Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/21/1997 09:10 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE 21 April 1997 9:10 a.m. TAPES SFC-97, #117, Side 1 (000 - 591) 117, Side 2 (591 - 000) 118, Side 1 (000 - 166) CALL TO ORDER Senator Bert Sharp, Co-chair, convened the meeting at approximately 9:10 a.m. PRESENT In addition to Co-chair Sharp, Senators Pearce, Donley, Torgerson and Adams were present when the meeting convened. Senator Parnell arrived shortly thereafter and Senator Phillips arrived at 10:35 a.m. ALSO ATTENDING: Representative Con Bunde; Nancy Buell, Director, Teaching and Learning Support, Department of Education; Marilyn Wilson, staff to Senator Bert Sharp; Marianne K. Burke, Director, Division of Insurance, Department of Commerce and Economic Development; and aides to committee members and other legislators. via Teleconference: Randy Simmons, Executive Director, AIDEA; Tom Stahr, Municipal Light and Power, Anchorage; Norm Story, Homer Electric; and Don Edwards, Chugach Electric. SUMMARY INFORMATION CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 145(HES) "An Act relating to certification of teachers." Representative Con Bunde was invited to join the committee. He said this bill would provide quality control over teachers. (There was a malfunction of the recording equipment between log numbers 000 - 062.) Senator Adams asked who would administer the necessary testing that would be required. Representative Bunde indicated that the Department of Education would administer the testing and it would be paid for by the applicant. Senator Torgerson asked if this would apply only to new hires and Representative Bunde indicated this was correct. Nancy Buell, Director, Teaching and Learning Support, Department of Education was invited to join the committee. She said all teachers would need teacher certificates and they must meet current requirements. Senator Donley said he did not want any more restrictions to be applied other than what the department was already applying. He asked what the cost of the license would be and Ms. Buell responded saying that the department did not know the cost to the applicant at this point. Senator Pearce said she thought for most programs in the State the licensee covered their own costs and why should the State bear this burden. Ms. Buell said the cost of certification in Alaska was the highest in the nation. It would need a long term plan to be defined. Senator Pearce asked if the State was subsidizing to a lesser degree than others and Ms. Buell indicated that some states were not charging at all. Representative Bunde said it was the sponsor's intent for this program to be self supporting. Senator Parnell inquired if any certificate had been suspended for incompetency and Ms. Buell said that most likely there had been some suspended but she did not have any details. Senator Pearce requested the bill be held in committee pending further discussion with the department and it was so ordered by co-chair Sharp. SENATE BILL NO. 175 "An Act relating to revenue bonds issued by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority for interties between Healy and Fairbanks and between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula; and providing for an effective date." Co-chair Sharp introduced SB 175. Marilyn Wilson, staff to Senator Sharp was invited to join the committee and read the sponsor statement into the record. Randy Simmons, Executive Director, AIDEA, Department of Commerce and Economic Development testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He said AIDEA supported the bill. Tom Stahr, general manager, municipal light and power, Anchorage; Norm Story, Homer Electric, Homer; and Don Edwards, general counsel for Chugach Electric testified via teleconference from Anchorage. All three voiced their support for the bill. Senator Pearce moved SB 175 with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note. Without objection, Co-chair Sharp reported out SB 175 with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note from Department of Commerce and Economic Development. CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 104(L&C) "An Act relating to regulation and examination of insurers and insurance agents; relating to kinds of insurance; relating to payment of insurance taxes and to required insurance reserves; relating to insurance policies; relating to regulation of capital, surplus, and investments by insurers; relating to hospital and medical service corporations; and providing for a n effective date." Senator Pearce introduced SB 104 and referred to the work draft version O-LS0407\H dated 4/14/97. She moved the version be adopted for discussion purposes. Senator Donley objected and said he wanted to know what was in the bill. Co-chair Sharp said he would hold it pending before the committee and would take testimony at this time. Senator Pearce noted for the committee that there was a sectional analysis in each file. Marianne K. Burke, Director, Division of Insurance, Department of Commerce and Economic Development was invited to join the committee. She gave a brief overview of the bill and then answered questions posed by the committee members. She said this bill would make sure the rules for all insurance companies would be the same. It was proposed that the requirements for the certificate of solvency be removed. She referred briefly to the Kassebaum-Kennedy bill passed in U.S. Congress. She said wherever there was a conflict the federal regulations were adopted. Consumer groups were in favour of this bill. Senator Donley asked which sections dealt specifically with Kassebaum-Kennedy and she noted they were sections 3, 11, 12, 31 - 34, and 43 - 57. These would adopt the minimum standards required under federal law. She further said people did not buy insurance and pay premiums in anticipation of illness. Senator Donley asked if there were specific conditions for specific coverages. Ms. Burke indicated that section 59 would eliminate barriers to compliance. She further explained that if an individual changed their job or terminated a new insurance company could not start individual coverage all over again. A grace period of 90 days was allowed between a break and reinstatement. Senator Donley asked about individual health insurance and Ms. Burke said it was decided by age and deductible not health. He further referred to section 92 and she said this section was requested by title insurance. She explained the elements of title insurance that made it unique. Co-chair Sharp asked what about those who chose not to live a healthy life style (tobacco, alcohol, drugs, etc.) and Ms. Burke said there was not a concern for life style. Unfortunately the costs of unhealthy life styles were passed on to others. But she did note that high risk groups were not cheap. She further noted that alcohol and drugs were covered under the mental health provision. Alaska companies can set limits for drug and alcohol at approximately $9,500 per year. Senator Donley asked how the state viewed rates and Ms. Burke said there was no influence and they adopted only the minimum requirements. There was one section concerning small employers and it was proposed not to sunset next year. Senator Donley requested this bill be held over. He removed his objection to the work draft and said he would have some amendments drafted. Michael Lessmeier, Esq. was invited to join the committee. He testified on behalf of State Farm insurance co. He asked the 10 year record requirement on page 4, line 29 be lowered to 5 years of record keeping. Co-chair Sharp asked that any amendments be handed in to the Senate Finance Committee Secretary within the next twenty- four hours and held the bill in committee. Senator Adams noted the title was open. SENATE BILL NO. 177 "An Act relating to the international trade and business endowment; and providing for an effective date." Senator Pearce commented on behalf of this bill. She said there was no hidden agenda. The balance of the endowment was at about $7 million and they would transfer the original $4.5 million, leaving the interest and balance in the University foundation. She noted there would be forthcoming fiscal notes from the University and Commerce. Senator Pearce moved SB 177 contingent upon receipt of fiscal notes and letters from the University and Department of Commerce. Without objection it was reported out with individual recommendations and contingent upon receipt of fiscal notes and letters. Co-chair Sharp outlined the evening meeting saying the committee would take up HB 51. ADJOURNMENT Co-chair Sharp recessed the committee until 6:00 p.m. this evening.