Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/19/1998 08:02 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
       HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                  
                   March 19, 1998                                              
                     8:02 a.m.                                                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
                                                                               
Representative Jeannette James, Chair                                          
Representative Ivan Ivan, Vice Chairman                                        
Representative Ethan Berkowitz                                                 
Representative Joe Ryan                                                        
Representative Kim Elton                                                       
Representative Mark Hodgins                                                    
                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
                                                                               
Representative Al Vezey                                                        
                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
                                                                               
HOUSE BILL 463                                                                 
"An Act establishing the Alaska public building fund; and providing            
for an effective date."                                                        
                                                                               
     - MOVED HB 463 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                           
                                                                               
HOUSE BILL 468                                                                 
"An Act relating to damages awarded in complaints before the State             
Commission for Human Rights."                                                  
                                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                          
                                                                               
SENATE BILL 307 AM                                                             
"An Act relating to conditions for filling vacancies in the office             
of United States senator; and providing for an effective date."                
                                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                          
                                                                               
HOUSE BILL 408                                                                 
"An Act establishing the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission."            
                                                                               
     - MOVED CSHB 408(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
                                                                               
HOUSE BILL 466                                                                 
"An Act relating to violations of state election laws."                        
                                                                               
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                 
                                                                               
(* First public hearing)                                                       
                                                                               
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                
                                                                               
BILL: HB 463                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: ESTABLISH ALASKA PUBLIC BUILDING FUND                             
SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS                                                      
                                                                               
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
 3/04/98      2499     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
 3/04/98      2499     (H)  STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE                             
 3/19/98               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                        
                                                                               
BILL: HB 468                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: DAMAGE AWARDS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION                             
SPONSOR(S): RULES                                                              
                                                                               
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
 3/09/98      2565     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
 3/09/98      2565     (H)  STATE AFFAIRS                                      
 3/19/98               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                        
                                                                               
BILL: SB 307                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: U.S. SENATE VACANCIES                                             
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) HALFORD, Leman, Green, Miller, Torgerson,               
Pearce, Ward, Phillips, Taylor, Kelly; REPRESENTATIVE(S) Barnes                
                                                                               
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
 2/16/98      2525     (S)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
 2/16/98      2525     (S)  JUDICIARY                                          
 3/02/98               (S)  JUD AT  1:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211                     
 3/02/98               (S)  MINUTE(JUD)                                        
 3/03/98               (S)  RLS AT 11:35 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203                  
 3/03/98               (S)  MINUTE(RLS)                                        
 3/03/98      2716     (S)  JUD RPT      2DP 1NR                               
 3/03/98      2716     (S)  DP: TAYLOR, MILLER    NR: PARNELL                  
 3/03/98      2716     (S)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (GOV)                             
 3/04/98      2735     (S)  RULES TO CALENDAR  3/4/98                          
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  READ THE SECOND TIME                               
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN                     
                            CONSENT                                            
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  READ THE THIRD TIME  SB 307                        
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  COSPONSOR: KELLY                                   
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  PASSED Y19 N1                                      
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE                  
 3/04/98      2737     (S)  DUNCAN  NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION                  
 3/05/98      2756     (S)  RECON TAKEN UP - IN THIRD READING                  
 3/05/98      2756     (S)  RETURN TO SECOND FOR AM 1  UNAN                    
                            CONSENT                                            
 3/05/98      2756     (S)  AM NO  1     OFFERED BY DONLEY                     
 3/05/98      2756     (S)  AM NO  1     ADOPTED Y11 N9                        
 3/05/98      2757     (S)  AUTOMATICALLY IN THIRD READING                     
 3/05/98      2757     (S)  PASSED ON RECONSIDERATION Y15 N5                   
 3/05/98      2757     (S)  EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE                  
 3/05/98      2759     (S)  TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                 
 3/06/98      2533     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
 3/06/98      2533     (H)  STATE AFFAIRS                                      
 3/19/98               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                        
                                                                               
BILL: HB 408                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: SEISMIC HAZARDS SAFETY COMMISSION                                 
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) DAVIES                                          
                                                                               
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                          
 2/16/98      2329     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                  
 2/16/98      2329     (H)  STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE                             
 3/19/98               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                        
                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
                                                                               
PATRICK LOUNSBURY, Secretary                                                   
  to Representative James                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 102                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-3743                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 463.                                         
                                                                               
JACK KREINHEDER, Senior Policy Analyst                                         
Office of Management and Budget                                                
Office of the Governor                                                         
P.O. Box 110020                                                                
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0020                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained the provisions HB 463.                          
                                                                               
KEITH GERKEN, Architect                                                        
Division of General Services                                                   
Department of Administration                                                   
P.O. Box 110210                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-5683                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 463.                             
                                                                               
JAMES HORNADAY, Legislative Assistant                                          
  to Representative Pete Kott                                                  
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 204                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-6848                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 468.                                         
                                                                               
MITCHELL GRAVO, Lobbyist                                                       
Alaska Hotel Motel Association                                                 
170 Botanical Circle                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska  99515                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 244-2884                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided information on HB 468.                           
                                                                               
PAULA HALEY, Executive Director                                                
Alaska Human Rights Commission                                                 
800 A Street, Number 204                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 276-7474                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 468.                        
                                                                               
FRANK ROSE, President                                                          
Alaska Lodging Management                                                      
P.O. Box 72478                                                                 
Fairbanks, Alaska  99707                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 474-8555                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 468.                                      
                                                                               
KAREN ROGINA, Executive Director                                               
Alaska Hotel and Motel Association                                             
P.O. Box 104900                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska  99510                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 272-1229                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 468.                                      
                                                                               
BILL STOLTZE, Legislative Assistant                                            
  to Senator Rick Halford                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 121                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-4958                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of Senator Halford,                    
                    sponsor of SB 307.                                         
                                                                               
JIM BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General,                                       
Civil Division, Office of the Attorney General                                 
Department of Law                                                              
P.O. Box 110300                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-3600                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on SB 307.                             
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                       
Capitol Building, Room 422                                                     
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-4457                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 408.                                        
                                                                               
ROD COMBELLICK, Chief                                                          
Engineering Geology                                                            
Division of Geological and                                                     
  Geophysical Surveys                                                          
Department of Natural Resources                                                
794 University Avenue, Suite 200                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska  99707                                                       
Telephone:  (907) 451-5007                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 408.                           
                                                                               
NICO BUS, Manager                                                              
Administrative Services                                                        
Department of Natural Services                                                 
  and Manager                                                                  
Administrative Services                                                        
Department of Military and                                                     
  Veterans Affairs                                                             
400 Willoughby Avenue                                                          
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                          
Telephone:  (907) 465-2406                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 408.                           
                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
                                                                               
TAPE 98-38, SIDE A                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES called the House State Affairs Standing                  
Committee meeting to order at 8:02 a.m.  Members present at the                
call to order were Representatives James, Ivan, Ryan, and Elton.               
Representatives Berkowitz and Hodgins arrived at 8:07 a.m.                     
                                                                               
HB 463 - ESTABLISH ALASKA PUBLIC BUILDING FUND                                 
                                                                               
Number 0003                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced the first order of business is HB 463, "An               
Act establishing the Alaska public building fund; and providing for            
an effective date," sponsored by the House State Affairs Committee.            
                                                                               
Number 0012                                                                    
                                                                               
PATRICK LOUNSBURY, Secretary to Representative James, Alaska State             
Legislature, came before the committee.  He said HB 463 is an act              
establishing the public building fund, it's a concept that we                  
believe is consistent with the public's desire for more responsible            
accountable government.  It's the idea that agencies actually pay              
rent for the space allocated into a special account created in the             
general fund.  This money would then be used for maintenance and               
dovetails pretty nicely with the deferred maintenance priority that            
the majority has recognized.  Whereas, the deferred maintenance                
task force is an effort to catch up, the Alaska public building                
fund lets us keep up.                                                          
                                                                               
Number 0037                                                                    
                                                                               
JACK KREINHEDER, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Management and               
Budget (OMB), Office of the Governor, came before the committee.               
He asked if Keith Gerken, Department of Administration, could join             
him.                                                                           
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES thanked both of them for their assistance on deferred              
maintenance issues.                                                            
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER noted they discussed the rent concept in prior                  
testimony on the deferred maintenance task force bill.  He stated              
HB 463 is fairly straightforward, all it does is establish a fund,             
there's no direct fiscal impact, pro or con, just from establishing            
the fund but it is an important piece of improving maintenance and             
management of state facilities.  As was mentioned in committee a               
few weeks ago, the Administration is pursuing - putting a rent                 
structure in place for state facilities.  We're looking at putting             
it into place for the fiscal year 2000 budget on sort of a pilot               
basis for a few facilities.  We're still considering which                     
facilities to include, what is doable for that first year, and so              
on.                                                                            
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER indicated it is possible to do a rent-structure                 
without this public building fund, however, we would be kind of                
hamstrung without an account to put this money into because we                 
could collect rent and pass the rent onto the Department of                    
Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF), whichever department            
is maintaining the buildings but we wouldn't be able to have the               
money carry on from year-to-year.  To really deal with the long-               
term maintenance for state facilities, you need to be able to save             
some money to replace systems or do major maintenance on systems               
down the road rather than having to deal with (indisc. - noise) on             
a year-to-year basis.  If this bill did not pass, for whatever                 
reason, I think we would probably proceed with the rent but this is            
really a key piece of the project.                                             
                                                                               
Number 0109                                                                    
                                                                               
KEITH GERKEN, Architect, Division of General Services, Department              
of Administration, was next to testify.  He said this simply                   
creates a mechanism to collect rent and to use, to spend it and be             
accountable for it.  But if the committee wants to talk about how              
it would work or why that makes sense we could do that...                      
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said they'll see what questions the members will have.             
She noted Representative Hodgins and Berkowitz are present.                    
                                                                               
Number 0124                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON said he would be interested in the                    
thoughts that were behind designating the Department of                        
Administration rather than the Department of Transportation and                
Public Facilities as the manger of the fund.                                   
                                                                               
MR. GERKEN replied this debate has gone on for a long time, OMB,               
DOT/PF and Administration have been working jointly for about two              
years on a number of facilities issues.  One is where the function             
(indisc.) building responsibilities be, and the consensus has                  
generally been, amongst the three entities, that DOT/PF would like             
to be a transportation oriented agency and that the Department of              
Administration is the general services provider to other services              
within government services to other agencies and that at least the             
management of the fund, if not the provision of service, should be             
in the Department of Administration.  That's their sense at this               
time and DOT/PF is in agreement with that.                                     
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated she supports having the fund managed by the                 
Department of Administration.                                                  
                                                                               
Number 0149                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON said, "Aren't what we are doing here is              
making a mechanism so that the dedicated funds, kind of like                   
program receipts that come from the rent, will no longer go into               
the general fund with this bill?"  He asked if that was correct.               
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER responded this public building fund would be an                 
account within the general fund and money would have to be                     
appropriated from it by the legislature every year for maintenance             
purposes.                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0164                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES explained it is not a dedicated fund, it is a                      
designated fund, legislation was passed last year to specifically              
identify it - a lot of program receipts are designated for a                   
specific use.  That does not negate the possibility that the                   
legislature could take the money and do something else with it, the            
problem is that they would be politically stopped from doing that.             
She asked wouldn't this be another one of the sweeps that we would             
have to do as long as we still owe the Constitutional Budget                   
Reserve.  The issue was that as long as we owe money to the                    
Constitutional Budget Reserve, then at the end of every fiscal year            
any money that's left over in any general fund account, with                   
exception of the earnings (indisc.) of the permanent fund, get                 
swept away to pay back into the Constitutional Budget Reserve.  So             
every year when we do a budget, as long as we owe the money and                
it's probably billions or more now, that we have use out of that               
fund, then we have to have a three-quarter vote to undo the sweep              
and put them all back again.  She indicated some of those funds                
didn't have any money in it and believes we got rid of them last               
year - Representative Therriault had a bill to do that.  But this              
would be one of those funds, like the marine highway fund where the            
revenue goes in there and then they get to keep that for use, but              
we still have to appropriate it.  So it's not dedicated in the                 
extent that that's all it can be used for, it's just that that's               
all we're suppose to allocate it for.  It's a designated fund so it            
doesn't need to have a constitutional amendment.  The only way we              
can have a dedicated fund is with a constitutional amendment.                  
                                                                               
Number 0204                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON reiterated the rents, lease money, and all                
that stuff goes into this pot - designated fund, if responsible                
organization doesn't spend it all at the end of the year, then we              
have to have a three-quarter vote to keep those funds from going to            
the constitutional budget reserve.                                             
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES replied that's correct.                                            
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "I think that falls short of what you               
want to accomplish.  Building maintenance particularly, but all                
kinds of facility maintenance doesn't happen in annual cycles.  And            
indeed on an airplane - you're maybe going to do a major two-                  
thousand hours, so you can't spend the money, you have to do the               
major on the engine all at one time.  And so you have to accumulate            
the funds - smart pilots put $10 an hour or so into a fund, so that            
when they get there -- you're going to do a major foundation or                
building repair on a building, you've got to accumulate a bunch of             
funds ahead of time in some kind of rational way.  So I see that               
every year, the legislature having to do this three-quarter vote               
over a lot of detailed things for a lot of buildings.  And I see               
that as a problem."                                                            
                                                                               
Number 0233                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated it's just a little line in this whole group that            
we're doing that currently.  It's only one account, in a lot of                
them, that we're doing that currently and we will have to as we owe            
the Constitutional Budget Reserve.  It's not the only thing we'll              
have to do it for.  She said she looks at it as an accounting                  
mechanism more than anything else because by segregating the money             
and putting it in an account, it does allow for the tallying and               
reviewing it more than it would if it was accounted for an account.            
And if you just had it in an account, it would come off the bottom             
line of the general funds that are left over instead of being                  
specified what's left over for.  So it's really an accounting                  
mechanism to be able to identify those rents that are paid in this             
account and to be used for those purposes.                                     
                                                                               
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER said that was correct.                                    
                                                                               
Number 0253                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "What I hope doesn't happen - and maybe             
you can tell me madam chair how your bill address this, is that,               
toward the end of the budget cycle, you all are scurrying around               
trying to find legitimate and semi-legitimate things to spend the              
money on, (indisc.) it gets swept away.  And the money doesn't get             
used as efficiently as if it had -- we set it up so that it                    
encourages better stewardship."                                                
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER replied, "The purpose of the fund is exactly the                
opposite - to be able to keep money over from year to year.  This              
sweep is really a technicality that's, I guess I would say                     
overridden by the legislature, and as the chair mentioned, this is             
one of I think dozens of such funds - marine highway funds and so              
on.  This would be no different, there's no need to spend the money            
at the end of the year, the money is technically swept, but then               
reappropriated to the fund.  So the purpose is to keep that money              
available for future years maintenance needs.  Of course, a large              
part of it would be spent for current year maintenance needs but               
there would be no need to spend money at the end of the year."                 
                                                                               
Number 0279                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said, "If we didn't do this, if we didn't have this                
fund, and the money is just transferred to DOT/PF to do the work,              
then what your fears are - might happen.  Because if you didn't                
spend the money this year, it would be down in the total of other              
general funds, which doesn't have any identification or any kind of            
allocation.  So it would just be dumped in and so, yes, there would            
be an indication that you maybe should spend because if the year-              
end goes by it will be gone.  And it has to be appropriated so you             
can only spend up to the appropriation anyway."                                
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated "I think that the other thing that we miss in               
this whole process - because there's an appropriation process, and             
we appropriate for each budget, and the spending frenzy that we                
talk about is when there was an appropriation and you get toward               
the end of the year and you haven't spent all of your appropriation            
then you rush out and spend it because once the year goes by you've            
lost that appropriation then you'd have to get another one for it.             
In this particular case you still would have to get an                         
appropriation for what you spend but there would be no reason to               
lose that ability to spend it this year or next year because the               
money is there, the appropriation should be (indisc.)."                        
                                                                               
Number 0303                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. GERKEN said he believes, how it would work, there would be both            
operating and capital appropriations from the fund.  And capital               
appropriations, he thinks for the items that Representative Dyson              
was talking about - a new roof.  The major items would need to be              
planned, specifically appropriated by the legislature from the                 
fund, and finding a way to make that work.  Although we always like            
flexibility, he didn't think there would be the flexibility if the             
Administration simply chose to make a major capital investment out             
of the fund because there was money there.  It would need to be                
based on an appropriation.                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stressed, "We don't have any new money here, or we may             
have new money here.  But the whole process of charging rent has to            
come out of the appropriation in the general fund the agency is                
spending.  When it comes to funding the agency budget, there will              
be a line in there for rent as opposed to - if they owned the                  
building there wouldn't be.  If they were leasing the building, the            
lease would be appropriated somewhere.  If, the way we're currently            
doing it, there would not be a line for rent.  So how that fits is             
a legislative appropriation process, whether there's an addition to            
the money that's being appropriated - from what's currently or not,            
but it certainly would be reallocated.  There really isn't any new             
money because the money that you're paying the rent with is still              
money that we have to appropriate."                                            
                                                                               
Number 0329                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if he understood that they will be                  
adding another line to agency budgets, and that line would be                  
designated for rents or leases, or would that be under an existing             
line (indisc.).                                                                
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said she thinks it would be rent, but suggested they               
ask the Administration how they plan to deal with that.                        
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER noted he would let Mr. Gerken speak to the leasing              
side.                                                                          
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER referred to the agencies in the State Office                    
Building.  Currently the full cost of operating and maintaining                
that building is born by the Department of Transportation.  The                
process we would use would be similar to the data processing                   
charge-back system that was put in place a few years ago.  He                  
stated there would be a line added to the agency budgets,                      
Department of Natural Resources, Department of Revenue, and so on.             
The Department of Revenue, for example, would have a rent line in              
its budget, they wouldn't have to take that out of their existing              
programs, that money that DOT/PF is now spending on the State                  
Office Building would be allocated among the various agency budgets            
and they would have that money to pay rent.                                    
                                                                               
Number 0348                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER said, "Down the road, rental rates would be                     
adjusted.  Frankly there is a little bit of concern I think in the             
departments with this approach because, clearly if we're not                   
spending enough to maintain the buildings today - there's no silver            
bullet or magic answer here.  If we need to spend more there will              
be some pressure to increase rents.  Our answer is basically that              
this would be a gradual process over time."                                    
                                                                               
MR. KREINHEDER referred to Chair James statements on no new money.             
He indicated she was referring to something slightly different.  He            
said, "The one advantage that we are looking at with the rent, that            
improved maintenance or new money that we could use to improve                 
maintenance, without raising rents or increasing the amount, is                
that a rental rate structure would allow you to capture some                   
additional federal funds for example and non-G.F. sources.  For                
example, [the Division of ] Retirement and Benefits currently is               
paying nothing for their space, but they're providing retirement               
services for all the communities around the state and so on, and we            
feel it is appropriate that that cost for that space be paid for by            
the retirement system."                                                        
                                                                               
Number 0370                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated what she meant by no new money, was that it's a             
different way of budgeting.  The money that would be allocated to              
DOT/PF to do this would be put in other places.  Chair James                   
remarked she doesn't necessarily agree, that if we haven't been                
keeping up our buildings, and if it's assumed that that's because              
they haven't had the money.  If that's true, then we're going to               
start keeping them up.  Certainly we're going to have to have some             
money to do that.  She indicated that's the whole appropriation                
issue, that's not what we're dealing with here, so it's quite                  
likely that there will be an additional appropriation for that.                
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES mentioned some offices in comparison to others are                 
plush.  She believes, if they're paying by the square foot, they               
will not take any more space than they need.  When they argue for              
their budget they might say, "Well, we could have less space                   
(indisc.) and so therefore, we don't have to pay so much in rent,              
so we can have it for programs, and so forth."  Chair James said               
she thinks there is an incentive there by letting people know how              
much their space costs are in their calculations of their programs             
and so forth, and there will be an added benefit from that process.            
                                                                               
Number 0393                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to move HB 463 with individual              
recommendations and attached zero fiscal notes.  Hearing no                    
objections, HB 463 moved from the House State Affairs Standing                 
Committee.                                                                     
                                                                               
HB 468 - DAMAGE AWARDS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION                                 
                                                                               
Number 409                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced the next order of business is HB 468, "An Act            
relating to damages awarded in complaints before the State                     
Commission for Human Rights," sponsored by the House Rules                     
Committee.                                                                     
                                                                               
Number 0411                                                                    
                                                                               
JAMES HORNADAY, Legislative Assistant to Representative Pete Kott,             
Alaska State Legislature, came before the committee to present HB
468.  He said you should have before you HB 468, a sponsor                     
statement, a fiscal note and a letter from Paula Haley, the                    
director for the State Commission for Human Rights.  Mr. Hornaday              
read the following statement:                                                  
                                                                               
"House Bill 468 amends AS 18.80.130(1) to the effect that if the               
decision of the State Commission for Human Rights is delayed more              
than 90 days after the complaint was filed, the commission may not             
award back pay for wages that the complainant would have earned                
after the 90th day after the complaint was filed.                              
                                                                               
"The State Commission for Human Rights investigates claims of                  
discrimination by employers, including cases alleging wrongful                 
discharge due to alleged discrimination.  Some 5,000 calls are                 
received each year, with nine investigators and two supervisors                
doing investigative work.  Two hundred seventy-five cases are                  
presently on hold.                                                             
                                                                               
"We are advised that there is a major problem with delay.                      
Sometimes cases take over two years to come to a determination.  If            
the findings show probable cause, a reconciliation agreement is                
presented to the employer which includes payment of back wages for             
the entire time period the matter was under consideration.  The                
potential monetary impact can be staggering.  Further, the claim is            
still subject to review by other jurisdictions (local human rights             
commissions, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and so forth).            
                                                                               
"This legislation provides incentive to the employee to find other             
employment as well as encouragement to the commission to expedite              
the process.  We are advised that some 62 percent of cases do not              
have substantial evidence to proceed.  Quick and speedy decisions              
are in the best interest of both the employee and employer."                   
                                                                               
Number 0439                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ asked does he get to ask questions              
of somebody now.                                                               
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES replied let's hear from Mitch Gravo first.                         
                                                                               
Number 0432                                                                    
                                                                               
MITCHELL GRAVO, Lobbyist, Alaska Hotel Motel Association, came                 
before the committee to provide information on HB 468.  He noted               
the Alaska Hotel Motel Association asked to have this bill brought             
forward.  He indicated some members are on teleconference and could            
probably speak better to specific examples.                                    
                                                                               
MR. GRAVO said the bill really tries to balance the interest of                
three different parties, the commission which has to resolve these             
issues, the complainant which brings the complaint before the                  
commission, and then the defendant or the employer that has to wait            
for a decision by the commission.  Mr. Gravo stated the association            
thought a 90-day window is a reasonable time to reach or not reach             
a decision and that if a decision isn't reached within 90 days, the            
employer shouldn't be further penalized.  The employee would get               
back-wages for 90 days and it would be an inducement on the                    
commission's part to take action.  He deferred to the folks on                 
teleconference that actually have been through this process for a              
year-and-a-half or two years.                                                  
                                                                               
Number 0460                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked, in this provision, what happens if             
the defendant causes the delay.                                                
                                                                               
MR. GRAVO replied he didn't know how a defendant can cause a delay.            
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said for example you'll drag while the                
investigation is going on, attempt to continue dates.  He noted                
that there are all kinds of ways.                                              
                                                                               
MR. GRAVO said he thinks that would probably need to be addressed,             
the examples that were brought to his attention were not as a                  
result of the defendant causing the delay.  He added that he thinks            
that's a good point and would need to be addressed.                            
                                                                               
Number 0471                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ mentioned that he fundamentally has a                 
concern with this in terms of the equities for the situation.  In              
an instance where a plaintiff has a legitimate complaint, the                  
plaintiff bears the burden of the inefficiencies of the system.                
That doesn't seem like the most equitable resolution if we're                  
trying to generate an incentive so the Human Rights Commission can             
go through its case load faster, he is not sure how Mr. Gravo can              
explain to him philosophically why a deserving plaintiff bears the             
burden for the failings of the system.                                         
                                                                               
MR. GRAVO said he thinks he'll have to address that to the Human               
Rights Commission because they're not making the decision in a                 
timely manner.                                                                 
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ acknowledged that he understands that but             
the proposition sets a time limit.  He asked how the time limit is             
fair to a deserving plaintiff.                                                 
                                                                               
Number 0484                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES agreed that dragging it out isn't to the                  
benefit of the plaintiff.  She mentioned she has known people on               
both sides of this issue and has also known people who have had a              
valid claim.  Chair James indicated the trauma that they've had to             
go through for a long period, of not knowing whether they're on, is            
terrible.  So she thinks speeding up the process that certainly                
everyone wins.  She said, "The other thing is, is there's a cause              
and effect.  That having been doing my life work ... as a small                
business accounting and tax preparation, payroll, all of those                 
issues, it seems to me like that, if we could speed up the process,            
there would be less resistance from employers to have a better                 
ability to understand what's right and what's wrong."                          
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she doesn't believe that these employers             
ever do anything purposely, but sometimes they are trapped because             
they've done something they thought was okay and it turns out it               
wasn't.  If they could get those decisions quicker that would help             
them - many times they have another one pending before that one is             
settled because they don't know what they're doing, and they think             
they're doing it right but they're not.  So speeding up the process            
will have a cause and effect to having fewer people be unfairly                
discharged.                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "I agree completely I just don't                
care to (indisc. - laughter).  Madam Chairman, I'm just not sure               
this is the best mechanism."                                                   
                                                                               
Number 0506                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said he believes they are kind of getting to              
the nub of it and it seems to him that there are two ways of                   
resolving the situation on speeding things up.  And one of the ways            
is this way, which is a way that punishes a person who has made a              
complaint that may be a legitimate complaint.                                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stipulated the other way is to put the                    
resources that Human Rights Commission needs in place.  He                     
expressed that anybody who has dealt with the Human Rights                     
Commission - we're not questioning its mission, but anybody's                  
that's dealt with the Human Rights Commission knows that they don't            
have the resources to do it.  The delay isn't because of the Human             
Rights Commission dragging their feet, and in many cases he said he            
doesn't believe the delay is because somebody in industry, or that             
owns a small business, is dragging their feet.                                 
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON indicated the delay is because they have many             
more complaints then they have the staff to deal with it.  He                  
called attention to the fiscal note, he said he believes it                    
dramatically demonstrates the resources that they need.  What                  
bothers him is that we're going to try to fix the situation in                 
which somebody that makes a complaint is going to be ultimately the            
person that suffers the most, rather than put the resources in                 
place that they need to work in a timely manner.  Representative               
Elton pointed out that this isn't the only place that those                    
resources are short.  For example the Office of the Ombudsman,                 
sometimes it takes well over a year to get something through the               
system.  They're burdened with the same kinds of procedural things             
that the Human Rights Commission does.  He said you have to give               
probably 30 days for a person to respond to a request for                      
information, we don't want to put the kind of burden on a small                
business in which they're told they have to respond in five days,              
that just doesn't work.  What bothers him about this approach, is              
this is the punitive approach.  He said he would be willing to                 
guess, if this bill makes it through the system, this fiscal note              
won't be attached to it when it comes out the other end.  And this             
is what we need to solve the situation.                                        
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES added that because there are no deadlines now, she                 
doesn't believe there is an incentive to get things done.  She                 
noted she's not questioning whether the 90 days is a good number or            
not, she's suggesting there needs to be some kind of closure in                
some length of time.  Chair James said, "Given, we would pass                  
something like this, the Human Rights Commission, or whoever it is,            
whoever was asking for a budget for them, would certainly have                 
better numbers to deal with, to request that then they do                      
currently.  In fact is, there's probably no willingness to give                
them any more money now because there's nothing driving it, and we             
need to have a driver on here that would make them do that."                   
                                                                               
Number 0548                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MARK HODGINS said he believes it's imperative that              
we put a closure on this and put a time limit on it for the                    
plaintiff.  He implied you can have things that are drug-out for               
years for the plaintiff and that their life is topsy-turvy.  He                
said they need to understand that they're going to have a certain              
amount of time, and then there is going to be a resolution.                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS referred to the fiscal note.  He said,                  
"Unless the Human Rights Commission is falling further, and                    
further, and further behind, they don't need 55 people.  If they're            
right now at a year-and-a-half, is there time for closure, and                 
they're constant with that, then somehow or another they've screwed            
up in not getting the process going.  If they are indeed falling               
behind every day, to where it's now a year-and-a-half, next month              
it's two years, and then further than that, then they do need more             
people.  But the fact is, is if they are sitting at a constant                 
delay, then they don't need more people, they need to clean up                 
their act.  And I want to be very specific in talking with somebody            
during the course of this bill that can answer some of those                   
questions for me to find out what the delay actually is and how                
constant it is."                                                               
                                                                               
Number 0564                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON suggested they go slower and be more careful              
because he is a little bit outraged with some the comments that                
have been made.  He informed the committee that he has served on               
the Human Rights Commission for two-and-a-half years.  He said,                
"Their [Human Rights Commission's] caseload has gone up (indisc.)              
of magnitude in the last seven or eight years and until recently,              
got no more resources.  The Human Rights Commission itself, the                
commissioners continually push the staff to get the cases closed.              
And I believe we're the second state in the nation to do the                   
radical thing that has a downside, is to do triage and not                     
investigate every case.  And certainly some of the cases are                   
frivolous, some of them are spiteful, some of them are misapplied              
and ignorant, and so on.  But the very serious decision that folks             
who file a discrimination complaint, that some of them weren't                 
going to be done.  And for the first time in seven or eight years              
they're actually making progress on reducing the backlog.  And in              
the two-and-a-half years I served there, I didn't see                          
mismanagement, people goofing off you know, I saw folks absolutely             
overwhelmed with the workload and trying to make it work."                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON continued.  He said "I also saw the tragedies             
on both ends.  The small business who had a disgruntled employee               
who filed a complaint that then put the business owner in the grips            
of a monster that was going to have a hold of him and jerking him              
around, for whatever it took to get through the process.  And I saw            
the ones where people were really badly treated, and it takes a                
long time to sort them out.  And you look at the extremes and you              
see real problems with doing it, you know, with how the system                 
works.  So there is (indisc.), people, the commissioners really                
pushing to get things resolved as quickly as possible.  Steps have             
been made and I think to just keep saying you've got to do better              
without providing a means to do so, there's got to be real limits              
to that.  So I don't think..."                                                 
                                                                               
Number 0601                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated Representative Dyson made a really good point,              
and it's one of the same points she has made on every single budget            
for the state and disagrees with just cutting the bottom line of               
the budget.  Chair James said, "But what I do agree that ought to              
be done is take a look, and what are we doing we shouldn't be                  
doing."  She indicated there are quicker and more efficient ways of            
doing things.  And just because it's taking this long, it doesn't              
mean that there aren't ways to simplify it.  She noted, as a                   
commissioner, that wasn't Representative Dyson's chore, that would             
be the staff.                                                                  
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said one of the things we get ourselves into is, "we've            
always done it this way."  An example is the Ombudsman's Office.               
And that's what she's [the ombudsman] has set up now - with greatly            
reduced funds, she has set up this triage, where they have this                
sieving process.  The ombudsman said some 5,000 calls are received             
each year with nine investigators.  Chair James said it's the same             
thing we put the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game through,             
they have to review every single suggestion that comes to them.                
And there has to be a sieving process because we can't afford as a             
state to pay for all these things, we have to have a sorting                   
system.                                                                        
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES indicated she is not really comfortable with the 90                
days, but will wait and hear what the testimony is.  She said, "But            
I think we need a number.  And I think then we also need to ask                
them to figure out how they can do it faster by sorting and taking             
those who are suspicious of being false claims and get rid of them             
quickly instead of maybe putting them off longer. ... I have done              
efficiency work in offices and I have been amazed when you get                 
through and there's two less people in the office because there's              
so many things you don't need to do.  I think it's really important            
that we look at that."                                                         
                                                                               
Number 0624                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said first of all we're proceeding on the             
assumption that they're not screening that way.  He said he thinks             
it would be fair to hear from the Human Rights Commission to see               
what their screening process is.  Because if it turns out that they            
are indeed screening, then they're working at what we would                    
consider a fully efficient mode, then this criticism is a little               
premature.                                                                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said the second point he wants to make is             
the alternative to taking causes of action in front of the Human               
Rights Commission is to take it to court.  He said, "You want to               
talk about delays, I can assure you that the court delays will be              
extreme and the cost will be much higher.  And that's particularly             
so if you take a civil rights action to (indisc. - coughing) court             
and win a judgement there.  So this is a pretty cost-effective                 
alternative at this point."                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced she would like to hear from the people on                
teleconference before they went any further.                                   
                                                                               
MR. GRAVO indicated he has one closing comment.  He said, "What I'm            
hearing is that if you put a number in the bill it will force a                
very focused discussion of the budget issue at the next committee.             
This will have a fiscal note now, so it will have to go to House               
Finance and there will be a real thorough discussion of all of the             
equities including the budget issue and I'm sure you'll hear about             
that from the commissioner.  But if this bill does anything, it                
will do that."                                                                 
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES thanked Mr. Gravo for reminding us again that it's the             
responsibility of the State Affairs Committee to sort out pieces of            
legislation that have either a good effect or bad effect on the                
affairs of the state.  She concluded this is the proper place to               
hear this first and it does go to finance who will deal with the               
fiscal note of it.  Chair James indicated she is not real convinced            
that 90 days is effective, and we might want to change that because            
we do have some responsibility in that area.                                   
                                                                               
Number 0649                                                                    
                                                                               
PAULA HALEY, Executive Director, Alaska Human Rights Commission,               
spoke in opposition to HB 468 via teleconference.  She mentioned               
one of their volunteer commissioners, Chairperson Martha Gore, is              
also present.  Ms. Haley indicated her testimony will perhaps help             
answer some of the questions that have already been posed.                     
                                                                               
MS. HALEY noted the Human Rights Commission fully understands the              
frustration to parties created by current backlog and the resulting            
delays in investigation.  Their case load has nearly tripled in the            
past 15 years and they've seen their inventory rise even when they             
have completed more cases each year than the year before.  To more             
promptly resolve complaints of discrimination, the agency has                  
revised procedures, amended its regulations to reduce the time for             
filing complaints, and with our help amended its statute last year             
to allow for cost savings.  In addition, resources provided to the             
commission, with the support of the governor and legislature last              
year, allowed the agency to reduce its backlog by 24 percent.                  
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, "While the commission appreciates that employers               
want prompt resolution of complaints, it believes that HB 468 is               
unnecessary.  But more importantly, this bill will likely have the             
opposite affect and increase costs and workloads for employers and             
I'd like to tell you why.  First of all, the commission is not                 
aware of any instance where delay in processing a claim has                    
resulted in an increase in the amount of damages.  This is because             
employment discrimination law does not allow for unlimited damages             
to accrue while the clock is ticking.  The law requires every                  
person with a pending complaint must find alternative or try to                
find alternative employment, or other means of income to offset the            
potential damages.  This legal principal can be seen in the amount             
of back-pay awards that are arrived at through the decisions or                
settlements of employment cases before the agency."                            
                                                                               
Number 0690                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY pointed out that over the last ten years the average                 
amount of back pay provided by private employers, in cases where               
the commission found substantial evidence of discrimination, is                
$4,713.  She said the commission is aware of the particular                    
concerns expressed by some employers who would like a 90-day                   
prejudgement cap on back-pay awards.  Notably, in none of those                
examples raised by the employers were damages increased because of             
the time it took to process a complaint.  In fact, in only one of              
those cases was any back-pay provided.  In that case, a 61-year-old            
Alaska Native woman brought an age and race discrimination                     
complaint against the former managers of Chena Hot Springs Resort,             
the staff found substantial evidence of discrimination.  In this               
instance, the fired employee secured another higher paying job                 
three weeks after she was terminated.  Chena Hot Springs Resort                
paid only $2,400 in back-pay in a pre-hearing settlement.                      
                                                                               
MS. HALEY stated, "While the commission does not see the need for              
a 90-day prejudgement cap, it does see disadvantages.  This bill               
may expose employers to double-jeopardy and more serious                       
consequences than they now face.  The Equal Employment Opportunity             
Commission, our federal counterpart, has reviewed HB 468 stating               
that a 90-day damage cap is not compatible with federal law.  If               
this bill passes, EEOC will have to pursue additional remedies                 
available to it in every case where we find substantial evidence of            
discrimination.  These remedies, of the federal agency include full            
back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages.  So where               
now, when cases are brought to the Alaska Human Rights Commission,             
employers may be only liable for back-pay.  In the future, if the              
bill passes, they could be subjected to compensatory and punitive              
damages in amounts far greater than our average back-pay award of              
$4,713."                                                                       
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, additionally, the bill could subject employers to              
the added burdens of duel investigation.  Presently under a                    
contract with the federal agency, the commission investigates the              
vast majority of discrimination complaints filed by Alaskans.                  
Because the 90-day cap is not compatible with federal law, EEOC may            
terminate our contract.  In that case, employers would have to face            
separate investigations by both agencies.  Also, when people learn             
that damages have been capped at 90 days, they may choose to go to             
court, federal or state, where damages could be greatly increased.             
                                                                               
MS. HALEY explained, "We at the commission strive to make our                  
procedures as informal as possible, and employers can now respond              
to charges of discrimination without hiring lawyers, and many many             
do.  However, if they must defend complaints in courts of law,                 
employers will logically feel compelled to secure a legal                      
representation."                                                               
                                                                               
Number 0703                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, "Finally, I think you may have the fiscal note, we             
just sent it down yesterday.  To me the legislative mandate and to             
safeguard the rights of Alaskans with claim of discrimination, if              
this bill passes we would seek to process all our cases within 90              
days.  Accomplishing this within 90 days will require an enormous              
increase to the agency's budget.  In the first year we would need              
to eliminate our backlog in order to process the new cases coming              
in within the time frame.  This would require almost five times our            
current budget and then once we got rid of the backlog and could               
face just the new cases coming in we would still need a total of               
approximately 24 additional staffs to process in the time                      
contemplated by this particular piece of legislation."                         
                                                                               
MS. HALEY stated, for these reasons, the commissioners and I ask               
that you not support HB 468.                                                   
                                                                               
Number 0714                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked approximately what percentage of                
your cases are employment discriminations.                                     
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied the vast majority of their cases are employment              
discrimination, but did not have a percentage number.  She said,               
"But I would tell you that most of our Alaskans do view the Human              
Rights Commission as the agency to assist in that area.  Out of 471            
[cases, 415 were employment discrimination]..."                                
                                                                               
TAPE 98-38, SIDE B                                                             
Number 0001                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY continued.  "...investigator because of the rise in                  
filings.  At the same time we had a reduction in staff.  We went               
from 26 staffs to 15 - at that same time our complaint load                    
tripled."  She said they ended up putting cases on hold and they               
stay on hold anywhere from nine months to a year.  That's the big              
problem.  Once they get to an investigator, depending on the nature            
of the case, they could be completed in two months, nine months or             
a year - if there's very complicated facts and many many witnesses,            
and volumes of evidence, so it varies.  Ms. Haley reported the                 
national average for processing cases is over 440 days, that's                 
national - all of our civil rights enforcement agencies in the                 
country.                                                                       
                                                                               
Number 0017                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked what is the screening process.                  
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied, "Well you might get the sense from the numbers              
alone.  If we get 5,000 calls a year, and that's 5,000 people who              
have problems, they think we can help them with, we accept anywhere            
between 400 and 500 complaints.  So many of those people, first of             
all are clearly in the wrong place, we try to hook them up with the            
right people.  But some of them we, by virtue of explaining what               
the obligation is under the statute, are dissuaded from filing                 
because of our process of education, that they may not have enough             
to make a claim, they may not be within the jurisdiction of the                
agency, etcetera.  So many of our callers never become                         
complainants."                                                                 
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked how many, of the ones that you do, are brought to            
successful conclusion and how many are denied.                                 
                                                                               
MS. HALEY responded, "Well, in last year's statistics, and they're             
probably a little bit off, and I can explain to you why from prior             
years, but in last years statistics 62 percent we found no                     
substantial evidence of discrimination, so around 60 percent of the            
cases we found that there was not enough evidence to go forward to             
a hearing.  Now I would say, Madam Chairman and committee members,             
that may in fact be a problem in the employment situation, but it              
was not discriminatory.  There may have been some unfairness, some             
miscommunication, some misunderstanding, but it was not                        
discrimination.  So there may have been good reason for the                    
employee to bring the complaint, but once we listened to both sides            
and talked to witnesses and gathered evidence we found that indeed             
the promoted individual was more qualified or other people were                
also penalized for certain transgressions in the workplace."                   
                                                                               
Number 0061                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked you don't do this until you actually find them,              
so if they're down on the list somewhere, or up on the list, you               
spend time on them as they come in, is that how that works.                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied because of the delays, the Human Rights                      
Commission tries to resolve them in reverse chronological order,               
with some exceptions.  If they see a complaint that was                        
jurisdictional, but they believed there is really not good reason,             
they had to take it because it's jurisdictional, they will assign              
that sooner.  She said they have some individuals who may have                 
disabilities where they're very ill.  We may assign them sooner.               
But for the most part, they do handle them in reverse chronological            
order.  The problem they have, is they can't preinvestigate, but               
they do try to get as much information up-front so that if a case              
looks like it is probably not going anywhere a supervisor might be             
able to handle it out of order in its backlog holding area.                    
                                                                               
Number 0081                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said if 60 percent of them turn out to be                          
nondiscriminatory and they stayed in the process, and were handled             
in the reverse chronological order, it's very likely if there was              
a way to sort them out that the process for the valid cases would              
go quicker.                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said she could appreciate that point of view.  She said              
she believes, that what is sometimes problematic, is that even in              
some of these cases where there's no substantial evidence of                   
discrimination, it took a lot of information hunting and witness               
testimony and reviewing of records to determine that that indeed               
was the case.  Not all of the no-substantial evidence cases are                
necessarily quick cases.                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES indicated she can understand that too, because she                 
understands that process.                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0099                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS referred to Ms. Haley's comments on the                 
length of backlog.  He reiterated that they hold things for nine               
months to a year, the national average is 440 days, and asked do               
you think you're getting close to the national average.                        
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied, "We may be hitting close, or a little bit over              
the national average.  I have to say that we have seen a huge                  
increase in our complaints at the same time we saw a decrease in               
staff.  And what happens nationally, is most of the agencies saw a             
huge increase without the decrease in staff.  And I can tell you a             
lot of that was the result of the Americans With Disabilities Act              
and awareness in the area of that particular issue."                           
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS said well, working those numbers, it looks              
like maybe 90 days would be fairly close, 90 days to 120 days would            
probably fit in your process if you didn't have the backlog.  He               
said, "And I say that because if you hold something for nine months            
to a year, and the national average is 440 days, and you're                    
actually doing that, or did I misunderstand, and after the year,               
then it's 440 days for you."                                                   
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied that he did not misunderstand, what she is not               
understanding, in terms of his question, is that he thought the 90             
or 120 days would work.  She said, "Our cases aren't even assigned             
for close to a year.  And what I must say so I don't mislead the               
committee members is the average of 440 days that I had given you,             
which is from the EEOC database, is for cases to be completed                  
through investigation, it doesn't include the hearing process which            
I think this bill contemplates."                                               
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked how much time does the hearing process            
take.                                                                          
                                                                               
Number 0138                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied they currently have a little bit over 40 cases in            
their hearing unit and they're developing, unfortunately, a backlog            
in that unit as well.  The Human Rights Commission has right now,              
cases scheduled in 1999 to go to hearing.  Now, that scheduling is             
not always simply because the commission can't get the cases to                
hearing, the respondents sometimes can't get to hearing as quickly             
as they might like because of their schedule, or the schedules of              
their attorneys if they choose to hire one.  So many times the                 
delays of the hearing's stage are due to the scheduling problems of            
all the parties not simply the commission's workload.                          
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked if you did not have the backlog, would            
you have to hold the cases nine months to a year before you                    
assigned them.                                                                 
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied no, in fact the Human Rights Commission's backlog            
is a new problem.  She indicated, when she first came to the agency            
10 years-ago, her mission was to resolve cases more quickly and she            
accomplished that.  But that was a short-lived victory because                 
cases went up so quickly in the "90s."  Ms. Haley said they                    
actually got most of their cases, the vast majority of them, to                
complete resolution within approximately a year.  But that was at              
a time when they had only 260 filings per year and the filings were            
driven up by increase in population, greater awareness, and other              
things.  And as a result, with their staff static and down from 26             
to 15, they just lost the ability to keep up.                                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked if they had no backlog, and somebody              
brought in a case today, you're saying that it's going to be 440               
days on average before it's resolved.                                          
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, "If you were talking about getting the case all the            
way through hearing, I think that it might be a reasonable                     
assumption.  I think that most of the cases - I dont' know of any              
fair employment practice agencies across the country that are state            
agencies with the kind of inventory we have that are doing things              
faster than a year, I can say that."                                           
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked so you think 440 days is a valid                  
amount for somebody that comes in and puts in a case today, 440                
days from today it should be resolved, is that correct.                        
                                                                               
Number 0182                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY responded, "Well, it's hard for me to say, I think                   
everything in a perfect world would be resolved in a year or less.             
That's what I truly believe - if you had the adequate resources."              
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS said it looks like they kick out about 90               
percent of potential plaintiffs in their screening.  He asked how              
much time do you spend in the screening to kick out 90 percent                 
versus the hearing situations and preparing cases, is that a big               
portion of your time.                                                          
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied it can take a fair amount of time to screen                  
because usually the people who call their agency are not                       
sophisticated, they understand that they experienced something that            
they believe is bad, and the commission has to try to ferret out,              
whether the bad thing meets the four corners of our statute.  She              
said they try to get all those calls through in 15 to 20 minutes -             
maximum time spent on the call, some of them, of course, are much              
shorter, but it does take a fair amount of time.  If an                        
investigator is assigned to what they call "inquiry week," it                  
basically takes all of his or her time during that week, just given            
the volume of calls, it's better than 100 calls a week.                        
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS noted the commission can actually screen                
somebody in 15 minutes and then they probably would have different             
levels that they would kick them into different interview                      
situations if they fall within certain parameters of a screener's              
judgement.                                                                     
                                                                               
Number 0211                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, "Let me give you a thumbnail sketch.  If the person            
has basically articulated a claim under AS 18.80, we actually send             
them, or they can walk in and get it if they're in the Anchorage               
area, a questionnaire.  And we put, at that point, the burden on               
them to write down what their claim is and why they feel it's                  
appropriate before the agency.  And we added that step because we              
found, when the potential complainant had no involvement early on,             
some times they would just have us do the drafting of a complaint              
and then they would vanish.  So this puts a little bit of a burden             
on the complainant or potential complainant, up-front.  Once that              
comes in, we turn that with their assistance usually in a                      
telephonic interview into a draft complaint which is what the                  
statute contemplates, we draft the complaint.  We make it clear to             
them we're not their advocates, nor do we represent the potential              
respondent's interests.  And if we didn't have the backlog that                
complaint would be immediately assigned for investigation.  Because            
we have the backlog that complaint now goes into a hold bin."                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked Ms. Haley if she was experiencing a               
longer and longer delay in the resolution of these cases on an                 
average.                                                                       
                                                                               
Number 0232                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied yes, the commission had more and more time, but              
because of the assistance from the legislature last year with                  
additional resources they're seeing that trend turn.  She indicated            
it's turning more slowly than they would like it, but they did a               
number of things in the past two years, they changed their                     
regulation to reduce the time for filing, they streamlined their               
internal procedures, they amended the statute to save them money at            
the hearing level - and they could use that money toward other                 
things.  They also were able to get two additional investigators.              
Last year, if the committee looked at them, they only had seven                
investigators and two supervisors.                                             
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked, what you're saying then is that with             
seven additional people, you've actually turned the tide on the                
backlog, where you don't have quite as long a backlog now.                     
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied yes.  The Human Rights Commission has reduced its            
backlog by 24 percent.  They have seen in nine months the positive             
impact of additional resources and their backlog is closer to a                
nine-months backlog than a year-long backlog.                                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS referred to the fiscal note.  He said, "You             
initially say 55 positions would be added to the agency to clear               
its backlog of cases.  Then I assume you would be looking at seven             
or less for continuing employment to keep those down, is that                  
correct."                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0258                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied, "Representative Hodgins, that's not correct                 
because I was doing the fiscal note based on the bill itself which             
doesn't simply say we have to process promptly, but we have to                 
process in 90 days.  And to do it in 90 days - which means an                  
investigation, a conciliation where we try to settle if we found               
that there was in fact substantial evidence of discrimination,                 
discovery, setting a hearing, holding a hearing, having a decision,            
in 90 days would be incredibly labor intensive.  And that's why you            
see for the long term 24 additional staff."                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked if she would assume then that maybe a             
figure like 100 days or 120 days would be more appropriate.                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said she thinks there would be very little difference to             
the fiscal note if it was 90 versus 100 or 120 days.                           
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked if there was a discrimination season              
where you have more people during certain times of the year that               
come in with more complaints such as in the fall when there might              
be layoffs after summer.                                                       
                                                                               
Number 0276                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied no, the commission actually hasn't seen a season,            
but if you note for example, new companies coming into town, they              
will see more complaints then for failure to hire.  If you note                
that a large company does a major layoff, they will see more                   
complaints at that time.  So, if you see something in the news,                
that reflects some major employment activity, they will usually see            
the impact of that.  But they don't see it, for example at the end             
of seasonal employment.                                                        
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS asked what changes would she recommend to               
the Human Rights Commission if you have to sit on a 90-day -- if               
this bill goes through the way it does.  What would be the massive             
changes you'd have to make to comply with this.                                
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, "I think that if I had to tell the current staff               
that we were going to process within 90 days, we would need to -               
basically a five times the staff in a short term, and three times              
the staff in the long term.  I don't know how we could simply tweak            
the process (indisc. - teleconference interference) and make small             
changes to the statute and accomplish that end."                               
                                                                               
Number 0301                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Haley if she had any calculations, or                    
averages of the time it takes to settle a claim from the time that             
you start the investigation.  She said it seems like the commission            
does a little bit of process, and then you put them on a list.                 
From the time that they're picked up off the list and to                       
conclusion, do you have any average time limit - that length of                
time that takes.                                                               
                                                                               
MS. HALEY stated she doesn't have an average, she could certainly              
provide it to the committee members from the day it's assigned.                
One of the reasons she doesn't carry that figure around in her head            
is that it is so varied, depending on the case, as she said some of            
them may be a couple of months.  She said, "We had one instance                
where a case went on for better than two years in investigation                
because the respondent would not provide the documentation and                 
would not respond to our lawful subpoena, and that kind of delay               
occurs with some regularity."                                                  
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced we've talked about that issue too, if we do              
anything with this bill, we probably need to address that.                     
                                                                               
Number 0318                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said if you have a caseload in the                        
neighborhood of 500, but you get 5,000 calls, you're taking like               
one in ten cases.  He indicated he was curious, if you have any                
sense on how many people don't pursue a claim with the commission              
simply because of the time line, simply because it's nine months               
before you even assign a case and then it takes longer after that.             
He asked is that a threshold that some people just don't want to               
bother with.                                                                   
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said she thinks that the commission believes anecdotally             
that some people in fact are choosing not to file with them now due            
to the delay.  She indicated they don't have a significantly                   
staggering statistical trend to say that in fact is true.  But if              
the State Affairs Committee looked at their annual report we would             
see that their filings are in slight decline now, and it's too                 
early for that decline to be due to their regulatory change to 180             
days.  Ms. Haley said, "So our guess is, that's given the                      
population of Alaska's continuing to rise, and that we don't                   
believe as much as we'd like that discrimination or employment                 
concerns have gone away, that we're probably seeing that impact                
because neither side wants to wait.  The commission staff doesn't              
want to delay it.  It makes it harder to do our job."                          
                                                                               
Number 0339                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked Ms. Haley how much time do you or                   
members of your staff spend in training with employers so that it's            
not just an agency that is resolving conflicts, but is an agency               
that also tries to prevent conflicts.                                          
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said, "I think that that's an area that we see as we deal            
with sort of the emergency room of many many more complaints than              
in the past that does slip away from us.  I'm the primary trainer,             
and as division director, I don't have the time to be away from the            
shop as often as people request my presence.  I must say though                
that when we go out and educational seminars, I think they're                  
really positive and people do learn what their rights and                      
responsibilities are.  But I also have to tell you that we                     
generally see complaint filings go up if I've been in a community              
and I've been talking to people about their rights and                         
responsibilities.  While I am training managers and supervisors                
about the right thing, I'm also making employees aware of rights               
they might not have been aware of up until that point and we tend              
to see complaint filings go up in that area."                                  
                                                                               
Number 0361                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "Paula, Representative Hodgins was kind             
of relentlessly I think pursuing a line of logic that I think kind             
of paints you into a trap, logically, and I think you kind of spoke            
to me about this a little bit on the phone.  But indeed if, with               
your present whatever it is seven or nine investigators, you're                
gaining on the backlog, I don't think that you have made it clearer            
why you would need 24 investigators if the backlog was eliminated.             
I want to give you an opportunity to make that apparent discrepancy            
a little clearer or be more logical."                                          
                                                                               
MS. HALEY stressed the reason that there would be a difference is              
that this doesn't - were currently in a statute that says resolve              
promptly and we recognize we're not doing that.  This bill says                
resolve from start to finish, from complaints to decision in 90                
days.  In order to do that, the commission couldn't simply look at             
how long it would take them to get rid of the backlog, they had to             
look at how many cases an investigator could handle, if an                     
investigator had to investigate the case.  The commission figured              
it would have to be done in 45 days maximum, or 40 days because, if            
they find substantial evidence of discrimination, it then has to go            
to the hearing unit, it has to be set for hearing, there has to be             
an opportunity for discovery, and aside from the due process                   
concerns they would have employers that might not want to have to              
respond to their queries in five days or ten days.  But aside from             
that, the Human Rights Commission figured they would have to                   
dramatically reduce the caseload of their current staff so they                
could be on that particular case and moving it all of the time.                
That's why you see more staff attached to this particular bill.                
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said he believes Ms. Haley is still not                   
addressing the "logic problem."  We, who are not involved in your              
work, perhaps ignorantly think that each investigative case is                 
going to take the same amount of time to do the investigation,                 
process the paper, appear at the hearings and so on regardless of              
what the time frame is.  A case is going to take a certain amount              
of man-hours regardless of the deadlines on it.  He indicated, from            
his perspective, that he has not yet heard her explain why.  It                
must be that the number of hours each case would take would                    
dramatically expand - if with the time deadline.  He asked if he               
was making himself clear.                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0400                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said she thinks she understands, but if she doesn't                  
provide the information that clarifies it please ask again.  She               
emphasized the difference is, under the Human Rights Commission's              
current system, they ask employers for information at the front end            
and they may or may not give it, it's permissive.  Then as they go             
along and focus in on complainant witnesses, they also obtain                  
information, they talk to respondent witnesses, they may put out a             
request for information and that would be a 30-day turnaround.                 
Those procedures, as they know them, would have to go out the                  
window.  Because with 90 days you can't give people 30 days to                 
reply, then review it, and maybe you have to ask them something                
else, and give them another ten days.  You wouldn't have that, you             
would have to be on the phone to them all of the time, you would               
have to be following them, explaining why you need it quickly.  You            
wouldn't be able to wait a week to call the second witness and work            
on another case, you'd have to call the second witness the next day            
or the next hour.  So that would be the difference.                            
                                                                               
MS. HALEY pointed out each investigator now has 40 cases, in fact              
they're closer to 50, and that drops back because they can't manage            
more than 50.  If you had to process 40 cases in 90 days you just              
couldn't do it.  You couldn't move 40 cases in 90 days.  Ms. Haley             
said, "So they would probably be only carrying a handful of cases,             
definitely less than 10.  I think it would probably be like 3 or 4,            
or 5 - in order to move those 4 or 5 cases in 90 days.  Otherwise              
we would in effect continue with the concept of a damage cap and               
complainants - if we took too long would suffer had there been                 
discrimination."                                                               
                                                                               
Number 0432                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "What I just heard you say was that                 
because of the tighter time-frame, you'd have to be bugging people             
more often to get the information going.  And are you saying then              
it's going to take three times as much staff because of the                    
increased intensity of the bugging or nagging the folks to get                 
their paperwork in."                                                           
                                                                               
MS. HALEY replied in part she is saying that.  She further                     
explained, if you have a 90-day time-frame, you basically have to              
have that case with you at all times.  You can't put the case down,            
you have to be moving it all the time, you can't put it aside and              
address something else, you can't put it aside and draft up a                  
determination in another case.  You have to work it, you just don't            
get a chance to exhale, you have to work them constantly.                      
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON affirmed the commission loses a great deal of             
efficiency because they can't fill out their work day with other               
work because they have to stay right on top of it in order to meet             
the time frames.                                                               
                                                                               
Number 0450                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said, "One of the things that - just kind of building              
on a question that I asked you, it isn't necessarily how much - you            
indicated didn't have any kind of an average length of time from               
the day that they're assigned.  But it seems to me like, that what             
I've been hearing you testify now about the procedure that you have            
to go through the witness issue, all of those kinds of things, I               
could visualize what it is that you're doing.  And it seems                    
unreasonable to me that you wouldn't be able to provide, and maybe             
you said you would, an average."  Chair James asked Ms. Haley                  
what's the shortest time as an example that she's ever been able to            
solve a problem, what's the longest time, or what is the average               
time that it takes?  She said, "Because it seems to me like, to be             
able to satisfy the requirement that is being requested here that              
whether we pass this bill or not there needs to be an answer when              
there's a public out there that is being damaged in some way, shape            
or form.  And so we need to have those kinds of numbers to know                
what's reasonable."  She indicated she hasn't heard that yet                   
because of the backlog and because of the extra amount of cases                
that people are working on together.                                           
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES referred to her private accounting business as an                  
example.  She said, "And I know myself, from my work, is that if               
I'm working on one account, and I don't do anything else but that              
account, I can get it done in a fairly short time because to                   
continue to keep my mind on the account makes me more efficient.               
Every time I lay that account down and go to something else, when              
I come back to that one I have to refresh my mind all over again               
and I have to figure out now let's see, where did I leave off, and             
what did I do and where am I.  And so, I know that there's a                   
greater efficiency from taking something from the start to the                 
finish.  And I'm not advocating this, that's the way you need to do            
things, because I know that there are times when you can't get                 
people on the phone and you can't get the information, and you're              
waiting for something, you need to go to something else.  But, it              
seems to me like you could give us some numbers like what is a                 
reasonable time to expect that once a claim is filed and it goes to            
be assigned, what is a normal length of time to anticipate to                  
getting a response."                                                           
                                                                               
Number 0483                                                                    
                                                                               
MS. HALEY said she would be happy to provide the committee with                
their average, she can give it both from beginning to end and will             
also calculate it from assignment to end.  She stated, "I will also            
though say with the caveat that the average time has gone up                   
enormously because of the increase in the workload.  But I think               
you are right, in fact we talk to the investigators all the time               
about this as a training tool.  If you put a case down, for a very             
long time, and you go back to it, you do have to refresh your                  
memory.  So there is some value in a lower caseload per                        
investigator and we recognize that and would like to work to that              
end.  And so we have that in mind, but if you look at the 90 days,             
I think Madam Chairman, you mentioned something else that's key, if            
I'm asking someone to provide me with comparative personnel files,             
I don't think it's going to be fair to ask that 'mom and pop'                  
employer to do that in 5 days.  And these constraints would require            
me to really have staff put the pressure on the employer to turn               
things around immediately.  They wouldn't be able to have their                
normal 30 days to provide information, and that is also a concern              
of mine in terms of its impact on business."                                   
                                                                               
Number 0503                                                                    
                                                                               
FRANK ROSE, Alaska Lodging Management, President, testified on HB
468 via teleconference.  He said, after listening to the                       
discussion, he indicated he might be misunderstanding what the                 
intent of this bill happens to be.  He indicated he doesn't believe            
that there's an intent here, with what is being proposed, to get               
around or not go through proper due process to resolve complaints.             
He also said he doesn't believe that there's a limitation on the               
time-frame that the due process should take relative to resolving              
the complaint.  Mr. Rose said he believes what the bill is being               
presented for is to provide a limitation on the liability that an              
employer might incur relative to back-wages.  Due process can                  
continue to go forward.                                                        
                                                                               
MR. ROSE said some of the comments that he has heard today provide             
for, or have indicated that the employee would be unduly penalized             
because of the 90-day requirement.  He stated, "I would say that               
both the employee and employer have great potential to be penalized            
because of the longevity of some of these cases that happen to                 
arise or come up, or the liability associated with the back-wages.             
From an employer's standpoint, I understand that the employee                  
certainly has a right to go out and search for other employment,               
and should they find other employment then the cumulation of back-             
wages would stop.  But there is no guarantee.  And I can tell you              
from a small businessman's perspective, the fact that a case could             
go on for two years, and if the employee does not get a job or                 
(indisc.) of that even a $6.00 an hour employee could accumulate               
back-wages of $24,000 - $25,000 and that is without consideration              
of overtime and perhaps other issues or legal costs.  By far the               
employer is going to look toward settlement of this thing                      
regardless if they're at fault or not.  I assume that most                     
employers are going to think they're not at fault, but I can tell              
you that specific case that I was involved in, which is the one                
that Ms. Haley had indicated, I was quite sure I wasn't at fault,              
but there was no way that I could sit back and potentially incur               
the huge liabilities, rather it would be in my benefit to settle               
the case even though I felt strongly that I was in the right."                 
                                                                               
MR. ROSE stated the 90-day requirement, or the 90-days liability               
limitation seems to be in line with what Ms. Haley indicates in                
that the average award has been between $3,000 and $4,000 as far as            
back-wages are concerned.  He said he thinks that's what she said.             
That is a rate of $6.00 to $7.00 an hour, it would prove to be                 
somewhere on the order of 3 months or 90 days back-wages or so.  So            
that seems to be in line.  Mr. Rose implied that 90 days is ample              
time for an employee, who has lost their job for whatever reason,              
to find another job and also provide incentive for that employee to            
look for another job.  If it takes 465 days to process a claim, and            
all the resources are available, then perhaps that should be looked            
at as far as the procedure is concerned.  It seems like an awful               
long time to come to a conclusion on a particular case.                        
                                                                               
Number 0553                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "Just sort of looking at this                   
roughly, it seems to me there's three types of plaintiffs.  There's            
those people, who perhaps have insufficient evidence to make their             
case, that have something that they can perceive as legitimate.                
There's those people who have legitimate complaints, and there's               
sort of the out and out extortion effort.  And on the other side of            
the ledger you can have defendants who are innocent and those who              
are guilty."                                                                   
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out he has a concern with the 90-             
day limit on back-pay.  He said it's not for those people who are              
trying to do extortion, but it's for those people who have                     
legitimate complaints and they might be going against someone who's            
culpable.  He said, "My experience has been culpable defendants                
tend to drag out the process much as possible.  They'll 'heel-drag'            
when it comes time to providing discovery.  They'll be unavailable.            
We heard testimony here that on occasion they don't comply with                
subpoenas.  There's an incentive built in to stay out there longer             
than 90 days because that's the only cap you've got.  And I                    
appreciate that you're very scrupulous in what you do.  What I'd               
ask you, if there was a less scrupulous employee who was culpable,             
can't you see the possibility for abuse with a 90-day scheme."                 
                                                                               
Number 0568                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. ROSE said his comment to that would be that, if deadlines are              
not met, relative to providing certain discovery materials or other            
information, he certainly feels that end employer should be held               
responsible for that.  And perhaps there, again as we've heard                 
today from Representative James, should be an addition or amendment            
to this proposed bill that would allow for that.  He said, "What I             
am referring to is a situation where all information has been                  
provided that has been requested by the Human Rights Commission,               
that information is in hand, and then there's still another two-               
years wait before we come to any conclusion on what the outcome of             
that case may be."  He indicated that's where his concern lies.                
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "And I agree wholeheartedly with                
that concern.  I grew up in a small business so I understand how               
hamstrung you can get by even seemingly small issues of $10,000 or             
$20,000."                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0580                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said, "If there was this time limit on and we heard                
testimony from the Human Rights Commission that many people do find            
another job and so therefore the amount, if they are to win their              
case is less, it would appear to me that those people who - that               
the Human Rights Commission might hurry up faster on those people              
that didn't have a job.  And those people that did have a job,                 
maybe there's no rush on them.  There might be a different way of              
evaluating who's first on this issue.  I don't necessarily know                
that the 90 days is a good number, but having a limit to me is                 
interesting."                                                                  
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES pointed out that she has experienced having someone                
file against her in the Human Rights Commission and she ended up               
home free, however, it was pretty shaky.  And the reason wasn't                
because of what she or her staff did, it's what they didn't do.                
She said, "It was like a bookkeeping problem, and many cases are               
made on what you don't have in your files - not on what you did.               
And that's a part of the human rights law that is terribly                     
distressing to me because, as an accountant for small business, I              
found I had some small business people who literally had to lock               
their door because they had made a good decision in letting someone            
go.  And yet they didn't have all of the documents in their                    
personnel file and those other things that they needed ... and they            
were just a small 'mom and pop' business.  And that's, I think very            
very sad because this nation was build on 'mom and pops' in their              
backyard and in their garage.  And I think we have made the laws so            
severe that those are some of the people who are also being                    
penalized."                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 0609                                                                    
                                                                               
KAREN ROGINA, Executive Director, Alaska Hotel and Motel                       
Association, testified on HB 468 via teleconference.  She said they            
are the number one employer of entry-level workers in the State of             
Alaska, and due to the transient nature of entry-level workers and             
the seasonality of their industry, issues of hiring and termination            
are of great interest to their membership.  Ms. Rogina stated they             
are in support of the concept of having reasonable time limits on              
the time in which these cases can be resolved.  She said they see              
it as a fairness issue to the employee and to the employer where               
timely resolution allows everyone to get on with things and take               
responsibility for their future.  In the case of an employee, it               
provides more incentive to have them seek other employment instead             
of having drag out, and it places responsibility on the employer to            
provide the information and to avoid the situation in the first                
place.                                                                         
                                                                               
MS. ROGINA indicated their association receives a lot of questions             
from their members statewide, and the American Hotel and Motel                 
Association spends a lot of time training employers on how to avoid            
these kinds of things.  She said, "And so we see that this kind of             
bill would put a little more teeth into the whole resource issue               
and put it where it belongs in terms of educating employers on how             
to avoid these claims in the first place, and also perhaps                     
additional investigators so that timely resolution can occur."                 
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said she was glad that Ms. Rogina mentioned the                    
education process because there is a great learning curve for                  
people who are employers.  She said she believes the Hotel and                 
Motel Association is not only the biggest hiring of entry-level                
people but they also have the biggest hiring of various ethnic                 
groups and so forth, so they're the most vulnerable for these kinds            
of discrimination cases to come forward.  Chair James urged Ms.                
Rogina to continue her education process with her employers so they            
know just exactly what is required of them to be able to                       
substantiate whatever decision that they make.                                 
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced HB 468 will be held in the House State                   
Affairs Standing Committee for further discussion.                             
                                                                               
SB 307 - U.S. SENATE VACANCIES                                                 
                                                                               
Number 0643                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced the next order of business is SB 307 am, "An             
Act relating to conditions for filling vacancies in the office of              
United States senator; and providing for an effective date,"                   
sponsored by Senator Halford.                                                  
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES made reference to HB 377, which was previously heard in            
committee and is the companion to SB 307.  [HB 377 is currently in             
the House Rules Committee].                                                    
                                                                               
Number 0651                                                                    
                                                                               
BILL STOLTZE, Legislative Assistant to Senator Rick Halford, Alaska            
State Legislature presented SB 307.  He explained SB 307 makes a               
simple change to our statute regarding the appointment of U.S.                 
senators by requiring the person appointed by the governor to fill             
a vacancy shall be a member of the same party as the predecessor               
and that the appointment be confirmed by the legislature.  Mr.                 
Stoltze indicated it's a fairly straightforward policy call.                   
                                                                               
Number 0664                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said he believes the primary thrust is to             
ensure that the will of the voters is upheld as best as possible.              
                                                                               
MR. STOLTZE acknowledged that's the primary thrust.                            
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked Mr. Stoltze, "You don't have any                
particular (indisc.) of either one of our senators right now."                 
                                                                               
MR. STOLTZE indicated this really isn't about any particular                   
individuals or who happens to be governor.  He said, "I think you              
want to fix a leaky roof while it's sunny rather than wait until               
it's raining."                                                                 
                                                                               
Number 0674                                                                    
                                                                               
JIM BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Office of             
the Attorney General, Department of Law, said this bill differs                
slightly from Representative Hodgins' bill in that it would add the            
confirmation requirement by the majority of the members of the                 
legislature in joint session.  He said he thinks the House bill                
makes it a caucus confirmation question.                                       
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN reported that as SB 307 went through the Senate                    
committees, it merely had the requirement on it that the appointee             
be from the same political party as the predecessor in office;                 
however, that was changed on the floor of the Senate to add the                
confirmation requirement.  Therefore, the department did not get to            
testify in any committee about the confirmation issue so the                   
Department of Law wanted to make the record today of their position            
on the legal issue involving confirmation.  He said, "We made it               
here in connection with Representative Hodgins' bill, but it's a               
slightly different approach."                                                  
                                                                               
Number 0693                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN said Article 17 of the U.S. Constitution provides for              
how U.S. senators are to be appointed or elected and it states that            
the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to              
make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by             
election as the legislature may direct.  There's no mention in the             
U.S. Constitution about a confirmation requirement.  In Alaska, the            
power of appointment is viewed as an executive power and that                  
confirmation is a sharing of that executive power.  Under the                  
Alaska Supreme Court case of Bradner v. Hammond, our supreme court             
said that the legislature may participate in the executive's power             
of appointment only in situations where it is specifically                     
authorized under our constitution.                                             
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN said he believes there is a very clear legal issue                 
about the validity of the confirmation requirement and that it                 
should be carefully considered.  He said this a point which he has             
often been in disagreement with the legislature about - because the            
legislature as an institution often is fond of a confirmation                  
requirement to share in the power of the appointment and that seems            
to be the policy that's expressed here.  However, it can complicate            
the appointment situation.  As we look down the road, if there is              
a disagreement between the governor and the legislature over a                 
particular appointment, he thinks history has shown us that this               
can become a difficult situation, not only for the governor but                
also for the legislature.  For example, in the early days of the               
state, Governor Egan had a disagreement with the legislature about             
an appointment to fill a state office, and this went on for some               
time because of the confirmation requirement that we have in                   
existing law for filling vacancies.  He indicated it complicated               
the timeliness within which the position could be filled and that              
harms everyone when it cannot be done expeditiously.  Mr. Baldwin              
said, "There can be some difficult situations presented to the                 
legislature in the appointment process if there cannot be, in the              
confirmation process, the governor can present the legislature with            
difficult choices which is exactly what happened between Governor              
Egan and the legislature in those days.  So it's a two-edge sword              
here, by wanting to participate in the process, it not only slows              
it down, but it..."                                                            
                                                                               
TAPE 98-39, SIDE A                                                             
                                                                               
Number 0001                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN continued.  ...future felt that the legislature's                  
participation was not appropriate and that the matter should be                
litigated before an appointment is made to fill the vacancy.  Or a             
particular appointment could be - the validity of it could be under            
a cloud until litigation is resolved.  Mr. Baldwin said he believes            
it's a very important issue for consideration.  He urged the                   
committee to return the bill back to its original version, as it               
was considered in the Senate committees, and not as it was amended             
on the floor [where it didn't have the confirmation requirement by             
the legislature].                                                              
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES noted she only has one version of SB 307 amended,                  
Version E.  She pointed out there is no provision for confirmation             
in this bill.                                                                  
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked what if we didn't have the confirmation.  She                
said she can understand his argument on the confirmation and that              
she has a tendency of not wanting to going through process either.             
The way the current process works, as she understands it, is that              
when a replacement from a particular political party needs to be               
made, that the political party submits at least three names, the               
governor then would have the choice of selecting one of those three            
names.  Chair James asked Mr. Baldwin, in the current system, what             
if the governor doesn't like any of those three names as a                     
replacement, what does he do.                                                  
                                                                               
Number 0058                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN replied the current process is one that Representative             
Hodgins' bill was intended to remedy, it's silent as to what you do            
with a U.S. senator, it just says the governor shall appoint.  It's            
for state offices that there's a difference in treatment when you              
have a vacancy.  And that's where you get the recommendation of the            
district committees when you have a vacancy between the primary and            
the general, but that custom of obtaining the recommendations of               
the district committees is also carried forward to vacancies that              
occur after a general election as well.  But (indisc. - noise)                 
Representative Hodgins' bill [HB 377] is seeking to formalize that             
custom in the law.  But as to U.S. senators, it's been silent about            
participation by party members, and it even has been silent as to              
whether it be from the same party or not.  Mr. Baldwin said, "In               
fact, in one instance in our history, there was an appointment of,             
I believe a Republican when there was a vacancy from a..."                     
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES interjected, she noted we currently have that senator.             
She said, "I understand that if we're assuming that whichever                  
political party that this senator or congressman is from has been              
elected by that party in the state, and that there was a philosophy            
that goes along with that, and so it stands to reason that if                  
something happens to that person then there is a replacement that              
it should be of the same party.  And I'm very very supportive of               
that issue.  What I'm not clear about, what we should do is, how do            
those nominations get to the governor.  And you know, one of the               
things that we have a problem with here, we have this problem with             
playing political games and that's the part of this job that I                 
don't like, but I like to make rational decisions.  Well, it would             
seem to me, if I was a Democrat or a Republican and I had a                    
Democrat - or my party person in there and they left, I would                  
certainly want that appointment to be by somebody who could be                 
elected next time out.  And it is very possible that if there isn't            
some participation from the party to put up the names of potential             
people to do that, that the governor - may be of a different party             
could choose somebody who met just the party requirements but                  
actually wouldn't put in somebody that could be reelected.  So I               
think that the next election tells the story when the public goes              
to vote that's the issue, and if it's early in a term, that's                  
something else.  But are you saying it's only temporary until we               
have a vote anyway."                                                           
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN replied that's right.                                              
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES continued.  She said so it really doesn't make any                 
difference, as long as they qualify as a party member and that the             
confirmation, or the other thing, doesn't apply in this case.                  
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN replied under this bill it would.                                  
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated she understands that, but in the reality of it,             
is agreeing with him that it doesn't have a place in this because              
we are only talking about a temporary assignment until an election             
can be held.                                                                   
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN replied right.                                                     
                                                                               
Number 0134                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked, "If there's a certain length of time left in                
that period would they not go to election until the new one..."                
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN interjected.  He said he believes that's right, but he             
would have to look at the statute.                                             
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked but if it's longer, then that person has to go up            
for election.                                                                  
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN replied there's minimum period, if there's more time               
left in the term then you take it to a special election and fill               
the vacancy that way.  He also noted, from a brief survey of what              
happens in other states, it's pretty common for there to be a                  
statutory requirement that the appointment made be filled from the             
same party.  He said he advised the governor that there really                 
isn't much they can say about this part of it, saying that it be               
from the same political party, that's a policy call for the                    
legislature to make that a requirement and that's perfectly valid.             
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said she would like to go a little further and say that            
the process of putting the names forward from the party, because               
the whole thing could be persuaded to be going in a different                  
direction if the governor would put in the wrong name for whichever            
party it was.  Chair James noted Alaska has more people who are not            
of a party then we do of a party, so if we were a party state,                 
where everyone had to vote their party, it might be easier to                  
choose.  She said, "But in this case, where we have half the people            
who don't necessarily vote by party, and of course, I'm a strong               
party person, I was when I was a Democrat, and I am now - I'm a                
Republican.  I really believe in the party structure and I think it            
does make a difference and so I would like to have something in                
here, maybe to do that."                                                       
                                                                               
Number 0170                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ made a motion to adopt proposed Amendment             
LS1574\EA.1, Glover, 3/18/98 [Amendment 1].  He explained it                   
provides that the governor should call a special election to                   
determine (interrupted)...  Representative Berkowitz said, "It                 
seems to me, that if we're worried about the will of the people,               
the best thing is go to the people and allow the choice to come                
from them as to who they feel ought to represent them in that                  
important post in D.C.  Say the governor gets to pick, and the                 
parties get to put the names before him, then in a way we put                  
ourselves in the box of either, (Indisc.) someone with all the                 
advantages of an incumbency, or else having the governor of an                 
opposite party draw someone out who might not be capable of winning            
that election."                                                                
                                                                               
     Page 1, lines 5 - 13:  Delete all material and insert:                    
                                                                               
     Sec. 15.40.010. Condition [CONDITIONS] and time of calling                
     special election [FILLING VACANCY BY APPOINTMENT].  When a                
     vacancy occurs in the office of United States senator, the                
     governor [, WITHIN 30 DAYS,] shall, by proclamation and                   
     subject to AS 15.40.050, call a special election to be held on            
     a date not less than 60 nor more than 90 days after the date              
     the vacancy occurs [APPOINT A QUALIFIED PERSON TO FILL THE                
     VACANCY].  However, if the [REMAINDER OF THE TERM OF THE                  
     PREDECESSOR IN OFFICE WILL EXPIRE OR IF THE] vacancy occurs on            
     a date that is less than 180 but more than 60 days before the             
     date of the primary election for the office [WILL BE FILLED BY            
     A SPECIAL ELECTION BEFORE THE SENATE WILL NEST MEET, CONVENE,             
     OR RECONVENE], the governor may not call a special election               
     {FILL THE VACANCY].                                                       
                                                                               
     Sec 2. AS 15.40.050 is amended to read:                                   
                                                                               
     Sec. 15.40.050. Date of special election.  The special                    
     election to fill the vacancy shall be held on the date of the             
     first [GENERAL] election, whether primary or general, [WHICH              
     IS HELD MORE THAN THREE FULL CALENDAR MONTHS] after the                   
     vacancy occurs if the vacancy occurs on a date that is less               
     than 180 but more than 60 days before                                     
                                                                               
     (1) a primary election, other than the primary election for               
     the office; or                                                            
                                                                               
     (2) a general election.                                                   
                                                                               
     Sec. 3. AS 15.40.060 is amended to read:                                  
                                                                               
     Sec. 15.40.060. Proclamation of special election.  The                    
     governor shall issue the proclamation calling the special                 
     election at least 50 [80] days before the election.                       
                                                                               
     Sec. 4. AS 15.40 is amended by adding a new section to read:              
                                                                               
     Sec. 15.40.075. Date of nominations.  Candidates for the                  
     special election shall be nominated by petition transmitted to            
     the director before the 21st day after the vacancy occurs by              
                                                                               
     (1) the actual physical delivery of the petition in person;               
                                                                               
     (2) mail postmarked not later than midnight of that date; or              
                                                                               
     (3) telegram of a copy in substance of the statements made in             
     the petition.                                                             
                                                                               
     Sec. 5. AS 15.40.030, 15.40.040, 15.40.080, and 15.40.090 are             
     repealed.                                                                 
                                                                               
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                          
                                                                               
Number 0198                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked Mr. Baldwin how long a temporary appointee can               
fill a vacancy.                                                                
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN referenced the language on lines 10 - 13, Version E:               
                                                                               
     However, if the remainder of the term of the predecessor in               
     office will expire or if the vacancy will be filled by a                  
     special election before the United States senate will next                
     meet, convene, or reconvene, the governor may not fill the                
     vacancy.                                                                  
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN explained how he reads it is, if you don't have a                  
naturally occurring election in that period left of the term, then             
you appoint.  But if there's an election that comes up, then you'd             
do it by election.                                                             
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked what do we do currently.                                     
                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN replied that's in existing law, you're not changing                
that.                                                                          
                                                                               
Number 0223                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES remarked, "It's interesting that you would come up with            
this, Representative Berkowitz (laughter).  It seems to me like                
I've just been seeing pieces of paper go by here in this committee             
all year taking power away from the governor from the Republicans,             
and here you are, a Democrat and now you want to take power away               
from the governor."                                                            
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ joking replied, it's infectious.                      
                                                                               
Number 0237                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS objected to Amendment 1.                                
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON, speaking in support of the amendment, said if            
we're going to tinker with the way things are right now and                    
contemplate the change in the way we appoint a senator, should a               
vacancy occur, then this would be the appropriate way of doing it.             
Instead of shifting controls to the legislature, why don't we shift            
it back to the people who are going to be served by the person who             
is going to be in the U.S. senate.  This is the logical step to                
take, this is the step that ensures the process that we have now,              
when we select a senator it's maintained, it lets the people choose            
rather than a politician, or as contemplated in this bill, a small             
set of politicians choosing.                                                   
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES indicated they still have quite a lot more work to do              
on this bill.  She asked if the objection to the amendment is                  
maintained.  She was informed there is no one on teleconference.               
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS maintained his objection.                               
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked for a roll call vote.  Representatives Elton,                
Berkowitz and James voted in support of it.  Representatives                   
Hodgins, Dyson and Ivan opposed it.  Therefore Amendment 1 failed              
by a vote of 3-3.                                                              
                                                                               
Number 0280                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELTON suggested it may be appropriate to ask for a              
fiscal note from the legislature because the bill contemplates the             
confirmation could happen by a majority of members in a joint                  
session of the legislature and that could mean that we're going to             
need to have an interim meeting that we wouldn't otherwise have.               
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said she didn't think that is necessarily true, she                
mentioned she needs to talk to the sponsor of the bill.  Chair                 
James  announced SB 307 would be held in the House State Affairs               
Standing Committee for further consideration.                                  
                                                                               
HB 408 - SEISMIC HAZARDS SAFETY COMMISSION                                     
                                                                               
Number 0295                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES announced the next order of business is HB 408, "An Act            
establishing the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission,"                    
sponsored by Representative Davies.                                            
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked if it was her intention on moving it out            
today.                                                                         
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES replied she didn't know because they haven't heard it.             
If we get done in time, and we're happy with it certainly we could             
vote on it.                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 0303                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB
408 and distributed a map which illustrates Alaska as "earthquake              
country."  He mentioned we have some of the largest earthquakes in             
the world.  The map lists the ten largest earthquakes that have                
occurred in the world in the last century or so.  As you can see               
three of those ten have occurred in Alaska, of course everybody is             
familiar with the 1964 earthquake that occurred in Anchorage.                  
                                                                               
     TOP TEN QUAKES IN THE WORLD, 1904-1992:                                   
                                                                               
          Chile, 1960, 9.5                                                     
          Alaska, 1964, 9.2                                                    
          Alaska, 1957, 9.1                                                    
          Kamchaka, 1952 9.0                                                   
          Ecuador, 1906 8.8                                                    
          Alaska, 1965, 8.7                                                    
          Assam, 1950, 8.6                                                     
          Banda Sea, 1938, 8.5                                                 
          Chile, 1922, 8.5                                                     
          Kuriles, 1963, 8.5                                                   
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES indicated the point of the map is to say                 
that, while that was the second largest earthquake that occurred in            
recorded history, that's not an unusual earthquake for Alaska.  So             
the point is, we should expect earthquakes to occur in the future.             
How often they occur and where they occur is a subject of a lot of             
research, some of which he was engaged in years ago.                           
                                                                               
Number 0327                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said the purpose of the bill is to establish             
a "Seismic Hazard Commission."  The commission would be housed in              
the Office of the Governor.  The purpose would be to provide an                
umbrella, coordinating and clearinghouse kind of function for                  
seismic hazard mitigation work.  He said seismic hazard mitigation             
work is the work that is focused on both the design of buildings               
and locating buildings in such a way that damage that occurs, when             
the next earthquake occurs, will be minimized.  So it's sort of the            
prevention versus response kind of issue.  He said we can prevent              
a lot of damage if we have appropriate building codes, we can also             
prevent loss of lives if have appropriate building codes and land-             
use plans.                                                                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES explained the commission would focus on                  
trying to implement those ideas and coordinate them across agencies            
in the state.  He said there currently is a significant amount of              
work going on, but it's mostly ad hoc.  It's by one agency or the              
other, private groups, the Anchorage "Geotech" Commission does a               
lot of good work, but that focuses, of course in Anchorage.                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said there's another commission that's the               
response commission that currently exists, and again, that's for               
planning for response.  He indicated these are very closely related            
but are two different functions.  One is to prevent as much as                 
possible (indisc. - noise) the need for a response in case of an               
earthquake.  So we do need to plan for responses because we will               
have earthquakes, they will be damaging, there will be injuries and            
loss of lives, so the planning function is very important.                     
Representative Davies said that's already taken care of in the                 
existing statutes, what he's contemplating here is the prevention              
part.                                                                          
                                                                               
Number 0360                                                                    
                                                                               
ROD COMBELLICK, Chief Engineering Geology, Division of Geological              
and Geophysical Surveys, Department of Natural Resources, testified            
in support of HB 408 via teleconference.  He said, "From my                    
perspective, as one who works primarily in the area of earthquake              
geology, finding out where these areas are that are more                       
susceptible to earthquake damage, I think this is an important bill            
and a seismic safety commission for Alaska is long over due."                  
                                                                               
MR. COMBELLICK said, as Representative Davies indicated, Alaska is             
one of the most seismically active areas in the world.  He noted               
we've been lucky for the last 34 years that we have not had any                
significant damage from earthquakes since the big one in 1964.                 
However, Alaska is like a big dartboard for earthquakes and our                
communities are at the center of that dartboard.  We've had a lot              
of large earthquakes occurring, many earthquakes in the magnitude              
of the six and seven range that fortunately have been occurring                
away from our developed areas, but like shooting toward a                      
dartboard, eventually one of those darts hits a target and it's                
only a matter of time before one of these large earthquakes hits               
one of our developed areas.  Mr. Combellick stated these urban                 
areas are expanding and we know we can expect this high rate of                
seismic activity to continue, that there will be future large                  
earthquakes in Alaska, which virtually guarantees that one of these            
urban areas will be hit.                                                       
                                                                               
Number 0387                                                                    
                                                                               
MR. COMBELLICK pointed out Alaska is doing pretty well in the area             
of emergency response preparedness primarily through the efforts of            
the Division of Emergency Services, the Emergency Response                     
Commission, and through the Alaska Disaster Act.  But we're way                
behind in the area of mitigation - things that we can do to prevent            
damage and thereby reduce the need for emergency response.  Alaska             
in fact is the only seismically active state in the country that               
still does not have a seismic safety or advisory commission of some            
sort.  Ironically the first seismic safety commissions that were               
established, starting with California, began as a result of the                
Alaska 1964 earthquake.  People realized that this is a reality                
that was going to have to be addressed and that, although as                   
Representative Davies pointed out, we cannot predict the time,                 
size, or location of major earthquakes.  We can identify areas                 
where the damage is likely to be greater, and therefore we can plan            
and design our developments accordingly with proper building codes,            
zoning ordinances, and just better public information.                         
                                                                               
MR. COMBELLICK mentioned there are presently 20 other states that              
have seismic advisory boards of some sort, including states in what            
we generally regard as low-seismic areas like Vermont, Illinois,               
Delaware and New York.  These states all have seismic advisory                 
boards, and these are separate from their own state emergency                  
response commissions.  He stated it's because of this need to focus            
the efforts of seismic mitigation in one body.                                 
                                                                               
MR. COMBELLICK concluded, he said he thinks that this bill is                  
important in establishing a statewide seismic advisory commission,             
we have a number of agencies doing different things in this area of            
seismic hazards, with no-rule coordination, no real guiding force              
to guide us in what direction we should go in these efforts.  He               
indicated the "geotechnical advisory commission," of the                       
Municipality of Anchorage is a good model of something that could              
be done on a statewide basis.  Mr. Combellick said he believes the             
governor's office is an appropriate place for this commission                  
because of this need for coordination of many state and local                  
agencies.                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 0427                                                                    
                                                                               
NICO BUS, Manager of Administrative Services, Department of Natural            
Services, and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs                  
[shared position] came before the committee.  Mr. Bus announced the            
Department of Natural Resources is in support of this legislation              
in terms of providing extra expertise in earthquakes, and those                
types of hazards.  He indicated Director Carol Carrol isn't able to            
attend due to an emergency.                                                    
                                                                               
MR. BUS said the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,                  
Division of Emergency Services, they have a staff of two                       
individuals, a hazard mitigation officer and an earthquake program             
(indisc.) are responsible for identifying areas of danger and                  
methods to avoid or reduce the damage.  (Indisc.) works with local             
communities on these projects, and a commission like this would                
basically add a source of information to this division as well as              
the state Emergency Response Commission.  The Emergency Response               
Commission resides in the Department of Environmental Conservation             
and has a different focus.  Although they are responsible for oil              
hazards, he belies a commission like this would just provide added             
expertise and it would be beneficial to all people on this earth.              
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said she has a question on the fiscal note and the                 
amendment.  She stated the amendment says the Officer of the                   
Governor shall provide staff support to the commission.  And the               
fiscal note from the Office of the Governor assumes a "fourth-time"            
clerical staff will support commission activities as technical                 
support needs will be met by existing staff in the Department of               
Natural Resources.  Chair James mentioned, "They don't need                    
anymore, but they need a 'fourth-time' clerical staff in the Office            
of the Governor."                                                              
                                                                               
Number 0460                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said, "Yesterday, in fact is, I have a bill which would            
license social workers, and I was in the Labor and Commerce                    
Committee with that and we heard testimony from Catherine Reardon              
[Director, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of                   
Commerce and Economic Development] -- because originally they told             
me, in my negotiations, how we did the bill - wouldn't have a                  
fiscal note.  But she came forward with a fiscal note for half-time            
and when she explained to us how much time she needed, probably                
additionally for the licensees there, and it came up to maybe 23               
percent or whatever, but she said she was told she couldn't do                 
four-quarters of a person, she had to do for half.  So I assume                
this looks like a half here too, but you're saying it's a quarter              
of time of clerical staff. ... So I'm wondering, if all they need              
is a quarter, if they couldn't just absorb it.  And so, I don't                
have to deal with a fiscal note here.  They can deal with the                  
fiscal note when it gets to Finance.  But I think we do have to                
kind of take a look at it and make comments about it anyway because            
if it only requires a quarter of the time for clerical staff, it               
seems to me like that needs to be then absorbed."                              
                                                                               
Number 0476                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ made a motion to adopt Amendment 1 by                 
Representative Davies:                                                         
                                                                               
     Page 2, line 4, insert:                                                   
                                                                               
     The Office of the Governor shall provide staff support to the             
     Commission.                                                               
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any objections.  There being none,             
Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES noted the other fiscal note from Division of Geological            
and Geophysical Surveys, the Department of Natural Resources, is               
just for travel - a couple thousand dollars.                                   
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES pointed out the fiscal note is redundant with            
the travel that's in the Office of the Governor and will be                    
resolved when the bill gets to the House Finance Committee.                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said the committee can move it only with the other                 
fiscal note.                                                                   
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ added that it can be moved with both                  
fiscal notes.                                                                  
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he didn't object.                                   
                                                                               
Number 0490                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ mentioned he grew up in California and                
this type of preparedness is absolutely essential.  He stated the              
property value saved, the loss of life, it's just incredible that              
we're not making preparations and it seems one of the core things              
that the government ought to be doing is to protect people in the              
contingency in this sort of an emergency.                                      
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES said she agrees with his statement and intends to move             
the bill.  She indicated her hesitancy is when we put on another               
level of regulations and requirements that we inhibit some                     
activities that may not happen or are too expensive.  She said you             
could say, if you're going to make yourself safe, that there's no              
expense that's too much.  She asked Representative Davies what he              
anticipates, what kind of interference or change might he see in               
the construction industry in the state.                                        
                                                                               
Number 0505                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES replied that's a fair question, that's one               
that, of course, one struggles with all the time in prevention-type            
activities.  How much prevention is appropriate?  He noted there is            
a provision at the end of the bill that provides that this                     
commission would not take over responsibilities or duties away from            
any existing agencies.  So the intent in that is to say that                   
there's no additional regulations that would be put in place by                
this advisory commission.  The intent is that it be a catalyst for             
action.  So rather than being in the way of anything happening, the            
hope is that it would bring people together that are working on                
different pieces of the same puzzle and put it together.                       
                                                                               
     Sec. 5. This Act is not intended to transfer the Alaska                   
     Seismic Hazards Safety Commission the authorities and                     
     responsibilities of other state agencies, boards, councils, or            
     commissions or of local governments.                                      
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked if it would be awareness.                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES replied part of it is certainly awareness.               
One of its activities, that does go on from time to time, is having            
workshops where you bring for example structional engineers                    
together and coach them and train them in a new addition to                    
building code or that kind of thing.  That's one of the activities             
that is actually done currently to some extent by some folks in                
"DES" and also by some, under the sponsorship of the Anchorage                 
Geotech Advisory Commission from time to time.  He said these                  
things are happening now, but on an ad hoc basis, here and there.              
They need to be strengthened and they need to be coordinated.  He              
said he thinks by bringing the existing pieces together, that the              
existing parts would make a stronger hold.                                     
                                                                               
Number 0532                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN said the only concern he has is with the              
role of private companies, with their architectural plans.  He                 
asked, "Must they do the same thing as you do with the fire                    
marshall, approving buildings prior -- will we get to that point."             
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES replied the way that most seismic hazard                 
mitigation is implemented is primarily through the building code or            
through land use planning which happens right now.  This wouldn't              
change that.  This commission would be an advisory to those                    
existing mechanisms of building codes.  And generally, if you add              
a requirement to the building code, and you know about it up front,            
it adds very little cost.  If you have to retrofit, at some time               
later down the road, it can be very expensive.  He mentioned that              
is one of the issues that California is struggling with right now,             
there's a great issue for example with unreinforced masonry, many              
of those buildings are through various incentive programs.                     
California is helping building owners retrofit some of those kinds             
of buildings.  Those things can be expensive but the cost is                   
recognized in those things, the building owners recognize that they            
are reducing their exposure and risk to law suites by doing that.              
So there's a tradeoff that has to be balanced in the impact of a               
regulation on an industry.  Representative Davies said there's no              
new mechanism envisioned by having this commission it's just that              
this commission will be advisory to those existing mechanisms that             
provide for building codes and for land use plans.                             
                                                                               
Number 0560                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES stated she is troubled with the building code issue                
because "we change them like we change our shirt," and then we end             
up having buildings out of compliance.  She indicated that's always            
bothered her, we know things more tomorrow than we do know today.              
She said it seems to her like we just have a practice of upgrading             
them all the time to new materials mostly.  She said she believes              
the building codes are driven by the supply industry of new                    
materials and things that they find, or new methods that they've               
learned.  So it doesn't necessarily mean, when there's a code                  
violation that there's a serious deficiency in the building.  It               
seems like we're just going to add one more reason that we'll be               
changing our code more often and she hoping that that's not true.              
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES replied he is sure that happens but he                   
doesn't think it's as common as perhaps she implied.  He said he               
thinks most of the codes are driven through professional                       
organizations like the Structural Engineers Association.  They're              
national and international groups, they go out, and one of the                 
things that happens after a large earthquake for example is a team             
of engineers goes out and examines what happened and they learn                
lessons.  And then those lessons learned are digested through many             
professional meetings and then are promulgated then as code                    
revisions.  They're saying, "Look, we did this wrong, we didn't tie            
these beams together properly," so the next revision of the code               
ought to provide for a flange in that kind of a joint.  So those               
kinds of issues, and lessons learned, are then brought forward and             
we do learn things as time goes on and that's the natural                      
progression of why codes change.  Representative Davies said he                
believes we also generally provide for grand fathering, that a                 
building is built under a particular code is legal and safe and                
everything as long as the building doesn't get substantially                   
changed.  If a substantial amount money is going to be invested to             
modify the building, or something like that, then usually the                  
requirement is to bring the building up to code if it is a viable              
thing to do financially.                                                       
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said most of his experience with this has             
been retrofitting houses, it's easy to put in shear walls and bolt             
the house down to the foundation, which is all you need to do for              
most places and take care of the unreinforced masonry problem.  He             
said those seem to be the big three of what to do, and indicated               
that's not a real problem up here.                                             
                                                                               
Number 0597                                                                    
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ made a motion to move HB 408 as amended               
with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.                      
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any objections.  Hearing none, CSHB
408 (STA) moved from the House State Affairs Standing Committee.               
                                                                               
ADJOURNMENT                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 0611                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Standing Committee at            
10:14 a.m.                                                                     

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