Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/03/2004 09:06 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                              MINUTES                                                                                         
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                 
                           May 03, 2004                                                                                       
                              9:06 AM                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPES                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SFC-04 # 104, Side A                                                                                                            
SFC 04 # 104, Side B                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Gary Wilken convened  the meeting at approximately 9:06 AM.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gary Wilken, Co-Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Lyda Green, Co-Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Con Bunde, Vice Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Also Attending:  REPRESENTATIVE  BILL WILLIAMS; REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY                                                          
WILSON;    REPRESENTATIVE    CHERYL   HEINZE;    ERNESTA    BALLARD,                                                            
Commissioner,  Department  of  Environmental  Conservation;  KRISTIN                                                            
RYAN,  Director, Division  of Environmental  Health,  Department  of                                                            
Environmental Conservation;  PAULA CADIENTE, Staff to Senator Elton;                                                            
JON BITTNER, Staff to Representative  Cheryl Heinze; JON TILLINGHAS,                                                            
Sealaska  Corporation;   DOUG  WOOLIVER,  Administrative   Attorney,                                                            
Office  of the Administrative  Director,  Alaska  Court System;  PAT                                                            
DAVIDSON,  Division  of  Legislative  Audit;  TIM  BARRY,  Staff  to                                                            
Representative    Bill   Williams;    HEATH   HILYARD,    Staff   to                                                            
Representative Lesil McGuire;                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Attending  via  Teleconference:     From  offnet  locations:   ROBIN                                                          
NORTHSEYER,  owner and operator, Northern  Hospitality Training  and                                                            
Consulting;  ERIN HALL-MEADE,  Life  Alaska Donor  Services;  DWAYNE                                                            
BANNOCK,  Director,  Division   of Motor  Vehicles,   Department  of                                                            
Administration                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 378-FOOD, DRUGS, COSMETICS, CERTAIN DEVICES                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
The  Committee   heard   from  the   sponsor,   the  Department   of                                                            
Environmental  Conservation   and  a  safe  food handling   training                                                            
company. The bill was reported from Committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB 233-INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard from  the sponsor. A  committee substitute  was                                                            
adopted and the bill was reported from Committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SB 282-RESTAURANTS ETC DISCLOSE WILD/FARMED FISH                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The   Committee  heard   from   the  Department   of  Environmental                                                             
Conservation. The bill was reported from Committee.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB  10-GROUP HEALTH INS: PRIVATE GROUPS/PERSONS                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard from the sponsor. An amendment  was adopted and                                                            
the bill was held in Committee.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
HB 546-POLLUTION DISCHARGE & WASTE TRMT/DISPOSAL                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The   Committee  heard   from   the  Department   of  Environmental                                                             
Conservation  and a Native Corporation.  The bill was reported  from                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB 451-THERAPEUTIC COURTS                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard  from the  Alaska  Court System.  The bill  was                                                            
reported from Committee.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 464-EXTEND BOARD OF REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard from the Division of Legislative  Audit and the                                                            
Legislative  Budget and Audit  Committee.  An amendment was  adopted                                                            
and the bill was reported from Committee.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HJR  5-CONST AM: INITIATIVE/REFERENDUM PETITIONS                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard from  the sponsor. The  bill was reported  from                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB  31-INITIATIVE/REFERENDUM PETITIONS                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
The bill was reported from Committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HB 337-ANATOMICAL GIFTS REGISTRY/AWARENESS FUND                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The  Committee   heard   from  the   sponsor,   the  Department   of                                                            
Administration,  and an organ harvesting organization.  The bill was                                                            
reported from Committee.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SB 254-TOURISM MARKETING CONTRACTS                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
This bill was scheduled but not heard.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SB 395-EXTEND AK RAILROAD TO GREELY/  TASK FORCE                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This bill was scheduled but not heard.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE BILL NO. 378                                                                                                         
     "An Act relating to the Alaska Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act,                                                               
     including sales, advertising, certain devices, food donors,                                                                
     and food banks; making certain violations of organic food                                                                  
     provisions and of the Alaska Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act                                                                  
     unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts                                                                 
      or practices under certain of the state's unfair trade                                                                    
     practices and consumer protection laws; and providing for an                                                               
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance                                                                  
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken stated this  bill, sponsored  by the House  Finance                                                            
Committee, "Authorizes  the Department of Environmental Conservation                                                            
to implement key elements  of the new food safety program, which are                                                            
called Active Managerial Control."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BILL WILLIAMS  noted the fees  for food inspections                                                             
have  increased from  $50  to approximately  $450  per business.  He                                                            
spoke of subsequent  comments from businesses about  these increased                                                            
fees given  the infrequency of inspections.  He therefore  had asked                                                            
the previous and current  gubernatorial administrations to eliminate                                                            
the fees, as businesses  and consumers garner no benefit  from these                                                            
fees.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ERNESTA   BALLARD,   Commissioner,   Department   of  Environmental                                                             
Conservation,  testified that  cases of food  borne illness  are not                                                            
accidents but  rather incidents: the  failure of those handling  the                                                            
food to observe well understood  proper procedures. She continued as                                                            
follows.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Our program that Representative Williams has correctly                                                                     
     described as under funded and failing, is based on a 1950s                                                                 
     style, really a pre-WWII  style, of restaurant inspections that                                                            
     was  designed in  an era  in which  there were  twenty  million                                                            
     meals served a day  in restaurants. In the 50s and 60s with the                                                            
     suburban  boom that  number jumped  to 60 million  meals  a day                                                            
     served  in restaurants,  and yet  the same  method of  periodic                                                            
     restaurant  inspections was considered  an adequate  regulatory                                                            
     program.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     In  2004 the National  Restaurant Association,  the other  NRA,                                                            
     estimates  that there will be 70 billion meals,  a jump from 60                                                            
     million  fifteen  years  ago  to 70  billion  meals  served  in                                                            
     restaurants. The inspection  program of the 50s is not adequate                                                            
     to restaurant  safety,  food safety today.  With the urging  of                                                            
     the  House  Finance  Committee  and its  Chair,  we  completely                                                            
     redesigned.  We looked at successful  models of food  safety in                                                            
     particularly   the  three  areas   that  are  known   to  cause                                                            
     incidences of illness:  poor personal hygiene, which means hand                                                            
     washing and  attention to employee grooming and  hygiene habits                                                            
     and being sure that  sick employees are being sent home. That's                                                            
     one.  The second  is inadequate  attention  to temperature  and                                                            
     cooking  procedures,  which  can  be  addressed  with  standard                                                            
     operating  procedures.  And  the third  element  is  inadequate                                                            
     training,   which  is   being  addressed   by  the   restaurant                                                            
     association  and most  of the large chains  and by many  states                                                            
     and  health  departments  in voluntary  programs.    Inadequate                                                            
     training  is  being addressed  by  certification  and  training                                                            
     programs.    The   National  Restaurant  Association   recently                                                            
     graduated  their  one  millionth certified  food  handler  from                                                            
     their program.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     We  looked  at  those  three  areas.  We  looked  at  the  very                                                            
     successful regulatory  programs that we run in air and soil and                                                            
     water  protection in  which standard  operating procedures  and                                                            
     self-certification  with written records which are then audited                                                            
     by  the  Department   and  a  very  heavy  field   presence  in                                                            
     compliance and enforcement.   That is the method and model that                                                            
     we  use  elsewhere  in the  DEC  [Department  of Environmental                                                             
     Conservation]  that is the method and model that  we propose to                                                            
     use in our Active Managerial Control.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     We  are  actually  excited  about  this.    If you  are  not  a                                                            
     regulator  you  may not  get  excited  about a  new  regulatory                                                            
     method, but we're  proud of what we have done.  We have been in                                                            
     contact with states  around the country who are very interested                                                            
     to see  any state have the courage  to walk away from  the old,                                                            
     under  funded, and failed consultative  program that  we've all                                                            
     been  clinging   to,  and  moving  to  a  new,  modern  era  of                                                            
     regulatory control.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     I want  to close by  pointing out the  success that  prevention                                                            
     can  have and protection  against exposure.   You are  probably                                                            
     aware of  the outbreak of a Norwalk virus that  occurred on the                                                            
     Iditarod  Trail in March.   It began in  McGrath.  It  was well                                                            
     documented.  Epidemiology  and  Kristin's staff  together  went                                                            
     out.  There  were twenty cases in McGrath.  The  State employee                                                            
     team followed the  Trail, picked up evidence of cases all along                                                            
     the  Trail, and were  very worried about  what would happen  in                                                            
     Nome when the entire  race and the entire army of followers and                                                            
     supporters  arrived in Nome.  Kristin's staff,  who are nothing                                                            
     if they  are not determined,  talked to all of the restaurants                                                             
     in Nome,  the entire community  smelled of Clorox, got  all the                                                            
     restaurants  cleaned  up, and  then went  and  worked with  the                                                            
     Millennium Hotel,  in the gymnasium where the banquet was held,                                                            
     and got a thousand  rubber gloves and got every person who went                                                            
     to the Musher's Banquet  to go through the food line with their                                                            
     serving  hand gloved.  We have wonderful  photographs  of this.                                                            
     There was not a single  outbreak of Norwalk virus in Nome.  The                                                            
     Musher's  Banquet  was not  spoiled.   Those that  had made  it                                                            
     successfully  to Nome  then did  not have  to take Montezuma's                                                             
     Revenge home with them when they left.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Prevention  works.  Our Active  Managerial  Control program  is                                                            
     designed  to  put the  responsibility  where  it appropriately                                                             
     lies,  and that is in the regulated  community. It is  adequate                                                            
     to  cover  the  entire  state   without  regard  to  where  our                                                            
     inspectors  may be  at the time.   We're very  proud of it.   I                                                            
     hope you will consider it favorably today.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  referenced  media reports  of  a viral  outbreak  in                                                            
Fairbanks and asked whether this outbreak is food borne as well.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
KRISTIN   RYAN,  Director,   Division   of   Environmental   Health,                                                            
Department  of Environmental  Conservation  stated that the  Norwalk                                                            
virus is difficult  to trace, although  it is transmittable  by air,                                                            
water,  food,  and  hand-to-hand  contact.  She  reported  that  the                                                            
Division  is attempting  to identify  the origins  and transmission                                                             
patterns of this outbreak.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  understood  that  the  outbreak  originated  at  two                                                            
establishments in Fairbanks.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ryan affirmed that  food is the carrier, although she was unsure                                                            
whether food was the original source.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ROBIN NORTHSEYER, owner  and operator, Northern Hospitality Training                                                            
and  Consulting,   testified  via  teleconference   from  an  offnet                                                            
location that she has been  conducting food safety training. She has                                                            
found that  the issue is not a lack  of will in keeping people  from                                                            
getting  sick,  but rather  the  lack  of knowledge  of  how  easily                                                            
illness  could be  transmitted  through  food. She  emphasized  that                                                            
training  is "key" to public  safety in Alaska  given the number  of                                                            
visitors.  She expressed  that  spreading  food borne  illnesses  to                                                            
tourists would be detrimental to the industry.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  asked if the  witness supports  the bill and  whether                                                            
her opinion represents the industry.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Northseyer affirmed both.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson  asked how  this  legislation  would apply  to  small                                                            
restaurants located in small communities.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard  expressed the  intention that  all who handle  raw food                                                            
would receive training  in safe handling procedures. She stated that                                                            
the Department  would ensure  that training  and testing  activities                                                            
would not inconvenience  owners and employees of businesses in small                                                            
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  offered a  motion to report  the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
There was  no objection and  HB 378 MOVED  from Committee with  zero                                                            
fiscal note  #1 from  the Department  of Law and  fiscal note  #2 of                                                            
$210,700 from the Department of Environmental Conservation.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 233(EDU) am                                                                                          
     "An Act increasing the base student allocation used in the                                                                 
     formula for state funding of public education; and providing                                                               
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was  the second  hearing for  this bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this  bill,  sponsored  by Representative                                                             
Wilson,  "increases  the  student   dollar  by  $419."  He  directed                                                            
attention to  a proposed committee  substitute, which increases  the                                                            
total student dollar to $4,576.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green moved for  adoption of CS  HB 233, 23-LS0911\I  as a                                                            
working document.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  objected  and stated that  the original version  of                                                            
the  bill  would have  increased  funding  for  education  by  $84.5                                                            
million,  which is a higher  amount then  this committee  substitute                                                            
would provide.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  commented on arguments  that the proposed  increase                                                            
funding  for  education  is  from  a  one-time  funding  source.  He                                                            
contended  that this legislation  expresses  the Committee's  intent                                                            
that the increase would  be $82,053,300 for K-12 education, and that                                                            
the funding be ongoing.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman removed  his objection and the committee substitute,                                                            
Version "I" was ADOPTED as a working document.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PEGGY WILSON, sponsor of the bill,  testified to her                                                            
support of reinstating the original appropriation amount.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green offered a  motion to report  CS HB 233, 23-LS0911\I                                                             
from Committee with individual  recommendations, new and forthcoming                                                            
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Without  objection  CS HB  233 (FIN)  MOVED  from Committee  with  a                                                            
fiscal  note dated  3/16/04  for  $535,400  from the  Department  of                                                            
Military  and  Veterans Affairs,  a  fiscal  note dated  5/3/04  for                                                            
520,100  from the  Department of  Education and  Early Development,                                                             
Special  Schools Component,  and  a fiscal  note  dated 5/10/04  for                                                            
$82,053,200 from the Department  of Education and Early Development,                                                            
Foundation Program component.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 282(RES)                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to the identification of finfish in food                                                                  
     products and to the misbranding of food products consisting of                                                             
     or containing finfish."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was  the second  hearing for  this bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this bill,  sponsored  by  Senator  Elton,                                                            
"requires restaurants  to state on  its menu whether the  fish it is                                                            
serving is wild or farmed fish."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green   asked  if  restaurants  would  always   know  fish                                                            
origination information.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PAULA  CADIENTE,  Staff  to  Senator Elton,  replied  that  she  was                                                            
unsure.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
KRISTIN   RYAN,  Director,   Division   of   Environmental   Health,                                                            
Department of Environmental  Conservation, testified that of the 665                                                            
establishments  the  Division regulates,  approximately  33  percent                                                            
would not  have that information  readily  available. She  estimated                                                            
that  10   percent  would   require  enforcement   actions   due  to                                                            
unwillingness to comply.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson  offered  a  motion  to  report  CS  282  (RES)  from                                                            
Committee with  individual recommendations  and accompanying  fiscal                                                            
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
There was  no objection and  SB 282 MOVED  from Committee with  zero                                                            
fiscal note #1  from the Department of Law, and $77,200  fiscal note                                                            
#2 from the Department of Environmental Conservation.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 10(HES)                                                                                              
     "An Act relating to pooling by employers and self-employed                                                                 
     individuals for purposes of group health insurance; and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this  bill,  sponsored  by Representative                                                             
Heinze,  "allows   small  and  large  employers  and  self-employed                                                             
individuals  to form  an association  for the  purpose of  obtaining                                                            
health insurance."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JON BITTNER,  Staff to  Representative Cheryl  Heinze, communicated                                                             
that small  businesses could not afford  the rising costs  of health                                                            
insurance  independently.  The  rates  could  be  reduced  if  these                                                            
businesses joined together in acquiring insurance.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Bittner  added that  the  committee  substitute  would  provide                                                            
exceptions to allow insurers  to refuse self-employed individuals on                                                            
the basis  of certain  criteria.  The exceptions  would prevent  the                                                            
healthy employees  of insured small businesses from  paying inflated                                                            
rates to  compensate for  those who would  require higher levels  of                                                            
medical care.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  inquired about this  bill's ability to ensure  lower                                                            
insurance rates.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Bittner  responded  that   though  it  is  less  expensive  for                                                            
insurance  companies  to insure  business groups  versus  individual                                                            
businesses,  this legislation  could not  guarantee lower  insurance                                                            
rates.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  suggested that the intent of this  bill is primarily                                                            
to provide small  businesses and the self-employed  increased access                                                            
to insurance, as opposed to securing lower insurance rates.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Bittner confirmed  that  the  bill could  not  guarantee  lower                                                            
rates.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson inquired  about any  restrictions  in this bill  that                                                            
would hinder a small business from acquiring insurance.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bittner replied that the bill contains no such restrictions.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #1: This amendment  changes the effective date of this Act                                                            
from July 1, 2003 to July 1, 2004.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens moved for adoption.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
The amendment was ADOPTED without objection.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  referenced Section 4 on page 4, lines  17 through 23,                                                            
which reads as follows.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
          Sec. 4. AS 21.56.120 is amended by adding a new                                                                       
     subsection to read:                                                                                                        
          (e) In determining the premium rates for a small employer                                                             
     covered   under   an  association   health   insurance   policy                                                            
     authorized under AS  21.54.060(7), a small employer insurer may                                                            
     not use the  claims experience of the small employer  while the                                                            
     employer was covered  under another health insurance policy and                                                            
     may  use only that  underwriting information  obtained  through                                                            
     the  insurer's   normal  application  process   for  new  small                                                            
     employer  groups that  are not  written  under the association                                                             
     plan.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  questioned the necessity  of the following  lines: "a                                                            
small employer  insurer  may not use  the claims  experience  of the                                                            
small employer  while the employer was covered under  another health                                                            
insurance policy."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bittner responded that  the language would ensure that the small                                                            
employer  groups would experience  the same  application process  as                                                            
any other organization when applying for health insurance.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson  asked  if federal  law  prohibits  an  insurer  from                                                            
obtaining  the past  insurance claim  information  of a prospective                                                             
client.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bittner responded that he was unsure.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green suggested  that Senator  Dyson's  question might  be                                                            
related to the portability  provision, which refers to an employee's                                                            
claim  confidentiality   in  the  transfer  of  coverage   from  one                                                            
employer, and insurance carrier, to another.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Heinze agreed  with Co-Chair  Green. Representative                                                             
Heinze qualified  that she would need to confirm the  details of the                                                            
portability provision.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  B.  Stevens  agreed  with  Co-Chair   Green's  position  on                                                            
portability. He  referenced the aforementioned language  in pointing                                                            
out that  an insurer,  in determining  that  organization's  premium                                                            
rate, could not use the  insurance claim history of an organization.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  commented on the diversity of products  that private                                                            
insurers  offer.   She  also  emphasized  that insurance  rates  for                                                            
business pools would vary depending on the private insurer.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken announced  this bill would not report from Committee                                                            
at  this  hearing  and that  the  Division  of  Insurance  would  be                                                            
contacted for input.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  referenced a letter  from the Division of  Insurance                                                            
dated April  22, 2004  [copy on  file] in emphasizing  the need  for                                                            
this legislation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Heinze reminded of President George  Bush's State of                                                            
the Union address  in which he expressed  intent to "let  the people                                                            
pool".                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked if  a prohibition  currently exists  preventing                                                            
businesses from pooling together for health insurance purposes.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Heinze replied this would be first  time individuals                                                            
would be allowed to pool.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken   referenced  the  letter  from  the   Division  of                                                            
Insurance  dated   April  22,  2004  [copy  on  file]   as  well  as                                                            
Representative  Heinze's Sponsor Statement [copy on  file] and their                                                            
mention  of  the  Alaska  Mental  Health  Trust  Authority  and  its                                                            
partnership  with the Foraker Group.  He inquired about the  purpose                                                            
and beneficial advances of the Foraker Group.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Bittner  explained  that  the Foraker  Group  is  a  membership                                                            
organization for  non-profit organizations.  The Group  has recently                                                            
formed an insurance  pool exclusively for non-profit  organizations,                                                            
which is expected to officially commence in the coming months.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken asked  if  the Foraker  Group's  insurance pool  is                                                            
strictly for non-profit organizations.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bittner responded  that yes, the Foraker Group  only serves non-                                                            
profit organizations.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken   asked  if  this  bill  would  only   allow  small                                                            
businesses to pool together for insurance purposes.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bittner replied  that this bill would include  small businesses;                                                            
however,  non-profit   organizations  could  also   pool  under  the                                                            
provisions of this bill.  The Foraker Group's insurance pool is just                                                            
one option for non-profit organizations.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  commented that he would be seeking  the guidance of                                                            
those with experience  in the insurance industry in  considering the                                                            
issues addressed in this bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Heinze stated that  the Foraker Group is  in support                                                            
of this bill,  as its formation of an insurance pool  for non-profit                                                            
organizations  would not  have been necessary  had this legislation                                                             
been in effect.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  recalled that the Foraker group requires  membership                                                            
and  an associated  fee.  She asked  if a  membership  fee would  be                                                            
prohibited  among  business  pools  under  the  provisions  of  this                                                            
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bittner responded that a fee would not be prohibited.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  remarked that the legislature should  undertake every                                                            
possible  effort to  assist  small businesses.  He  added, "If  they                                                            
[small businesses]  are in favor of this [bill] I  am in favor of it                                                            
as well."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Heinze relayed  that "the whole State" is in favor of                                                            
this bill.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  remarked that an individual without  health insurance                                                            
coverage  must  pay  30-40-percent   more  for  services,  which  he                                                            
stressed, is "wrong".                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Heinze informed  that it  is "becoming prohibitive"                                                             
for small businesses to  carry insurance and that many employers are                                                            
eliminating insurance coverage.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken stated  that he agrees with the intent of this bill,                                                            
but expressed interest  in the testimony of other insurance industry                                                            
experts.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson shared this interest.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Heinze  responded  that  this  legislation  has  the                                                            
"total support" of the insurance industry.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken requested  a list of those who have spoken last year                                                            
and this year in support of the bill.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green requested  the letters  written in  support of  this                                                            
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green  recommended  further   discussion  on  the  methods                                                            
insurers  utilize to  establish  group rates  and  the factors  that                                                            
impact  membership within  these groups.  She also  urged review  of                                                            
"adverse  selection", which  occurs in the  insurance industry  when                                                            
the  insured  opt out  of their  current  coverage  as  a result  of                                                            
increased  rates,  resulting in  further  rate increases  for  those                                                            
remaining under  that coverage. She commented that  while the intent                                                            
of this legislation  is worthwhile, she was unsure  whether it would                                                            
be successful in lowering insurance rates.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  that Linda  Hall,  Director,  Division  of                                                            
Insurance,  Department   of  Revenue,  could  assist   in  providing                                                            
information necessary to making these determinations.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green agreed.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken ordered the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 546(JUD)                                                                                             
     "An Act relating  to regulation of the discharge  of pollutants                                                            
     from  timber-related  activities under  the National  Pollutant                                                            
     Discharge  Elimination System; relating to waste  treatment and                                                            
     disposal  permits; making conforming amendments;  and providing                                                            
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken stated  this bill,  introduced by  the House  Rules                                                            
Committee   at  the  request  of   the  Governor,  "authorizes   the                                                            
Department of Environmental  Conservation to administer the National                                                            
Pollutant  Discharge  Elimination  System  permits  for  the  timber                                                            
industry."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ERNESTA   BALLARD,   Commissioner,   Department   of  Environmental                                                             
Conservation,  stated  that a  change was  adopted by  the House  of                                                            
Representatives  in Section 5 of this  bill, relating to  the public                                                            
notices required  in the proposed  area of waste material  disposal.                                                            
The number of public notices  required was increased from one notice                                                            
to "at  least two" publications  of notice.  Ms. Ballard  summarized                                                            
that this bill  is part of the Governor's objective  to "streamline"                                                            
the permit process.  This bill would not change permit  requirements                                                            
or  standards  of   protecting  water  quality,  but   rather  would                                                            
eliminate one  stop for the permit  applicant. Currently  applicants                                                            
must  obtain  permits  from  the federal  Environmental   Protection                                                            
Agency  (EPA)  and certify  those  permits  with the  Department  of                                                            
Environmental  Conservation  as  required by  the Clean  Water  Act.                                                            
Permits  required  by the  Clean  Water Act  cannot  be eliminated;                                                             
therefore,  the only action,  which could be  taken to simplify  the                                                            
permit process  is that provided for  in this legislation:  enabling                                                            
the State to assume primacy from the EPA in obtaining permits.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 04 # 104, Side B 09:53 AM                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard stated that  she was optimistic that the success of this                                                            
bill would demonstrate  the "reasonableness" of the  permit approach                                                            
it  embodies,  thus  serving  as  a  basis  for  proposing   similar                                                            
legislation in other industries.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde referred  to fiscal  note  #1 for  $412,600 from  the                                                            
Department of Environmental  Conservation. He noted that the federal                                                            
receipts  reflected  in  years 2005  and  2006  would no  longer  be                                                            
available  after  2006. He  questioned  the effect  of  the loss  in                                                            
funding.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard  responded that  the federal  receipts reflect  a grant,                                                            
received  from  the  EPA,  which  the Department   of Environmental                                                             
Conservation would expend  over two years: 2005 and 2006. This grant                                                            
is intended to  assist the Department of Environmental  Conservation                                                            
with the  cost of  the rulemaking  required if  this legislation  is                                                            
implemented.  The  remaining expense  detailed  in  the fiscal  note                                                            
reflects  the general  fund  cost of  operating the  permit  program                                                            
after the federal grant is exhausted.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  asked if the cost of  rulemaking would be  eliminated                                                            
in conjunction with the federal grant.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Ballard  replied  that yes,  all necessary  rulemaking would  be                                                            
completed in 2005 and 2006.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JON TILLINGHAS,  Sealaska Corporation, testified in  support of this                                                            
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  offered a motion to  report the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There was  no objection  and CS  HB 546 (JUD)  MOVED from  Committee                                                            
with  fiscal   note  #1   for  $412,600   from  the  Department   of                                                            
Environmental Conservation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE BILL NO. 451                                                                                                         
     "An Act  relating to therapeutic  courts; and providing  for an                                                            
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken stated  this  bill, sponsored  by  the House  Rules                                                            
Committee  at  the  request  of the  Governor,  "extends  the  pilot                                                            
program for therapeutic  courts established in Anchorage  and Bethel                                                            
for alcohol  and drug addicted  offenders out  to June 30,  2006. In                                                            
addition,  it  repeals the  sunset  clause  that will  terminate  an                                                            
Anchorage Superior Court Judge position."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DOUG   WOOLIVER,    Administrative    Attorney,   Office    of   the                                                            
Administrative  Director, Alaska Court  System, reiterated  Co-Chair                                                            
Wilken's  bill  summary.  Mr.  Wooliver  continued  to  testify  the                                                            
following.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Just  to give you a  very brief history  of this bill.  In 2001                                                            
     then  Speaker of the  House, Bryan Porter,  introduced  and the                                                            
     legislature  passed House  Bill 172.   And the purpose  of that                                                            
     bill  was to  create two pilot  therapeutic  court programs  to                                                            
     deal with felony DWI offenders.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     The  pilot  programs  were  modeled  in large  part  after  the                                                            
     pioneering work that  was done by Judge Wanamaker in Anchorage.                                                            
      Judge Wanamaker is  a District Court Judge and established the                                                            
     wellness  court  there  [in  Anchorage]  where  he  deals  with                                                            
     misdemeanor offenders  with significant alcohol abuse problems.                                                            
      Judge Wanamaker  has had great success with  that program, and                                                            
     Speaker Porter and  the court system wanted to know if we could                                                            
     replicate that success  with felony level offenders; thus House                                                            
     Bill 172.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     In  order to  determine the  effectiveness of  these two  pilot                                                            
     programs,  the bill required the judicial council  to conduct a                                                            
     study of  those programs to determine their effectiveness.  And                                                            
     this  study is important  not only for  your determinations  in                                                            
     the  future as  to whether  or not  to continue  and/or  expand                                                            
     these types  of programs, but it is important  for the court as                                                            
     well because  they are very resource-intensive  for  the court,                                                            
     and we want to make  sure that they work.  So the evaluation is                                                            
     critically  important.  Unfortunately  both  the Anchorage  and                                                            
     Bethel programs  terminate long before the evaluation  has been                                                            
     completed.  So  if you  get the  evaluation  from the  judicial                                                            
     council  and  decide that  these  programs are  worthwhile  and                                                            
     would  like to continue  them, both  programs would have  ended                                                            
     over a year  earlier.  Attorneys are reassigned  to other work;                                                            
     the treatment  programs are taking other participants.   So all                                                            
     this bill  does in that regard  is just extend the termination                                                             
     of those  two pilot programs  until after the planned  study is                                                            
     completed  and you  have had  the opportunity  to review  their                                                            
     effectiveness.   To our way of  thinking it doesn't  make a lot                                                            
     of  sense to  terminate  the programs  before you  have had  an                                                            
     opportunity to decide whether they should be terminated.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  second very  important  thing that  this bill  does is  it                                                            
     deletes a sunset clause  that was put on a Superior Court Judge                                                            
     that  was added  by  House Bill  172.  If that  judge  sunsets,                                                            
     Anchorage  basically  looses  a Superior  Court  Judge if  that                                                            
     sunset clause  isn't deleted.  That will mean  not only the end                                                            
     of  the felony  therapeutic  court  program, but  because  that                                                            
     judge  still spends  most of her  time on  work not related  to                                                            
     therapeutic  court  it will have  a significant  impact on  the                                                            
     Superior  Court caseload  for all cases  that come through  the                                                            
     Anchorage Superior Court.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     The  last time  a judge  was added  to the  Anchorage bench  of                                                            
     Superior  Court  Judge was  in 1984,  and since  that time  our                                                            
     felony  caseload  has  doubled,  our  children's  caseload  has                                                            
     doubled,  and  other caseloads  have  risen dramatically.    We                                                            
     simply can't  afford to return to a level of  judicial coverage                                                            
     that was established, literally, twenty years ago.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     So  in  the  end  what  this  bill  does  is  extends  our  two                                                            
     therapeutic  courts  until  after  you and  the court  had  the                                                            
     opportunity  to  evaluate  them,  and it  keeps  a much-needed                                                             
     Superior Court Judge seat in Anchorage.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens  questioned fiscal note #6 for  $257,200 from the                                                            
Alaska Court System.  He asked whether the expenses  detailed in the                                                            
fiscal note were  already provided for in the FY 05  budget request.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  referenced  a  memorandum  he  received  from  Mr.                                                            
Wooliver  dated May 2, 2004  [copy on file],  which stated  that the                                                            
costs associated with the  position are included in the FY 05 budget                                                            
request.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wooliver  acknowledged  the apparent  discrepancy. He  explained                                                            
that zero fiscal  notes typically  detail in the analysis  statement                                                            
whether  existing   funds  would   be  utilized  to  implement   the                                                            
legislation;  however,  the House  Finance Committee  directed  this                                                            
fiscal  note to  include the  existing  costs. This  bill would  not                                                            
require any new expenses.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens  clarified that this legislation  would not incur                                                            
additional expense.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  offered a motion to  report the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Without  objection  HB 451  MOVED from  Committee  with zero  fiscal                                                            
notes:  #1  from the  Department  of  Administration,  #2  from  the                                                            
Department  of Corrections,  #3 from  the Department  of Health  and                                                            
Social Services, and #4  from the Department of Law, and fiscal note                                                            
#6 for $257,200 from the Alaska Court System.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE BILL NO. 464                                                                                                         
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of                                                                     
     Certified Real Estate Appraisers."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken stated  this  bill, sponsored  by  the House  Rules                                                            
Committee  at  the  request  of the  Legislative  Budget  and  Audit                                                            
Committee, "extends  the termination date of the Board  of Certified                                                            
Real Estate Appraisers to 2008."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PAT DAVIDSON,  Division of  Legislative Audit,  testified that  this                                                            
bill is consistent  with the recommendations in the  document titled                                                            
"Board of Certified Real  Estate Appraiser's Sunset Review" [copy on                                                            
file]. The  report did not suggest  either operational or  statutory                                                            
changes.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson  added  that the audit  includes an  assessment  of the                                                            
Board  of   Certified  Real  Estate   Appraisers'  financial   self-                                                            
sufficiency.   The Board had accumulated a deficit  at the end of FY                                                            
02; however,  according to  the sunset review  the Board was  moving                                                            
toward financial self-sufficiency at the end of FY 03.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  B.  Stevens  asked  the  Board  of  Certified  Real  Estate                                                            
Appraisers' annual revenues.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson  replied that the Board's  annual revenue in  FY 02 was                                                            
$18,676.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator B.  Stevens understood  that the Board  is funded with  fees                                                            
collected from  licenses issued to real estate appraisers  every two                                                            
years, thus operating on a two-year revenue cycle.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson affirmed.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator B.  Stevens asked the number  of times the termination  date                                                            
of the Board has been extended.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson  replied  that this  Board  has not  undergone as  many                                                            
sunset reviews as other  boards because the licensing of real estate                                                            
appraisers  was implemented through  federal legislation  adopted in                                                            
1986: the Financial  Institutions  Reform, Recovery and Enforcement                                                             
Act of  1989. She estimated  this is the  third review conducted  by                                                            
the  Division of  Legislative  Audit  of the  Board  of Real  Estate                                                            
Appraisers.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens suggested  that the termination date of the Board                                                            
of Real Estate Appraisers could be extended beyond four years.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #1:  This amendment would  extend the termination  date of                                                            
the Board of Real Estate  Appraisers from the proposed July 1, 2008,                                                            
to July 1, 2010.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens moved for adoption.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson  informed that  the Division  of Legislative Audit  has                                                            
approved an  overall review of the  sunset process. The statutorily                                                             
suggested sunset  extension for boards and commissions  is currently                                                            
four years; however, in  the Division's upcoming audit the four-year                                                            
extension would be reevaluated.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken objected to  the adoption  of the amendment  for an                                                            
explanation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson  commented  on  the  general  intent  of  the  sunset                                                            
provisions  to  allow the  elimination  of  a board  or commission.                                                             
Although  extending the review  date could  hamper this, he  did not                                                            
anticipate  that this Board would  be terminated. He did  not object                                                            
to the amendment.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HENRY WEBB, Committee  Aide, Legislative Budget and  Audit Committee                                                            
Aide and Staff  to Representative Ralph Samuels, testified  that the                                                            
sponsor  of the  bill  would  not object  to  the adoption  of  this                                                            
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken removed his objection.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
The amendment was ADOPTED without objection.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green  asked  if  the  Board  of  Certified   Real  Estate                                                            
Appraisers  was   the  board  that  experienced  rate   changes  and                                                            
licensing issues approximately six to seven years ago.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson was  unsure and noted that a review of  the Real Estate                                                            
Commission is due this year.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green asked  if the cause  of the cyclical  nature  of the                                                            
Board of  Real Estate Appraisers'  revenue  balance was a result  of                                                            
operating on a biennial revenue cycle.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Davidson  answered yes,  and  explained  that the  real  estate                                                            
appraiser licenses  issued by the  Board are renewed for  a two-year                                                            
period, resulting in cyclical revenues.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken referred  to the  "Board of  Certified Real  Estate                                                            
Appraisers' Sunset  Review", specifically a letter  written by Edgar                                                            
Blatchford,  Commissioner, Division  of Legislative Audit.  Co-Chair                                                            
Wilken   offered   for  consideration   Commissioner   Blatchford's                                                             
recommendation  to eliminate the Board, but continue  licensing real                                                            
estate appraisers under  the Division of Occupational Licensing. Co-                                                            
Chair Wilken  understood  this option  was discussed  in a House  of                                                            
Representatives'  hearing  of this bill  at which  time real  estate                                                            
appraisers  opposed such  action and  requested  that their  current                                                            
licensing structure  remain in place.  He asked for a qualification                                                             
of this information.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Davidson  did not recall the real  estate appraisers'  position.                                                            
She pointed  out  that legislation  extending  termination dates  of                                                            
boards does not affect  licensing functions. She emphasized that the                                                            
existence  of  a  board  typically  ensures   that  regulations  and                                                            
industry awareness are maintained.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  offered a motion to report the bill  as amended from                                                            
Committee with  individual recommendations  and accompanying  fiscal                                                            
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Without objection, CS HB  464 (FIN) MOVED from Committee with fiscal                                                            
note #1  of $28,300 from  the Department  of Community and  Economic                                                            
Development.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5                                                                                               
     Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of                                                                 
      Alaska relating to initiative and referendum petitions.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this  bill,  sponsored  by Representative                                                             
Williams, "places before  the voters a constitutional amendment that                                                            
changes  the signature requirements  for  initiative and  referendum                                                            
petitions."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TIM BARRY,  Staff to Representative  Bill  Williams, testified  that                                                            
currently,  to place an initiative  on the ballot, the Alaska  State                                                            
Constitution requires signatures  equal to ten-percent of voters who                                                            
voted in the  most recent statewide  general election from  at least                                                            
27 of  the 40 House  districts.   The amendment  in this  resolution                                                            
would  change  the requirement  for  placing  an initiative  on  the                                                            
ballot. This resolution  would require approval by a two-thirds plus                                                            
one  vote of  both bodies  of  the Alaska  State Legislature  and  a                                                            
majority of  the popular vote to bring  the proposed amendment  into                                                            
law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Barry stated  that  this  legislation  is consistent  with  the                                                            
intent of the authors of  the Alaska State Constitution, referencing                                                            
a  document   titled,  "Additional   Information  for  the   Sponsor                                                            
Statement  for HB  31/HJR 5:  Initiative and  Referendum  Petitions"                                                            
[copy  on file].  He stated  that the  authors of  the Constitution                                                             
wanted to ensure  that initiatives  received "a measure of  support"                                                            
throughout  the  State  before  being placed  on  the  ballot.  This                                                            
legislation would fulfill  that goal by amending the Constitution to                                                            
reflect  the  current geographical   distribution  of the  State  of                                                            
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Barry  continued  by  referring  to a  report  written  by  the                                                            
National Conference  of State Legislatures  titled "Constitution  of                                                            
the  State  of  Alaska"[copy  on  file],   urging  states  to  adopt                                                            
geographical  distribution  requirements   for initiative   petition                                                            
signatures  such as that proposed  by this resolution.  He  referred                                                            
to  statistical  data  on  signature  petitions,   included  in  the                                                            
"Initiative  and Referendum  Petitions"  document.  He proceeded  to                                                            
testify as follows.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Of  the ten  initiatives  that have  been on  the ballot  since                                                            
     1998,  sponsors  would have  had to  gather an  average of  935                                                            
     additional  valid signatures to comply with this  law. On these                                                            
     ten  petitions sponsors  gathered  an average  of 40,148  total                                                            
     signatures  [when],  in  fact, the  proposed  legislation  only                                                            
     requires  signature gatherers to get signatures  from as few as                                                            
     2.4 percent, and at  the most, 6.4 percent of registered voters                                                            
     in each district.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde asked  if the proposed  resolution  would reduce  the                                                            
overall number  of signatures required  to put an initiative  on the                                                            
ballot.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Barry replied  that this legislation would not  change the total                                                            
number  of signatures  required  statewide  for an  initiative,  but                                                            
rather would require  a greater number of signatures  in each of the                                                            
districts.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde commented  that  although  the election  district  he                                                            
represents  is  one   with  a  high  population  concentration   and                                                            
increasing  growth, he supports  this legislation.  This  resolution                                                            
would increase  public confidence  in government by giving  Alaskans                                                            
assurance against  paid petition gatherers soliciting  signatures in                                                            
heavily populated areas of the State.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  asked  for  a more  thorough  explanation  of  the                                                            
initiative  requirements.  He requested  that  Mr. Barry  go over  a                                                            
document titled "1997 Term Limits Pledge"[copy on file].                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Barry explained, using  the "1997 Term Limits Pledge" chart, the                                                            
current requirements  to place  an initiative  on the ballot  versus                                                            
the requirements of this resolution.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson  asked whether  this  legislation  has  received  any                                                            
testimony in opposition  or support from residents  of rural Alaska.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Barry replied that  a significant amount of testimony from rural                                                            
residents has  been received in support  of this bill. He  could not                                                            
recall any opposition voiced from rural residents.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson spoke to  the "unfortunate gradual shift" of political                                                            
power to  urban areas.  He expressed  regret that  the State  Senate                                                            
districts were  divided into geographical areas. He  opposed the use                                                            
of   professional   petition   signature    gatherers   for   ballot                                                            
propositions.  He supported this bill,  particularly in relation  to                                                            
issues affecting  rural residents, as it would return  some power to                                                            
rural areas.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  offered a  motion to report  the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There was no  objection and HJR 5  MOVED from Committee with  fiscal                                                            
note #1 for $1,500 from the Office of the Governor.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     HOUSE BILL NO. 31                                                                                                          
     "An Act relating to initiative and referendum petitions; and                                                               
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this  bill,  sponsored  by Representative                                                             
Williams,  "makes the  necessary statutory  changes  to reflect  the                                                            
intent of HJR  5, and this takes effect  only if the constitutional                                                             
amendment passes."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  offered a  motion to report  the bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Without objection  HB 31 MOVED from Committee with  zero fiscal note                                                            
#2 from the Office of the Governor.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 337(FIN)                                                                                             
     "An  Act  relating  to  anatomical   donor  registries,  to  an                                                            
     anatomical   gift  awareness   fund,  to  an  anatomical   gift                                                            
     awareness    program,   to    motor   vehicle   licenses    and                                                            
     registrations, and to state identification cards."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this  bill,  sponsored  by Representative                                                             
McGuire,  "creates  an organ  donor registry  program  in which  the                                                            
information  obtained by DMV [Department  of Motor Vehicles]  can be                                                            
transferred  to  Life  Alaska  Donor  Services.  [It]  allows  motor                                                            
vehicle  applicants to  donate  a dollar or  more to  the Organ  and                                                            
Tissue [Donation] Awareness Fund."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HEATH  HILYARD, Staff  to Representative  Lesil  McGuire,  testified                                                            
that currently,  when applying for an operator's license  or vehicle                                                            
registry,  an  individual  would decide  to  become an  organ  donor                                                            
through the Division of  Motor Vehicles. This process does not allow                                                            
for donor information  to be disseminated  beyond the Division.  The                                                            
proposed legislation would  establish an organ donor registry, which                                                            
would allow for  a transfer of information between  the Division and                                                            
Life  Alaska Donor  Services,  the State's  organ  and tissue  donor                                                            
program.  Participation in  the registry would  be voluntary,  and a                                                            
donor could be removed from the registry at his or her will.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERIN  HALL-MEADE,   Life  Alaska   Donor  Services,  testified   via                                                            
teleconference  from an offnet location  that she was available  for                                                            
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DWAYNE BANNOCK, Director,  Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of                                                            
Administration,   testified  via   teleconference  from   an  offnet                                                            
location that the Division is "proud to support this bill".                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  if this legislation  would  result in  slowing                                                            
down the surgical procedure of harvesting organs.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Hilyard replied this legislation would expedite the process.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hall-Meade affirmed.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  offered a motion to  report this bill from  Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Without objection  CS HB  337 (FIN) MOVED  from Committee with  zero                                                            
fiscal note  #1 from the  Department of Health  and Social  Services                                                            
and   fiscal   note  #2   for   $7,000  from   the   Department   of                                                            
Administration.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 10:32 AM / 3:09 PM                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Gary Wilken adjourned the meeting at 03:09 PM                                                                          

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