities.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR STEVENS noted Option 5 is all year round LIOs would                                                                 
      be  closed  on  Fridays  throughout  the  year, including                                                                 
      session. One concern  that was raised is that  there is a                                                                 
      greater need for LIOs during session that there is during                                                                 
      the  interims. He thanked Senator Micciche for suggesting                                                                 
      the idea of closing on Fridays. We looked into it, thought                                                                
      about it,  and actually spoke with the Court System which                                                                 
      has done  that and, at least talking to management in the                                                                 
      Court System, they seem to think it is working very well;                                                                 
      in  fact, the employees, even though they  have a smaller                                                                 
      income, do appreciate getting Friday afternoons off.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
      SENATOR COGHILL said he liked Option 9, but wanted to know                                                                
      what are the actual casual labor dollars left over and how                                                                
      would we spread that amount. For example, there are times                                                                 
      when  there  are family  vacations, and  ramping up  into                                                                 
      session, there is the Christmas break, so how would it be                                                                 
      spread between the LIOs.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
      MS. VARNI said it would leave a balance of $61,000.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR  STEVENS, in  response  to the  comment  by Senator                                                                 
      Coghill that it doesn't leave much for casual labor, said                                                                 
      that his staff in Kodiak, for example, are in the office on                                                               
      Fridays and other times when the LIO staff need to take a                                                                 
      break and we cover for each other. If we were to choose to                                                                
      close the  LIOs Friday afternoons, it  would be important                                                                 
      that the Legislators recognize that the LIO is not staffed                                                                
      and  personal staff  would  be there  to  fill in,  which                                                                 
      shouldn't be too much to ask.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
      MS.  VARNI, in  response to a  question by  Representative                                                                
      Drummond, confirmed there is money left in the Casual Labor                                                               
      Pool from year to year. Ms. Cotter allocates to each LIO a                                                                
      portion of the Casual Labor Pool money. Some LIOs use all                                                                 
      of their CLP funds and others do not. It varies from year                                                                 
      to year.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
      REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND further  inquired about  the fact                                                                 
      that a number of  committees meet on Fridays currently and                                                                
if Council went with closing the LIOs on Fridays for all or                                                                     
a portion of the day, that would need to change.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  yes,  it  would  be  difficult  for                                                                       
legislative  staff  to  perform  teleconference moderator                                                                       
duties. It would take a little bit of  time for people to                                                                       
get comfortable with it,  but committee meetings could be                                                                       
rescheduled for other days of the week or Friday mornings.                                                                      
Ms. Varni agreed that was true.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  COTTER said  that Option  9 closes  the LIOs  during                                                                       
interim only, not during  session, which would not affect                                                                       
their main mission. She said she didn't think it would be a                                                                     
big leap to train people that we can't have teleconferences                                                                     
on Friday  afternoons. If we had  to for some  reason, we                                                                       
could stagger the  staff. It  would mainly be  the Juneau                                                                       
staff. Also, Option 9,  after Option 11, seems to  be the                                                                       
best option.  She cautioned that  Anchorage and Fairbanks                                                                       
have a pretty big work load during the interim. Anchorage                                                                       
has 27  legislative offices in the building and Fairbanks                                                                       
also has  a number  of legislative offices. LIO staff  in                                                                       
these locations do quite a bit of interim work with all the                                                                     
Legislators and staff coming back after session.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DISCUSSION FOLLOWED  regarding  the impact  of  no  audio                                                                       
conferences  on  Friday  afternoons during  the  interim.                                                                       
Compensatory time and flexible schedules could be utilized                                                                      
if necessary.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATE PRESIDENT MEYER said that  it would be good if  we                                                                       
could start compiling data on usage of the LIOs for future                                                                      
consideration. Referring  specifically to  the  Anchorage                                                                       
office, he asked about whether there would be security on                                                                       
Friday afternoons or if the doors would be locked.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. VARNI said security would be  present in Anchorage on                                                                       
Friday afternoons. We have a contract through December and                                                                      
then we will go out to bid again. There will be a property                                                                      
manager at the new building to give out keys. We will just                                                                      
have to work through some of these issues to figure out how                                                                     
it's going to work.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS, in response  to a  follow-up question  by                                                                       
Senate President Meyer, said that at least in Kodiak, his                                                                       
staff will be there on Friday afternoons and the door will                                                                      
be open. In many smaller LIOs, it would probably work the                                                                       
same.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
      SPEAKER CHENAULT said  that, if it wasn't  already on the                                                                 
      table, he'd like to propose that the LIOs be closed all day                                                               
      on  Fridays during the  interim only. We utilize  the LIO                                                                 
      staff in  Kenai and Seward as  much as any  other LIO, he                                                                 
      assumed, but  that during  the interim, legislative staff                                                                 
      should be  in the office and  the LIO actually deals with                                                                 
      issues that the Legislator or staff should be taking care                                                                 
      of anyway. He said he looks at the LIOs as an extension of                                                                
      his  staff when his  staff is  not available to  help his                                                                 
      constituents. Taking  off  Fridays completely  during the                                                                 
      interim should be okay and the legislative staff should be                                                                
      available to help their  constituents with whatever issues                                                                
      they have.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
   DISCUSSION FOLLOWED regarding the Speaker's proposal.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
      REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND said she was concerned about a 20%                                                                
      cut to  the professional staff, as well as about training                                                                 
      and retention of Casual Labor Pool staff. If we're going to                                                               
      be closing LIOs, we need to consider who would be coming in                                                               
      on  an as-needed basis. She  reiterated her concern about                                                                 
      cutting  professional staff 20%  and expecting  to retain                                                                 
      them.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
      SENATOR MACKINNON noted that while it wouldn't be a 20% cut                                                               
      because professional staff would be working full time for                                                                 
      the three months of session, it would definitely be a pay                                                                 
      cut for those public servants who have been serving their                                                                 
      constituents and the public.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR STEVENS noted for members that although session is 90                                                               
      days, for  the LIO staff, session will be considered four                                                                 
      months full time so that there is overlap and eight months                                                                
      for interim. Should there be a special session, the funding                                                               
      for the LIO staff will come from another appropriation. Ms.                                                               
      Varni confirmed that was so.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
      DISCUSSION FOLLOWED related to duties currently performed                                                                 
      by   security,  such  as   security  screening  visitors,                                                                 
      historical issues where other Legislators did not like to                                                                 
      have their constituents screened. Further discussion about                                                                
      whether screening would happen all the  time or only when                                                                 
      the LIO was closed.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
      CHAIR STEVENS said that it seemed to him that Option 9 was                                                                
      the  option most folks were leaning toward.  He asked Ms.                                                                 
      Varni if she had any concerns with Option 9.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. VARNI said that  with Option 9, employees would still                                                                       
receive health insurance, which was important. She said if                                                                      
Information and Teleconference was  forced to  make these                                                                       
cuts, this is  probably the best option, but it  was very                                                                       
difficult.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said we are  faced with  having to make  a                                                                       
substantial cut and asked for a motion.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:05:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON moved  that  Legislative  Council                                                                       
reduce all  year round  LIO's by  closing all offices  on                                                                       
Friday afternoons half day (3.5 hours) during the interim                                                                       
and reduce  the casual  labor pool. [This  corresponds to                                                                       
Number 9 on the option sheet].                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SPEAKER  CHENAULT said  he'd  like  to offer  a  friendly                                                                       
amendment to close the offices all day on Friday during the                                                                     
interim and are open full time during session.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DISCUSSION FOLLOWED about the fact that closing full days                                                                       
on Fridays would reduce the amount needed to  be cut from                                                                       
the Casual Labor Pool. It was confirmed that LIO employees                                                                      
would still  have health insurance coverage  because they                                                                       
would not fall below 80% time. Further discussion centered                                                                      
around the fact that these cuts are coming two months into                                                                      
the  fiscal year and  there is  a  bottom line number  of                                                                       
$298,000. Concern was expressed that we  would be cutting                                                                       
more than is necessary to achieve the goal by going to full                                                                     
day closures on Fridays.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SPEAKER CHENAULT removed his amendment.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the original motion.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
YEAS:  Stevens,   Meyer,  Coghill,   Hoffman,  MacKinnon,                                                                       
       Micciche, Johnson, Thompson, Drummond                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NAYS: Chenault                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
The amendment passed 9-1.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being no  further  business before  the committee,                                                                       
Legislative Council adjourned at 2:13 p.m.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:12:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                

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