Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/16/2018 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Meeting Postponed to 10:00 a.m. --
+ HB 151 DHSS;CINA; FOSTER CARE; CHILD PROTECTION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 267 RELEASE HUNTING/FISHING RECORDS TO MUNI TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      April 16, 2018                                                                                            
                        10:03 a.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:03:34 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Bishop  called   the  Senate  Finance  Committee                                                                    
meeting to order at 10:03 a.m.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lyman Hoffman, Co-Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Click Bishop, Vice-Chair                                                                                                
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Anna MacKinnon, Co-Chair                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Tim   Clark,  Staff,   Representative   Bryce  Edgmon;   Ray                                                                    
DeBardelaben,  Kenai  River Professional  Guide Association,                                                                    
Soldotna;  John  Erickson,  City  and  Borough  of  Yakutat,                                                                    
Yakutat;  Susan Edwards,  Lake and  Peninsula Borough,  King                                                                    
Salmon;  Representative Les  Gara, Sponsor;  Christy Lawton,                                                                    
Director,  Office  of  Children's  Services,  Department  of                                                                    
Health  and Social  Services; Juli  Lucky, Self,  Anchorage;                                                                    
Janine Reep, Facing Foster Care, Juneau.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Amanda Metivier,  Facing Foster  Care in  Alaska, Anchorage;                                                                    
Natasha  Singh,   Tanana  Chiefs  Conference,   AK  Regional                                                                    
Coalition,  Fairbanks;  Tammy   Sandoval,  Director,  Alaska                                                                    
Child  Welfare  Academy,  University of  Alaska,  Anchorage;                                                                    
Rachel Bedsworth,  Facing Foster Care in  Alaska, Anchorage;                                                                    
Desiree  Shepler,   Director,  Raising  Our   Children  with                                                                    
Kindness (Rock Matsu), Wasilla; Sarah Redmon,     Facing                                                                        
Foster Care in Alaska,   Anchorage; Elizabeth  Ripley, Matsu                                                                    
Health Foundation, Wasilla; Michael Jeffery, Self, Barrow.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 151(FIN)                                                                                                                   
         DHSS;CINA; FOSTER CARE; CHILD PROTECTION                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 151(FIN) was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                     
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 267(RES)                                                                                                                   
          RELEASE HUNTING/FISHING RECORDS TO MUNI                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 267(RES) was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                     
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 267(RES)                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act  requiring  the  release  of  certain  records                                                                    
     relating to big game  hunters, guided hunts, and guided                                                                    
     sport   fishing   activities  to   municipalities   for                                                                    
     verification  of taxes  payable; and  providing for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:04:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Bishop discussed housekeeping.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TIM  CLARK, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE  BRYCE EDGMON,  explained                                                                    
that  the  bill gave  municipalities  that  levied taxes  on                                                                    
guided  fish  and game  activities  access  to records  that                                                                    
hunting, and sport fish guides  submitted to state agencies.                                                                    
He said  that this  would provide  local governments  a tool                                                                    
that  would help  to  confirm that  such  hunting a  fishing                                                                    
activity, subject to taxes  within their jurisdictions, were                                                                    
being  accurately reported.  He noted  that all  information                                                                    
released to municipalities would  remain confidential at the                                                                    
municipal level.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Bishop  interjected  that Senator  Micciche  was                                                                    
away on sate business and would join the committee shortly.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  von  Imhof  observed  that  the  sponsor  statement                                                                    
stated:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     The bill would allow municipalities access to certain                                                                      
     records collected by the state                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  von Imhof  asked what  the  access entailed,  which                                                                    
records  would   be  shared,  and   how  privacy   would  be                                                                    
protected.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Clark  responded that  hunt  records  were through  the                                                                    
Department of Commerce,  Community and Economic Development;                                                                    
while  sport fishing  records were  held by  the Sport  Fish                                                                    
Division of  the Department of  Fish and Game.  He explained                                                                    
that the  confidentiality would be  backed up  by provisions                                                                    
in criminal  law; A breech in  confidentiality constituted a                                                                    
Class  A  misdemeanor and  all  officials  at the  municipal                                                                    
level would be subject to the law.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:07:49 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator von  Imhof assumed  that the  files would  be shared                                                                    
back and forth  electronically, and that the  files would be                                                                    
protected.  She  wondered   how  municipalities  would  know                                                                    
whether fees had been collected by the state.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Clark responded  that the  fees were  collected at  the                                                                    
local level and access to  the records gave municipalities a                                                                    
cross  referencing tool  to learn  about  hunting and  sport                                                                    
fishing activities  within their jurisdictions.   He guessed                                                                    
that state  agencies would  likely be  troubled only  once a                                                                    
year for the information.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:09:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Clark reviewed the Sectional Summary (copy on file):                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Section  1 amends  statutes on  the confidentiality  of                                                                  
     hunt    records   and    activity   reports    to   add                                                                    
     municipalities  to   those  entities   already  allowed                                                                    
     access  to such  information. Section  1 also  makes it                                                                    
     explicit  that  municipalities  would  be  required  to                                                                    
     maintain the  confidentiality of  the records,  and the                                                                    
     section limits  municipalities' access to  hunt records                                                                    
     to  those describing  activities occurring  within four                                                                    
     calendar years preceding a request for them.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Section 2  gives the  Department of  Commerce authority                                                                  
     to  charge  a municipality  a  fee  for accessing  hunt                                                                    
     records,  should  expenses  to the  department  warrant                                                                    
     one.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section  3 amends  statutes on  the confidentiality  of                                                                  
     records and reports required by the Department of                                                                          
     Fish & Game  to include that a  municipality is allowed                                                                    
     access to  records and reports of  guided sport fishing                                                                    
     activities  if the  municipality levies  a tax  on such                                                                    
     activities and requests the records  for the purpose of                                                                    
     verifying   taxes  payable.   Section  3   also  limits                                                                    
     municipalities'  access  to  sport fishing  records  to                                                                    
     those  describing  activities   occurring  within  four                                                                    
     calendar years preceding the request.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section  4   gives  the  Department  of   Fish  &  Game                                                                  
     authority to charge a municipality  a fee for accessing                                                                    
     sport   fishing  records,   should   expenses  to   the                                                                    
     department warrant one.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
    Section 5 provides for an immediate effective date.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:10:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Stevens thought  it was  important  to discuss  the                                                                    
rationale behind the bill and the problem it would solve.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Clark  stated that  the Lake  and Peninsula  Borough had                                                                    
brought the issue to the  sponsor because they believed that                                                                    
they may  be ceding $50  thousand to $100 thousand  per year                                                                    
because of unpaid local taxes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:12:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Bishop OPENED public testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
RAY DEBARDELABEN,   KENAI    RIVER     PROFESSIONAL    GUIDE                                                                    
ASSOCIATION,   SOLDOTNA,  explained that  he  said that  log                                                                    
books had  been created for  Department of Fish and  Game to                                                                    
collect biological  data, which  was private  and privileged                                                                    
information.  He stressed  that  sport  fishery data  varied                                                                    
dramatically  depending  on  time  of  year,  location,  and                                                                    
equipment  used. He  believed that  the borough  already had                                                                    
programs  set  up  to  make   sure  that  taxes  were  being                                                                    
collected.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:14:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JOHN ERICKSON, CITY AND BOROUGH OF YAKUTAT, YAKUTAT,                                                                            
testified  in  support of  the  bill.  He relayed  that  the                                                                    
borough was large  and collected taxes from 5  lodges in the                                                                    
area. He  said that some  people accessed the area  by plane                                                                    
that did not  come directly form the borough,  which made it                                                                    
difficult to know  who was using resources.  He thought that                                                                    
the  legislation  would  help  to   keep  tabs  on  who  was                                                                    
operating  within  the borough.  He  felt  that the  records                                                                    
would be safely stored to protect confidentiality.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stevens  asked how  much revenue  the city  had lost                                                                    
and how the tax would be collected for Yakutat.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Erickson  replied that the  data would give the  city an                                                                    
idea of who was operating  within their borough, which would                                                                    
likely double the city's revenue.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:18:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN  EDWARDS, LAKE  AND  PENINSULA  BOROUGH, KING  SALMON,                                                                    
spoke  in support  of the  bill. She  said that  without the                                                                    
legislation  it  was  difficult  for  the  borough  to  know                                                                    
whether currently reported numbers  were correct and whether                                                                    
all  guides  working  within   the  borough  were  reporting                                                                    
correctly. She  felt that the  issue of  confidentiality was                                                                    
laid out  in borough  code and  believed that  the amendment                                                                    
that  added  a penalty  for  breach  of confidentiality  had                                                                    
alleviated that issue.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stevens asked what recourse  was available if it was                                                                    
found that false reports had been made by guides.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Edwards  thought having  access  to  the records  would                                                                    
decrease the  need for  punitive action on  the part  of the                                                                    
borough. She  noted that the  borough already had  fines for                                                                    
late and false reporting.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:21:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Bishop asked  Ms. Edwards  about potential  lost                                                                    
revenue.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Edwards  was confident  that passage  of the  bill would                                                                    
increase revenue by $50,000 to $100,000 per year.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Bishop  asked how much  outreach the  borough did                                                                    
to guides to educate on the process.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Edwards stated  that  the borough  had  worked hard  to                                                                    
reach  out  and  educate  guides.   She  said  that  at  the                                                                    
beginning  of the  process there  had been  approximately 40                                                                    
guides registered  with the borough, at  this juncture there                                                                    
were well over 120 guides in record.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Bishop CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 267(RES)  was HEARD and  HELD in committee  for further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:23:27 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:30:01 AM                                                                                                                   
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 151(FIN)                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act  relating to  the duties  of the  Department of                                                                    
     Health and  Social Services;  relating to  training and                                                                    
     workload standards  for employees of the  Department of                                                                    
     Health and Social Services  and providing immunity from                                                                    
     damages related to those  standards; relating to foster                                                                    
     care  home licensing;  relating to  civil and  criminal                                                                    
     history  background checks  for  foster care  licensing                                                                    
     and payments; relating to placement  of a child in need                                                                    
     of aid; relating to the  rights and responsibilities of                                                                    
     foster parents; requiring the  Department of Health and                                                                    
     Social Services  to provide information  to a  child or                                                                    
     person  released  from  the department's  custody;  and                                                                    
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:30:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    LES   GARA,    SPONSOR,   discussed    the                                                                    
presentation "HB  151: Children Deserve a  Loving Home Act,"                                                                    
(copy on file).  He informed that the  full presentation was                                                                    
included in  member packets, the  slides projected  had been                                                                    
selected for efficiency and brevity.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  showed Slide  2, which showed  an image                                                                    
with the quote, "It is  easier to build strong children than                                                                    
to repair broken men," by Frederick Douglass.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  shared that  Casey Family  Programs was                                                                    
the  largest nonprofit  foster care  program in  the country                                                                    
and  operated  in  all  50  states. He  said  that  a  child                                                                    
protection  system  should   provide  customer  service  and                                                                    
should  not be  engaged  in crisis  management. He  lamented                                                                    
that Alaska faced similar challenges  to most states when it                                                                    
came  to foster  care but  that  some states  had been  more                                                                    
successful than others. He shared  that the bill would limit                                                                    
trauma to children  and families. He believed  that the bill                                                                    
would  save  the  state  money by  reducing  the  number  of                                                                    
children in foster care. He  said that the bill followed the                                                                    
New   Jersey  model,   which   involved  applying   caseload                                                                    
standards  to retain  caseworkers. He  stated that  the bill                                                                    
was evidence  based, and cited Slide  2, "Damaging Children,                                                                    
Costing Money":                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
   By age 21,                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     • 29% of Alaskan foster youth have been incarcerated                                                                       
     • 53% have been homeless (after leaving care)                                                                              
     • 37% have children of their own                                                                                           
     • 40% are utilizing public assistance                                                                                      
     • 34% were employed                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:33:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara turned  to Slide  4, "Vast  Improvement                                                                    
Within Our  Reach: N.J. Adopted  Caseload Limits  & Training                                                                    
similar to HB 151:"                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     -- Child Removals Down almost 50%                                                                                          
     -- Caseworker Turnover Down to 8% from 25%                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara relayed  that  New  Jersey had  adopted                                                                    
caseload  standards   so  that  caseworkers  would   not  be                                                                    
overwhelmed, which  curbed burnout and the  massive turnover                                                                    
rate. He added  that the number of youths in  foster care in                                                                    
New Jersey  had been  reduced by  50 percent  and caseworker                                                                    
turnover was down by 67 percent.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:34:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  reviewed Slide  5, "Placing  Youth With                                                                    
Relatives:  A 30%  Increase  in N.J.,"  which  showed a  bar                                                                    
graph entitled 'Figure 9: Initial  Placement with a Relative                                                                    
or Kinship  Caregiver.' He stated that  when caseworkers had                                                                    
time to  work with youth,  rather than spend time  on crisis                                                                    
management, they had time to  find placement with a relative                                                                    
or   kinship  caregiver.   He   stressed  that   overwhelmed                                                                    
caseworkers  did not  have the  time  to do  the family,  or                                                                    
friend to family searches.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:36:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  displayed   Slide  6,  "How  Excessive                                                                    
Caseloads Harm Children & Families":                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     • Can't work with families to arrange frequent                                                                             
        visitation, which increases reunification                                                                               
     • High caseloads lead to more turnover  49% for                                                                            
        front-line workers at OCS                                                                                               
     • Majority of those who leave OCS cite excessive                                                                           
        caseloads as #1 reason                                                                                                  
     • More turnover correlated with repeat maltreatment                                                                        
     • Inadequate time to investigate cases & work to keep                                                                      
        families together.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  asserted that getting children  back to                                                                    
their families or  into a permanent and loving  home was the                                                                    
number  one   priority.  He  said   that  with   more  time,                                                                    
caseworkers  could set  up  frequent  visitation with  their                                                                    
lost  child,  which  statistics  had  shown  what  the  best                                                                    
outcome for children. He stressed  that high turnover led to                                                                    
higher  turnover  and wasted  money.  He  added that  losing                                                                    
workers  resulted  in  cases being  transferred  to  already                                                                    
overwhelmed  remaining caseworkers.  He said  that excessive                                                                    
caseloads were  the number 1  reason for  employee turnover.                                                                    
He lamented  that the more  turnover, the more  repeat child                                                                    
abuse and repeat neglect suffered by children.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:37:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara reviewed  Slide 7,  "Why The  Workforce                                                                    
Matters". He  relayed that child  welfare work was  not easy                                                                    
and turnover  was costly; the  cost for each  worker leaving                                                                    
the  agency  was  approximately  $54,000.  Reduced  turnover                                                                    
meant a better turnout for all involved.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:38:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara spoke  to  Slide 8,  "Fewer Changes  in                                                                    
caseworkers   increases  the   chances  of   permanency  for                                                                    
children," which  showed a bar  graph. He drew  attention to                                                                    
the bottom yellow  bar, which showed that a child  who had 1                                                                    
caseworker  for the  duration of  their time  in the  system                                                                    
were 74.5 percent more likely to find permanent placement.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Bishop  interjected  that  students  in  Finland                                                                    
stayed with  their teachers  for 7 years,  which had  led to                                                                    
high international test scores.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:39:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  discussed additional  positive outcomes                                                                    
from New  Jersey. The state  had set state records  from the                                                                    
number of  foster children that  had been adopted.  He added                                                                    
that staff morale had been increased.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:41:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stevens read Slide 9,  "HB 151 will cost-effectively                                                                    
and comprehensively  fix problems, improve child  and family                                                                    
outcomes, and reduce waste and red tape."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:41:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara displayed  Slide 10,  "HB 151:  What It                                                                    
Will Do":                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Sets  manageable caseload  limits,  so caseworkers  can                                                                  
     reduce  removal rates,  get youth  out  of foster  care                                                                    
     faster, make  fewer mistakes, and respond  to the needs                                                                    
     of youth and original parents.                                                                                             
     ? For  new caseworkers, 6  families in the  first three                                                                  
     months and 12 in the first six months (Section 6)                                                                          
     ? A statewide  average caseload limit of  not more than                                                                  
     13 families per worker                                                                                                     
     ?   These   levels   are   consistent   with   national                                                                  
     recommendations,  taking   Alaska  travel   times  into                                                                  
     account                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  stated that  the state was  closer than                                                                    
ever  to  being  able  to   achieve  caseload  and  training                                                                    
standards laid out in the bill.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:42:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara reviewed  Slide 11,  "Caseloads: FY  17                                                                    
&18,"  which showed  a  table of  the  average caseload  per                                                                    
worker in FY17 and FY18.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:43:24 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara showed Slide 12, "Finding & Keeping                                                                         
Loving Foster Homes":                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
        • Often placement with a family member or friend is                                                                     
          healthier for a child & leads to reunification                                                                        
          (Section 13)                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
        • Bill strengthens search for family members,                                                                           
          frequently                                                                                                            
          a casualty of excessive caseloads (Sections 7 &                                                                       
          12)                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
        • Can make Olympians                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
        • Simon Biles and Torie Bowie adopted by loving                                                                         
          grandparents within 1 year                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:44:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara showed Slide 13, "Provides Caseworkers                                                                      
with Necessary Training":                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
        • Increases training for new workers to 6 weeks                                                                         
          (Section 16)                                                                                                          
        • Pre-2017 budget amendment was 3 weeks                                                                                 
      • Directs DHSS to assign mentors to train and                                                                             
          help new staff                                                                                                        
        • Quality training at UA Child Welfare Academy                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:45:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara looked at Slide 14, "Keeping Families                                                                       
Together":                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
        • Reduces removals -- Prohibits DHSS from placing a                                                                     
          child with an out-of-home provider if it                                                                              
          determines the child can remain safely at home                                                                        
         with an adult family member (Section 14)                                                                               
        • Maintains connections & support -- Enables the                                                                        
          sharing of contact info to encourage needed                                                                           
          contact with siblings and important former foster                                                                     
          families (Sections 15 and 2)                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  noted  that   too  many  children  are                                                                    
separated  from their  siblings and  the bill  required that                                                                    
separated sibling  get contact  information for  each other.                                                                    
He wanted to encourage  sibling connections. He related that                                                                    
children should  have contact  information of  former foster                                                                    
parents. He  stressed the importance of  the "Prudent Parent                                                                    
Standard"  that  would allow  foster  parents  to act  as  a                                                                    
parent  in certain  situations without  having to  first get                                                                    
permission from a caseworker.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:47:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara showed Slide 15, "Cuts Red Tape":                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
        • Makes it easier for foster parents to make day-                                                                       
          to-day decisions about a child's activities,                                                                          
          consistent with "Prudent Parent" standard used                                                                        
          10+ states (Section 8)                                                                                                
        • Requires that decisions on foster care home                                                                           
          license applications be made within 45 days                                                                           
          (Section 20)                                                                                                          
        • Enables youth 14 and older to participate in                                                                          
          their case plan & permanent home goals                                                                                
          (Section 9)                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:48:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara showed  Slide 16,  "Progress at  Alaska                                                                    
OCS":                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
    Removals and discharges during each calendar year:                                                                          
     2017: Removals = 1,303; Discharges = 1,422                                                                               
     2016: Removals = 1,356; Discharges = 1,038                                                                                 
     2015: Removals = 1,610; Discharges = 1,080                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:49:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara showed Slide  17. He referenced material                                                                    
from the National Child Workforce  Institute that echoed the                                                                    
problems  created by  high caseloads  and  turnover and  the                                                                    
harm to youth and families.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:51:41 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:52:42 AM                                                                                                                   
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
Vice-Chair Bishop OPENED public testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:53:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY  LAWTON, DIRECTOR,  OFFICE  OF CHILDREN'S  SERVICES,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF  HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES,  spoke in support                                                                    
of the  bill. She discussed  her 20-year history  of working                                                                    
in child welfare. She lamented  that her experience had seen                                                                    
heavy  caseloads  for limited  staff  that  had resulted  in                                                                    
decreased quality and increased risk for children.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:56:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lawton  continued her testimony. She  discussed becoming                                                                    
a supervisor and spoke of the  changes that had been made to                                                                    
improve the  system. She said that  workers faced challenges                                                                    
that included personal threats for their personal safety.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lawton  described OCS as debilitated;  a system severely                                                                    
hindered  due  to lacking  the  right  resources to  operate                                                                    
effectively. She  stated that  workforce retention  in child                                                                    
welfare had been  a chronic problem for over  5 decades. She                                                                    
believed  that  Alaska  should be  proactive  in  developing                                                                    
solutions to the problems faced by the system.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:58:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  whether Ms.  Lawton was  familiar with                                                                    
the  New Jersey  model referenced  by the  bill sponsor.  He                                                                    
asked whether the model could work in Alaska.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lawton answered in the affirmative on both counts.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:59:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator von Imhof stated that she  had heard the bill in the                                                                    
Senate Health  and Social Services  committee. She  asked to                                                                    
present an idea  that she had crafted as a  blend of all the                                                                    
ideas that had been discussed.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:00:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA  METIVIER, FACING  FOSTER CARE  IN ALASKA,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via teleconference), testified in  support of the bill. She                                                                    
stated  that the  legislation was  a product  of input  form                                                                    
young people  who were currently  living in the  system. She                                                                    
said that she is a former  foster youth and a current foster                                                                    
parent.  She  related  that  the bill  would  help  to  make                                                                    
children safe  and move them quickly  toward permanency. She                                                                    
thought that attention  should be paid to  children who aged                                                                    
out of the system. She  lamented that the average OCS worker                                                                    
lasted  1.5 years.  She believed  that the  limited workload                                                                    
set  out  in   the  bill  would  improve   the  turnout  for                                                                    
caseworkers and  children in foster  care. She  thought this                                                                    
was  the most  comprehensive piece  of child  welfare reform                                                                    
she  had ever  seen proposed.  She strongly  urged committee                                                                    
support.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:04:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JULI  LUCKY, SELF,  ANCHORAGE, testified  in support  of the                                                                    
bill.  She  relayed  her experience  as  a  Court  Appointed                                                                    
Special  Advocate (CASA)  volunteered. She  had also  been a                                                                    
foster  parent.  She  stated  that when  she  was  a  foster                                                                    
parent, it  was almost impossible  to get services  from OCS                                                                    
due to their heavy workload.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Lucky   continued  her   testimony.  She   related  the                                                                    
unfortunate  challenges that  faced children  in the  foster                                                                    
care  system that  she had  witnessed firsthand.  She shared                                                                    
that for  some children, being  placed in a good  home still                                                                    
meant  being removed  from  the only  family  that they  had                                                                    
known and loved.  She believed  that the changes in the bill                                                                    
would  give children  more  input over  their  fate and  the                                                                    
ability to  communicate with siblings  who were  housed with                                                                    
other  families.  She relayed  that  when  the foster  child                                                                    
living  with her  had left  to find  her forever  home, that                                                                    
home had proved hard to find,  and the child had reached out                                                                    
to  her for  help. She  said that  the child  had eventually                                                                    
found  permanent  housing  and   was  doing  well,  and  she                                                                    
stressed   the   importance   that  children   had   contact                                                                    
information of  adults who had  been a positive  presence in                                                                    
their lives.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:07:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lucky continued  to speak to the bill. She  spoke of the                                                                    
rules that  foster parents and  children had to  follow that                                                                    
were  heartbreaking  in  application  because  they  led  to                                                                    
reoccurring   disappointment  surrounding   missing  slumber                                                                    
parties,  field trips,  or  visits to  the  state fair.  She                                                                    
discussed her  experience as a  foster parent and  not being                                                                    
allowed to remove the foster  child from the municipality in                                                                    
order  to take  her to  the  state fair.  She discussed  the                                                                    
Prudent  Parent provision  of the  bill, which  she believed                                                                    
would prevent preventable  disappointment and heartache. She                                                                    
believed that the  bill would be of small cost  to the state                                                                    
but would make a big difference to the children involved.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:10:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JANINE  REEP,  FACING  FOSTER  CARE,  JUNEAU,  testified  in                                                                    
support of  the bill.  She stated that  the bill  was likely                                                                    
the  single most  important piece  of legislation  effecting                                                                    
child protection that  she had witnessed in  her career. She                                                                    
believed that  the only thing  that would improve  the child                                                                    
protection system was  to put a statutory  cap on caseloads.                                                                    
She commented on the level  of responsibility carried on the                                                                    
back of a social worker.  She warned of the repercussions of                                                                    
children exiting the foster care  system without ever having                                                                    
established  a  health  relationship   with  an  adult.  She                                                                    
strongly urged the committee to support the bill.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
11:15:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Stevens referenced  comments  about family  members                                                                    
and  friends not  being contacted  when placement  was being                                                                    
sought for  children. He asked whether  family members could                                                                    
intervene in the process and demand to be heard.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Reep  informed that the  department had  requirements to                                                                    
notify  grandparents and  others,  although situations  were                                                                    
time  sensitive. She  said  that  sometimes feasible  family                                                                    
members could be overlooked because of time constraints.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:16:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Bishop noted  that Senator  Micciche had  joined                                                                    
the meeting.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:17:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
NATASHA  SINGH,   TANANA  CHIEFS  CONFERENCE,   AK  REGIONAL                                                                    
COALITION,  FAIRBANKS (via  teleconference),  spoke in  full                                                                    
support  of the  bill. She  agreed with  previous testimony.                                                                    
She believed  that OCS had  the best intentions but  not the                                                                    
resources. She offered an example  of rural workers that had                                                                    
to  travel  every  day  to  meet  federal  mandates  to  see                                                                    
children,  which   left  little   time  for   casework.  She                                                                    
reiterated  the   lack  of  time  and   resources  currently                                                                    
available for child welfare in the state.                                                                                       
11:20:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
TAMMY  SANDOVAL,  DIRECTOR,  ALASKA CHILD  WELFARE  ACADEMY,                                                                    
UNIVERSITY  OF   ALASKA,  ANCHORAGE   (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified in support of the  bill. She said that reformation                                                                    
of the  child welfare system  would take the passage  of the                                                                    
legislation. She  felt that when  families in  child welfare                                                                    
were  underserved  youth  moved   on  to  juvenile  justice,                                                                    
homelessness, and corrections.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:23:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL BEDSWORTH,  FACING FOSTER  CARE IN  ALASKA, ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via teleconference), spoke in support  of the bill. She had                                                                    
aged  out of  the foster  care system  in October  2018. She                                                                    
said  that  in   her  12  years  in  foster   care  she  had                                                                    
experienced  47  placements  and   had  9  different  social                                                                    
workers. She  recalled during 8th grade  she had experienced                                                                    
3 social  workers in  3 months.  She stressed  that children                                                                    
needed permanency  and that consistency of  caseworkers, and                                                                    
realistic  caseloads for  those  workers,  would change  the                                                                    
foster care system for the better.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:24:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DESIREE  SHEPLER,   DIRECTOR,  RAISING  OUR   CHILDREN  WITH                                                                    
KINDNESS   (ROCK  MATSU),   WASILLA  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in support  of the  bill. She  believed that  the                                                                    
bill  would  result in  better  outcomes  for Alaska's  most                                                                    
vulnerable children. She said that  the OCS office in Mat-Su                                                                    
was struggling with  an increase in child  abuse and neglect                                                                    
cases.  Over  the past  5  years  the  number of  OCS  cases                                                                    
statewide had increased by 5 percent.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:27:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SARAH REDMON,  FACING FOSTER CARE IN ALASKA, ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference), spoke in support of  the bill. She had aged                                                                    
out  of foster  care  without a  permanent  connection to  a                                                                    
health  adult.  She  was  one of  twelve  siblings,  8  were                                                                    
younger,  and she  had been  the primary  caretaker for  her                                                                    
younger  siblings. She  spoke of  the effect  of not  having                                                                    
connection  with her  siblings placed  in other  houses. She                                                                    
discussed her worry  for her siblings and  stressed that the                                                                    
legislation  would help  children  and  caseworkers to  keep                                                                    
siblings connected.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
11:29:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH  RIPLEY,  MATSU  HEALTH FOUNDATION,  WASILLA  (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified in support  of the bill. In 2013,                                                                    
the  foundation and  community partners  conducted a  Mat-Su                                                                    
health  needs  assessment  that identified  the  number  one                                                                    
community  health  goal  of  making  sure  that  all  Mat-Su                                                                    
children were  safe and  cared for.   Since that  time there                                                                    
had been an increase  in child maltreatment reports increase                                                                    
form 2,840 in 2014, 3,528 in  2015. She said that the Palmer                                                                    
Court Child  in Need  of Aid cases  also increased  from 216                                                                    
cases  in 2014;  ;242 in  2015;  271 in  2016; increases  in                                                                    
these cases  were largely due  to the opioid epidemic.   She                                                                    
considered  that the  bill  used  evidence-based methods  to                                                                    
improve outcomes, support  families, enable faster timelines                                                                    
for  permanency for  children, and  set  caseworkers up  for                                                                    
success.  She believed  that  the  bill included  provisions                                                                    
that would  prevent child  maltreatment by  allowing parents                                                                    
to opt into referrals  to community organizations that could                                                                    
provide  support services  to  families in  cases where  OCS                                                                    
determined  that  services to  protect  the  child were  not                                                                    
required. She urged strong support for the legislation.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:32:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL JEFFERY, SELF,   BARROW (via  teleconference), spoke                                                                    
in  support of  the  bill.  He said  that  he had  processed                                                                    
juvenile justice  and child welfare  cases and was  a member                                                                    
of the  Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee.  He stated that                                                                    
providing services  on the North Slope  could be challenging                                                                    
and that the increased  training proposed by the legislation                                                                    
would help to retain workers  that had experience working in                                                                    
rural villages.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:34:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Bishop CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Bishop  noted  that  the fiscal  note  would  be                                                                    
reviewed later.  The bill discussion  would continue  at the                                                                    
afternoon meeting.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 151(FIN)  was HEARD and  HELD in committee  for further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
11:35:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 a.m.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 151 Articles April 9 2018.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 Brief Explanation Version Y April 9 2018.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 Explanation of Changes Version Y April 10 2018.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 Combined Letters of Support 4.9.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 LetterOfSupport-R.O.C.K.MatSu-SCS CSHB151.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 Sponsor Statement Senate FIN April 9 2018 .pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 Support for HB 151.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 Sectional Analysis Version Y April 10 2018.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 MSHF Letter of Support HB151 SEN FIN.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 267 CSHB267(RES) Sectional Summary--Release of Hunting and Fishing Records to Municipalities 2.26.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 CSHB267(RES) Sponsor Statement 2.23.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 Explanation of Changes--HB 267 Version D to Version O 2.26.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 Supporting Document--2 Letters Opposed 2.23.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 Supporting Document--SWAMC Resolution 3.8.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 Supporting Documents--Letters and Resolutions in Support 2.23.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 Supporting Document--Legal Consequences for Violating Confidentiality 2.23.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 267 Supporting Document--Lake and Peninsula Borough Municipal Code Title 6--2.23.18.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 267
HB 151 Foster Care PowerPoint SEN FIN April 15 2018.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 ANDVSA Letter of Support HB 151.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 MSHF Letter of Support HB151 SEN FIN.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151
HB 151 LetterOfSupport-R.O.C.K.MatSu-SCS CSHB151.pdf SFIN 4/16/2018 9:00:00 AM
HB 151