Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

03/05/2020 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
01:10:13 PM Start
01:10:49 PM HB169
01:48:41 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
*+ HB 169 OCC. LICENSING; MIN. WAGE; LOBBYING TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                     ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                 
    HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                 
                          March 5, 2020                                                                                         
                            1:10 p.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Laddie Shaw, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Steve Thompson, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Sharon Jackson                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
HOUSE BILL NO. 169                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to occupational  licensing fees  for low-income                                                               
workers  and   military  families;   relating  to   licensing  of                                                               
individuals  with criminal  records;  relating to  apprenticeship                                                               
programs;  relating to  the minimum  wage; relating  to lobbying;                                                               
and  relating  to  municipal   occupational  licensing  fees  and                                                               
requirements."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 169                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: OCC. LICENSING; MIN. WAGE; LOBBYING                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) EASTMAN                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
05/14/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/14/19       (H)       MLV, L&C, JUD                                                                                          
03/03/20       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/03/20       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/05/20       (H)       MLV AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
NATHAN SIMPSON, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative David Eastman                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:      Presented   HB  169   on   behalf   of                                                             
Representative Eastman, prime sponsor.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID EASTMAN                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As prime  sponsor, answered questions during                                                             
the hearing on HB 169.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BETHANY MARCUM, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Policy Forum                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 169.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HALEY HOLIK, Senior Fellow                                                                                                      
Foundation for Government Accountability                                                                                        
Austin, Texas                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 169.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:10:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LADDIE  SHAW  called  the House  Special  Committee  on                                                             
Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting to order at 1:10 p.m.                                                                    
Representatives  Tuck, Rauscher,  and  Shaw were  present at  the                                                               
call to order.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
           HB 169-OCC. LICENSING; MIN. WAGE; LOBBYING                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:10:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SHAW announced that the only order of business would be                                                                
HOUSE BILL  NO. 169, "An  Act relating to  occupational licensing                                                               
fees for  low-income workers and  military families;  relating to                                                               
licensing  of  individuals  with criminal  records;  relating  to                                                               
apprenticeship programs;  relating to the minimum  wage; relating                                                               
to  lobbying; and  relating to  municipal occupational  licensing                                                               
fees and requirements."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:11:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NATHAN  SIMPSON,  Staff,  Representative  David  Eastman,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented HB 169 on  behalf of Representative                                                               
Eastman, prime sponsor.   He informed the committee  HB 169 would                                                               
waive  initial occupational  licensing fees  for members  of low-                                                               
income  families,   veterans,  military  members,   and  military                                                               
spouses.   Since  the occupational  licenses often  prevent folks                                                               
from doing the work  they are hired to do, HB  169 would make the                                                               
initial entry  into the workforce  smoother and easier,  he said.                                                               
Licenses would still  need to be renewed, he added.   The average                                                               
fee  is $400,  and about  45  occupations are  licensed with  the                                                               
state, he said.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:13:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SIMPSON  said  Section  1   of  HB  169  would  require  the                                                               
Department  of  Commerce,   Community  and  Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED) to waive initial fees  for those who met the requirement.                                                               
He  noted  another  eligible  group   would  be  former  military                                                               
members.  Section  3 would prevent denial of the  waiver based on                                                               
an arrest  that did  not result  in a  conviction and  allowed an                                                               
applicant to  appeal a denial of  a license based upon  the prior                                                               
conviction of  an applicant,  he said.   Section 4  would require                                                               
the department to  issue an occupational license  to an applicant                                                               
who has completed  at least up to eighth  grade, has successfully                                                               
completed an  apprenticeship approved  by the U.S.  Department of                                                               
Labor, and has passed the appropriate licensing examination.                                                                    
The  applicant must  be  at  least eighteen  years  old and  have                                                               
completed  all hours  necessary for  license training,  he added.                                                               
Section 5 would prevent municipalities  from disregarding HB 169,                                                               
so everyone  in the  state would  have equal  access.   Section 6                                                               
would prevent  municipalities from  enacting a minimum  wage that                                                               
differed from the state's minimum  wage calculated in statute, he                                                               
stated.  Section 7 would  prevent municipalities from enacting or                                                               
enforcing laws or regulations that  related to HB 169 unless they                                                               
were in  place prior  to the effective  date of  the legislation.                                                               
Municipalities  would also  be prohibited  from hiring  lobbyists                                                               
who  would  provide  lobbying services  for  municipal  licensing                                                               
boards or  agencies, he said.   Section 8 would add  new language                                                               
related to lobbying addressed in Section 7, he concluded.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:15:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK confirmed the purpose  of HB 169 was to offer                                                               
relief to those trying to  get into their trades and professions.                                                               
Regarding Section  6, he asked  if a municipality wanted  to have                                                               
its  own "mini  Davis-Bacon Act"  [federal law  that governs  the                                                               
minimum wage rate  to be paid to laborers  and mechanics employed                                                               
on federal public works projects]  and, thus, allow electricians,                                                               
for example, to  make $2 more per hour than  what the state would                                                               
allow, why  such a  limitation would exist  and what  its purpose                                                               
was when it came to occupational licensing.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:16:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID EASTMAN, Alaska  State Legislature, as prime                                                               
sponsor of  HB 169, answered  that the minimum wage  was enforced                                                               
by the  state, and  while it  was not  a frequent  complaint that                                                               
municipalities were  changing that language, the  intent was that                                                               
every Alaskan have the same minimum  wage so that an increase was                                                               
not at a disadvantage to some.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:17:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  said  that  did   not  seem  to  deal  with                                                               
occupational  licensing, and  the goal  should be  to get  people                                                               
into higher-paying jobs.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:17:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  said if  people were already  employed in                                                               
their  fields,  then  it  would  be fitting  to  focus  on  their                                                               
obtaining better  positions, but HB  169 focused on those  new to                                                               
the  workforce  who  were  facing   barriers  to  entry.    If  a                                                               
municipality had a  higher minimum wage, then that  would also be                                                               
considered a  barrier to entry to  someone who was trying  to get                                                               
his/her first license, he related.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:18:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said  he did not see how a  higher wage would                                                               
be a barrier for someone wishing to enter a trade.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:19:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER asked  how many people HB  169 would help                                                               
and whether it was a good solution.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:19:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SIMPSON  replied  that  Legislative  Research  Services  was                                                               
checking  how  many military  and  low-income  families would  be                                                               
affected by HB 169.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:19:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN added  that military  families often  had                                                               
lower  incomes  than their  private  sector  counterparts due  to                                                               
having  to move  repeatedly.   He  added Alaska  had higher  than                                                               
average  occupational  licensing costs,  and  HB  169 would  help                                                               
reduce them.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   RAUSCHER  asked   for  a   description  of   the                                                               
relationship between minimum wage and occupational licensing.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  replied that a  person hired on to  a new                                                               
job had to start at the  level appropriate for his/her skills and                                                               
experience.    The  lower  the person  was  on  the  occupational                                                               
ladder, so to speak, the more  a higher minimum wage would be out                                                               
of his/her reach, he explained.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:22:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   SHAW  asked   whether   there  was   a  concern   with                                                               
occupational licensing requirements that  might make a difference                                                               
in terms of waiving the fee.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:23:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  replied  that whether  the  restrictions                                                               
were appropriate was an ongoing  discussion, but HB 169 addressed                                                               
the ability of unemployed people to obtain jobs.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:24:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  asked  whether  Section  4  would  add  new                                                               
requirements on obtaining licensure and  whether there was a list                                                               
of exempted occupations available.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  replied he  would provide  it as  well as                                                               
additional information on the apprenticeship program.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked whether  Section 4  had been  added to                                                               
reduce a requirement or add  a requirement, because there was new                                                               
language regarding age and education level.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SIMPSON  replied that Section  4 referenced the  waiver; low-                                                               
income people who  qualified for the waiver would have  had to go                                                               
through  the apprenticeship  program, be  eighteen years  of age,                                                               
and have gone through eighth grade.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN added  that the  initial requirement  had                                                               
been modified for the purpose  of allowing individuals to use the                                                               
apprenticeship  program.     Age   requirements  were   meant  to                                                               
alleviate concern  that people would  be taking advantage  of the                                                               
program, he added.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK stated  that electricians  were required  to                                                               
get occupational licenses as apprentices,  so he did not know how                                                               
that step could be skipped unless occupations were exempt.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN answered that  if someone had completed an                                                               
approved  apprenticeship  program,  then the  apprenticeship  was                                                               
considered adequate  to meet  initial licensing  requirements and                                                               
an occupational license should be issued.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked whether  there would be  a grandfather                                                               
clause  for  someone  who  was  currently  in  an  apprenticeship                                                               
program but had not yet completed eighth grade.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN replied  one need  not have  completed an                                                               
apprenticeship program  to obtain  a license,  but this  was just                                                               
another way that  it could be done.   He added that for  a lot of                                                               
careers there  was no apprenticeship  program and one  could just                                                               
apply for the license.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SIMPSON clarified  HB 169  would require  the department  to                                                               
issue the  license if a person  qualified for the waiver  and had                                                               
taken the necessary steps for his/her chosen occupation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:30:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:30 p.m. to 1:31 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:31:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked  whether a  reduction  percentage                                                               
would be acceptable  for those who may qualify, in  lieu of total                                                               
relief.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:32:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  answered he  would support  anything that                                                               
helped reduce  the barriers and  made it easier for  the families                                                               
in question.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SHAW  announced that the  committee would  hear [invited                                                               
testimony].                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:32:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BETHANY   MARCUM,  Executive   Director,  Alaska   Policy  Forum,                                                               
imparted  to  the  committee  as  early as  the  1950s  very  few                                                               
companies were covered under occupational  licensing laws, but by                                                               
the year  2000 studies found 20  percent or more of  workers were                                                               
subject to these laws.  One  reason for growth was the desire for                                                               
consumer protection,  she related.   She said there was  no proof                                                               
that consumers were the driving  force behind obtaining licenses.                                                               
Instead  consumers rely  more heavily  upon ratings  and reviews.                                                               
Some  jobs necessitated  health and  safety protocols  to protect                                                               
both workers and consumers, she  said, but licensing was only one                                                               
type of  oversight the government  was able to employ  to protect                                                               
health  and  safety, and  generally  the  most onerous.    Random                                                               
inspections,  bonding, and  certifications  were  other types  of                                                               
less  burdensome  oversights, she  imparted.    Data also  showed                                                               
licensing did  not protect health  and safety in the  real world,                                                               
she  said.   Ms. Marcum  concluded that  her research  shows that                                                               
licensing and  its corresponding  cost mostly served  to restrict                                                               
employment opportunities.   Waiving initial licensing  fees was a                                                               
good first step, she said.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:36:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MARCUM related  that sometimes  when veterans  left military                                                               
service their  experience translated  into civilian  careers, but                                                               
in many  cases it did  not.  She  related her own  experience did                                                               
not translate.  She suggested  paid apprenticeships may result in                                                               
more Alaskans achieving gainful employment.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:37:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HALEY   HOLIK,   Senior   Fellow,   Foundation   for   Government                                                               
Accountability,  opined  that  military families  and  low-income                                                               
families, many  of whom have  little to no choice  in relocation,                                                               
and for whom starting  over is a way of life,  should not have to                                                               
pay the  government to work.   She  added that families  would be                                                               
able to  use the money  that would otherwise go  toward licensing                                                               
fees for groceries  or bills, and she opined  that the government                                                               
should  not profit  from individuals  working to  free themselves                                                               
from government dependency.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:40:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HOLIK  related that those  who had  completed apprenticeships                                                               
earned higher  starting wages  and experienced  higher employment                                                               
rates compared with those who  had not completed apprenticeships.                                                               
She  added  that most  people  learned  best  by "doing."    Paid                                                               
apprenticeships  allowed  individuals  to take  home  a  paycheck                                                               
while building experience, she stated.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:41:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said there may  have been a drafting error in                                                               
Section  4 regarding  fees being  waived  and the  apprenticeship                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:42:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  replied that Section 4  was separate, and                                                               
there  would be  a waiver  of initial  fees distinctly  different                                                               
from granting  occupational licenses.   He  added that  Section 4                                                               
dealt with  minimum requirements to  instruct the state  to grant                                                               
licenses.  If someone obtained  a license, then that person would                                                               
also qualify to  have the fee waived, he said.   If a millionaire                                                               
went through  the apprenticeship  program, that person  would not                                                               
qualify, he said.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked how it  would be determined someone was                                                               
a millionaire and would not be able to have his/her fee waived.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN answered the fee  waiver was to be granted                                                               
to veterans  having served  in the  military, their  spouses, and                                                               
low-income families.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked whether  Section 4  was a  new minimum                                                               
requirement and therefore not conditional on the fee waiver.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  confirmed this  and added that  Section 4                                                               
did not eliminate the apprenticeship program.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:45:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SIMPSON reiterated  that HB 169 would ensure  that if someone                                                               
had  taken  the  necessary  steps   outlined  therein,  then  the                                                               
department would be obligated to issue an occupational license.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:45:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK    asked   for   confirmation    that   the                                                               
apprenticeship in Section  4 was not conditional on  a waiver and                                                               
that no matter  what a person's income that person  would have to                                                               
follow Section 4.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:46:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN replied  that any  apprenticeship program                                                               
could take  place outside  the requirement in  Section 4,  but if                                                               
the state had the power  to grant the license without discretion,                                                               
then the requirements under HB 169 must be met.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked where  this was in  HB 169  because it                                                               
did not appear to be tied to the fee waiver.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  said it  was a  separate section  and not                                                               
tied to the  waiver, but it was  the hope someone may  be able to                                                               
take advantage of both.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK confirmed  Section  4 applied  to those  not                                                               
seeking a fee waiver.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:48:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SHAW expressed his support for HB 169.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:48:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SHAW announced that HB 169 would be held over.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:48:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and Veterans'  Affairs meeting was                                                               
adjourned at 1:49 p.m.                                                                                                          

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