Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/10/2009 01:38 PM FIN


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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                  SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                       April 10, 2009                                                                                           
                         1:38 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:38:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman called the Senate  Finance Committee meeting                                                                   
to order at 1:38 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lyman Hoffman, Co-Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice-Chair                                                                                             
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                                                                            
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Joe Thomas                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bettye Davis, Sponsor;  Tom Obermeyer, Staff, Senator                                                                   
Bettye  Davis;  Sam  Trivette,  Self;  Senator  Joe  Paskvan;                                                                   
Konrad Jackson, Staff, Representative Kurt Olson.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Boyd Brownfield, Engineer and  Chairman, Board of Architects,                                                                   
Engineers,  and Land Surveyors;  Harley Hightower,  Architect                                                                   
and  Member,   Board  of  Architects,  Engineers,   and  Land                                                                   
Surveyors.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SB 35     "An Act extending the termination date of the                                                                         
          Statewide    Suicide   Prevention    Council;   and                                                                   
          providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          CSSB 35(HSS) was REPORTED out of Committee with a                                                                     
          "do pass" recommendation and with attached fiscal                                                                     
          notes 1 and 2 by the Department of Health and                                                                         
          Social Services.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SB 114    "An  Act  extending  the termination  date  of  the                                                                   
          State Board of Registration for Architects,                                                                           
          Engineers, and Land Surveyors; and providing for                                                                      
          an effective date."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
          CSSB 114(L&C) was REPORTED out of Committee with a                                                                    
          "do pass"  recommendation and with  attached fiscal                                                                   
          note  1 by  the Department  of Commerce,  Community                                                                   
          and Economic Development.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SB 183    "An    Act    authorizing   the    Department    of                                                                   
          Environmental Conservation  to award grants for the                                                                   
          control  of air  emissions or  the development  and                                                                   
          administration  of  air quality  control  programs;                                                                   
          and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
          SB 183 was REPORTED out of Committee with a "do                                                                       
          pass"  recommendation  and with  attached new  zero                                                                   
          note   by    the   Department   of    Environmental                                                                   
          Conservation.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 86     "An Act extending the termination date of the                                                                         
          Board  of Veterinary  Examiners; and providing  for                                                                   
          an effective date."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
          HB 86 was REPORTED out of Committee with a "do                                                                        
          pass" recommendation  and with attached fiscal note                                                                   
          1  by the  Department  of Commerce,  Community  and                                                                   
          Economic Development.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 35                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending the termination  date of the Statewide                                                                   
     Suicide  Prevention   Council;  and  providing   for  an                                                                   
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:39:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS, SPONSOR,  spoke in support of the bill.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
TOM  OBERMEYER, STAFF,  SENATOR BETTYE  DAVIS, SPONSOR,  read                                                                   
from the Sponsor Statement (Copy on File):                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     SB  35 extends  the termination  date  of the  Statewide                                                                   
     Suicide Prevention Council  to June 30, 2013. Suicide is                                                                   
     a  very   serious  public  health  concern   in  Alaska,                                                                   
     particularly  among young  males and  the Alaska  native                                                                   
     population.   Extension   of   the   Statewide   Suicide                                                                   
     Prevention  Council  is  important  in  curtailing  this                                                                   
     avoidable  loss of  life. The mission  of the  Statewide                                                                   
     Suicide  Prevention Council  is to  advise the  governor                                                                   
     and the  legislature on issues  relating to  suicide. In                                                                   
     collaboration     with      communities,     faith-based                                                                   
     organizations, and public-private  entities, the Council                                                                   
     works to improve the health  and wellness of Alaskans by                                                                   
     reducing  suicide  and  its effect  in  individuals  and                                                                   
     communities.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     The Executive  Summary of  the July,  2005 study  by the                                                                   
     Alaska Injury Prevention  Center funded by Alaska Mental                                                                   
     Health      Trust     Authority     "Alaska      Suicide                                                                   
     Hospitalizations,  2001-2002,"  reported  that  in  2002                                                                   
     32,000 took  their own lives  in the United  States, and                                                                   
     20 times that number sought treatment for self-                                                                            
     inflicted injuries. Alaska  had the highest age-adjusted                                                                   
     suicide  rate of  all the  states in 2002  at 21.12  per                                                                   
     100,000 population,  which is  nearly twice that  of the                                                                   
     U.S.  rate  of 10.99  per  100,000.  An average  of  125                                                                   
     people die  from suicide each year in Alaska,  making it                                                                   
     the number  one cause  of death  for Alaskans  under the                                                                   
     age of 50 years (if unintentional  injuries are examined                                                                   
     individually instead of in groups).                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Hospitalizations for suicide  per the above study make a                                                                   
     compelling  case  for  prevention  of  suicide  and  new                                                                   
     insights into this dramatic  public health problem. Over                                                                   
     $4 million  in hospital costs  alone is spent  in public                                                                   
     funds each  year to care for suicide attempts.  This did                                                                   
     not include  physicians'  and specialists' costs.  While                                                                   
     the toll  on society and  family members by  suicide may                                                                   
    be incalculable, significant numbers were revealed:                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     · The average age for the patients was 30 years.                                                                           
     ·  The average length of each hospital  stay was 4 days,                                                                   
        with a range of 1 to 366.                                                                                               
     · The average cost per case was $8,986.                                                                                    
     ·  Over 75%  of  the hospital  costs  were paid  through                                                                   
        public funding sources.                                                                                                 
     ·  15% of  hospital  costs had  to  be  written off  for                                                                   
        patients' inability to pay.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  unabated high  rate  of suicide  in Alaska  demands                                                                   
     continued attention  and effort and earnestly  urges, if                                                                   
     not  compels, the  extension  of the  Statewide  Suicide                                                                   
     Prevention Council.  A subsequent study to  the above by                                                                   
     the Alaska Injury Prevention  Center from 9/1/03-8/31/06                                                                   
     found  426  suicides  in  Alaska  during  this  36-month                                                                   
     period,  with the  continuing  rate of  suicide at  over                                                                   
     21/100,000. Males  outnumbered females 4 to  1. The age-                                                                   
     group  20-29 had  both the greatest  number of  suicides                                                                   
     and  the highest  rate  per 100,000  population.  Alaska                                                                   
     Natives  had  a  significantly higher  average  rate  of                                                                   
     suicide  than  the non-Native  population  (51.4/100,000                                                                   
     compared  to 16.9/100,000). The  leading cause  of death                                                                   
     was  firearms  with toxicology  reports  in  1/3 of  the                                                                   
     cases. Alcohol was found  in 44% of the toxicology tests                                                                   
     and marijuana was found in 15%.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:44:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman opened public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SAM TRIVETTE, SELF,  spoke in support of the  legislation. He                                                                   
described personal  experience with  losing a son  to suicide                                                                   
in 2007.  After his death, they  heard many reports  of other                                                                   
suicides. Recently,  seven young  people took their  lives in                                                                   
the Juneau area.  He said that young people  with the highest                                                                   
potential have the highest suicide rate.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Trivette  told the  committee  that  there had  been  no                                                                   
program in the  school system to educate  students, teachers,                                                                   
and parents about  depression and suicide. The  Juneau school                                                                   
district  recently  added  a component  in  the  high  school                                                                   
curriculum  to  educate  students  regarding  depression  and                                                                   
suicide.  Another school  district with  the program  has not                                                                   
experienced suicides since its implementation.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Trivette  reported that the  curriculum was  supported by                                                                   
the   Statewide  Suicide   Prevention   Council,  which   has                                                                   
implemented a  number of other  initiatives at  various local                                                                   
levels.  The council  is focused  on  getting information  to                                                                   
citizens that can help lower the  suicide rate. He noted that                                                                   
no other organization is focusing  on the issue in Alaska. He                                                                   
emphasized that the  council has had an impact  in Alaska and                                                                   
urged extension of the council for another four years.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman expressed compassion for the family.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Trivette  informed the  committee  that  his nephew  had                                                                   
committed suicide that week.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:47:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  MOVED  to  report  CS SB  35(HSS)  out  of                                                                   
Committee   with    individual   recommendations    and   the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal  note. There  being NO OBJECTION,  it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSSB 35(HSS) was  REPORTED out of Committee with  a "do pass"                                                                   
recommendation and with attached  fiscal notes 1 and 2 by the                                                                   
Department of Health and Social Services.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 114                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending the termination date of the State                                                                        
     Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and                                                                       
     Land Surveyors; and providing for an effective date."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:48:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOE  PASKVAN, gave the  committee an overview  of the                                                                   
legislation.  He  noted  that  the board  fees  are  paid  by                                                                   
licensees, which  cover the  board's full operating  expense.                                                                   
There is no need for state money. The board is in good                                                                          
financial standing with a surplus since FY06. He emphasized                                                                     
that new funds are not required to implement the bill.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Paskvan read from the Sponsor Statement (Copy on                                                                        
File):                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The   State  Board  of   Registration  for   Architects,                                                                   
     Engineers,  and  Land Surveyors  is  a regulatory  board                                                                   
     consisting of 10 members  appointed by the governor. The                                                                   
     board  consists   of  two  civil  engineers,   two  land                                                                   
     surveyors,  one  mining   engineer,  one  electrical  or                                                                   
     mechanical  engineer, one  engineer from another  branch                                                                   
     of the  profession of  engineering, two architects,  and                                                                   
     one public member.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Senate Bill 114 seeks to  extend the termination date of                                                                   
     the  Board from  June 30,  2009,  to June  30, 2017,  as                                                                   
     recommended by the Legislative Auditor.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The  CS for  SB 114(L&C)  corrects an  oversight in  the                                                                   
     original   bill.  By  statute,   the  position   of  the                                                                   
     temporary  board member  must also  be extended  in this                                                                   
     legislation and that was  not done in the original bill.                                                                   
     The CS simply  maintains the status quo of  the Board of                                                                   
     Architects,  Engineers,  and  Land Surveyors  by  adding                                                                   
     language that  extends the term for one  temporary, non-                                                                   
     voting  board  member  who   must  be  registered  as  a                                                                   
     landscape architect.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The  enclosed  audit states  that  the Board  "serves  a                                                                   
     public  purpose  and  has  demonstrated  an  ability  to                                                                   
     conduct  its  business  in a  satisfactory  manner.  The                                                                   
     registration  of qualified  architects, engineers,  land                                                                   
     surveyors,   and  landscape   architects  benefits   the                                                                   
     public's health, safety,  and welfare. We recommend that                                                                   
     the  legislature  extend  the termination  date  of  the                                                                   
     board until June 30, 2017."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Paskvan urged support of the legislation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:51:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman opened public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BOYD BROWNFIELD, ENGINEER AND  CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF ARCHITECTS,                                                                   
ENGINEERS,    AND     LAND    SURVEYORS     (testified    via                                                                   
teleconference),  spoke in support of  the bill. He  had been                                                                   
charged with addressing three items:                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
   · Reviewing the original sunset bill. He reported that he                                                                    
     did  read  the  bill and  concurred  with  the  proposed                                                                   
     extension to the year 2017.                                                                                                
   · Legislative audit findings from 2008. The board                                                                            
     concurred   with   the    three   final   findings   and                                                                   
     recommendations of the audit.                                                                                              
   · Inclusion of the temporary, non-voting landscape                                                                           
     architect seat. The board  supports the position and its                                                                   
     inclusion into SB 114.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:54:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HARLEY HIGHTOWER, ARCHITECT AND  MEMBER, BOARD OF ARCHITECTS,                                                                   
ENGINEERS,    AND     LAND    SURVEYORS     (testified    via                                                                   
teleconference),  spoke  in support  of  the legislation.  He                                                                   
concurred with Mr. Brownfield's testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman closed public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman  MOVED  to  report  CSSB  114(L&C)  out  of                                                                   
Committee   with    individual   recommendations    and   the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal  note. There  being NO OBJECTION,  it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSSB 114(L&C) was REPORTED out  of Committee with a "do pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  with  attached  fiscal  note  1  by  the                                                                   
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 183                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act  authorizing the  Department  of  Environmental                                                                   
     Conservation  to award  grants  for the  control of  air                                                                   
     emissions or  the development and administration  of air                                                                   
     quality   control  programs;   and   providing  for   an                                                                   
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:55:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman provided the history of the legislation.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman MOVED  to report  SB 183  out of  Committee                                                                   
with individual  recommendations and the  accompanying fiscal                                                                   
note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SB  183  was REPORTED  out  of  Committee  with a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  with  attached  new  zero  note  by  the                                                                   
Department of Environmental Conservation.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 86                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act extending  the termination date of  the Board of                                                                   
     Veterinary  Examiners; and  providing  for an  effective                                                                   
     date."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:56:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KONRAD  JACKSON,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  KURT  OLSON,  CHAIR,                                                                   
HOUSE  LABOR &  COMMERCE COMMITTEE,  gave  background of  the                                                                   
legislation. He  explained that boards come up  for extension                                                                   
regularly  and  then  are audited.  The  recommendation  from                                                                   
legislative  audit was  an eight-year  extension to  June 30,                                                                   
2017.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman MOVED to report  HB 86 out of Committee with                                                                   
individual recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB  86  was  REPORTED  out of  Committee  with  a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  with  attached  fiscal  note  1  by  the                                                                   
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:58:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 1:58 PM.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                

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