Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/23/1994 09:15 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
                             MINUTES                                           
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                        February 23, 1994                                      
                            9:15 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPES                                                                        
                                                                               
  SFC-94, #29, Side 1 (000-end)                                                
  SFC-94, #29, Side 2 (end-350)                                                
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Senator Drue  Pearce,  Co-chair,  convened  the  meeting  at                 
  approximately 9:15 a.m.                                                      
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  In  addition   to  Co-chairs  Pearce   and  Frank,  Senators                 
  Kerttula, Jacko and  Sharp were present.  Senators Kelly and                 
  Rieger joined the meeting after it was in progress.                          
                                                                               
  ALSO ATTENDING:   Senator Randy Phillips, sponsor  of SB 26;                 
  Senator  Halford;  Representative Mulder;  Margaret Branson,                 
  resident  of  Seward;  Jeff Morrison,  Legislative  Liaison,                 
  Department of  Military & Veteran  Affairs; Rosalee  Walker,                 
  resident of  Juneau; Marshall  Lind, speaking  as a  private                 
  citizen;  David  Harding,  aide to  Representative  Maclean,                 
  sponsor  of  HB  73; Raymond  Goad,  aide  to Representative                 
  Brice,  sponsor   of  HJR   36;  Elmer  Lindstrom,   Special                 
  Assistant, Department  of  Health &  Social  Services;  Ella                 
  Fitzgerald, Public Assistant Program  Manager I, Division of                 
  Medical Assistance, Department of Health & Social  Services;                 
  and  Mike Greany,  Director,  Legislative Finance  Division;                 
  aides  to  committee  members  and   other  members  of  the                 
  legislature.                                                                 
                                                                               
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
                                                                               
  SB 26:    An Act relating  to the location of  the convening                 
            of  the   legislature  in  regular   session;  and                 
            providing for an effective date.                                   
                                                                               
            Senator  Randy   Phillips,  sponsor   of  SB   26,                 
            testified  in  support  of  the  bill.    Margaret                 
            Branson,  Rosalee  Walker,   and  Marshall   Lind,                 
            speaking   as   private  citizens,   testified  in                 
            opposition  to  SB  26.    Discussion was  had  by                 
            Senators  Kerttula,  Kelly  and   Sharp  regarding                 
            fiscal notes  and  the  initiative  coming  before                 
            voters about moving the capital to Wasilla.  SB 26                 
            was HELD in committee.                                             
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SB 329:   An Act  establishing a  grant program relating  to                 
            veterans' services.                                                
                                                                               
            Senator  Jacko, sponsor  of  SB 329  testified  in                 
            support of  the bill.  Jeff  Morrison, Legislative                 
            Liaison, Department of Military & Veteran Affairs,                 
            spoke to his concerns regarding  page 2, lines 5-7                 
            that at  least 25  percent of  the money  received                 
            under  the   grant   be  used   for  expenses   in                 
            communities with  a population  of less  than 400.                 
            Senator  Kelly  brought  some  questions  to   the                 
            committee as to  what percent of veterans  were in                 
            rural  areas  and  what qualified  a  person  as a                 
            "veteran."  SB  329 was REPORTED OUT  of committee                 
            with individual recommendations  and a zero fiscal                 
            note from  the  Department of  Military &  Veteran                 
            Affairs.                                                           
                                                                               
  CSHB 59:  An Act  making  a  special  appropriation  to  the                 
            Department                                                         
  (MLV)     of  Natural  Resources  for   refunds  to  certain                 
            veterans  who   purchased  state   land  and   for                 
            reimbursement to the University  of Alaska for the                 
            veterans'   land   discount   applied    to   land                 
            transferred  to  the  University  of  Alaska;  and                 
            providing for an effective date.                                   
                                                                               
            Representative Mulder, co-sponsor of HB 59,  spoke                 
            in support of CSHB 59(MLV).   Senator Rieger MOVED                 
            an amendment changing the date on line 13 to  June                 
            30, 1995,  and deleting  line 14  (Sec.  3).   The                 
            amendment was ADOPTED with no objections.  SCSCSHB
            59(FIN) was REPORTED  out of committee with  a "do                 
            pass" and a zero fiscal note for the Department of                 
            Natural Resources.                                                 
                                                                               
  HB 73:    An Act relating  to state  and local taxation  and                 
            other state  regulation as affected by  the Alaska                 
            Native Claims  Settlement  Act,  as  amended,  and                 
            related  federal statutes;  and  providing for  an                 
            effective date.                                                    
                                                                               
            David  Harding,  aide  to Representative  Maclean,                 
            sponsor  of  HB 73,  testified  in support  of the                 
            bill.    Discussion  followed   between  Co-chairs                 
            Frank,   Pearce,   Senators   Jacko,  and   Rieger                 
            regarding concerns over  federal statutes.  HB  73                 
            was HELD in committee.                                             
                                                                               
  CSHJR 36  Urging the federal Department of Health and Human                  
  (HES)     Services to   repeal the "100-hour  rule" relating                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
            to employment  of certain  persons receiving  AFDC                 
            and  to  replace it  with  a regulation  that will                 
            serve  as  an  incentive for  AFDC  recipients  to                 
            accept employment of more than 100 hours a month.                  
                                                                               
            Raymond  Goad,  aide   to  Representative   Brice,                 
            sponsor  of  HJR  36,  spoke  in  support  of  the                 
            resolution.  Elmer  Lindstrom, Special  Assistant,                 
            Department of  Health & Social  Services attempted                 
            to answer Co-chair Frank's  question regarding the                 
            "100 hour rule."   Senator Sharp asked  a question                 
            regarding Medicaid eligibility. CSHJR  36(HES) was                 
            REPORTED OUT  of committee with a "do  pass" and a                 
            zero fiscal note  for the  Department of Health  &                 
            Social Services.                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 26:                                                          
                                                                               
       An Act relating to the location of the convening of the                 
       legislature in regular  session; and  providing for  an                 
       effective date.                                                         
                                                                               
  CO-CHAIR  PEARCE  announced  that  SB   26  was  before  the                 
  committee.   She invited  Senator Phillips,  sponsor of  the                 
  bill, to join the members at the table.                                      
                                                                               
  SENATOR RANDY  PHILLIPS  said  SB 26  would  move  only  the                 
  legislature  from   Juneau  to   Anchorage.    The   primary                 
  motivation  was  to  give  people of  Alaska  access  to the                 
  legislature.    He felt  the people  had  the right  to have                 
  access to policy  makers.  He said  in a survey done  in his                 
  district, four out of five people favored the move.  He then                 
  spoke to the fiscal notes for each department.  He had asked                 
  each department to  show how  much money had  been spent  on                 
  employee travel during  the legislative  session.  He  asked                 
  the committee to look at the fiscal notes with this in mind.                 
  He  said over half of the legislators  were within a 50 mile                 
  radius of  Anchorage for  some cost  savings.   He felt  the                 
  capitol  building could  be a museum  piece and  the tourism                 
  industry would provide some income for maintenance.                          
                                                                               
  Senator  Phillips  said  he  had  talked to  Alaska  Pacific                 
  University and there were buildings  available that could be                 
  used on campus  to house the  legislature.  He also  thought                 
  the  business people in Anchorage  could help with any needs                 
  if the legislature would move.                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula disagreed  with moving the legislature  and                 
  not the capital.  He felt  the interaction was too great for                 
  the  process to be  separated.  He  asked how  that would be                 
  addressed.  Senator Phillips  agreed with Senator Kerttula's                 
  comments but he  believed the  teleconference tool could  be                 
  used.                                                                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula noted  there was an initiative  to move the                 
  capital to one area  and a bill  to move the legislature  to                 
  another.  He found it disturbing.  Senator Phillips  thought                 
  this bill would be a more responsible answer to voter access                 
  to the legislature than moving the whole capital to Wasilla.                 
  However, he said he was not opposed to moving the capital to                 
  Wasilla.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Senator Kelly said that he saw the 1993 survey but wanted to                 
  know the results of the 1994  survey.  Senator Phillips said                 
  that  it  was 52  percent  for  and 48  percent  against the                 
  legislative  move  but a  65  percent for  moving  the whole                 
  capital.  Senator  Kelly noticed  that his constituents  had                 
  turned  around  from   1993  to  1994.     Senator  Phillips                 
  maintained that priority of access was very important.                       
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce  announced   that  Margaret  Branson  would                 
  testify via teleconference from Seward.                                      
                                                                               
  MARGARET BRANSON, citizen and resident of Seward, said SB 26                 
  was  a  back  door approach  to  moving  the  capital.   She                 
  disagreed that the  legislative branch  could function in  a                 
  vacuum  from  the   executive  branch,   and  it  showed   a                 
  misunderstanding of our form  of government.  One  could not                 
  function  without the  other,  nor at  a  distance of  1,000                 
  miles.  She did not know of one government in the world that                 
  functioned in such a  way.  She knew it was  not a matter of                 
  office  space.    She  did  not  think  Anchorage  was  more                 
  accessible to people than Juneau.  In this year of declining                 
  revenues  and budget  crisis,  it  seemed self-indulgent  to                 
  exercise such a move.  She was opposed to SB 26.                             
                                                                               
  In answer to  Senator Kelly,  Ms. Branson said  she was  the                 
  chairperson for the  last capital site planning  commission.                 
  She said she  had not  looked at the  financial figures  for                 
  years but assured  the committee  that it was  not a  simple                 
  matter to move the legislature.   She also noted that people                 
  elect officials to represent them so  they do not have to go                 
  to council  meetings, borough meetings, etc.   She felt this                 
  was also true of the legislature.                                            
                                                                               
  MARSHALL  LIND,  speaking  as a  private  citizen, testified                 
  concerning a new communication system.   He said he had been                 
  involved in education for over 30  years and just lately had                 
  seen video conferencing as an alternative way to communicate                 
  that could benefit  many people in  the state.  The  quality                 
  would not be  the same as  broadcast but would worked  well.                 
  He  said  from personal  experience  it had  saved  time and                 
  money.  The University  was using this system in  Fairbanks,                 
  Anchorage and Juneau.   A unit would come on-line  in Bethel                 
  and the North Slope Borough had this for some time  in their                 
  school system.   He listed  many ways this  system could  be                 
  used.   He saw it as an opportunity  to solve the problem of                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  citizen access and at the same time it could benefit schools                 
  and other situations.                                                        
                                                                               
  Senator  Phillips  said  that if  the  legislature  moved to                 
  Anchorage, it could be used in the same way.                                 
                                                                               
  In answer to  Senator Sharp's  question regarding cost,  Mr.                 
  Lind said  voice per hour  per site  was approximately  $30.                 
  With three sites it was about $90 per site.  For  four sites                 
  it became  less expensive.   A  bridge could accommodate  24                 
  different locations.  Mr. Lind  guessed the cost of hardware                 
  and hourly rate would go down.                                               
                                                                               
  Senator  Kelly  said  he  had  used the  University's  video                 
  conferencing  and it  was interesting.   He  had asked  Mike                 
  Harmon to look into  the cost for setting  up such a  system                 
  for the legislature.   He  felt it would  be more  effective                 
  even  though the teleconference system in place now was very                 
  satisfactory.                                                                
                                                                               
  ROSALEE WALKER, citizen  and resident  of Juneau,  testified                 
  against SB 26.  She said  she did not care if the move  only                 
  cost $1,000, it was  $1,000 more than the state  could spare                 
  right  now.   She  reminded  the committee  that legislators                 
  represented the entire state and there  were segments of the                 
  state in third world conditions.  To move the legislature to                 
  pacify  a select  number of constituents  was irresponsible.                 
  Also, to move one section of the government would cause more                 
  confusion than it  would help.   Change in location was  not                 
  what was needed but  change in behavior was what  she wanted                 
  to see.  If she was separated from her legislator, she would                 
  pick  up  the  phone  or  write a  letter.    She  asked the                 
  committee to refuse this concept.                                            
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce  announced  that  SB  26 would  be  HELD  in                 
  committee.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 329:                                                         
                                                                               
       An   Act  establishing  a  grant  program  relating  to                 
       veterans' services.                                                     
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce  announced  that  SB  329  was  before  the                 
  committee.  She asked Senator Jacko to speak to the bill.                    
                                                                               
  SENATOR  JACKO,  sponsor  of  SB 329,  said  that  the  bill                 
  basically affirmed that the welfare  of Alaska residents was                 
  important  to  the  state  of   Alaska,  it  permitted  more                 
  efficient operations of the  Veteran services programs,  and                 
  improved  legislative  oversight of  program accomplishments                 
  and emphasized the need for veterans in a remote areas.   He                 
  encouraged the  department to simplify  existing regulations                 
  and streamline  grantee selections  to reduce  overhead even                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  more than it had already.   He noted that SB 329 had  a zero                 
  fiscal  note.  This bill called  for a report on a quarterly                 
  basis.   He said  that for years,  the rural areas  had been                 
  ignored  in  the area  of veteran  services.   He  urged the                 
  department  to find creative ways to fill  the void.  A list                 
  of  names  and phone  numbers was  not  enough.   Because of                 
  funding reductions, almost three-quarters of Alaska veterans                 
  would go  unserved, particularly  in rural  areas and  small                 
  towns.   This was  offensive to  him  and he  wanted a  more                 
  equitable distribution of the much needed services.                          
                                                                               
  In answer  to  Senator Kelly,  Senator Jacko  said the  VPSO                 
  program was codified  in statute  and before it  was a  line                 
  item.  This bill did not effect VPSO's, only veterans.                       
                                                                               
  JEFF MORRISON, Legislative Liaison, Department of Military &                 
  Veteran Affairs,  said his  department had  no problem  with                 
  establishing this  in statute.   Currently, regulations were                 
  in place that  created a grant program for administering the                 
  Veteran  Service  Officer Grant  Program.   This  would give                 
  statutory recognition  to it.   The  department had  concern                 
  with language on  page 2, lines  5-7, that would require  25                 
  percent of the money be spent on  areas with a population of                 
  less  than 400.   He  said there  were overriding  practical                 
  concerns  about  putting  this  in   statute.    First,  the                 
  department and  the veteran  service organization  were very                 
  supportive  of  the  concept of  outreach  to  rural Alaska.                 
  Money  targeted for that area  had doubled but the practical                 
  aspect was that, in  order to maximize the travel  funds and                 
  make  the  money  most  efficient,  the   veteran's  service                 
  officers would travel to Bethel and Nome and by a variety of                 
  means, get the word out to surrounding communities including                 
  scanners on TV, word of  mouth, advertisement through senior                 
  centers, and other  efforts to let  veterans know that  they                 
  would be at a certain place  at a certain time.  They  would                 
  meet  with anyone, receive phone calls on the advertised 800                 
  number  and do anything they  could to reach the communities                 
  short  of  traveling   to  them.     Traveling  to   smaller                 
  communities was very expensive and  could incur costs if  up                 
  to  $200 a veteran.   Working out  of a  hub community would                 
  drop it  to $25 a  veteran.  It  would be very  difficult to                 
  keep track of  what percent  was used to  reach the  smaller                 
  communities.    A reporting  system  was being  developed to                 
  track  recipients by general  area using veteran's telephone                 
  number.    He  was  concerned  that this  requirement  would                 
  require  time  that would  be  better used  in  contacts and                 
  services to the veterans.                                                    
                                                                               
  In answer to  Senator Kelly, Mr.  Morrison did not know  how                 
  many of the veterans  lived in areas with a  population less                 
  than 400.  He thought this might be part of the problem.  He                 
  believed that a veteran  needed to have 20 years  of service                 
  to receive benefits.                                                         
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Jacko MOVED for  passage of SB 329 out  of committee                 
  with individual recommendations.  No objection  being heard,                 
  it   was  REPORTED   OUT   of   committee  with   individual                 
  recommendations, and a  zero fiscal note for  the Department                 
  of Military  & Veteran Affairs.  Co-chairs Pearce and Frank,                 
  and  Senator Jacko  signed "do  pass."   Senators Kelly  and                 
  Rieger signed "no recommendation."                                           
                                                                               
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 59(MLV):                                               
                                                                               
       An Act making a special appropriation to the Department                 
       of  Natural Resources  for refunds to  certain veterans                 
       who purchased state  land and for reimbursement  to the                 
       University of  Alaska for  the veterans' land  discount                 
       applied  to  land  transferred  to  the  University  of                 
       Alaska; and providing for an effective date.                            
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce  announced  that  HB   59  was  before  the                 
  committee and invited  Representative Mulder to come  to the                 
  table.                                                                       
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER said HB 59  dealt with making veterans                 
  and  the  University,  who  purchased  land under  the  land                 
  discount program, eligible for reimbursement.                                
                                                                               
  End SFC-94 #29, Side 1                                                       
  Begin SFC-94 #29, Side 2                                                     
                                                                               
  He said that the Sixteenth  Legislature passed HB 134  which                 
  made the current veterans land  benefit retroactive to April                 
  1993 but no  appropriation was included in that bill.  HB 59                 
  would reimburse anyone  eligible for  their discount in  the                 
  land  purchase  or  transfer.   He  said  the Department  of                 
  Natural Resources supported this legislation.                                
                                                                               
  In answer to Senator Rieger, Representative Mulder said this                 
  bill was drafted  last year  and the date  would need to  be                 
  changed.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger  MOVED amendment 1 which would update page 1,                 
  line  13  to  June 30,  1995,  and  delete  Section 3.    No                 
  objection being heard, it was ADOPTED.                                       
                                                                               
  Senator  Kelly  MOVED for  passage  of SCSCSHB  59(FIN) from                 
  committee  with  individual recommendations.    No objection                 
  being heard, it  was REPORTED  OUT of committee  with a  "do                 
  pass"  and zero fiscal  note for  the Department  of Natural                 
  Resources.    Co-chairs Pearce  and  Frank,  Senators Jacko,                 
  Kelly and Rieger signed "do pass."                                           
                                                                               
  HOUSE BILL NO. 73:                                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
       An  Act relating to state  and local taxation and other                 
       state  regulation  as  affected  by  the Alaska  Native                 
       Claims Settlement Act, as  amended, and related federal                 
       statutes; and providing for an effective date.                          
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce  announced  that  HB   73  was  before  the                 
  committee.      She   invited   David   Harding,   aide   to                 
  Representative  Maclean,  sponsor  of  HB  73, to  join  the                 
  members at the table.                                                        
                                                                               
  DAVID HARDING  said HB 73  was simple and  straight forward.                 
  It  would bring state  law into compliance  with federal law                 
  regarding   the  exemption  of  certain  native  lands  from                 
  property  taxation.   Several  years  ago the  Alaska Native                 
  Lands Settlement Act  was amended  to continue an  exemption                 
  from federal, state or  local property taxes on  ANCSA lands                 
  until  development  would  occur  on  those  lands.   HB  73                 
  reflected  those  changes.   The  bill  also  included other                 
  technical changes  pointed out  by the  attorney.  The  bill                 
  would  not  expand  or reduce  any  benefits  or protections                 
  already mandated by federal law.  It simply cleaned up state                 
  law and insured that obsolete state  statutes do not lead to                 
  misinterpretation by assessors or others who might work with                 
  Alaska's tax law.   He said it passed the  House unanimously                 
  and carried a zero fiscal note.                                              
                                                                               
  In answer to Senator Jacko, Mr. Harding said that it did not                 
  pass two years ago.                                                          
                                                                               
  In answer  to  Co-chair Frank,  Mr. Harding  went into  more                 
  detail on the technical changes listed in the bill.                          
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce  referenced   Mr.  Chenoweth's  memo  dated                 
  February  24,  1994.   Discussion  was had  by  Mr. Harding,                 
  Senator Rieger and Co-chair Frank regarding this memo.                       
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce  announced  that  HB 73  would  be  HELD  in                 
  committee so the members interested could further pursue the                 
  information in the memo by Mr. Chenoweth.                                    
                                                                               
  CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 36(HES):                                   
                                                                               
       Urging  the  federal  Department  of  Health and  Human                 
       Services to   repeal  the "100-hour  rule" relating  to                 
       employment  of certain  persons  receiving AFDC  and to                 
       replace  it with  a regulation  that will  serve as  an                 
       incentive for AFDC  recipients to accept  employment of                 
       more than 100 hours a month.                                            
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Pearce  announced  that  HJR  36  was  before  the                 
  committee that repealed  the "100  hour rule"  for the  AFDC                 
  program.  She  invited Raymond Goad, aide  to Representative                 
  Brice  to come  to the  table.   She  also  noted that  Ella                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Fitzgerald, Public  Assistant Program Manager I, Division of                 
  Medical Assistance, Department of Health &  Social Services,                 
  was in the audience to answer questions.                                     
                                                                               
  RAYMOND GOAD said  that the DH&SS had  developed regulations                 
  relating  to  the aid  to  families with  dependent children                 
  unemployed parent program.  This set out the number of hours                 
  a  parent  could  work without  losing  eligibility  for the                 
  program.  The threshold was set at 100 hours per month.   If                 
  a  job  was exceeded  by 100  hours  per month,  that family                 
  become ineligible for  AFDC and Medicaid even  if employment                 
  earnings were less than the amount of  the AFDC grant.  This                 
  discouraged people  that want to work from  taking full time                 
  employment.  Many families stay on  AFDC because a job would                 
  not support them or provide medical  benefits.  It meant the                 
  state incurred increased cost to the program.  Repealing the                 
  "100 hour  rule" would  enable people  to accept  employment                 
  that exceeded 100 hours per month that may partially support                 
  them and reduce  the amount of  aid received.  He  mentioned                 
  that  a  working  group  for  President Clinton's  plan  may                 
  include such a recommendation.                                               
                                                                               
  In answer to Senator Jacko, Mr. Goad said the reason for the                 
  joint resolution was because it was a federal regulation and                 
  not in state statute.                                                        
                                                                               
  In answer to Co-chair Frank,  ELMER LINDSTROM explained that                 
  if a person had a job for  less than 100 hours per month, it                 
  was counted as income and a  reduction in their AFDC payment                 
  would occur.   He said he did  not know all the  details but                 
  knew the "100 hour  rule" was a dis-incentive for  people to                 
  take low paying  jobs.  He said it was even more apparent to                 
  him since  he had worked with  the JOBS program.   This only                 
  applied to the two parent family case load.  Governor Hickel                 
  had  already  petitioned the  federal government  to include                 
  this  in the national welfare reform effort.  The resolution                 
  would be timely in that regard.  He said it was supported by                 
  the Public Welfare Association, the National Organization of                 
  Welfare Directors, and also was in one of the welfare reform                 
  proposal in the state.                                                       
                                                                               
  Co-chair  Frank  continued   to  make  comments  and   asked                 
  questions of Mr. Lindstrom.   He said that a  welfare reform                 
  waiver would  be before the  legislation this year  and they                 
  could address those questions.                                               
                                                                               
  In answer to  Senator Sharp,  Mr. Lindstrom said  that if  a                 
  person was eligible  for AFDC, he  or she would be  eligible                 
  for Medicaid.                                                                
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger  MOVED for passage  of HJR 36  from committee                 
  with individual recommendations.   No objection being heard,                 
  it was REPORTED OUT  of committee with a "do  pass" and zero                 
  fiscal  note for the Department of Health & Social Services.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senators Sharp,  Jacko, Kelly,  Rieger, and Kerttula  signed                 
  "do  pass."     Co-chairs  Pearce   and  Frank  signed   "no                 
  recommendation."                                                             
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:30 a.m.                        

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