Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

04/27/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:53:39 PM Start
03:54:29 PM HR5
04:22:54 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 15 Minutes Following Session --
*+ HR 5 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PER DIEM LIMITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         April 27, 2017                                                                                         
                           3:53 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Chair                                                                                   
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
Representative Chris Birch                                                                                                      
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Andy Josephson (alternate)                                                                                       
Representative Chuck Kopp (alternate)                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 5                                                                                                          
Urging the House of Representatives to adopt a policy for per                                                                   
diem paid to its members based on the United States Department                                                                  
of Defense federal flat rate per diem schedule.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HR 5                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PER DIEM LIMITS                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KNOPP                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
04/15/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/15/17       (H)       STA                                                                                                    
04/27/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DIANNE BLUMER, Staff                                                                                                            
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing on HR                                                              
5 on behalf of Representative Knopp, prime sponsor.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
JESSICA GEARY, Finance Manager                                                                                                  
Legislative Administrative Services                                                                                             
Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA)                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered question during the  hearing on HR                                                             
5.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:53:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS  called  the  House State  Affairs                                                             
Standing   Committee    meeting   to    order   at    3:53   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Tuck,  Wool, Birch,  Johnson, Knopp,  and Kreiss-                                                               
Tomkins  were  present at  the  call  to order.    Representative                                                               
LeDoux arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
         HR 5-HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PER DIEM LIMITS                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
3:54:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that  the only order  of business                                                               
would  be   HOUSE  RESOLUTION   NO.  5,   Urging  the   House  of                                                               
Representatives  to adopt  a  policy  for per  diem  paid to  its                                                               
members based on the United  States Department of Defense federal                                                               
flat rate per diem schedule.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:54:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP, as  prime sponsor of HR 5,  referred to the                                                               
first  paragraph of  the sponsor  statement, which  read in  part                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:   "This Resolution would provide                                                               
for a  clear and transparent policy  for per diem payments".   He                                                               
maintained that  he included that  statement because  he believes                                                               
the  budget process  on the  House floor  needs improvement,  and                                                               
introduction  of this  resolution would  encourage more  detailed                                                               
discussion and a better thought  out policy.  He paraphrased from                                                               
the  second paragraph  of the  sponsor statement,  which read  as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     House  Resolution  5  would  adopt  the  United  States                                                                    
     Department of Defense (DoD) federal  flat rate per diem                                                                    
     schedule  providing   the  members  of  the   House  of                                                                    
     Representatives who  reside outside  of Juneau  be paid                                                                    
     at  the full  federal per  diem rate  for the  first 30                                                                    
     days of each regular session  and, for the remainder of                                                                    
     each regular session at 75  percent of the DoD full per                                                                    
     diem  rate. Currently  members are  paid  the full  per                                                                    
     diem rate for all days in session.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP referred  to the  document included  in the                                                               
committee packet  and entitled  "Flat Rate  Per Diem  Outside the                                                               
Continental United States."  He  explained that in this document,                                                               
the  per diem  rates are  labeled the  "100% rate"  and the  "75%                                                               
rate"; he  said he refers  to them  as the "short-term  rate" and                                                               
the  "long-term  rate."    He  maintained  that  instituting  the                                                               
Department of  Defense (DoD)  100 percent rate  for the  first 30                                                               
days  of   the  legislative  session  makes   sense,  because  it                                                               
accommodates  the move  and getting  situated; after  that, one's                                                               
daily  expenses  would most  likely  decline,  justifying the  75                                                               
percent rate for the long-term duration.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  referred to  the  third  paragraph of  the                                                               
sponsor  statement, which  read [original  punctuation provided]:                                                               
"House  Resolution 5  would  also  reduce the  per  diem for  the                                                               
members who  reside in Juneau to  75 percent of the  rate paid to                                                               
members who do not reside in Juneau."   He said that has been the                                                               
policy;  the  intent  of  the proposed  resolution  is  to  avoid                                                               
discrimination; and  to facilitate  the policy being  adopted, he                                                               
chose one  that was familiar  to the legislature.   He maintained                                                               
that  the  Juneau legislators  are  not  able  to work  at  their                                                               
regular jobs while  on duty at the legislature;  they have travel                                                               
expenses coming to  and from the capitol building;  and they have                                                               
meal  expenses as  well.   He asserted  that he  supports the  75                                                               
percent  per  diem rate  for  the  Juneau  legislators.   In  the                                                               
proposed  resolution,   after  the  30-day  period,   the  Juneau                                                               
legislators would  continue to  receive the  75 percent  per diem                                                               
rate along with the legislators not residing in Juneau.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:58:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP relayed that  he primarily focused on policy                                                               
when drafting the  proposed resolution; his staff  focused on the                                                               
dollar amount.   He maintained that adopting the  DoD rates would                                                               
save the  state money:   in the 90-day  session there would  be a                                                               
savings  of $162,698;  in  a  120-day session  there  would be  a                                                               
savings of a little over $244,000.   He said that he provided the                                                               
federal per  diem rate schedule  to the committee  to demonstrate                                                               
the detailed analysis that is  involved in determining the rates;                                                               
it is updated  annually and adjusted seasonally.   He referred to                                                               
previous  committee discussions  suggesting  the [State  Officers                                                               
Compensation Commission  (SOCC)] perform that work;  he mentioned                                                               
that  he is  concerned that  the  commission would  not have  the                                                               
manpower  to  do  its  due  diligence,  and  the  resulting  rate                                                               
schedule  would  be  arbitrary  in  nature.    He  asserted  that                                                               
adopting a  policy was of  greater importance, and his  desire is                                                               
to have the legislative body make that determination.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:01:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked if  the Legislative Council sets per                                                               
diem rates currently.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  replied that  the Legislative  Council does                                                               
set the  per diem rates;  by statute the  SOCC may review  it and                                                               
make recommendations.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:02:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH expressed his  appreciation for the proposed                                                               
resolution.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:02:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if  HR 5 would  affect only  the per                                                               
diem rates for the House, not the Senate.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP answered,  "That is  correct."   He relayed                                                               
that the  Senate has  already set its  rates separately  from the                                                               
House per diem in this budget cycle.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked for  the rationale behind  using the                                                               
full per diem  rate for the first thirty days  and the 75 percent                                                               
per diem rate for the other two months.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  reiterated   the  many  expenses  involved                                                               
during the  first 30 days  of the legislative session  in Juneau;                                                               
and he  maintained that the  expenses most likely  would decrease                                                               
after the  initial "settling  in."  He  asserted that  his intent                                                               
was  to establish  a policy;  however, his  staff estimated  that                                                               
there  would be  about a  $244,000 savings  in a  120-day session                                                               
under the proposed per diem rates.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:04:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked what  the difference was between what                                                               
is proposed under  HR 5 and using the long-term  federal per diem                                                               
rates.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  responded that  the current  short-term per                                                               
diem rate is  about $275; the recommended long-term  rate from 31                                                               
days  to  120  days  is  about $206.    He  maintained  that  the                                                               
accumulative  savings  for  a  90-day   session  would  be  about                                                               
[$162,698]; for a 120-day session, it would be about $244,000.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked why  the federal long-term  per diem                                                               
rate was not used in the proposed resolution.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP opined  that the  expenses for  legislators                                                               
during the  first 30  days are  greater than  after the  first 30                                                               
days, when they have adjusted to the move.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  if  the 75  percent  per diem  rate                                                               
after the  first 30 days was  close to the federal  short-term or                                                               
long-term per diem rates.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  answered  that  it was  the  same  as  the                                                               
federal per  diem rate.  He  pointed out the long-term  and short                                                               
term per diem rates side-by-side  in the chart; and he maintained                                                               
that  the   federal  government  was  very   specific  about  its                                                               
intention for the use of these rates.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:07:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DIANNE  BLUMER, Staff,  Representative Gary  Knopp, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf of Representative  Knopp, prime sponsor of                                                               
HR 5,  expressed her  belief that  the legislature  started using                                                               
the federal rate  in 1994, and the  rate it chose to  use was the                                                               
100  percent rate.   Under  the federal  rate per  diem standard,                                                               
there  is a  1- through  30-day rate,  which is  the 100  percent                                                               
rate, and the  31- through 180-day rate, which is  the 75 percent                                                               
rate.   She maintained that  when the legislature decided  to use                                                               
the federal  per diem rate, only  the 100 percent rate  was used,                                                               
not  the whole  chart.   She  said that  the proposed  resolution                                                               
would adopt  the federal regulations entirely;  therefore, the 75                                                               
percent per diem rate would be used  as the DoD designed it to be                                                               
used.   She  mentioned that  the legislature  had "cherry-picked"                                                               
from the chart previously.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:09:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  commented that  technically the  rates under                                                               
the  proposed resolution  are  cherry-picked;  when the  intended                                                               
stay is known  to be over 30 days, that  should automatically put                                                               
the legislators into the [long-term] 75 percent category.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP conceded  that using  the 100  percent rate                                                               
for the entire  period shows a lack of discipline  on the part of                                                               
the  legislature;  he  reiterated that  getting  settled,  buying                                                               
supplies, and dining  out poses additional costs in  the first 30                                                               
days; the intent  of the resolution is  to compensate legislators                                                               
for those additional expenses.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  pointed to some  of the rates on  the charts                                                               
for the various locations and  speculated that they were based on                                                               
hotel lodging and  dining out; he mentioned that  those rates may                                                               
or may not apply to legislators.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP referred to the  totals in the third column,                                                               
entitled "Maximum  Per Diem,"  and said  that they  represent the                                                               
accumulative rates.  He emphasized  the considerable analysis and                                                               
work  that  goes into  calculating  rates  and adjustments.    He                                                               
pointed out that  due to the rate adjustment  that occurred early                                                               
in the  session, his per  diem rate  increased $69, but  the rate                                                               
for Anchorage decreased $100.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:12:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS asked if DoD pays  the 100 percent rate to a                                                               
member  of the  U.S. Armed  Forces during  the first  30 days  of                                                               
deployment - even if it is  known the person will be deployed for                                                               
longer than  30 days -  and then decreases  it to the  75 percent                                                               
after the first 30 days, or if  he/she is paid the 75 percent per                                                               
diem rate for the full duration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP answered that he does not know.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:13:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JESSICA  GEARY,   Finance  Manager,   Legislative  Administrative                                                               
Services,   Legislative  Affairs   Agency   (LAA),  offered   her                                                               
understanding that  if the intent  for the duty assignment  is to                                                               
last longer  than 30 days, the  75 percent per diem  rate will be                                                               
used for the entirety of the "temporary duty" station.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL commented  that the  proposed resolution  is                                                               
well-intended; it  would be  easy to find  fault with  the chart.                                                               
He  offered that  the goal  of  SOCC was  to look  at the  entire                                                               
"compensation  package,"  including  salary  and per  diem.    He                                                               
suggested  that most  legislators are  not staying  in a  nightly                                                               
hotel  and  paying  nightly  rates.     He  maintained  that  the                                                               
compensation  package should  be considered  in totality  and not                                                               
"broken into little pieces."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP responded that  legislators' needs vary from                                                               
one to  another - some  come with families  and some are  alone -                                                               
but  per diem  rates should  not reflect  those differences.   He                                                               
maintained  that the  intent  of the  proposed  resolution is  to                                                               
accommodate all legislators.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP referred  to page 1, line 1, of  HR 5, which                                                               
read, "Urging  the House of  Representatives to adopt  a policy".                                                               
He maintained  that the intent  of the proposed resolution  is to                                                               
adopt a policy;  all other issues can be  debated and/or amended.                                                               
He said  that the paragraph  on page  1, lines 6-9,  explains the                                                               
current  practice  for  legislative  per  diem.    The  paragraph                                                               
beginning  on page  1, line  13, and  ending on  page 2,  line 3,                                                               
explains the  per diem  rates under the  resolution -  the short-                                                               
term 100  percent rate  and the  long-term 75  percent rate.   He                                                               
said that the  paragraph on page 2, lines 4-8,  clarifies the per                                                               
diem rates  for special session,  which could be held  outside of                                                               
Juneau.    The  paragraph  on   page  2,  lines  9-13,  discusses                                                               
following the model of  the DoD per diem rate chart  so as not to                                                               
discriminate against any legislator.   He said that the paragraph                                                               
on page  2, lines 18-23,  specifies the special session  per diem                                                               
rates:  the 100 percent rate  for legislators not residing in the                                                               
location  of  the special  session;  75  percent rate  for  those                                                               
residing in the location.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:18:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  pointed out  that resolutions  are usually                                                               
sent to  another entity - Congress  or the governor.   She stated                                                               
that HR  5 appears to  be a resolution  to the legislature.   She                                                               
asked  to  whom  the  resolution   would  go,  if  passed.    She                                                               
maintained that  if it goes  to Legislative Council,  there would                                                               
be the same problems with inaction as currently exist.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  concurred that  the resolution  is intended                                                               
for the  House of Representatives  only; in the budget  cycle the                                                               
Senate set its  rates separately.  He stated that  his intent was                                                               
for the  chair of the House  Rules Standing Committee to  put the                                                               
resolution  before the  body for  discussion and  vote without  a                                                               
"chit" sheet;  if it passes,  the Legislative Council  would then                                                               
follow the guidelines.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:20:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  expressed his appreciation  for compensation                                                               
allowances  for all  legislators, who  are all  pulled away  from                                                               
their normal jobs.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked for  confirmation that  the resolution                                                               
proposes that  legislators living  in Anchorage will  receive the                                                               
75 percent per diem rate during  a special session if the special                                                               
session is held in Anchorage.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP answered, that's exactly right.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[HR 5 was held over.]                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:22:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
State Affairs  Standing Committee  meeting was adjourned  at 4:23                                                               
p.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HR 5 Sponsor Statement 4.26.17.pdf HSTA 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HR 5
HR 5 ver J 4.26.17.PDF HSTA 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HR 5
HR 5 Supporting Document - DOD Fed Per Diem Rates 4.26.17.pdf HSTA 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HR 5