Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/18/1999 08:46 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
MINUTES                                                                                                                         
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                                        
May 18, 1999                                                                                                                    
8:46 PM                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPES                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SFC-99 # 146, Side A and B                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair John Torgerson convened the meeting at                                                                                 
approximately 8:46 P.M.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
In addition to Co-chair Torgerson, Senators Dave Donley,                                                                        
Loren Leman, Gary Wilken, Lyda Green and Randy Phillips                                                                         
were present when the meeting was convened.  Senators Al                                                                        
Adams and Sean Parnell arrived respectively thereafter.                                                                         
Senator Pete Kelly was absent.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Also Attending:  REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON; ALISON ELGEE,                                                                       
Deputy Commissioner, Department of Administration;  ANNE                                                                        
CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division                                                                        
Juneau, Department of Law;  CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, Staff                                                                            
Counsel, Alaska Court System;  MIKE TIBBLES, staff to                                                                           
Representative Gene Therriault; aides to committee members                                                                      
and other members of the Legislature.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Attending via Teleconference: JOHN ATHENS, PAUL LYLE, CAROL                                                                     
ALDERMAN, ANTON JOHANSEN, Regional Director, Northern                                                                           
Region, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities                                                                      
via offnet from Fairbanks.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-chair Torgerson called the meeting to order.  The                                                                            
committee first considered HB 34.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
 HOUSE BILL NO. 34                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to the crime of misprision of a crime                                                                          
against a child."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 34(JUD)                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to the crime of failure to report the                                                                          
commission or attempted commission of certain crimes                                                                            
against children."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 34(FIN)                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to the crime of failure to report the                                                                          
commission or attempted commission of certain crimes                                                                            
against children."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON, sponsor of the bill was invited                                                                      
to join the committee.  He commented briefly on the bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donley asked about the fiscal note.  Representative                                                                     
Dyson responded.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Green asked if this applied to all family members,                                                                      
brothers and sisters?  Representative Dyson said that was                                                                       
correct.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal                                                                            
Division Juneau, Department of Law indicated she would                                                                          
respond to any questions.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donley said he wanted to know the department's                                                                          
position on class B misdemeanor as compared to a class A                                                                        
misdemeaner.  Ms. Carpeneti said a class B was also                                                                             
acceptable.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Dyson said if the committee did not want to                                                                      
vote for the bill then to please amend it.  Senator Donley                                                                      
and Senator Phillips had a brief discussion regarding the                                                                       
time factor to get this passed out.  Representative Dyson                                                                       
said he felt the calendar was backed up.  Senator Donley                                                                        
said he did not perceive a problem with the calendar.                                                                           
Senator Phillips said the problem might be in the House.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilken MOVED HB 34 and WITHOUT OBJECTION it was                                                                         
reported out with individual recommendations and                                                                                
indeterminate fiscal notes from the Public Defender Agency                                                                      
and the Department of Law.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-chair Torgerson then called HB 199.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
 HOUSE BILL NO. 199                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to compensation for certain state                                                                              
employees; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 199(STA)                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to compensation for certain state                                                                              
employees; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 199(FIN)                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to compensation for certain state                                                                              
employees; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MIKE TIBBLES, staff to REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT was                                                                       
invited to join the committee.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
He explained that the bill was an establishment of a new                                                                        
pay differential.  It would freeze current employees at                                                                         
their current pay until through COLAS it would all catch                                                                        
up.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Tibbles continued.  The change to the SBS program                                                                           
reduces the State's contribution.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
The final point was that the bill placed a cap on the                                                                           
amount of wages against which contributions were made.  It                                                                      
would set the cap at the 1998 level.  He said this was in                                                                       
section five on page three.  The cap related to all                                                                             
employees.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-chair Torgerson asked if there were employees above                                                                          
that?  Mr. Tibbles responded that the 1998 cap was $68,400.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Adams asked about municipalities and if they were                                                                       
exempted under sections one and two?  Mr. Tibbles said                                                                          
sections one and two referred to the pay differential.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Adams again asked if this only related to State                                                                         
employees?  Mr. Tibbles said he was not sure if the pay                                                                         
differential was used by municipalities.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilken read into the record a letter from a                                                                             
constituent who had laid out the whole program cut.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ALISON ELGEE, Deputy commissioner, Department of                                                                                
Administration was invited to join the committee.  She said                                                                     
they supported the amended version of the bill.  Bargain                                                                        
contracts were in an amendment based on differential pay                                                                        
districts in the 1980's.  Disparity has occurred in areas                                                                       
where there are union and non-union employees.  This bill                                                                       
would correct a long-standing disparity and bring everyone                                                                      
under one schedule.  In response to Senator Torgerson she                                                                       
said the differential applies to non-union members.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilken asked about the written testimony of his                                                                         
constituent.  She explained that the 3.75 was the                                                                               
differential for longevity.  They differ by step as she                                                                         
continued to explain.  Upon completing the length of                                                                            
services one qualifies for longevity steps which is 3.75.                                                                       
Ms. Elgee identified "J", "K", "L" and "M" as longevity                                                                         
steps.  Senator Wilken said it was his understanding that                                                                       
it takes three years to go from step K" to step "L".  Ms.                                                                       
Elgee said that was also her understanding.  In response to                                                                     
Senator Wilken, she explained the merit portion was steps                                                                       
"A" through "F".  Adjustments could occur to the wage scale                                                                     
due to the cost of living allowance.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donley asked about page two, line thirty.  Ms.                                                                          
Elgee said this represented the current schedule in place                                                                       
for the union employees.  She said this was the last                                                                            
version the Senate Finance committee had before themselves                                                                      
a few years ago.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The Governor is concerned about the implications of                                                                             
reducing benefits to state employees especially with the                                                                        
passage of SCR 11 last night.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-chair Torgerson said he would now take up public                                                                             
testimony from Fairbanks, offnet.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
JOHN ATHENS, Assistant Attorney General, Fairbanks                                                                              
testified from Fairbanks.  Cuts are based on a 1986 study.                                                                      
Why is the administration in such a hurry to pass this bill                                                                     
so the differential can reflect this 1986 study?  In answer                                                                     
to his own question, he stated it was because they want                                                                         
parity with the union workers.  Perhaps a more recent study                                                                     
should be used.  He felt that the geographical differential                                                                     
change was specifically targeting Fairbanks individuals.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PAUL LYLE, testified from Fairbanks.  He said this bill was                                                                     
a lot better than in previous versions.  It still has some                                                                      
fundamental disparities that need to be fixed, however.  He                                                                     
said he would acquire no pay raise until he is 55 years                                                                         
old.  It was not fair that employees will never see a pay                                                                       
increase.  Legislators get a raise in their per diem                                                                            
however state employees get no pay raise.  This needs to be                                                                     
fixed in this bill.  "Grandfathering" also needed to be                                                                         
looked at.  "Why should our pay be frozen for ten years?"                                                                       
He referred to the change to SBS and also Article XII,                                                                          
Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution.  He felt they were                                                                        
falling behind the private sector.  The idea of freezing                                                                        
pay and reducing SBS was not a good one.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Phillips commented on the per diem.  He said it                                                                         
dropped several dollars a few years ago.  When he brought                                                                       
it up to the press they considered it an unimportant issue.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Wilken asked about the letter that he received and                                                                      
commented briefly on it.  Senator Wilken further said he                                                                        
would have his staff contact Mr. Lyle and have him fax his                                                                      
written testimony.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CAROL ALDERMAN, paralegal, Department of Law, Fairbanks,                                                                        
testified via offnet.  She explained that she was a                                                                             
classified employee.  These were the employees needed the                                                                       
most.  She said their situation was only going to get                                                                           
worse.  Another area of concern was the change in SBS for                                                                       
new people.  They should all be treated the same.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ANTON JOHANSEN, Regional Director, Northern Region,                                                                             
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in                                                                           
Fairbanks, testified via offnet.  The bill would have no                                                                        
personal effect on him.  His concern was with the                                                                               
geographical pay differential.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donley said he supported the geographical                                                                               
differential but had concerns with the SBS.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donley MOVED amendment #1 to delete sections six                                                                        
and seven regarding SBS.  By a roll call vote of 1 yea                                                                          
(Donley) and 7 nays (Torgerson, Parnell, Phillips, Green,                                                                       
Adams Wilken, Leman) (P.Kelly absent) amendment #1 FAILED.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Parnell MOVED CS HB 199(FIN) and WITHOUT OBEJCTION                                                                      
it was REPORTED OUT with individual recommendations and                                                                         
accompanying fiscal note "All" ($652.5).  He also noted the                                                                     
new fiscal note from the Alaska Court System in the amount                                                                      
of $55.7.  The major difference was the savings reflected                                                                       
in the out years of the new Court fiscal note that were not                                                                     
reflected in the original published one.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-chair Torgerson recessed the committee until 9:00 a.m.                                                                       
and said he would hear bills previously scheduled/heard.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SFC-99 (1) 5/18/99                                                                                                              

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