Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/18/1996 03:05 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE April 18, 1996 3:05 p.m. TAPES SFC-96, #86, Side 1 SFC-96, #86, Side 2 Malfunction No Recording SFC-96, #87, Sides 1 and 2 SFC-96, #88, Side 1 to (334) CALL TO ORDER Senator Rick Halford, Co-chairman, convened the meeting at approximately 3:05 p.m. PRESENT In addition to Co-chairman Halford, Senators Donley, Phillips, Rieger, Sharp, and Zharoff were present. Co- chairman Frank arrived shortly after the meeting began. ALSO ATTENDING: Senator Green; Karen Perdue, Commissioner, Dept. of Health and Social Services; Kristen Bomengen, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section, Dept. of Law; Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant, Dept. of Health and Social Services; Dwight Perkins, Special Assistant, Dept. of Labor; Lamar Cotten, Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs; Remond Henderson, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs; Arbe Williams, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Dept. of Labor; Curt Lomas, Welfare Reform Program, Division of Public Assistance, Dept. of Health and Social Services; Glenda Straube, Director, Child Support Enforcement Division, Dept. of Revenue; Mike Tibbles, aide to Senator Green; and aides to committee members and other members of the legislature. SUMMARY INFORMATION SB 98 - WELFARE REFORM: TEMPORARY ASSIST. PROGRAM Discussion was had with Senator Green, Commissioner Perdue, Kristen Bomengen, Glenda Straube, and Curt Lomas. Amendments 3, 4(c), 6, 8, 9, and 10 were ADOPTED. CSSB 98 (Fin) was REPORTED OUT of committee with new fiscal notes from the Dept. of Health and Social Services. SB 229 - UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION & STEP PROGRAM Discussion was had with Dwight Perkins, Remond Henderson, Lamar Cotten, and Arbe Williams. The bill was held in committee pending preparation of an amendment by Co-chairman Frank. SB 301 - POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION Discussion was had with Senator Green and Mike Tibbles. An amendment by Senator Rieger was ADOPTED. CSSB 301 (Fin) was REPORTED OUT of committee with accompanying fiscal notes from the Dept. of Revenue and the Dept. of Education. SENATE BILL NO. 98 An Act making changes related to the aid to families with dependent children program, the Medicaid program, the general relief assistance program, and the adult public assistance program; directing the Department of Health and Social Services to apply to the federal government for waivers to implement the changes where necessary; relating to eligibility for permanent fund dividends of certain individuals who receive state assistance, to notice requirements applicable to the dividend program; and providing for an effective date. Co-chairman Halford directed that discussion of CSSB 98 (Fin), version "B," adopted and amended at the morning meeting, continue. He advised of two remaining areas of concern: The first involves grandparent responsibilities, and the second relates to occupational licenses. Prior to continuing that discussion, the Co-chairman directed attention to language within Section 32, page 44, and noted that it would allow legislators access to information in welfare cases. He voiced ongoing frustration over inability to obtain adequate information. Sec. 32 also contains a protection requiring that information not be disclosed as public information. Senator Zharoff voiced OBJECTION to the provision. Co-chairman Halford noted that the exemption is narrow. He stressed the importance of access to information on programs on which the legislature is working and continuing to make revisions. Senator Zharoff acknowledged greater concern over original language which provided for access by legislative staff. The Co- chairman noted that original provisions were removed from the current proposal. Co-chairman Halford referenced continued interest in a ratable reduction and advised of an amendment that would add the provision to the bill. The Co-chairman further referenced an amendment applicable to CSED licensing provisions which would sunset that portion two years from the effective date of this act rather than the effective date of federal action. Senator Rieger pointed to language within Section 35 and asked if it would allow disclosure against the will of the constituent. Or, would it provide access only if a constituent asked a legislator to work on a problem on his or her behalf. Co-chairman Halford said, "It works both ways." It could respond to a constituent complaining about receipt of benefits by someone who appears to be ineligible. It would also respond to those who seek benefits but are told they do not qualify. He acknowledged waivers which presently allow access to information on a particular client when the legislator is working on behalf of the client. Senator Rieger next inquired concerning the extent of the personal information. KRISTEN BOMENGEN, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section, Dept. of Law, attested to considerable amounts of information and suggested that language within the bill could be made more restrictive. Co-chairman Halford said there was no intention to include medical information and suggested that the department prepare an amendment clarifying that issue. Financial information, however, would be pertinent to legislative inquiries. Ms. Bomengen noted that the information may include other sensitive matters such as discussion of child abuse issues. A great many areas of the file may not be pertinent to legislative inquiry. She suggested that perhaps merely summary information could be made available. Discussion followed regarding the types of inquiries that might be made on behalf of constituents or as suspected fraud referrals. Senator Randy Phillips advised of need to balance the right of access versus the rights of individuals. Ms. Bomengen acknowledged that access sought by legislators may be allowable, under new federal law, with changes to wording in the present draft of CSSB 98 (Fin) to provide summary information addressing the specific point of inquiry. Ms. Bomengen further cited awkwardness stemming from the manner in which information received from the department would be conveyed to constituents. Co-chairman Halford reiterated that it is not the intent that medical information be disclosed. He asked that Ms. Bomengen draft language allowing "a reasonable review of a specific case without getting into the kinds of medical, child abuse, very personal history things, that are not relevant to the immediate decisions of qualification or non-qualification." Senator Rieger directed attention to his handwritten amendment, Amendment No. 3, and advised of need to apply the latter portion of the amendment at both Page 42, lines 13- 19, and Page 38, lines 2 through 8. He explained that the amendment relates to instances in which individuals may be caught off guard by a suspension of license notice. The first requirement ensures that individuals have at least 60 days' notice (from CSED) that the individual is in arrears in child support. Further, the arrearage must have accumulated to at least 4 months' worth of payments. Senator Zharoff inquired concerning the average monthly obligation. GLENDA STRAUBE, Director, Child Support Enforcement Division, Dept. of Revenue, advised that payments are levied on a percentage of income. An across- the-board average is approximately $310.00 per order. Senator Rieger MOVED for adoption of Amendment No. 3. No objection having been raised, Amendment No. 3 was ADOPTED. Senator Randy Phillips MOVED to delete provisions relating to grandparents. Co-chairman Frank MOVED language within Amendment 4 (a) as an alternative to deletion of grandparent provisions. Ms. Straube explained that the amendment addresses committee concern regarding the taking of 20 percent of paternal grandparent income. The amendment will allow the court to decide what proportionate share should be paid. Kristen Bomengen again came before committee. She explained that the amendment was drafted to provide for a multitude of possible circumstances. The cost is to be directly related to care of the minor parent and infant in an adult supervised setting. The second portion of the amendment provides the following definition of grandparent: For the purposes of this paragraph, a grandparent is the natural or adoptive parent of the minor parent. Senator Rieger expressed concern that there does not appear to be a cap on the amount awarded from a grandparent's income. The intent was to allow it to be lower. He suggested that language should require a proportionate share but also say "but in no event more than" a specific cap. Discussion followed regarding circumstances in which the infant might require extraordinary medical care. Co- chairman Halford asked if grandparents would be obligated to pay a proportionate share of the bill. Ms. Bomengen responded affirmatively. Discussion of revision of wording within Amendment No. 4(a) followed between Co-chairman Halford and Senator Rieger. Co-chairman Frank asked if the court would first apply the 20 percent rule or levy a proportion of the actual cost of care. Co-chairman Halford noted that, per the amendment, the court would use whatever is lower. Co-chairman Frank voiced support for a dollar limitation rather than a percentage. Further discussion of average child support payments ensued. A subsequent suggestion was made for language requiring payment of half the cost of care but no more than $500.00 a month. Glenda Straube referenced federal constraints on child support guidelines. Actual dollar amounts pose problems. The state is required to establish guidelines that allow assessment based on an obligor's earnings. Co-chairman Frank noted that that makes sense for parents but questioned application to grandparents as well. Further discussion of proportionate share followed, using as an example a divorce situation involving grandparents in four separate households. Discussion of recovery of AFDC payments ensued. END: SFC-96, #86, Side 1 (Malfunction on SFC-96, #86, Side 2 tape would not reverse.) BEGIN: SFC-96, #87, Side 1 A replacement for Amendment No. 4(a) was distributed to members for review and designated Amendment No. 4 (c). Co- chairman Halford called for a show of hands on adoption. Amendment No. 4(c) was ADOPTED. Co-chairman Halford next called for a show of hands on Senator Phillips' motion for deletion of grandparent provisions, which the Co-chairman designated as Amendment No. 5. Amendment No. 5 failed to be adopted. Senator Sharp MOVED for adoption of Amendment No. 6. He explained that it deletes language providing exceptions from licensing provisions. The only remaining exemptions would be limited entry permits and driver licenses. Senator Sharp noted that driver licenses are adequately covered in another section, and the division has testified it presently has an effective means of collection of payments from those holding limited entry permits. Co-chairman Halford voiced support for the amendment but acknowledged that recreational licenses (hunting and fishing), called for in federal law, are not included in the proposed bill. That raises a further question regarding crew licenses for commercial fishing which are sold by the same vendors as hunting and fishing licenses. Since administrative capability to deal with crew licenses will be necessary, the legislature may add an amendment to cover hunting and fishing licenses because that question will ultimately have to be dealt with. Senator Sharp concurred. He said he did not include recreational licenses at this time because they would not generate a great amount of income. The situation is different for crew members. He acknowledged that collection might become an administrative nightmare. Discussion of proposed removal of the exemption for nursing home licenses followed. Senator Sharp stressed that directors of non-profits often have significant salaries that should not be exempt. Co-chairman Halford called for objections to adoption of Amendment No. 6. Senator Zharoff voiced OBJECTION relating to crew and vessel licenses. The Co-chairman called for a show of hands, and Amendment No. 6 was ADOPTED. Co-chairman Halford next referenced Senator Phillips' motion for deletion of Section 22, relating to all licensing provisions, which he designated Amendment No. 7. Senator Phillips asked how individuals could be expected to pay child support if the license he or she needs to work is removed. Co-chairman Halford called for a show of hands. Amendment No. 7 failed to be adopted on a vote of 2 to 5. Co-chairman Halford next directed attention to Amendment No. 8 which he explained would change the effective date of CSED enforcement language and tie it to the effective date of the bill rather than enactment of federal requirements. CSED language would remain in effect for two years following the effective date of state legislation. KAREN PERDUE, Commissioner, Dept. of Health and Social Services, advised that federal occupational licensing provisions are scheduled for U.S. Senate action in the second week in May. The U.S. House of Representatives will thereafter commence action. The status when it eventually reaches the President is unknown at this time. Senator Sharp MOVED for adoption of Amendment No. 8. No objection having been raised, Amendment No. 8 was ADOPTED. Co-chairman Halford next direction attention to Amendment No. 9 and noted that it applies to release of information to legislators. Senator Zharoff asked if any portions of the welfare reform bill might be subject to constitutional or other legal challenge. Co-chairman Halford acknowledged potential for challenge. He advised that portions of the bill are severable as a matter of general statutory construction. The Co-chairman again referenced Amendment No. 9 and noted that language is limited to financial information. It also makes provisions consistent with federal law. It is intended to allow legislators to "at least get an answer to a simple question when you get a constituent problem on an area of potential welfare abuse." Senator Sharp MOVED for adoption of Amendment No. 9. Senator Zharoff raised a question concerning penalties for disclosure of confidential information. Kristen Bomengen said those who misuse the information would be subject to hearing under legislative conduct provisions or subject to criminal prosecution under AS 11.56.860, a class-A misdemeanor. Senator Zharoff voiced need for a reminder of the confidentiality of the information and noted that legislators are required to sign oaths of confidentiality prior to receiving certain oil and gas or litigation information from the Dept. of Law. Co-chairman Halford concurred in need for a notification provision. Senator Randy Phillips concurred, citing such a provisions relating to permanent fund dividend information. Senator Donley inquired concerning legislative liability should the information be leaked while in legislative possession. Co- chairman Halford referenced amendment language saying that the information is to remain confidential and shall not be subject to further disclosure. Senator Donley asked if the language would trigger criminal provisions making disclosure a crime. Kristen Bomengen reiterated her earlier comments saying that violations would be subject to legislative ethics hearings and subsequent criminal prosecution. Senator Zharoff stressed need to notify the requestor that the information is confidential. Ms. Bomengen said that regulations should cover the matter with a cover sheet or form that would have to be signed. Senator Donley suggested additional language saying that penalties are not triggered unless the one receiving the information is notified, at the time of receipt, that the information is confidential and may not be further disclosed. The Senator then MOVED for adoption of a conceptual amendment adding that requirement to Amendment No. 9. Senator Rieger noted that the individual to be harmed would be the subject of the information. He said he was not comfortable with the conceptual amendment. Co- chairman Halford called for a show of hands. The conceptual amendment was ADOPTED on a vote of 6 to 1. Co-chairman Halford next called for objections to adoption of Amendment No. 9. No objection having been raised, Amendment No. 9 was ADOPTED. The Co-chairman referenced additional amendments relating to the 3 percent ratable reduction and a provision extending transitional medical and day care assistance from twelve to twenty-four months. Existing language provides for twelve months. The foregoing amendments were not offered. Co-chairman Halford referenced a question surrounding the index for safety provisions relating to redetermination of assistance levels in terms of whether it should apply to total funds or merely state funds. The department feels that application to total funds would result in disincentives to strive for federal rewards and management incentives. The department would prefer an amendment to reflect general funds or state funds rather than total funds. Commissioner Perdue reiterated that language at Page 49, lines 5 and 6, would serve as a disincintive to garner federal funds. She thus requested that the cap be limited to state funds. Co-chairman Halford said he had no objection. The proposed formula was merely a means of preventing the program from growing out of control. As Amendment No. 10, Senator Sharp MOVED to insert the word "state" between the words "total" and "funds" at Page 49, lines 5 and 6. No objection having been raised, Amendment No. 10 was ADOPTED. Senator Green referenced an amendment pertaining to two-year transitional medical and day care coverage, stressing that it represents a one-time opportunity. Co-chairman Halford voiced his understanding that the proposed amendment would cost $850.0. He said he would support the amendment if accompanied with a ratable reduction. Co-chairman Halford next requested an analysis of the fiscal notes. CURT LOMAS, Welfare Reform Program, Division of Public Assistance, Dept. of Health and Social Services, came before committee. He said he could provide a preliminary summary but noted specific need to work with the Dept. of Revenue on effective date changes regarding child support collections. The department will be developing two separate sets of notes because of implementation provisions providing for a waiver track if federal reform is not in place by October, 1996, and a comprehensive track if federal law passes by that date. He then provided the following numbers: Waiver Comprehensive DH&SS $1,264.0 $1,442.0 Savings over 5 yrs. thru 2002 $19,560.0 $40,646.0 Both tracks show a negative fiscal note in FY 98 and a positive note in FY 97. The negative total under the waiver approach is $2,282.0 and $3,556.0 under comprehensive. That discounts child support collection impacts. If licensing provisions are enacted and collections begin, there will be a $224.0 savings in FY 97 under the comprehensive approach and enactment of federal law, and a $46.2 savings under the waiver approach if licensing provisions go into effect when the bill becomes effective. Co-chairman Halford asked how much of the fiscal note cost is discretionary in terms of department actions. Mr. Lomas advised that the present breakout does not contain sufficient information to respond precisely. Commissioner Perdue stressed that calculations do not include additional child care dollars. END: SFC-96, #87, Side 1 BEGIN: SFC-96, #87, Side 2 Co-chairman Halford asked for a breakdown of the $1.2 million cost associated with the waiver program. Mr. Lomas explained that implementation costs for both the waiver and comprehensive approach are very close the first year. The biggest cost is data processing. Both approaches require extensive modifications to the data system. The waiver approach is more expensive because it requires development of two tracks and comparison of experimental and control groups. Those costs do not accrue until the second year. That makes the waiver approach approximately $400.0 more expensive than the comprehensive approach in that year. In response to a question from the Co-chairman, Mr. Lomas advised that the department could provide new notes by Saturday, April 20, 1996. Co-chairman Halford queried members regarding movement of the bill with the understanding that the two sets of fiscal notes will reflect approximately $1.2 million and $1.4 million for the first year. Senator Sharp MOVED for passage of CSSB 98 (Fin) with individual recommendations and fiscal notes to be provided by the department. No objection having been raised, CSSB 98 (Fin) was REPORTED OUT of committee. Co-chairmen Halford and Frank and Senators Rieger and Sharp signed the committee report with a "do pass" recommendation. Senators Donley and Zharoff signed "no recommendation." Senator Randy Phillips signed "do pass if amended." The following Dept. of Health and Social Services fiscal notes accompanied the bill: Waiver Comprehensive AFDC Policy Provisions (690.4) (1,489.7) PA Administration 297.2 220.5 PA Data Processing 543.0 543.0 Family and Youth Services 100.2 100.2 Fiscal notes for Alaska Work Programs and Child Care Benefits were also provided showing costs under the waiver program commencing in FY 99. SENATE BILL NO. 229 An Act relating to employment contributions and to making the state training and employment program a permanent state program; and providing for an effective date. Co-chairman Halford directed that SB 229 be brought on for discussion. DWIGHT PERKINS, Special Assistant, Dept. of Labor, came before committee to speak to CSSB 229 (L&C). He explained that it reflects combination of SB 229 and SB 276. In the first portion, concerns raised by both the Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs and the Dept. of Labor were addressed and agreed upon in CSSB 229 (CRA). The original SB 229 made the STEP program (State Training and Employment Program) permanent. The six-year pilot program has worked well over that term. Sunset provisions were then applied to the program which changed the title of the legislation. Mr. Perkins pointed to further wording changes and additional subsections incorporated within the new version. He spoke to changes to improve past problems with record keeping in service delivery areas, a limitation of administrative costs to 20 percent, and new reporting requirements. The second portion of the bill was originally incorporated within SB 276--calculation of weekly benefits for insurance claimants. Directing attention to page 10, line 27, Mr. Perkins noted the current weekly benefit for unemployment insurance. He explained that the payment is based on 75 percent of the average weekly wage earned by the individual. He further noted a maximum of $248.00 per week. Pointing to accompanying fiscal notes, Mr. Perkins advised that the $3,946.2 (relating to Sec. 2) refers to the STEP program. The $231.8 note (relating to Sec. 5) shows the unemployment benefit increase. Fiscal notes do not seek additional moneys in the budget. Mr. Perkins next spoke to qualifications which make workers eligible for unemployment benefits. Discussion in previous committees indicated that while there was no objection to increasing the weekly benefit amount, legislators and constituents would "like to see the employees picking up part of this cost." Under present statutes, the employer pays 82 percent and the employee pays 18 percent. Mr. Perkins then attested to a proposed reduction, to the employer, of $15 per employee and an increase in employee payments of $20 per year (38 cents a week). Senator Rieger inquired concerning cross-subsidization of unemployment benefits. He suggested that those employed in seasonal jobs collect more unemployment benefits than those working year-round jobs. Mr. Perkins explained that everyone who works pays half of one percent for unemployment insurance. Total collections are not industry specific. However, one industry does not subsidize another since those in seasonal jobs have higher rates than those in year-round jobs. REMOND HENDERSON, Director, Administrative Services, Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs, next came before committee. He clarified that while collections accrue to one account, moneys are separated by industry. ARBE WILLIAMS, Director, Administrative Services, Dept. of Labor, concurred that rates for individual industries are set to cover the cost of benefits for the industry. In response to a question from Senator Sharp, Ms. Williams advised that an employer's rate is based on how steady employment has been over a previous period of time. Responding to a further question from Co-chairman Frank, Ms. Williams explained that funds paid by both employer and employee accrue to the employer trust fund. Payments are handled like trust fund moneys. Senator Rieger asked if benefits are appropriated by the legislature. Ms. Williams responded negatively, saying they flow directly from the unemployment insurance trust fund. Co-chairman Frank asked why STEP program services are limited to those who have been employed over the last three years. Ms. Williams advised that the program is funded by employee contributions to minimize the effect of unemployment on the trust fund. It was felt important to maintain a tie between workers who both contribute to the program and may subsequently need to benefit from training programs offered by STEP. STEP is a diversion of unemployment insurance moneys to which all workers contribute. Co-chairman Frank inquired concerning availability of other programs to those who have not been employed for a period of time. Ms. Williams attested to numerous federal programs. Discussion of JTPA and other training programs followed. Co-chairman Frank next asked who would receive grants under the proposed bill. Mr. Perkins explained that funds flow through the Dept. of Labor to the Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs for dispersement. Mr. Henderson said funds are dispersed by three services delivery areas: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and the balance of state. He referenced a list (copy on file in the original Senate Finance Committee file for SB 229) of recipients for 1995. Senator Donley voiced his understanding that the bill decreases contributions from employers, and increases contributions from employees, to extend unemployment benefits and fund the STEP training program. Mr. Perkins reiterated that the bill reflects combination of two unrelated pieces of legislation. The sources of incoming revenues to pay for the programs are different. Only employee-generated payments fund STEP. Discussion followed between Senator Donley and Arbe Williams regarding diversion of trust fund moneys to fund the STEP program. Mr. Perkins advised that the program is scheduled to end on June 30. The first portion of the proposed bill would re-establish it in law and provide a two-year sunset for subsequent legislative review. Further discussion and review of the list of training grants followed. END: SFC-96, #87, Side 2 BEGIN: SFC-96, #88, Side 1 Co-chairman Halford specifically inquired concerning grants to entities outside the state. LAMAR COTTEN, Deputy Commissioner, Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs, came before committee. He advised that Golden Age Fishery in Seattle is a partner with one of the CDQ groups in Alaska. Mr. Perkins added that necessary in-state training is not always available. Arbe Williams noted that training is provided to those who qualify for STEP funds--those who have an attachment to the Alaska unemployment insurance trust fund. Further discussion of listed grantees and training services ensued. Co-chairman Halford referenced $142.0 in individual referrals and subgrants of $865.0 for a total of $1,008.9. Mr. Henderson advised that the total reflects actual FY 95 expenditures in the statewide service delivery area only. Expenditures for the Anchorage service area were $731.0. The Fairbanks area expended approximately $170.0. The fiscal note is an estimate of FY 97 expenditure based on the amount being RSA'd to the Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs by the Dept. of Labor. That totals $3,333.6. In response to an inquiry from Co-chairman Frank concerning how people find out about the STEP program and the actual point of entry, Mr. Henderson attested to brochures advertising the program as part of the general job training information the department provides. Services are provided through field offices. Arbe Williams added that welfare counselors are also aware of the program as are employment service employees in the Dept. of Labor's 19 field offices. Co-chairman Frank asked what would prevent employers from using the program to fund training for new hires. Mr. Henderson noted need for the individual to have contributed to the unemployment insurance fund in order to qualify and be eligible for the program. He acknowledged that employers could take advantage of the program for new trainees. He further advised of benefits of JTPA (the Job Training Partnership Act) under which employers pay only 50 percent of the employee's wage during training. Mr. Perkins stressed that both programs assist in getting individuals off welfare or unemployment and into productive jobs. Co- chairman Frank asked why the program could not be extended to the longer term unemployed. Arbe Williams explained that not every employer, employee, or occupation is eligible to receive STEP funds. The program targets occupations and industries that have high unemployment and tend to hire non- residents. Statistics are derived from the annual non- resident hire report. Funds are dispersed by area, depending upon where those occupations and industries are located. Senator Donley MOVED for passage of the bill with individual recommendations. Co-chairman Frank expressed need to determine whether training programs could serve longer term unemployed individuals as well. He expressed concern that some individuals have been denied benefits because the program targets the recently unemployed. Co-chairman Halford voiced his understanding that subgrants apply to anyone. Co-chairman Frank said that if an individual has not worked for four years, he or she would not qualify. Arbe Williams concurred. She explained that the reason is that employees are paying for the program. Mr. Perkins voiced need to review expansion of the program to determine whether or not there might be negative impact on the trust. Mr. Henderson suggested that expansion could be handled since all available funds are not currently being spent. Co-chairman Frank attested to the desirability of expanding the program to a larger pool of participants. Arbe Williams advised that she would feel more comfortable consulting the actuarial regarding the potential impact on the trust fund, before action is taken. At this time, the STEP program is a "fairly small pot of money" that serves a "fairly small pool of people." Co-chairman Halford suggested that Co-chairman Frank develop an amendment for discussion at the next meeting. Senator Donley withdrew his motion for passage, and CSSB 229 (L&C) was held in committee. SENATE BILL NO. 301 An Act relating to postsecondary education. Co-chairman Halford directed that SB 301 be brought on for discussion. SENATOR LYDA GREEN came before committee accompanied by her aide, MIKE TIBBLES. She referenced an Executive Order relating to postsecondary education and noted a preference for effecting changes through legislation. The Senator pointed to outdated federal requirements "that were being transferred from one agency to another." Legislation will effectively repeal those. Further, if changes within postsecondary were made via Executive Order, the legislature would lose oversight and ability to confirm board members. The legislature should maintain some control over individuals making financial decisions which ultimately impact many Alaskan students. The proposed bill would move the Alaska Student Loan Corporation from the Dept. of Education to the Dept. of Revenue and transfer the functions of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education to the Alaska Student Loan Corporation. It attempts to change composition of the corporate board to eliminate special interests and create a majority of public members and a minority of commissioners. The legislative confirmation process would be continued under the bill. There is a further requirement that the corporation establish separate accounts for the teachers' scholarship revolving loan fund account and the family education loan account. The bill also includes a correction to SB 123 wherein the prorata shares for half-time graduate and undergraduate students was reversed. SB 123 also established full-time career educations as six weeks in length. The proposed bill establishes the shortest half-time career educational programs as at least twelve weeks in length. The loan origination fee will be used to offset default loses in the memorial scholarship loan program. And a new provision is added to allow those participating in the family education program to make payments earlier than required by law. WAMI is moved to the University of Alaska to simplify the budget process. Senator Rieger expressed concern that the corporation is "getting into deeper and deeper trouble ever since we went to bonding back in 1986 . . . ." He voiced additional concern over proposed transfer of WICHE and WAMI to the University. Senator Rieger also raised concern regarding public interest language within Section 6 at page 4. Mike Tibbles advised that WICHE would remain in place. It is merely being transferred from the commission to the corporation. It is the WAMI program that would be transferred to the University. Senator Green noted that display of WAMI funding as a single item would provided a better indication of what is actually being spent. Speaking to concern regarding Section 6, Mr. Tibbles explained that AS 14.42.050 (legal counsel for the commission) is deleted in the repealing section. Language within Section 6 appears to be the same as that removed. It is merely being taken from the commission and placed in the corporation. Senator Green concurred that a great amount of the proposed bill involves renaming what previously related to the commission to make it apply to the corporation. Co-chairman Halford raised a question concerning past legal opinions that corporate boards are not subject to legislative confirmation because they do not fit under current confirmation law. Mr. Tibbles said statutes spell out the members of the commission and hold them subject to confirmation. The corporation consists of the members of the commission. Senator Rieger MOVED to delete Section 2 and effect necessary conforming amendments associated with removal. WAMI would thus remain as it is. Senator Green expressed interest in examining the WAMI program. She suggested that it is not doing as intended in terms of luring students back to Alaska once they have completed their education. No objection having been raised, Amendment No. 1 to remove Section 2 was ADOPTED. Senator Rieger MOVED that CSSB 301 (Fin) pass from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. No objection having been raised, CSSB 301 (Fin) was REPORTED OUT of committee with the following fiscal notes: Dept. of Revenue $45.0 Dept. of Education/Student Loans 6.0 Dept. of Education/Inst.Auth. 125.0 DOE/Postsecondary/Boards and Comm. 64.2 DOE/Postsecondary/Administration (22.0) Co-chairmen Halford and Frank signed the committee report with a "do pass" recommendation. Senators Phillips, Rieger, Sharp, and Zharoff signed "no recommendation." ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:05 p.m.